Died At Age: 44
Also Known As: Gui de Lusignan or Guy de Lusignan
Born Country: France
Born in: Lusignan, France
Famous as: King
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Queen of Jerusalem (m. 1180), Sibylla
father: Hugh VIII of Lusignan
siblings: Aimery of Cyprus, Hugues de Lusignan
children: Alix, Maria
Died on: July 18, 1194
place of death: Nicosia, Cyprus
Guy of Lusignan was a French knight of Poitou and the son of Hugh VIII of the Lusignan dynasty. Guy served as the king of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1192, by virtue of being married to Sibylla of Jerusalem. Guy was also the lord of Cyprus from 1192 to 1194. He was married to Sibylla as part of a political strategy. Baldwin IV, his brother-in-law, had appointed him as the regent. However, the barons revolted later and made Baldwin V the new king. The throne eventually went to Sibylla and Guy, amidst a political crisis, made worse by Saladin’s invasion. Guy lost the Battle of Hattin and was captured, but then released. Jerusalem fell, and Guy and Sibylla sought refuge in Tyre. After being refused asylum by Conrad, the ruler of Tyre, Guy launched a campaign against him. He led the siege of Acre but lost his wife and daughters to plague. Before his death, he became the lord of Cyprus briefly.
Childhood & Early Years
Guy, also known as Gui de Lusignan or Guy de Lusignan (French), was born to Lord Hugh VIII of Lusignan, in Poitou, which was the French duchy of Aquitaine back then. Lusignan was ruled by Queen Eleanor of England; Richard, her third son; and King Henry II, her husband.
In 1168, Guy and his brothers assassinated Patrick of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Salisbury, while he was going back home from a pilgrimage. As a result, the brothers were banished from Poitou by Richard I (who was then the acting duke of Aquitaine).
It is believed Guy moved to Jerusalem between 1173 and 1180. He was initially a pilgrim or a Crusader. According to historian Bernard Hamilton, Guy may have arrived with the French Crusaders in 1179.
Guy’s older brother, Amalric, got married to the daughter of Baldwin of Ibelin in 1174. Amalric thus entered the royal court. Amalric was also patronized by King Baldwin IV and of his mother, Agnes of Courtenay (who ruled Jaffa and Ascalon).
Amalric later became Agnes's constable in Jaffa. Following this, he was made the constable of the kingdom. He was also rumored to be romantically involved with Agnes. Amalric’s political growth helped Guy's ascent up the social and political ladder.
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Marriage & Political Growth
Raymond of Tripoli, along with Bohemond III of Antioch were planning to march into the kingdom to make the king give his older sister Sibylla’s hand in marriage to Baldwin of Ibelin (who was Amalric's father-in-law).
To prevent this from happening, Sibylla was married off to Guy at Eastertide, in April 1180. Through his marriage Guy became the count of Jaffa and Ascalon. He also became the bailli (Bailiff) of Jerusalem.
Guy and Sibylla had two daughters: Marie (or Maria) and Alix. Sibylla was already the mother of a son from her first marriage, to William of Montferrat.
It is believed Agnes had advised her son, Baldwin, to get Sibylla married to Guy. Some sources also suggest that Amalric had brought Guy to Jerusalem only to get him married to Sibylla. However, this seems impossible, as Guy must have been in the kingdom when the hasty decision of his marriage was made, given the short notice within which it was arranged.
The Succession Crisis
In September 1183 (1182, according to some sources), Baldwin IV fell sick and named Guy as his regent. Guy took charge of the Christian forces when Salah-ad-Din, or Saladin, launched his fourth invasion of the kingdom. Although Saladin did manage some early breakthrough, the Saracens were forced to retreat eventually.
However, 2 months later, when Jerusalem was informed that the castle of Kerak had been besieged by Saladin, the barons of Jerusalem rejected Guy’s regency. They refused to rescue the fortress, which had both the royal princesses (Sibylla and Isabella), the Queen, and the Dowager Queen, trapped in it, until Guy’s regency was revoked.
King Baldwin was thus forced to crown his sickly nephew, Baldwin V (Sibylla’s son from her first marriage), as the co-ruler. This was to ensure that the barons would not have to pay homage to Guy in case the king died.
Following Kerak’s rescue, Baldwin wished to have his sister Sibylla’s marriage to Guy annulled. This was related to the succession crisis. His nephew was always ill, and the kingdom was in need of a strong and competent ruler. However, Sibylla refused to divorce Guy.
As the King of Jerusalem
After Baldwin IV’s death due to leprosy in 1185, his nephew, Baldwin V, took over as the ruler, with Raymond de Tripoli as the regent. The Count of Edessa became the ruler’s guardian.
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Baldwin V died about a year later. Soon, Guy’s opposition weakened. The High Court met in Nablus and decided to elect the next ruler.
Meanwhile, Sibylla requested the Patriarch to declare her the queen in the ‘Church of the Holy Sepulcher.’ Apart from the Patriarch, the Templars and her uncle Joscelyn (or Joscelin III), the titular count of Edessa, too, supported Sibylla. Reynald de Chatillon, Lord of Oultrejourdan, also supported her.
Some sources mention that a few of her supporters wanted Sibylla to divorce Guy before being declared the queen. Sibylla promised to do so, but as soon as she became the queen, she chose Guy as her consort.
Thus, Guy was crowned by Sibylla at the ‘Church of the Holy Sepulchre’ in Jerusalem, in August (some sources mention September) 1186, and he became the king. Some historians believe Sibylla had handed him the crown, letting him crown himself.
The ‘High Court’ did not agree to this. They wanted to crown Sibylla’s half-sister, Isabella instead. However, Humphrey de Toron, Isabella’s husband, escaped Nablus and paid homage to Guy in Jerusalem.
The other rebels, Ramla and Tripoli, too, faded away. Ramla left his kingdom to his younger brother, while Tripoli made peace with Saladin but reconciled later.
The Fall of Jerusalem
Saladin, meanwhile, had decided to conquer Jerusalem. Guy aimed to stop Saladin's siege of Tiberias. Guy's forces marched from Sepphora to Tiberias. They faced shortage of water, and on July 4, 1187, they were crushed by Saladin’s army at the Battle of Hattin. Guy’s life was spared by the Saracens, along with those of his brother Geoffrey, Humphrey, and Raynald.
Raynald was, however, beheaded by Saladin later. Guy was held captive in Damascus, while Sibylla and the Balian of Ibelin tried defending Jerusalem. The kingdom was, however, surrendered to Saladin on October 2 that year.
Sibylla requested Saladin to release her husband. In 1188, Guy was released. Guy and Sibylla then escaped to Tyre, which was the only remaining Christian city. There, they sought refuge at the court of Conrad of Montferrat (who was the younger brother of Sibylla's first husband).
Campaign Against Conrad
Conrad denied refuge to Guy and Sibylla. Guy then began the siege of Acre in 1189, to initiate talks. Sibylla died in an epidemic in 1190, along with their daughters.
Following Sibylla's death, Guy lost his authority, and the crown went to Isabella. The Ibelins made Isabella divorce Humphrey and got her married to Conrad, who now claimed the authority of the kingdom. However, Guy decided to confront Conrad.
In 1191, Guy went to Limassol to seek help from Richard I of England. He supported Richard against Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus. In return, Richard supported Guy against Conrad. Conrad had the support of Leopold V of Austria and Philip II of France.
A settlement was reached, whereby Guy would be the king but was to be succeeded by Isabella or Conrad, or their heirs. However, in 1192, a poll elected Conrad as the next ruler. Conrad was later killed by Hashashin, while Isabella married Richard's nephew, Henry II of Champagne. After his death in 1197, Isabella married Guy's brother, Amalric.
Meanwhile, Guy received Cyprus from the Templars in 1192, as compensation. Guy thus became the Lord of Cyprus.
Guy breathed his last on July 18, 1194, in Nicosia, Cyprus. He did not have any surviving child back then, as his two daughters by Sibylla, Alix and Marie, had both died of plague earlier. Thus, Amalric succeeded him.
Guy was interred in the ‘Church of the Templars’ in Nicosia.