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  Home >> The Crusades >> The First Crusade >> Godfrey of Boullion


Probably the most famous of all the leaders of the First Crusade was Godfrey, Count of Boullion (Brussels) and Margrave ofGodfrey Antwerp. Godfrey was a fairly important lord in northern France with a proud heritage, for he was a direct descendant of Charlemagne. Despite all this, Godfrey did not prosper and had to mortgage much of his holdings in order to finance his expedition. We don't really know why he went. Later chroniclers give him a reputation as a pious man, but there is no contemporary evidence for this.

Among those accompanying Godfrey was his younger Castle Boullion, Godfrey's home - Click to see a larger image brother, Baldwin of Boulogne. Godfrey had an older brother, Eustace who also went on crusade, but it's not clear whether or not he traveled with Godfrey. Various other northern lords were in Godfrey's forces, but being the duke he was chosen as leader.

The army left around the middle of August 1096, taking the Rhine-Danube route. When he arrived at the Hungarian border, King Coloman delayed him for three weeks, evidently concerned by the arrival of yet another army from the West, Godfrey having arrived in the wake of Gottschalk and Volkmar and Count Emicho. The Crusaders were angered by Coloman's suspicions and the King and Count had a series of personal discussions. Godfrey volunteered his brother to act as hostage for the Crusaders' good behavior. Baldwin was not very happy about this, but grudgingly agreed.

The army moved through Hungary under a strong guard, but there were no incidents, and Baldwin was returned at the Byzantine border. Belgrade was still deserted, so the army marched to Nish, where they were accorded a plentiful market. From there they went to Sofia and Philippopolis. Some tension arose when Godfrey learned that Hugh of Champagne had been taken prisoner by the Emperor, but it was straightened out soon after the army arrived at Constantinople, just before Christmas of 1096.

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