Hodierna of Jerusalem (c. 1115–after 1162)

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Hodierna of Jerusalem (c. 1115–after 1162)

Countess and regent of Tripoli. Name variations: Hodierne. Born around 1115 in the Frankish principality of Jerusalem; died after 1162 in Tripoli; daughter of Baldwin II, count of Edessa, later king of Jerusalem, and Morphia of Melitene; sister of Alice of Jerusalem (b. 1106), Melisande (1105–1160), and Joveta of Jerusalem (1120–?); married Raymond II, count of Tripoli, around 1136; children: Raymond III of Tripoli (b. 1140); Melisande (c. 1143–1161).

Born around 1115, Hodierna of Jerusalem was the third daughter of the powerful king Baldwin II and his Armenian queen, Morphia of Melitene . She was raised with her three sisters—Alice of Jerusalem , Melisande , and Joveta of Jerusalem —in Jerusalem, then the capital city of the Frankish kingdom. The princess Hodierna received an excellent education. Around 1136, she married Raymond II of Tripoli, son and heir of Pons, count of Tripoli. A ruthless, passionate man, Raymond succeeded his father as count when Pons was murdered while fleeing a Muslim army invading Tripoli in 1137.

During the first years of their marriage, the couple were intensely devoted to one another. Hodierna had two children, a son named after his father, in 1140, and a daughter, named Melisande after her aunt, a few years later. In 1148, Hodierna and her sister, now Queen Melisande of Jerusalem, were the subject of a serious scandal. In that year, the Second Crusade brought thousands of Western European nobles to the Holy Land, hoping to defeat the Muslim forces holding the city of Edessa. Among the crusaders was Alfonso-Jordan, count of Toulouse. Alfonso-Jordan was the son of Raymond of Toulouse, who fought in the First Crusade and made himself count of Tripoli. Hodierna's husband was the grandson of Raymond of Toulouse's bastard son Bertrand; thus in feudal terms, Alfonso-Jordan had a much more legitimate claim to Tripoli than Raymond II of Tripoli.

It was widely believed that Alfonso-Jordan planned to claim Tripoli; thus when he died quite suddenly, many thought he had been poisoned to prevent him from taking Tripoli. The primary suspects for this murder were Hodierna and Melisande. Melisande was suspected of planning the murder at Hodierna's request. Nothing was ever proven, but Hodierna's husband Raymond II was so offended that his wife was being accused of murder that he refused to participate in the crusade at all.

After this time, the relationship between Raymond II and Hodierna deteriorated. The countess had a vivacious, extroverted personality; she was also reputed to be an unchaste wife. After rumors began to spread that Raymond II was not the father of Hodierna's daughter, he sought to keep his wife isolated from his court by secluding her in her own quarters and limiting her contact with others. By 1152, the marriage was in such trouble that Hodierna's sister, Queen Melisande of Jerusalem, came to Tripoli to try to effect a reconciliation. She was somewhat successful, but it was agreed that Hodierna should spend some time in Jerusalem. As the queen and the countess set out on their journey, couriers from Tripoli informed them of the tragic news that Count Raymond II had just been murdered by a band of Assassins, a radical Muslim group.

Hodierna returned to Tripoli, where she assumed the regency in the name of the new count, her son Raymond III, only 12 years old. King Baldwin III of Jerusalem (Melisande's son) assumed the guardianship of Tripoli, however, because it was considered necessary for the country to have a strong male leader to protect it from its Muslim enemies. Hodierna did exert the real authority, though, since Baldwin had to return to Jerusalem soon after becoming guardian. She retained the regency until Raymond III came of age, when she seems to have been content to retire from an active political life.

The sad story of her daughter reveals the importance placed on women's chastity in her time. In 1160, young Melisande was engaged to the widowed Emperor Manuel Comnenus of Byzantium. Her brother Raymond III spent a fortune on her trousseau, and she received costly gifts, befitting a future empress, from her mother and her aunt Melisande. This much-anticipated wedding between the Frankish royalty of the Holy Land and the immensely wealthy Byzantine empire was looked on as one of the most consequential unions of the day. However, Manuel's ambassadors reported to him the old, unsubstantiated rumor about the bride's legitimacy. Despite the fact that there was no proof, Manuel at first hesitated to go forward with the marriage; he probably was carefully weighing the benefits of an alliance with the Frankish East with the risk of marrying a woman whose legitimacy was even remotely questionable. His fears won out, and in 1161 he repudiated the engagement. Young Melisande, humiliated before all of Europe and the East by the emperor's rejection, soon fell ill. She died some months later.

After yielding the government to her son, Countess Hodierna remained in Tripoli until the winter of 1160 when news came that her devoted sister, Queen Melisande, had suffered a stroke. Hodierna hurried to Jerusalem, along with their younger sister Joveta, and remained there nursing Melisande until the queen's death in November 1161. Hodierna returned to Tripoli, where she died sometime after 1162.


Hamilton, Bernard. "Women in the Crusader States: Queens of Jerusalem" in Medieval Women. Edited by Derek Baker. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978.

Prawer, J. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Hodierna of Jerusalem (c. 1115–after 1162)

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