Sibylla of Anjou – A life devoted to the Holy Land

Bruges basilica Thierry of Flanders by Ad Meskens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Sibylla of Anjou was born circa 1112 to Fulk V of Anjou and Ermengarde of Maine. Not much is known of her early years, but she married at the age of 11 to William Clito, who was the son of Robert Curthose, who in turn was the eldest son of William the Conqueror. This marriage was annulled in 1124 on the grounds of consanguinity. Sibylla then accompanied her father to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He had been widowed, and in Jerusalem, he married Melisende, who was the heiress of the Kingdom. Sibylla herself didn’t remarry again until 1139, when she married to Thierry, Count of Flanders. It appears she spent the period from 1124 to 1139 in Jerusalem. She returned to Europe with her new husband, who had been on a crusade to the Holy Land.

Sibylla was made regent for the county of Flanders while her husband was away on the second crusade. She was pregnant at the time. She successfully managed a counter-attack on Baldwin IV, Count of Hainaut who took advantage of Thierry’s absence. She travelled with Thierry on the third crusade, but something must have happened either during the journey or before because they separated before they even arrived in Jerusalem. She refused to return home with him and even went as far as becoming a nun. She was a nun at the Convent of St. Mary and St. Martha in Bethany, where a sister of Queen Melisende was abbess. She died there in 1165; her estranged husband outlived her for only three years. Sibylla and Thierry had six children together, of whom at least four lived to adulthood.

Unfortunately, there is no surviving portrait of Sibylla. All we have this statue from the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium.



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My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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