A History of the Counts of Brienne (950 - 1210)

Dana Asmoui Ismail

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis is a study of the counts of Brienne from the first count (950) until the departure from France of John of Brienne to claim the throne of Jerusalem (1210). The Brienne dynasty has never been subjected to an in - depth study; heretofore, the dynasty has been mentioned only in passing in both contemporary sources and more recent works. This comprehensive study of the counts of Brienne and their origins serves as an original work of scholarship on a dynasty that produced several crusaders, a champion of papal reform in Italy, a martyr at the siege of Acre and perhaps more importantly, a king of Jerusalem.
The Brienne dynasty’s roots in the ideology of holy war extended back to the era of the Reconquest of Spain, which took place over twenty years before the start of the First Crusade. This thesis will use this participation in the Reconquest of Spain, the first foray into the holy warrior ethos, to establish the Brienne’s familial connections to one of the oldest and most prominent families of northern France, the Roucy. And whilst crusading tradition in itself was not at all rare in French dynasties, in the case of Brienne it was coupled with marriages and an increasing profile in the 1190s. Indeed, this thesis will show that from the eleventh century onwards, the Brienne’s wealth and prominence within the county of Champagne increased through a series of marriage alliances that also served to bring them closer to the nobles of the Holy Land. This thesis will examine the origins and development of pilgrimage, holy war and crusading in the Brienne dynasty and their social progression through marriage alliances during the first hundred years of crusading in order to explain how John of Brienne’s eventual nomination to the throne of Jerusalem, whilst a great advancement for the family, had been made possible by a lineage of crusading precursors and advantageous marital unions.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Award date1 Oct 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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