Amalric I, king from 1162 to 1174, was the son of Fulk of Jerusalem, and the brother of Baldwin III. He was twice married: by his first wife, Agnes of Edessa, he had issue a son and a daughter, Baldwin IV and Sibylla, while his second wife, Maria Comnena, bore him a daughter Isabella, who ultimately carried the crown of Jerusalem to her fourth husband, Amalric of Lusignan (Amalric II).

The reign of Amalric I was occupied by the Egyptian problem. It became a question between Amalric and Nureddin, which of the two should control the discordant viziers, who vied with one another for the control of the decadent caliphs of Egypt. The acquisition of Egypt had been an object of the Franks since the days of Baldwin I (and indeed of Godfrey himself, who had promised to cede Jerusalem to the patriarch Dagobert as soon as he should himself acquire Cairo). The capture of Ascalon by Baldwin III in 1153 made this object more feasible; and we find the Hospitallers preparing sketch-maps of the routes best suited for an invasion of Egypt, in the style of a modern war office. On the other hand, it was natural for Nureddin to attempt to secure Egypt, both because it was the terminus of the trading route which ran from Damascus and because the acquisition of Egypt would enable him to surround the Latin kingdom. For some five years a contest was waged between Amalric and Shirguh (Shirkuh), the lieutenant of Nureddin, for the possession of Egypt. Thrice (1164,1167,1168) Amalric penetrated into Egypt: but the contest ended in the establishment of Saladin, the nephew of Shirguh, as vizier - a position which, on the death of the puppet caliph in 1171, was turned into that of sovereign. The extinction of the Latin kingdom might now seem imminent; and envoys were sent to the West with anxious appeals for assistance in 1169, 1171 and 1173. But though in 1170 Saladin attacked the kingdom, and captured Aila on the Red Sea, the danger was not so great as it seemed. Nureddin was jealous of his over-mighty subject, and his jealousy bound Saladin's hands. This was the position of affairs when Amalric died, in 1174; but, as Nureddin died in the same year, the position was soon altered and Saladin began the final attack on the kingdom.

Amalric I, the second of the native kings of Jerusalem, had the qualities of his brother Baldwin III. He was something of a scholar, and it was he who set William of Tyre to work. He was perhaps still more of a lawyer: his delight was in knotty points of the law, and he knew the Assises better than any of his subjects. The Church had some doubts of him, and he laid his hands on the Church. William of Tyre was once astonished to find him questioning, on a bed of sickness, the resurrection of the body; and his taxation of clerical goods gave umbrage to the clergy generally. But he maintained the state of his kingdom with the resources which he owed to the Church; and he is the last in the fine list of the early kings of Jerusalem.

William of Tyre is our original authority: see xix. 2-3 for his sketch of Amalric. Rohricht narrates the reign of Amalric I, Geschichte des Konigreichs Jerusalem, c. xvii.-xviii.

Being the entry for AMALRIC I in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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