Baldwin I (Latin Empire)

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Baldwin I of Constantinople, equestrian statue in Mons (Belgium)

Baldwin the Constantinopolitan (lat .: Balduinus Constantinopolitanus * July 1171 in Valenciennes ; † after July 20, 1205 in Tarnowo , Bulgaria ) was a Count of Flanders since 1194 (Baldwin IX) and since 1195 a Count of Hainaut (Baldwin VI) . From 1202 he was one of the most important military leaders of the Fourth Crusade . After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, he was elected the first emperor of the Latin Empire (Baldwin I).

Early years

Baldwin was the eldest son of the count couple Baldwin V of Hainaut and Margaret I of Flanders . In the year of his birth he was betrothed to Maria von der Champagne through the mediation of his uncle, Count Philip of Flanders . This engagement was renewed on May 14, 1181 in Provins and on January 6, 1186 by a wedding. After the death of his uncle in 1191, he first documented the future Count of Flanders in Lille in the same year . On August 1, 1194, he fought alongside his father in the victorious battle of Noville against the Duke of Limburg .

Baldwin's mother died on November 15, 1194, after which he was able to succeed as her heir in the county of Flanders. On January 5, 1195, he first documented it on the field between Aalst and Erpe with the corresponding count's title (Balduinus, Flandrensium comes). After his father died on December 17, 1195, he inherited him as Count of Hainaut.

Count of Flanders and Hainaut

Certificate of homage to Count Baldwin IX. towards King Philip II in Compiègne, 1196

Baldwin took possession of a greatly reduced Flanders , as his uncle had given a large part, including the Artois in northern France , to Baldwin's sister Elisabeth (also called Isabella) as a dowry when she married King Philip II of France ; other important pieces went to his own wife. When Elisabeth died in 1190, Philip II kept the dowry that Elisabeth's son would later receive.

First, however, he allied himself with Philip II against Richard the Lionheart in 1185 and took part in the battles for Issoudun and Aumale . Although he had paid homage to Philip II in Compiègne the previous year , Baldwin changed sides in 1197 and joined Richard the Lionheart in Les Andelys . The reason for this was his claim to the province of Artois, which had passed to the crown after the death of his sister Elisabeth, which Baldwin did not recognize. In July 1197 he began an invasion of the Artois; since Philip II August concentrated his efforts on the fight against Richard the Lionheart, Baldwin was able to conquer Lillers , Aire and Saint-Omer by 1199 . With the Roman-German King Otto IV , he gained another ally in 1198. Baldwin's conquests were confirmed in the Peace of Péronne in 1200 .

One month after the peace agreement with Philip, on February 23, 1200, Baldwin took the cross. He spent the next two years preparing, starting on April 14, 1202 for the Fourth Crusade.

To keep Hainaut in order, he issued two notable charters . One contained a detailed criminal code and appears to be based on a now lost charter of his father. The other stipulated a precise succession plan. Both charters have become an integral part of the legislative tradition in this part of Europe.

Baldwin left behind a two-year-old daughter and his pregnant wife Marie, who was regent in Flanders and Hainaut from 1202 to 1203 and who followed her husband with a Flemish fleet in early 1203 after the birth of their second daughter. Both expected to return in a few years, but in fact they never saw their home or daughters again.

From 1203 onwards, Marie's successor as regent was Balduin's younger brother Philipp of Namur in Flanders and Balduin's uncle Wilhelm von Thy (an illegitimate son of Count Baldwin IV of Hainaut ) in Hainaut.

In the meantime, the Crusaders had reached Constantinople, captured and sacked the city, and made the decision to establish a Latin Empire.

Latin emperor

The imperial crown was offered to Enrico Dandolo , the Doge of Venice , who refused it. Baldwin and Boniface von Montferrat stood for election . Baldwin was elected on May 9, 1204 and crowned on May 16. He was young, gallant, pious and virtuous, one of the few who strictly observed their vows and the most popular among the leaders of the crusade.

Balduin's wife Marie, unaware of the events, sailed to the Holy Land in Acre . There she learned of his election as emperor; she died in August 1204 of an illness.

The Latin Empire was organized according to feudal principles: the emperor stood above the princes who received parts of the conquered land as a fief. Its own territory was to consist of the city of Constantinople, neighboring areas in Europe and Asia, and some remote districts and islands such as Lemnos , Lesbos , Chios, and Tenos , which were yet to be conquered. The resistance of the Greeks in Thrace had to be broken and Thessaloniki secured. In this undertaking in the summer of 1204, Baldwin clashed with Boniface, the defeated candidate in the imperial election, who had been promised a large territory in Macedonia with the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica . Boniface hoped to be able to make himself independent of the emperor and not have to pay homage to his empire; therefore he opposed Baldwin's plan to march against Thessaloniki. The contrast between Flemings and Lombards increased the dispute. Baldwin insisted on going to Thessaloniki, but Boniface besieged Adrianople , where Baldwin had appointed a governor - a civil war seemed inevitable. Enrico Dandolo and Ludwig von Blois finally reached an agreement, according to which Boniface took Thessaloniki as a fiefdom from the emperor and at the same time became commander of the troops that were to conquer the not yet subjugated parts of Greece .

In the following winter of 1204/05 the crusaders waged war in Bithynia , in which Baldwin's brother Heinrich also took part. In February 1205, the Greeks rebelled in Thrace , hoping for support from Kaloyan Asen , the tsar of the Bulgarians , whose alliance Baldwin had rejected. They drove away the garrison from Adrianople, whereupon Balduin, Enrico Dandolo, Ludwig von Blois and the later chronicler Gottfried von Villehardouin besieged the city. Kaloyan sent an army for relief that outnumbered those of the Crusaders. The Frankish knights were defeated on April 14, 1205 at the Battle of Adrianople ; Louis von Blois fell, Emperor Baldwin was captured and brought to the Bulgarian capital Tarnowo , where he was interned in the Baldwin tower of the Tsarevets fortress, which is named after him today .

Balduin's fate was unclear for a while, and so his brother Heinrich took over the reign. In mid-July, Tsar Kaloyan wrote to Pope Innocent III. that Baldwin died in captivity.

Children and Succession

Balduin's brother Heinrich was crowned second Latin Emperor on August 20, 1206 .

In Flanders it was disputed whether Baldwin had actually died; therefore Balduin's brother Philip I of Namur remained regent. Eventually Baldwin's daughters Johanna and Margarete became countesses of Flanders .

The false Baldwin

Twenty years later, in 1225, a man appeared in Flanders who pretended to be Baldwin . His claim was taken up in Flanders by various rebels opposing Countess Johanna. A number of people who had known Baldwin personally met the alleged count and emperor and rejected his claim; he was executed in 1226.



  1. The epithet only found its way into modern historiography. For example in Jacques de Meyer, Commentarii sive annales rerum Flandricarum. Antwerp 1561, p. 60. For the date and place of birth cf. Gislebert von Mons , Chronicon Hanoniense, in: MGH SS 21, p. 519.
  2. Cf. Gislebert von Mons, Chronicon Hanoniense, in: MGH SS 21, p. 519f.
  3. Cf. Gislebert von Mons, Chronicon Hanoniense, in: MGH SS 21, pp. 530, 550.
  4. Cf. Foppens, JF: Auberti Miræi opera diplomatica et Historica, Vol. 2 (1723), p. 836.
  5. Cf. Gislebert von Mons, Chronicon Hanoniense, in: MGH SS 21, p. 587.
  6. See De Smet, J.-J .: Corpus chronicorum Flandriae, Vol. 2 (1841), pp. 806f.

Web links

Commons : Baldwin I. (Latin Empire)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Margaret I. Count of Flanders 1194–1205
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Balduin V. Count of Hainaut 1195–1205
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- Latin emperor 1204–1205
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