MONTFERRAT, COUNT OF, a title derived from a ter ritory south of the Po and east of Turin, and held by a family who were in the 12th century one of the most considerable in Lombardy. In 1147 a count of Montferrat took part in the second crusade. In 1176 William Longsword, eldest of the five sons of Count William III., came to the kingdom of Jerusalem, on the invitation of Baldwin IV. and the baronage, and married the heiress of the kingdom, Sibylla. He died within a few months; but his wife bore a posthumous son, who became Baldwin V. Count William III., himself (uncle to Philip of France and brother-in-law to Conrad III.) afterwards came to the Holy Land to watch over the interests of his grandson; and he was taken prisoner by Saladin at Hittin in 1187. Shortly after the battle of Hittin Count William's second son, Conrad, appeared. Conrad, following the family tradition, and invited by the em peror Isaac Angelus, had gone to serve at the court of Constan tinople. He soon became important ; married Isaac's sister, and defeated and killed a usurper ; but he was repaid by ingratitude and suspicion, and fled to Palestine in 1187. Putting into Tyre he saved the city from the Mohammedan conquest which fol lowed Saladin's victory at Hittin. He established himself firmly in Tyre (refusing admission to Guy, the king of Jerusalem) ; and from it he both sent appeals for aid to Europe and des patched reinforcements to the crusaders, who, from 1188 on wards, were engaged in the siege of Acre. His elder brother had been the husband of the heiress Sibylla, who had carried the crown to Guy de Lusignan by her second marriage, and on her death Conrad married her younger sister, Isabella, now the heir ess of the kingdom, and claimed the crown (I 19o). The struggle between Conrad and Guy, supported by Philip Augustus and Rich ard I. respectively, paralysed the energies of the Christians in
1191. After the departure of Philip, Conrad fomented the oppo sition of the French to Richard, and even intrigued with Saladin against him. But Richard was finally forced to recognize him as king (April 1192) . In the very hour of success, however, Conrad was struck down by the emissaries of the Old Man of the Moun tain (the chief of the Assassins).
Another son of Count William III., Boniface of Montferrat, the younger brother of Conrad, was chosen leader of the fourth crusade in 1201, on the death of Theobald of Champagne. In the winter of 1201-02 he visited Philip of Swabia; and there he arranged the diversion of the fourth crusade to Constantinople (see CRUSADES) . Yet in the course of the crusade he showed himself not unsubmissive to Innocent III., who was entirely opposed to such a diversion. After the capture of Zara, however, he joined the crusaders, and played a great part in all the events which followed till the capture of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204. But Baldwin of Flanders was elected emperor over his head ; and his irritation was not wholly allayed by the grant of Macedonia, the north of Thessaly, and Crete (which he after wards sold to Venice). In 1207 he was killed in battle with the Bulgarians. He left a son Demetrius, who assumed the title of king of Thessalonica, which the father had never borne (cf. Luchaire, Innocent III.: La question d'Orient, p. 190). In 1222 Demetrius lost his kingdom to Theodore Angelus, and the house of Montferrat its connection with the East.
See Savio, Studi storici sul marchese Guglielmo III. di Monferrato (Turin, 1885) ; Ilgen, Markgraf Konrad von Montferrat (188o) ; and also the works of Cerrato (Turin, 1884) and Desimoni (Genoa, 1886).