Stephen I, Count of Sancerre
Stephen I (1133–1190), first Count of Sancerre (1151–1190) and third son of Count Theobald II of Champagne, inherited Sancerre on his father's death, when his elder brothers Henry and Theobald received Champagne and Blois. His holdings were the smallest among the brothers (although William, the youngest, received no land and entered the church instead). Stephen and Theobald did homage to their older brother.
In 1169, a delegation led by Archbishop Frederick de la Roche arrived in France to seek a husband for Sibylla, the daughter of King Amalric I of Jerusalem. Stephen accepted the offer and travelled east with Duke Hugh III of Burgundy in 1170. He brought with him the monies raised by King Louis VII's tax of 1166, which had been levied for four or five years. Stephen's account of how Louis raised the money may have influenced the general tax levied in Jerusalem in 1183.
Since it was anticipated that Stephen might someday be king in right of his wife—Amalric's only son, Baldwin, was a leper—the Haute Cour of Jerusalem invited Stephen to decide the case of the division of the estate of the sonless Henry the Buffalo among his three daughters. Stephen divided it up equally, but ordered the younger two to do homage to the eldest. After several months in the Holy Land, Stephen refused to marry Sibylla and returned home.
In Sancerre, Stephen built a six-towered castle on the local hill and strengthened the fortifications of the town of Sancerre itself. In 1153, he married the daughter of Godfrey of Donzy, named Adelaide, Alice, or Matilda. In 1155, he granted the Customs of Lorris to the merchants of the town and probably seven others. He was the de facto leader among a group of powerful baronial rebels against King Philip Augustus between 1181 and 1185. In 1184, he and a band of Brabançon mercenaries were defeated by the king and his Confrères de la Paix, an organisation of warriors formed in 1182 in Le Puy dedicated to curbing feudal warfare. In 1190, he commenced the abolition of serfdom in his domains, a trend in his family it seems, for his nephew Louis I of Blois did the same in 1196.
Stephen and his brothers went to the Orient (his second time) on the Third Crusade in 1190. He died before 21 October 1190 at the Siege of Acre, and Theobald died there a few months later in January 1191. His son by Alice-Matilda, William I, succeeded him.
- Bernard Hamilton. The Leper King and his Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- Peter W. Edbury. The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade. Ashgate, 1998.