Morphia of Melitene

Deceased Person

– 1126


Who was Morphia of Melitene?

Morphia of Melitene, or Morfia, or Moraphia was the wife of Baldwin II, king of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Morphia was the daughter of an Armenian nobleman named Gabriel, the ruler of the city of Melitene. Although ethnically Armenian, the family practised the Greek Orthodox faith. Melitene was a neighbour of the crusader County of Edessa, and Gabriel soon became a vassal of the county. The future Baldwin II of Jerusalem was also count of Edessa after 1100, and he consolidated his position in the county by marrying Morphia around 1101. Gabriel, who was very wealthy, gave 50,000 gold bezants as a dowry.

Baldwin was a crusader knight who carved out the Crusader State of Edessa and married Morphia, daughter of the Armenian Prince Gabriel of Melitene, in a diplomatic marriage to fortify alliances in the region. Baldwin and Morphia had four daughters: Melisende, Alice, Hodierna, and Ioveta. The family lived in Edessa until 1118, when her spouse was elected as the King of Jerusalem as successor of his cousin Baldwin I. When Baldwin became King of Jerusalem in 1118, Morphia and her children remained in Edessa.

By the time of his election as king, Baldwin II and Morphia already had three daughters. As the new king, Baldwin II had been encouraged to put away Morphia in favor of a new younger wife with better political connections- one that could yet bear him a male heir. Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa wrote that Baldwin II was thoroughly devoted to his wife, and refused to consider divorcing her. As a mark of his love for his wife, Baldwin II had postponed his coronation until Christmas Day 1119 so that Morphia and his daughters could travel to Jerusalem, and so that Morphia could be crowned alongside him as his queen.

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on July 23, 2013


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