Count of Edessa (1100-1118), King of Jerusalem (1118-1131)
Baldwin II, originally known as Baldwin de Burg, was a son of Count Hugh of Rethel, and a nephew of Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin I. He appears on the First Crusade at Constantinople as one of Godfrey's men; and he helped Tancred to occupy Bethlehem in June 1099. After the capture of Jerusalem he served for a time with Bohemond at Antioch; but when Baldwin of Edessa became king of Jerusalem, he summoned Baldwin de Burg, and left him as count in Edessa. From Edessa Baldwin conducted continual forays against the Mahommedan princes; and in the great foray of 1104, in which he was joined by Bohemund, he was defeated and captured at Balich. Tancred became guardian of Edessa during Baldwin's captivity, and did not trouble himself greatly to procure his release. Baldwin, however, recovered his liberty at the beginning of 1108, and at once entered upon a struggle with Tancred for the recovery of Edessa. In September 1108 he regained his principality; but the struggle with Tancred continued, until it was composed by Baldwin in 1109.
For the next ten years Baldwin ruled his principality with success, if not without severity. Planted in the farthest Christian outpost in northern Syria, he had to meet many attacks, especially from Mardin and Mosul, in revenge for the provocation offered by his own forays and those of the restless Tancred. In 1110 he was besieged in Edessa, and relieved by Baldwin I; in 1114 he repelled an attack by Aksunkur of Mosul; in 1115 he helped to defeat Aksunkur at Danith. At the same time, if Matthew of Edessa may be trusted, he also carried his arms against the Armenians, and plundered in his avarice every Armenian of wealth and position. In 1118 he was on his way to spend Easter at Jerusalem, when he received the news of the death of Baldwin I; and when he arrived at Jerusalem, he was made king, chiefly by the influence of the patriarch Arnulf.
In a reign of thirteen years, Baldwin II extended the kingdom of Jerusalem to its widest limits. His reign is marked by almost incessant fighting in northern Syria. In 1119, after the defeat and death of Roger of Antioch, he defeated the amirs of Mardin and Damascus at Danith; in subsequent years he extended his sway to the very gates of Aleppo. In 1123 he was captured by Balak of Mardin, and confined in Kharput with Joscelin, his successor in the county of Edessa, who had been captured in the previous year. During his captivity Eustace Graverius became regent of Jerusalem, and succeeded, with the aid of the Venetians, in repelling an Egyptian attack, and even in capturing Tyre, 1124. In 1124 Baldwin II succeeded in securing his liberty, under conditions which he instantly broke; and he at once embarked on strenuous and not unsuccessful hostilities against Aleppo and Damascus (1124-1127), exacting tribute from both. During his reign he twice acted as regent in Antioch (1119, 1130), and in 1126 he married his daughter Alice to Bohemond II. In 1128 he offered the hand of his eldest daughter, Melisinda, to Fulk of Anjou, who had been recommended to him by Honorius II. In 1129 Fulk came and married Melisinda, and in 1131, on the death of Baldwin, he succeeded to the crown.
Baldwin II had much of the churchmanship of Godfrey and Baldwin I; but he appears most decidedly as an incessant warrior, under whom the Latin domination in the East stretched, as Ibn al-Athir writes, in a long line from Mardin in the North to el-Arish on the Red Sea - a line only broken by the Mahommedan powers of Aleppo, Hamah, Horns and Damascus. The Franks controlled the great routes of trade, and took tolls of the traders; and in 1130 their power may be regarded as having reached its height.
Literature - Fulcher of Chartres narrates the reign of Baldwin II down to 1127; for the rest of the reign the authority is William of Tyre. R. Rohricht, Geschichte des Konigreichs Jerusalem (Innsbruck, 1898), C. vii.-x., is the chief modern authority. (E. BR.)
Being the entry for BALDWIN II in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.