ABSTRACT. Even though its territory included a major part of the Syrian-Palestinian coast, the kingdom of Jerusalem at its largest possessed neither a merchant nor a naval fleet. The kingdom depended wholly on medieval Italian republics for maritime assistance and in turn granted these republics commercial and fiscal advantages. Two small arsenals in Acre and Tyr could construct only small coastal navigation vessels.
RÉSUMÉ. Bien que possédant une grande partie de la côte syro-palestienienne, le royaume de Jérusalem dans sa plus grande extension n'a pas de flotte marchande ni de flotte de guerre. Il dépend totalement de l'assistance maritime des républiques médiévales italiennes, auxquelles il a concédé d'importants privilèges commerciaux et fiscaux. Deux petits arsenaux à Acre et à Tyr n'ont pu construire que de petites unités aptes au cabotage.
The First Crusade ended with the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. The king, elected the following year, and his successors ruled over a state along the Mediterranean coast known as the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. At its height in the mid-twelfth century this state covered the southern part of modern-day Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine to the Sinai Desert in the south, as well as the southern part of Syria and modern-day Jordan in the east. The extension of its territory varied widely after 1191, yet was mostly limited to a narrow stretch of land along the Mediterranean. The kingdom pursued its existence until 1291, when it was overrun by the forces of Mamluk Egypt.
The armies of the First Crusade proceeded by land across the Balkans, Asia Minor and Syria on their way to the Holy Land. They had no fleet of their own and, therefore, in Syria they depended heavily upon naval assistance, reinforcements, and supplies provided by foreign vessels, mostly Byzantine yet also from Genoa, Pisa, Venice, Flanders, and English ships, some of which were apparently in Byzantine service. In their advance further south the crusaders clung to the Mediterranean shore to take advantage of naval support. All that time Byzantine Cyprus served as a major rear-base. The crusaders relied on Western naval squadrons once they reached the region that would be included in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.