Non-Negotiables: King Baldwin refuses to surrender Christian cities to save the life of Gervais, Count of Tiberias

November 15, 2018

Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, painted by Merry-Joseph Blondel

Baldwin, on his return to his capital, learnt with grief that Gervais, count of Tiberias, had been surprised by the Turks, and led prisoner, together with his most faithful knights, to the city of Damascus. Mussulman deputies came to offer the king of Jerusalem the liberty of Gervais in exchange for Ptolemais [Acre/Akko], Jaffa [Haifa], and some other cities taken by the Christians; a refusal they added, would be followed by the death of Count Gervais. Baldwin offered to pay a considerable sum for the liberty of Gervais, whom he loved tenderly: “As for the cities you demand,” said he to them, “I would not give them up to you for the sake of my own brother, nor for that of all the Christian princes together.” On the return of the ambassadors Gervais and his knights were dragged to an open place in Damascus, and shot to death by the Saracens with arrows.

Joseph François Michaud, The History of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (New York, Redfield, 1853), 1:290.

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 652

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