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We’ve traveled a long way so now that we are here in sunny Provence let’s look around. Where’s the Castle de Daurice? Oh dear – it’s not here and never was. The dynasty de Daurice was just a figment of Lidiya Alexandrovna’s vivid imagination!
Of course, we have already realized that Countess Lidiya made the whole story up. But, being a journalist and novelist by profession, she no doubt did some research into the medieval age and made a note of some real historical persons that she could use in her story, taking poetic license to disregard their actual time and place in history.
However, our journey back through the pages of history has not been in vain because now that we are in the world of Raymonda we can meet some of the real characters in the ballet and discover their true story.
Because of the involvement of Jean de Brienne and King Andrew II of Hungary we know that the ballet is set at the time of the Fifth Crusade, the year 1220 to be exact, but to guide us through the maze of dynastic marriages and relationships we must go through in our search for Raymonda, we need to take a brief look at the history of the Crusades to the Holy Land.
The Moslems had ruled Jerusalem since 638 but had allowed Christian pilgrims to enter the Holy Land since the time of Constantine. However, in the 11th century the Seljuk Turks took control of Jerusalem and put a stop to the pilgrimages.
Pope Urban II (1088-1099) decided it was the time for action and called on the Christian princes in Europe to liberate the Holy Lands and retake Jerusalem from the Turks. In all, between 1095 and 1291 there were seven major Crusades.
The First Crusade began on November 27, 1095 and ended early in 1099. The final assault on Jerusalem began on 13 July with the attack on the south gate by the troops of Count Raymond IV de St. Gilles of Toulouse, most prestigious of all the nobles to go on the First Crusade, while the troops of Godfrey of Bouillon and Robert of Normandy attacked the northern wall. The Crusaders forced their way into the city and retook Jerusalem.
We mention the distinguished Count Raymond IV of Toulouse because, as we shall see later, a descendant will play a very important role in our search.
With the successful end of the First Crusade, Geoffrey of Bouillon became the first of a long line of Christian Kings of Jerusalem that included Baldwin IV who at the age of thirteen succeeded his father, Amalric I, as King of Jerusalem in 1174, reigning until 1185.
Enter our first Sibylla
By 1183 Baldwin IV was dying slowly of leprosy and the succession was contested between his two heiresses, his sister Princess Sibylla and his half-sister Princess Isabella.
Princess Sibylla was raised by her great-aunt, the Abbess Loveta of Bethany, sister of former Queen Mélissende of Jerusalem, who founded the convent of St. Lazarus in Bethany for her sister in 1128 and died there in 1163. In the convent Sibylla was taught scripture and other church traditions.
Sibylla was married to the newly-arrived Frankish knight Guy of Lusignan and bore him two daughters, Alice and Maria. At first Baldwin IV trusted Guy and appointed him his regent during times of incapacitation due to his disease.
However, within a year the king was enraged by Guy’s conduct as regent and had Sibylla’s son by her first husband, William of Montferrat, crowned as co-king Baldwin V, passing over her and Guy in the succession.
Born in 1177 as Baldwin of Montferrat and nicknamed Baudouinet, Sibylla’s son, the five-year old nephew of Baldwin IV, was crowned co-king as Baldwin V of Jerusalem on November 20, 1183. In 1185, on the death of his uncle, he became the nominal king under the regency of Count Raymond III of Tripoli. The child king reigned for just over one year, dying in 1186.
It had been agreed already that, should Baldwin V die as a child, the kingdom could be claimed either by his mother Sibylla, who was Baldwin IV’s legal heir, or his aunt Isabella.
The regent Count Raymond of Tripoli and his faction attempted a coup to place Isabella on the throne but the plot failed and Sibylla succeeded to the throne of Jerusalem.
Sibylla’s succession was made on the condition that she annulled her marriage to Guy and she was to be allowed to choose a new husband. However, no annulment took place and at her coronation, when the Patriarch Eraclius asked the Queen to summon her consort, to everyone’s shock and astonishment the defiant Sybilla called forth Guy and crowned him herself.
Queen Sibylla and Guy’s rule was a total failure. Her main concern was to halt the march of Saladin’s armies and she dispatched Guy and Raymond to the front with the entire fighting force of the kingdom. Guy de Lusignan and Count Raymond were unable to cooperate and as a result Saladin defeated them at the Battle of Hattin on July 4, 1187. Guy was taken prisoner.
Queen Sibylla remained in Jerusalem as Saladin’s army advanced. By September 1187 Saladin was besieging the Holy City. Sibylla personally commanded the defence but Jerusalem capitulated on October 2. Sibylla was allowed to escape to Tripoli with her daughters.
The following year, 1188, Sibylla ransomed her husband from imprisonment in Damascus, the wily Saladin realizing that the return of the incompetent Guy would cause dissent in the crusader camp.
The queen joined him and in 1189 they marched to Tyre, the only city in the kingdom still in Christian hands. Conrad of Montferrat, brother of Sibylla’s first husband William, was in charge of the city’s defences and denied them entrance since he refused to recognize Guy’s claim to what little remained of the kingdom, asserting his own claim to hold it until the arrival of the kings from Europe.
After about a month spent outside the walls of Tyre, the queen followed her husband when he led an advance force of the newly arrived Third Crusade against the Muslims holding Acre.
Guy de Lusignan besieged the town for two years during which time an epidemic swept through the military camp, taking first Sibylla’s two young daughters and a few days later Sibylla of Jerusalem herself who died on July 25, 1190.
Exit our first Sibylla
Since she died 30 years before our ballet takes place she was not Raymonda’s aunt. But meeting this Sibylla has served to introduce us to another family that was prominent in medieval history and plays a part in the story of our search for Raymonda – the noble house de Lusignan.
Enter our second Sibylla
On the death of Sibylla of Jerusalem in 1190 the throne of Jerusalem passed to Isabella and her fourth husband, a brother of Guy de Lusignan, Amalric I of Cyprus, who became Amalric II of Jerusalem. Isabella reigned until her death in 1205.
Isabella I of Jerusalem was the daughter of Amalric I of Jerusalem and his second wife Maria Comnena, making her a younger half-sister of Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Sibylla of Jerusalem. She married four times and had a total of seven children by her various husbands.
Isabella’s first husband was Humphrey IV of Toron. They had no children. Her second marriage to Conrad of Montferrat produced one daughter, Maria de Montferrat (1192–1212), who succeeded Isabella as Queen of Jerusalem. Conrad was stabbed to death by an assassin and Isabella, noticeably pregnant with Maria, hastily remarried taking the handsome young Henry II, Count of Champagne, as her third husband.
Her marriage to Henry produced three daughters, all of whom were younger half-sisters of Maria de Montferrat. The eldest daughter was Marie, who was engaged to marry Guy of Cyprus but they both died as children; Next came Alice, who first married Hugh I of Cyprus, then married Bohemond V of Antioch and then took as her third husband Raoul de Soissons.
The third daughter of Isabella I of Jerusalem and Henry II Count of Champagne was Philippa. She was born in 1197 and married Erard de Brienne-Ramerupt. Philippa and Erard had nine children, one of whom, incidentally, was Sibylla de Brienne, Abbess of Ramerupt.
The dates of this Sibylla are 1225-1275, so she was not even born at the time of our ballet (1220), which rules out this granddaughter of Isabella I as Raymonda’s aunt the Countess and Canoness Sibylla.
At this point we must note that Erard de Brienne-Ramerupt was the nephew of Erard II, Count de Brienne in Champagne, the father of our hero Jean de Brienne.
From her fourth and final marriage to Amalric I of Cyprus she had three children: Sibylla (born 1198–died circa 1230 or 1252), who married King Leo II of Armenia; Mélissende (born circa 1200–died sometime after 1249) who married Bohemund IV of Antioch; and a son Amalric (born 1201–died February 2, 1205 at Acre).
It is only two of Isabella of Jerusalem’s seven children that concern out search for Raymonda: her eldest daughter, Maria de Montferrat, by her second husband, Conrad of Montferrat; and Isabella’s first daughter of her marriage to Almaric 1 of Cyprus, Sibylla de Lusignan.
The eldest of their two daughters, Sibylla de Lusignan, was born in 1198, the year of her parent’s marriage. In 1210 she became the second wife of King Leo I of Armenia, by whom she had a daughter, Isabella of Armenia.
Sibylla de Lusignan is the only Sibylla in the picture at the time of our ballet and since she would be around 22 years of age in 1220 she is the most likely candidate for Raymonda’s aunt Sibylla.
This claim gets even stronger when we discover that Jean de Brienne married Sibylla de Lusignan’s half-sister Maria de Montferrat when she inherited the throne of Jerusalem on her mother’s death in 1205, thus becoming Jean I King of Jerusalem by right of his wife.
So, it is a historical fact that Jean de Brienne and Sibylla de Lusignan were brother and sister-in-law – which fits in very neatly with our reasoning that it was Sibylla de Lusignan who was Raymonda’s aunt.
And no doubt in Lidiya Pahskova’s imagined world, Sibylla de Lusignan kept in touch with the powerful Jean de Brienne and, fifteen years after the death of his wife, acted as matchmaker and arranged the marriage between her widowed brother-in-law and her beautiful niece Raymonda.
I always thought there must be a family connection somewhere along the line!
We know a lot about Jean de Brienne since he is the most historically documented character in the ballet and it is the adventures of our chivalrous hero that we shall be relating in part three of our journey in search of Raymonda.