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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art


b. 1105, Jerusalem; d. 1161, Jerusalem

Melisande (Melisende) was born to King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, a Frankish kingdom since 1099 when it was wrested from the Muslims. The king had raised Melisande to be his sole heir and the ruler of Jerusalem. Baldwin married her to Fulk V of Anjou, who took the throne with Melisande upon her father’s death in 1131. They struggled for power through most of their marriage but Fulk was eventually outmaneuvered by Melisande’s supporters. After his death in 1143, Melisande’s son, Baldwin III, was crowned co-ruler and this created a new power struggle, between mother and son. They were eventually reconciled and Melisande remained a political force until her death, caused by a stroke.