Institutes of the French High Officials in the Governing System of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the XII Century


In the beginning of the 12th century the most of crusaders in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem were originally from France. That social particularity determined form and content of the future Crusader administration. The first ruler of the Kingdom, Godfrey of Bouillon (1099-1100), and his successors Baldwin I (1100-1118) and Baldwin II (1118-1131) based on the institutes of the French high officials, well-known to their subjects, while created new governing system. Adaptation of those institutes to the new geopolitical, economical and sociocultural conditions longed for about a quarter of a century. Analysis of large amount of legal (about 800 royal and seigniorial charters) and historical (Latin and Arab chronicles of the Crusades) sources showed the institute of seneschal was first to be adapted and mentioned in 1102 already. Six years later the constable, the chancellor and the chamberlain supposed to appear according to the several charters. And finally we meet the first evidences about the butler, the regent of the kingdom and the marshal in 1120, 1123 and 1125 respectively. The same sources also enabled looking upon changes of aforementioned institutes’ powers in comparison with their French «originals». The most important meant replace of civil authorities’ domination, typical for France, by military one because of the permanent threat to the existence of the kingdom. The constable and the marshal as his vassal became to play the first roles in the governing system; other officials took broader military powers. Along with that some French traditions (investiture of a fief when taking the office, prohibition to inherit the office, prohibition to take two offices simultaneously) were kept without any change. Such a combination of traditions and innovations let Crusader state’ high officials be more effective than the French ones.

About the authors

Pavel V Lapo

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
6, Miklukho-Maklaya st., Moscow, Russia, 117198

Institute of Law


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