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Response to Review of Godfrey of Bouillon: Duke of Lower Lotharingia, Ruler of Latin Jerusalem, c.1060-1100

I am very grateful to Dr Buck for his close and well-informed reading of my book. I am heartened that he seems to have found its underpinning arguments convincing. A principal aim of the book was to show that a great deal can be gleaned about Godfrey of Bouillon and his career – as well as his epoch – if one considers his life and ancestry in a holistic fashion, rather than, as has sometimes been the case, limit the enquiry only to his exploits on the First Crusade and in its aftermath. While previous studies have painted Godfrey as something of a stooge of Henry IV of Germany in his great struggle with the papacy, it is clear that in fact Godfrey was the scion of a family which had maintained close ties to the reform papacy, and that both he and his predecessors as duke of Lower Lotharingia engaged closely with assertive, reform-minded prelates in their homelands. This, I suggest, places Godfrey’s decision to join the First Crusade in 1095-6 in a rather new light.

It is the case that I address the question of whether material or devotional aspirations competed or aligned in the context of individuals’ decisions to take the cross without explicitly framing it in those terms. In seeking to sketch out the range of dynamics which may have shaped Godfrey’s motives for joining the First Crusade, I aimed to present an array of potentially mutually-reinforcing possibilities, rather than a set of sum zero, mutually-exclusive factors. As I put it on p. 106, ‘It was possible for secular aristocrats at the time of the First Crusade to see no inconsistency between possessing a profound devotion to their faith and being sufficiently vigorous in military matters that they thought to target religious houses’ when preparing for the First Crusade. Riley-Smith, as I note there, knew that these men could be ‘both rough and pious’. I particularly enjoyed Dr Buck’s description of the debates over the prospect of appointing a king in Jerusalem after the First Crusade as a ‘thorny issue’, since of course the precedent of Christ’s wearing of the Crown of Thorns during His Passion was a significant bone of contention among the crusaders during those debates.

Dr Buck is also correct to note that the epilogue acts as a kind of trailer for a future project which will explore the development of Godfrey’s posthumous reputation after his death in 1100 in more detail. The constraints of the word limit and time prevented me from carrying out more than the brief survey offered in the Epilogue to this book, but I plan to return to this topic in due course.