[In Our Time] Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem

Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem

21/11/2019 by BBC Radio 4

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=87611513
Episode: http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/6/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p07vn8m8.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most powerful woman in the Crusader states in the century after the First Crusade. Melisende (1105-61) was born and raised after the mainly Frankish crusaders had taken Jerusalem from the Fatimids, and her father was King of Jerusalem. She was married to Fulk from Anjou, on the understanding they would rule together, and for 30 years she vied with him and then their son as they struggled to consolidate their Frankish state in the Holy Land.

The image above is of the coronation of Fulk with Melisende, from Livre d’Eracles, Guillaume de Tyr (1130?-1186)
Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France


Natasha Hodgson
Senior Lecturer in Medieval History and Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Nottingham Trent University

Katherine Lewis
Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Huddersfield


Danielle Park
Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Listen Date: 2020-01-31


  • Finally, an In Our Time episode where I couldn’t notice a Brexit connection!
  • It’s pronounced Melly-sond.
  • The thing that intrigued me the most was the podcast-only discussion about the Melisende Psalter, and how it contains images of the seven virtues slaying the seven vices; which would have been delightful from a McCloskeyian approach. Unfortunately, the British Library webpage hasn’t shown those particular pages to the public.
  • Apart from that, there was slight confusion from the audio format where I had difficulty keeping the family tree, and who was whose daughter or son, straight. Fortunately, Wikipedia to the rescue. And thanks to that, I now know that Melisende’s mother was not Morphea but Morphia. Whatay.
  • The Tripoli talked about in the episode is not the Libyan one, but a little north of Jerusalem. Ah.
  • I heard about Nuruddin, apparently as much of a stud as Saladin.
  • There was this slightly mind bending genealogy of how Fulk of Anjou’s son from his previous marriage ended up married to the Queen of England, Empress Matilda, who had also been pronounced heiress by her father rather than let the kingship go to a cadet branch. OK.
  • The BBC page has a link to one of the professors writing about how Game of Thrones reflects medeival attitudes towards powerful women. Oh.



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