Her reign began with an abduction.
In doing so, they ignore a fundamental fact: in November 1190 the Kingdom of Jerusalem had been reduced to the single city of Tyre following the disastrous Battle of Hattin, and the desperate bid to re-capture the city of Acre had bogged down into a war of attrition with the besiegers themselves besieged by the army of Saladin. Jerusalem needed not just a legitimate queen, it needed a king capable of leading the fight for the recovery of the lost kingdom.
The evidence that this was the key factor is provided by the arguments put into the mouth of her mother, the Dowager Queen of Jerusalem and daughter of the Imperial House of Constantinople, who is said to have reminded her daughter of:
"the evil deed that [Humphrey] had done, for when the count of Tripoli and the other barons who were at Nablus wanted to crown him king and her queen, he had fled to Jerusalem and, begging forgiveness, had done homage to Queen Sibylla….So long as Isabella was his wife she could have neither honor nor her father’s kingdom. [Italics added.] Moreover…when she [Isabella] married she was still under age and for that reason the validity of her marriage could be challenged.[ii]
Significantly, the High Court had taken the same stance with regard to her elder sister, who had also been married to an unsuitable man when the death of her son made her the rightful queen. Sibylla had agreed to divorce her detested husband Guy de Lusignan on the condition she be allowed to choose her next husband -- only to blithely announce that she chose her old husband as her “new” husband after she was crowned and anointed. This incident must have been very much in the minds of the barons when they faced a similar situation with her sister Isabella in 1190. They were determined not to repeat their mistake of four years earlier. Isabella had to be legally separated from Humphrey and married to a man they deemed suitable before the High Court would acknowledge her as queen. Once the situation was made clear to her, Isabella changed her testimony and once her marriage to Humphrey was dissolved, she married the man selected by the High Court, Conrad de Montferrat. (For more details on Isabella's highly controversial divorce see:http://defendingcrusaderkingdoms.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-abduction-of-isabella.html)
What this all says is that isabella preferred to wear the (at that point almost worthless) crown of Jerusalem over remaining married to the man she “loved.” So maybe she did not “love” Humphrey all that much? Or she was more ambitious than people give her credit for. Either way she made a choice.
|Conrad and Isabella's formidable opponent: Richard the Lionheart|