MembersSex, Intrigue and a Psalter Part I

Among the many manuscripts stored at the British Museum is the Melisende Psalter.

By Avshalom Kapach |
A 12th CENTURY ARTIFACT from the Crusader Period Photo: Creative Commons

This Book of Psalms contains drawings from the 12th century Crusader Period in the Holy Land. It was a gift to the Queen of Jerusalem, Melisende, from her husband Fulk V. The book was intended as a token of conciliation due to their complicated relationship, which was dominated by political intrigues, sex scandals, accusations and gossip. The introduction to the book says, “Anyone who takes pleasure in speaking evil about people who are not present is not worthy to eat at this table.”


Melisende was born in 1105 in Jerusalem. She was the eldest of the four daughters of Baldwin II, the King of Jerusalem in the Crusader state (the Kingdom of Jerusalem). When Melisende grew up, her father planned to marry her off so that he could gain an ally in her husband. Baldwin asked his counterpart, Louis VI of France, to present the most worthy man for his daughter who would then become King of Jerusalem. Louis chose Fulk V,...

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