Lord of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine and the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, (1060 - 1100)
He was born around 1058 at Baisy-Thy, near Nivelles (Walloon Brabant province, Wallonia). He inherited substantial lands from his father-in-law, and was inspired by a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit at Huy near Liège to sell them to the Prince-Bishop of Liège, to finance his participation in the First Crusade. This extended the Prince-Bishop’s territory and influence from Limburg to the French border.
He was accompanied on the crusade by his brothers Eustace and Baldwin: they and their army left in 1096 and made their way via Constantinople, Nicea and Antioch to Jerusalem, where the Saracens were defeated in 1099 and Godfrey was elected King, but preferred to use the more humble title “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre”.
Godfrey’s subsequent victory at the Battle of Ascalon in 1100 was short-lived as he fell ill in Ceasarea and died in Jerusalem after a long illness on 18 July.(It is rumoured that the illness was caused by a poisoned cedar fruit sent from the Emir of Ceasarea).
His brother Baldwin was subsequently crowned King of Jerusalem on 25th December 1100. An equestrian statue of Baldwin by the sculptor Eugène Simonis was unveiled in Brussels’ Place Royale in 1848.