BAUDOUIN II DE COURTENAY, EMPEROR OF CONSTANTINOPLE (1217-1273). Deed signed, granting the Saint Samson Hospital of Constantinople rights to the house of the hospital of Namur. Palace of the Blachernes, Constantinople, 11 July 1240.
1 page (111 x 178 mm), ink on vellum skin, cinnabar inscriptions in the lower part of the document. In Latin and Greek. Probably one seal is missing. Signed in cinnabar by the emperor with a symbol of the cross. The other characters, in Greek, date the charter (ancient folds, marginal freckles). Provenance: on the back, later classification indications.
Extremely rare document, with signature in cinnabar, imperial privilege. Baudouin II is the last Latin emperor of Constantinople, and the only one to be porphyrogenet, literally "born in purple", i.e. son of an emperor. His father, Peter II, died in captivity when Baudouin was only two years old. The imperial crown was successively worn by two of his older brothers, and then fell to him at the age of eleven. Crowned in 1231, Baudouin will have a difficult reign. Besieged by the Bulgarians, he had no choice but to go to Europe to seek military support. He sold part of his possessions in Europe to finance the defence of the Empire. He visited St. Louis, who was reluctant to offer him direct military aid, but was much more interested in buying the Crown of Thorns, which Baudouin had pledged to a Venetian merchant, with a large part of his treasure hastily amassed at the time of his departure. Saint Louis acquires the relic for the colossal sum of 135,000 tournament pounds, more than half the annual income of the royal estate. The Sainte Chapelle will be built to serve as its stone case. Chased out of Constantinople by Michel Palaeologus in 1261, Baudouin will never succeed in taking back his throne, until his death in 1273. The present charter grants the Saint Samson Hospital of Constantinople rights to the house of the hospital of Namur, to assist the infirm and the miserable. In 1244, Baudouin addressed a letter to the mayor of Namur asking that these instructions be carried out - the archives being incomplete, it is not known if this was the case. The document presents a spectacular inscription in cinnabar, a privilege of the emperors of Constantinople, which was usually affixed by an inkstand attendant (épi tou kanikleiou). It is accompanied by a cross which is said to be the emperor's autograph subscription.
The letters of Baldwin II are extremely rare documents - we have not found any comparable documents for public sale.
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