Boniface I, marquess of Montferrat, 1st king of Thessalonica

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King Boniface I Aleramici, marquess of Montferrat

Italian: re Bonifacio I Aleramici, marchese del Monferrato, German: könig Bonifatius I. Aleramiden, markgraf von Montferrat
Also Known As: "Bonifazio"
Birthplace: Montferrat, Itlay
Death: September 04, 1207 (56-57)
Mosynopolis, Rhodope Mountains, Greece (killed returning from a raid on Bulgarian territory)
Immediate Family:

Son of William V Aleramici, "the Old" marquess of Montferrat and Judith of Babenberg
Husband of Helena del Bosco; Jeanne de Châtillon, of Antioch; Eleonore de Savoie and Margaret Maria de Saint Omer, princess of Hungary
Father of Guglielmo VI degli Aleramici, marchese del Montferrato; Agnes of Hainaut, of Montferrat; Corrado di Montferrato; Beatrice del Carretto, del Monferrato and Demetrius Aleramici del Monferrato, king of Tessalonica
Brother of William "Longsword" of Montferrat, count of Jaffa & Ascalon; Beatrice Aleramici, del Monferrato; Conrad I de Montferrat, king of Jerusalem; Agnes Guidi, of Montferrat; Alasia Aleramici, del Monferrato and 2 others

Occupation: 9th Marquess of Montferrat. Leader of the 4th Crusade(1201-04). 1st King of Thessalonica(1204-07).
Notability: Leader of the 4th Crusade
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Boniface I, marquess of Montferrat, 1st king of Thessalonica

Narrated by the famous provençal troubadour, friend and comrade in arms Raimbaut de Vaqueiras

-,_Marquess_of_Montferrat (interactive multilingual link)

Boniface I, usually known as Boniface of Montferrat (Italian: Bonifacio del Monferrato; Greek: Βονιφάτιος Μομφερρατικός, Vonifatios Momferratikos) (c. 1150 – 4 September 1207), was the ninth Marquess of Montferrat (from 1192), the leader of the Fourth Crusade (1201–04) and King of Thessalonica (from 1205).

Early life

Boniface was the third son of William V of Montferrat and Judith of Babenberg, born after his father's return from the Second Crusade. He was a younger brother of William "Longsword", Count of Jaffa and Ascalon, and of Conrad I of Jerusalem. His youthful exploits in the late 1170s are recalled in the famous "epic letter", Valen marques, senher de Monferrat, by his good friend and court troubadour, Raimbaut de Vaqueiras. These included the rescue of the heiress Jacopina of Ventimiglia from her uncle Count Otto, who was intending to deprive her of her inheritance and send her to Sardinia. Boniface arranged a marriage for her. When Albert of Malaspina (husband of one of Boniface's sisters) abducted Saldina de Mar, a daughter of a prominent Genoese family, Boniface rescued her and restored her to her lover, Ponset d'Aguilar. Like the rest of the family, he also supported his cousin Frederick I Barbarossa in their wars against the independent city communes of the Lombard League.

Boniface's eldest brother, William, had died in 1177, soon after marrying Sibylla, the heiress presumptive to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1179, the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos offered his daughter Maria Porphyrogenita as a bride to one of the sons of William V. Since Boniface, like his older brother Conrad, was already married, and Frederick was a priest, the youngest brother, Renier, married her instead, only to be murdered along with her during the usurpation of Andronikos.

In 1183, Boniface's nephew Baldwin V was crowned co-king of Jerusalem. William V went out to the Latin Kingdom to support his grandson, leaving Conrad and Boniface in charge of Montferrat. However, in 1187, Conrad also left for the East: Isaac II Angelos had offered his sister Theodora to Boniface as a wife, to renew the family's Byzantine alliance, but Boniface had just married for the second time, while Conrad was a recent widower.

In 1189, Boniface joined the council of regency for Thomas I of Savoy, son of his cousin Humbert III, until the boy came of age about two years later. In 1191, after the new Emperor Henry VI granted him the county of Incisa, a fifteen-year war broke out against the neighbouring communes of Asti and Alessandria. Boniface joined the Cremona League, while the two cities joined the League of Milan. Boniface defeated the cities at Montiglio in June that year, but the war as a whole went badly for the dynasty's interests. At Quarto[clarification needed], he and Vaqueiras saved his brother-in-law Alberto of Malaspina when he was unhorsed. The first phase of the war ended with a truce in April 1193. By now, Boniface was Marquess of Montferrat, following the deaths of his father in 1191 and of Conrad, the newly elected King of Jerusalem, in 1192. (No claim to Montferrat ever seems to have been made on behalf of Conrad's posthumous daughter Maria.)

In June 1194, Boniface was appointed one of the leaders of Henry VI's expedition to Sicily. At Messina, amid the fighting between the Genoese and Pisan fleets, Vaqueiras protected his lord with his own shield – an act which helped the troubador win a knighthood from Boniface that year, after the campaign's successful conclusion: Henry's coronation in Palermo. In October 1197, the truce with Asti ended. Boniface made an alliance with Acqui in June 1198. There were numerous skirmishes and raids, including at Ricaldone and Caranzano, but by 1199 it was clear the war was lost, and Boniface entered into negotiations.

Throughout the 1180s and 1190s, despite the wars, Boniface had nevertheless presided over one of the most prestigious courts of chivalric culture and troubador song. In the 12th century, the Piedmontese language (which in the present day reflects more French and Italian influences) was virtually indistinguishable from the Occitan of Southern France and Catalonia. Besides Vaqueiras, visitors included Peire Vidal, Gaucelm Faidit, and Arnaut de Mareuil. Boniface's patronage was celebrated widely. To Gaucelm, he was Mon Thesaur (My Treasure). Curiously, Vaqueiras sometimes addressed him as N'Engles (Lord Englishman), but the in-joke is never explained. His sister Azalaïs, Marchioness of Saluzzo, also shared this interest and was mentioned by Vidal.

Fourth Crusade

When the original leader of the Fourth Crusade, Theobald III, Count of Champagne, died in 1201, Boniface was chosen as its new leader. He was an experienced soldier, and it was an opportunity to reassert his dynasty's reputation after defeat at home. Boniface's family was well known in the east: his nephew Baldwin and brother Conrad had been Kings of Jerusalem, and his niece Maria was heiress of the kingdom.

Boniface's cousin Philip of Swabia was married to Irene Angelina, a daughter of the deposed Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelos and niece of Conrad's second wife Theodora. In the winter of 1201 Boniface spent Christmas with Phillip in Hagenau, and while there also met with Alexios Angelos, Isaac II's son, who had escaped from the custody of his uncle Alexios III Angelos. At this time the three discussed the possibility of using the crusading army to restore Alexius' right to the throne. Both Boniface and Alexius travelled separately to Rome to ask for Pope Innocent III's blessing for the endeavour; however, Boniface was specifically told by Innocent not to attack any Christians, including the Byzantines.

The Crusader army was in debt to the doge of Venice, who had provided their fleet. He instructed them to attack the rebellious cities of Trieste, Moglia, and Zara and beat them into submission before sailing for Cairo. The Pope was angered by these Christian cities being attacked by a Crusader army. The doge, Enrico Dandolo, was now the true war leader of this Crusade, with Boniface as only a figurehead. Alexius Angelus made many promises to the Crusaders and their principal financer, the doge of Venice, for riches and honors if they would help him reclaim his empire. Dandolo placated the Pope by having Alexius Angelus promise to submit the Orthodox Church to Rome when he was restored to his throne in Constantinople. This being done, the fleet set sail for Constantinople in 1203.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, Boniface was assumed to be the new emperor, both by the western knights and the conquered Byzantine citizens. However, the Venetians vetoed him, believing that he already had too many connections in the Empire (and, likely, felt that they would not have as much influence in the new Empire if Boniface was in control). Instead, they chose Baldwin of Flanders. Boniface founded the Kingdom of Thessalonica and also held all the territories lied east of Bosphorus and territories in Crete, though he later conceded Crete to Baldwin. Late 13th and 14th century sources suggest that Boniface based his claim to Thessalonica on the statement that his younger brother Renier had been granted Thessalonica on his marriage to Maria Komnene in 1180.[1]

Boniface was killed in an ambush by the Bulgarians on 4 September 1207, and his head was sent to Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan. The loyal Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, who had followed him to the East, probably died with him: it is significant that he composed no planh (lament) in his memory.,%20SALUZZO,%20SAVONA.htm...

BONIFAZIO di Monferrato, son of GUGLIELMO V "il Vecchio" Marchese di Monferrato & his wife Judith of Austria [Babenberg] (1150-killed in battle 4 Sep 1207). The Cronica Alberti de Bezanis names "Gullielmus Spatam-longam, Conradum, Bonifacium, Fredericum et Raynerium" as the five sons of "Gulielmus marchio Montisferati" & his wife[149]. Regent of Monferrato 1191. He succeeded his brother in 1192 as BONIFAZIO I Marchese di Monferrato. He assisted Emperor Heinrich VI King of Germany in his conquest of Sicily in 1194[150]. A charter dated 13 Jun 1199 records an agreement between the communes of Alessandria, Asti and Vercelli and "dominum Bonifacium marchionem Montisferrati et Gulielmum filius eius"[151]. He joined the movement for a Fourth Crusade, and was elected leader on the death of Thibaut III Comte de Champagne[152], a decision which was ratified at Soissons in Aug 1201[153]. "Bonifatius marchio Montisferrati" granted the right to wood in "bosco Lucedii" to the church of Ca sale by charter dated 21 Jul 1202[154]. Under the terms of the partition of the Byzantine Empire agreed in March 1204 between Venice and the crusading armies, approximately 3/8 of the territory of the former empire was to be distributed between the crusaders. Bonifazio, as leader of the crusade, expected to be installed as emperor of the newly formed Latin Empire of Constantinople. He married the widow of ex-Emperor Isaakios II in order to advance his claims, but he was outmanoeuvred by Enrico Dandolo Doge of Venice who secured the appointment of Baudouin IX Count of Flanders whom he considered a less powerful candidate[155]. Bonifazio was assigned a large fief in Anatolia, but demanded Thessaloniki which he claimed belonged as of right to his family since Emperor Manuel I had granted his brother Ranieri a large estate there. At a meeting with Venetian representatives at Adrianople 12 Aug 1204, he ceded the island of Crete (which he claimed had been given as a fief to his brother Ranieri by Emperor Manuel I) to Venice and bought Venice's rights to Thessaloniki[156]. Bonifazio captured Demotika and besieged Adrianople to press his claim. Peace was soon mediated, and Emperor Baudouin exchanged Demotika for Thessaloniki, where Bonifazio declared himself King of Thessaloniki. He extended his kingdom northwards to include Macedonia and southwards into Thessaly[157]. His fiefs were Othon de la Roche (for Attika and Boetia, later to form the duchy of Athens), Guillaume de Champlitte and, after his death, Geoffroy de Villehardouin (for the principality of Achaia or Morea in Peloponese). He was faced with continual threats from the north from the Bulgarians and, against this common threat, allied himself with Henri Latin Emperor of Constantinople, confirmed by the marriage of his daughter to the emperor[158]. He was killed by a small Bulgarian raiding party, his head being sent as a trophy to Kalojan Tsar of Bulgaria[159]. The Cronica of Sicardi Bishop of Cremona records the death in 1207 of "Bonifacius marchio Montis-ferrati" killed in battle[160].

m firstly (before 1171) ELENA di Bosco, daughter of ---. The Chronica Jacobi de Aquis, dated to 1334, names "la figliola del Marchese del Bosco" as the first wife of "Bonifacio"[161]. ... [four] children:

  • 1. [CORRADO (-before 13 Jun 1199).
  • 2. GUGLIELMO (-Thessaly 17 Sep 1225).
  • 3. AGNESE di Monferrato (-1208).
  • 4. BEATRICE di Monferrato .

m secondly ([late 1186/early 1187]) ---. According to Niketas Choniates, Bonifazio had remarried in late 1186-early 1187[162]. The identity of his second wife is not known. [The following source suggests that she was Jeanne de Châtillon, daughter of Renaud de Châtillon-sur-Loing & his first wife Constance Pss of Antioch. ... ...]

m thirdly (May 1204) as her second husband, MARGIT of Hungary, widow of Emperor ISAAKIOS II, daughter of BÉLA III King of Hungary & his first wife Agnès [Anna] de Châtillon-sur-Loing (1175-after 3 Mar 1229). ... ... ... ... child:

  • 5. DEMETRIO ([1205]-Melfi 1230).

- - Terzogenito, tra i figli maschi, del marchese Guglielmo V (alias III, alias IV) e di Iulita d'Austria, sorella uterina di Corrado III, re dei Romani, nacque verso la metà del sec. XII....

1201...A Soissons, circa il 10 settembre, B. accettò ufficialmente il comando dell'armata, ricevette la croce dal vescovo della città ed ebbe in consegna i fondi raccolti...

Il prestigio di B., in ogni modo, doveva essere alto se Umberto III di Savoia, conte di Morienna, prima di morire (4 marzo 1189), lo volle membro del Consiglio di reggenza per il figlio minorenne Tommaso I...

Intanto, morto, probabilmente nell'estate del 1191, il padre e assassinato il 28 apr. 1192 in Oriente il fratello Corrado, B. e suo figlio Guglielmo, nato verosimilmente nella terz'ultima decade del sec. XII da una donna della famiglia dei marchesi del Bosco, erano rimasti gli unici rappresentanti maschili della dinastia monferrina....

Dalle nozze con l'ex imperatrice Maria, convertita ora alla religione cattolica, gli era intanto nato un erede che, dal nome del santo protettore di Salonicco, egli volle chiamato Demetrio.

..B. nel 1206 si riavvicinò ad Enrico di Fiandra, fratello di Baldovino e suo successore, prima come reggente e poi, dal 20 ag. 1206, come imperatore, offrendogli in moglie, per mezzo di Ottone de la Roche, a cui aveva dato la signoria di Atene, la figlia Agnese...

...Rientrato a Mosinopoli, decise di compiere una incursione nella regione dei Rodopi contro bande di predoni bulgari. Durante il ritorno, la sua retroguardia fu assalita; mentre cercava di soccorrerla B. venne trucidato dai Bulgari (4 sett. 1207).


His 2nd and/or 3rd (and uncertain 4th) wives and 3 or 5 children are uncertain:

  • MedLands 3 wives and 5 children
    • by 1st ELENA di Bosco:
      • 1 CORRADO
      • 2 GUGLIELMO (-Thessaly 17 Sep 1225).
      • 3. AGNESE di Monferrato (-1208).
      • 4. BEATRICE di Monferrato
    • by 2nd JEANNE de Châtillon: childless
    • by 3rd MARGIT of Hungary
      • 5. DEMETRIO
  • Wikipedia 2 wives and 4 children
    • by 1st Helena del Bosco:
      • 1. William VI,
      • 2. Beatrice (∞Henry II del Carretto), ENRICO di Caretto
      • 3. Agnes of Montferrat (∞Henry of Flanders)
    • by 2nd Margaret of Hungary:
      • 4. Demetrius King of Thessalonica
  • EuWeb 3 wives and 3 children
    • by 1st Helene di Busca:
      • 1. Guglielmo VII;
    • by 2nd Sofia/Alice di Savoia:
      • 2. Demetrios and
      • 3. Agnes (m. Henri de Courtenay)
    • by 3rd Margareta of Hungary: childless
  • Geni 22. Nov. 2012.
    • by 2nd Eleonore de Savoyen: childless



Ct Aleramo I di Savona, Marchese di Liguria and Piedmont, sn de Montferrat (954-991), titles confirmed by Emperor Otto I 23.3.967, +991; VII.961 Gerberge of Italy (*945 +986)

  • A1. Oddone I, +before 991; m.Marie N
    • B1. Guglielmo III Marchese di Montferrato, +after 1031*** ...
      • C2. Oddone II Marchese di Montferrato (1044-84), +20.11.1084; m.Constanza di Savoia
        • D1. Guglielmo IV Marchese di Montferrato (1084-1100), *ca 1040, +ca 1100; m.Aude/Otta d'Aglie (*ca 1045), dau.of Tibaldo d’Aglie (? Agledo)
          • E1. Rainier II, Marchese di Montferrato (1100-35), *ca 1075, +1135-37; m.1105 Gisela de Bourgogne (*ca 1070 +after 1133)
            • F1. Guglielmo V "il Vecchio", Marchese di Montferrato (1135-88/90), *ca 1110, +1188/91; m.before 28.3.1133 Judith von Babenberg (*ca 1115 +after 18.10.1168)
              • ...
              • G3. Rainer di Montferrato, *1163, +of poisoning 1182; m.1180 Maria Komnene (*1152 +1182)
              • G4. Bonifacio I, Marchese di Montferrato (1192-1207), King of Thessalonica (1204-07), *1150, battle with Bulgars 4.9.1207; 1m: by 1170 Helene di Busca (+by 1204); 2m: Sofia/Alice di Savoia (+1202); 3m: 1204 Margareta of Hungary (*1175 +after 1223)
                • H1. [1m.] Guglielmo VII, Marchese di Montferrato (1207-25), *ca 1170, +24.9.1225; 1m: 1187 Sophie von Staufen (+ca 1187); 2m: 9.8.1202 Berta di Clavesana (*ca 1180 +by 1224), dau.of Mgve Boniface di Clavesana/Gravesanna
                • ...
              • H2. [2m.] Demetrios, King of Thessalonica (1207-22) abdicated, *1205, +1227/before 1240
              • H3. [2m.] Agnes, Emps of Constantinople, *ca 1180, +1208; m.4.2.1207 Henri de Courtenay, Emperor of Constantinople (*ca 1176 +11.7.1216)
view all 12

Boniface I, marquess of Montferrat, 1st king of Thessalonica's Timeline

Montferrat, Itlay
Montferrat, Italy
Montferrat, Italy
Thessaloniki, Greece
September 4, 1207
Age 57
Mosynopolis, Rhodope Mountains, Greece