Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy 900+th Birthdays, Fulk the Rude and Fulk Junior!

Gayle's many-greats-grandfathers

These men are an ancestral favorite--partly due to the awesome sobriquet, and partly because one was a Crusader king of Jerusalem!  Their actual birthdates are unknown, but I couldn't leave them out.

Fulk le Rechin (Fulk IV 1043-1109) is mostly translated as "the Rude," although various alternate suggestions are "the quarreler," "the heretic," "the lame," "the clubfoot," "the surly," and "the heroic."  At our house, we prefer THE RUDE because it makes for such entertaining dinnertime discussion.  There is even a facebook group in his honor, with 175 descendants claiming his lineage.

coins minted by Fulk IV 
Fulk the Rude's son Fulk (actually Fulk V 1089-1143) was the stepson of King Philip I of France and married Ermengarde in 1110; we are descended from the oldest of their four children, Geoffrey (a redheaded Plantagenet).  

Fulk was the French Count of Anjou.  He went on a crusade in 1120, where he became a close friend of the Knights Templar. After his return he began to subsidize the Templars, and maintained two knights in the Holy Land for a year.  
the Dome of the Rock--already 300 years old when the Crusaders arrived
In 1127 Fulk was preparing to return to Anjou when he received an embassy from King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who was looking for a husband for his daughter.  Fulk was not only a wealthy crusader and experienced military commander, but by now a widower. Fulk abdicated his county seat of Anjou to his son Geoffrey and married Melisende in Jerusalem, spending the next dozen years ruling by her side.  History shows that she was a strong and independent woman who really ran the show.

Crusader arch built in Jerusalem (St. Anne's church)
In 1143, while the king and queen were on holiday in Acre, Fulk was killed in a hunting accident.  He was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. 
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
(Fulk was a recent discovery--
if I'd only known to look for his grave
when I was there a few years ago!)
According to a contemporary, Fulk was “a ruddy man, like David... faithful and gentle, affable and kind... an experienced warrior full of patience and wisdom in military affairs.” His chief fault was an inability to remember names and faces.  

I would give him face recognition software to use on his iphone to keep those knights in visors straight!


  1. Most interesting. I had to laugh at your birthday gift!

  2. Love it! I'd give them the ability to change their name: I wouldn't want to be "Fulk," much less "Fulk the Rude," forever.