First Crusade

Author:      Cox, Sir George W.

Part I.

 

1096 - 1099

 

 

 

     Religious feeling in the eleventh century rose to a great pitch of

enthusiasm, and led men of various nations, with still more various motives

and aims in worldly affairs, to pursue one common end with their whole heart.

Between the years 1096 and 1270 these attempts of Christian nations to rescue

the Holy Land from the "Infidels," as the Mahometans were called, added a

wholly new character of human enterprise to the world's history.

 

     At the time - in the middle of the eleventh century - when the Seljuks, a

Turkish tribe of Western Asia, had overrun Syria and Asia Minor, throwing the

East into a state of anarchy, Europe was beginning to adopt modes of settled

order.  Through the Byzantine empire great numbers of pilgrims for centuries

had passed to visit Palestine.  With the improved condition of the western

nations, which led to an extension of commerce in the East, the pilgrimage to

that part of the world acquired a new importance.  As early as 1064 a caravan

of seven thousand pilgrims made their way to the neighborhood of Jerusalem,

where they narrowly escaped destruction by the Bedouins, their rescue being

effected by a Saracen emir.

 

     In 1070 the Seljuks took possession of Jerusalem, inflicting hardships on

the pilgrims by intolerable exactions, insult, and plunder.  Besides outraging

Christian sentiment, they ruined the commerce of the western nations.

Throughout Europe arose the cry for vengeance, and men's minds were fully

prepared for an attempt to conquer Palestine when their leaders began to

preach the sacred duty of delivering the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the

infidels.

 

     At the Council of Clermont, in 1094, Pope Urban II depicted the miseries

of Christians in Palestine, and, with a power of eloquence unsurpassed in his

day, called upon those who heard him to wipe off from the face of the earth

the impurities which caused them, and to lift their oppressed

fellow-Christians from the depths into which they had been trampled.  He urged

them to take up arms in the service of the Cross, at the same time setting

before them the temporal, no less than the spiritual, advantages that would

accrue from the conquest of a land "flowing with milk and honey," and which,

he said, should be divided among them.  He likewise offered them full pardon

for all their sins.

 

     The enthusiasm of his hearers burst all bounds, and with one voice they

cried: "God wills it!  God wills it!" To all parts of Europe the fervor

spread.  The Pope was powerfully aided by an earnest and eloquent - if

ignorant - monk, Peter the Hermit, of Amiens, who declared that he would rouse

the martial spirit of Europe in the cause, and he himself was the first - with

whatsoever of misguided zeal - to lead the way to the Holy Land.

 

     The crusades are so called from the simple circumstance that the badge

chosen for the movement was the cross, which Pope Urban bade the Christian

warriors wear on their breasts or on their shoulders, as the sign of Him who

died for the salvation of their souls, and as the pledge of a vow that could

never be recalled.

 

     In the enterprise to which Latin Christendom stood committed, the several

nations or countries of Europe took equal parts; or, rather, no nation, as

such, took any part in it at all; and in this fact we have the explanation of

that want of coherent action, and even decent or average generalship, which is

commonly seen in national undertakings.  For the crusade there was no attempt

at a commissariat, no care for a base of supplies; and the crusading hosts

were a collection of individual adventurers who either went without making any

provisions for their journey or provided for their own needs and those of

their followers from their own resources. The number of these adventurers was

naturally determined by the political conditions of the country from which

they came.  In Italy the struggle between the pope and the antipope went far

toward chilling enthusiasm; and the recruits for the crusading army came

chiefly from the Normans who had followed Robert Guiscard to the sunny

southern lands.  The Spaniards were busied with a crusade nearer home, and

were already pushing back to the south the Mahometan dominion which had once

threatened to pass the barriers of the Pyrenees and carry the Crescent to the

shores of the Baltic Sea.  About ten years before the council of Clermont the

Moslem dynasty of Toledo had been expelled by Alfonso, King of Galicia: the

kingdom of Cordova had fallen twenty years earlier (1065), and while Peter the

Hermit was hurrying hither and thither through the countries of Northern

Europe, the Christians of Spain were winning victories in Murcia, and the land

was ringing with the exploits of the dauntless Cid, Ruy Diaz de Bivar.  By the

Germans the summons to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre was received with

comparative coldness; the partisans of emperors, who had been humbled to the

dust by the predecessors of Urban, if not by himself, were not vehemently

eager to obey it.  The bishops of Salzburg, Passau, and Strasburg, the aged

duke Guelph of Bavaria, had undertaken the toilsome and perilous journey: not

one of them saw their homes again, and their death in the distant East was not

regarded by their countrymen as an encouragement to follow their example.  In

England the English were too much weighed down by the miseries of the

Conquest, the Normans too much occupied in strengthening their position, and

the King, William the Red, more ready to take advantage of the needs of his

brother Robert than to incur any risks of his own.  The great movement came

from the lands extending from the Scheldt to the Pyrenees.  Franks and Normans

alike made ready with impetuous haste for the great adventure; and tens of

thousands, who could not wait for the formation of something like a regular

army, hurried away, under leaders as frantic as themselves, to their

inevitable doom.

 

     Little more than half the time allowed for the gathering of the crusaders

had passed away, when a crowd of some sixty thousand men and women, neither

caring nor thinking about the means by which their ends could be attained,

insisted that the hermit Peter should lead them at once to the Holy City.

Mere charity may justify the belief that some even among these may have been

folk of decent lives moved by the earnest conviction that their going to

Jerusalem would do some good; that the vast majority looked upon their vow as

a license for the commission of any sin, there can be no moral doubt; that

they exhibited not a single quality needed for the successful prosecution of

their enterprise is absolutely certain.  With a foolhardiness equal to his

ignorance Peter undertook the task, in which he was aided by Walter the

Penniless, a man with some pretensions to the soldier-like character.  But the

utter disorder of this motley host made it impossible for them to journey long

together.  At Cologne they parted company; and fifteen thousand under the

penniless Walter made their way to the frontiers of Hungary, while Peter led

onward a host which swelled gradually on the march to about forty thousand.

 

     Another army or horde of perhaps twenty thousand marched under the

guidance of Emico, Count of Leiningen, a third under that of the monk

Gottschalk, a man not notorious for the purity or disinterestedness of his

motives.  Behind these came a rabble, it is said, of two hundred thousand men,

women, and children, preceded by a goose and a goat, or, as some have

supposed, by banners on which, as symbols of the mysterious faith of Gnostics

and Paulicians, the likeness of these animals was painted.  In this vile horde

on pretence was kept up of order or of decency.  Sinning freely, it would

seem, that grace might abound, they plundered and harried the lands through

which they marched, while three thousand horsemen, headed by some counts and

gentlemen, were not too dignified to act as their attendants and to share

their spoil.

 

     But if they had no scruple in robbing Christians, their delight was to

prove the reality of their mission as soldiers of the cross by plundering,

torturing, and slaying Jews.  The crusade against the Turk was interpreted as

a crusade directed not less explicitly against the descendants of those who

had crucified the Redeemer.  The streets of Verdun and Treves and of the great

cities on the Rhine ran red with the blood of their victims; and if some saved

their lives by pretended conversions, many more cheated their persecutors by

throwing their property and their persons either into the rivers or into the

consuming fires.

 

     A space of six hundred miles lay between the Austrian frontier and

Constantinople; and across the dreary waste the followers of Walter the

Penniless struggled on, destitute of money, and rousing the hostility of the

inhabitants whom they robbed and ill-used.  In Bulgaria their misdeeds

provoked reprisals which threatened their destruction; and none perhaps would

have reached Constantinople if the imperial commander at Naissos had not

rescued them from their enemies, supplied them with food, and guarded them

through the remainder of their journey.  These succors involved some costs;

and the costs were paid by the sale of unarmed men among the pilgrims, and

especially of the women and children, who were seized to provide the necessary

funds.  Of those who formed the train of the hermit Peter, seven thousand

only, it is said, reached Constantinople.

 

     Of such a rabble rout the emperor Alexius ^1 needed not to be afraid.  He

had already seen and encountered far larger armies of Normans, Turks, and

Romans; and he now extended to this vanguard of the hosts of Latin Christendom

a hospitality which was almost immediately abused.  They had refused to comply

with his request that they should quietly await the arrival of their

fellow-crusaders; and consulting the safety of his people not less than his

own, he induced them to cross the Bosporus, and pitch their camp on Asiatic

soil, the land which they had come to wrest from the unbelievers.

 

[Footnote 1: Head of the Byzantine empire.]

 

     Alexius wished simply to be rid of their presence: they had to deal with

an enemy still more crafty and formidable in the Seljukian sultan David.  The

vagrants whom Peter and Walter had brought thus far on the road to Jerusalem

were scattered about the land in search of food; and it was no hard task for

David to cheat the main body with the false tidings that their companions had

carried the walls of Nice, and were revelling in the pleasures and spoils of

his capital.  The doomed horde rushed into the plain which fronts the city;

and a vast heap of bones alone remained to tell the story of the great

catastrophe, when the forces which might more legitimately claim the name of

an army passed the spot where the Seljukian had entrapped and crushed his

victims.  In this wild expedition not less, it is said, than three hundred

thousand human beings had already paid the penalty of their lives.

 

     Still the First Crusade was destined to accomplish more than any of the

seven or eight crusades which followed it; and this measure of success it

achieved probably because none of the great European sovereigns took part in

it.  The task of setting up a Latin kingdom in Palestine was to be achieved by

princes of the second order.

 

     Of these the foremost and the most deservedly illustrious was Godfrey, of

Bouillon in the Ardennes, a kinsman of the counts of Boulogne, and Duke of

Lotharingen (Lorraine).  In the service of the emperor Henry IV, the enemy or

the victim of Hildebrand, he had been the first to mount the walls of Rome and

cleave his way into the city; he might now hope that his crusading vow would

be accepted as an atonement for his sacrilege.  Speaking the Frank and

Teutonic dialects with equal ease, he exercised by his bravery, his wisdom,

and the uprightness of his life an influence which brought to his standard, it

is said, not less than eighty thousand infantry and ten thousand horsemen,

together with his brothers Baldwin and Eustace, Count of Boulogne.

 

     Among the most conspicuous of Godfrey's colleagues was Hugh, Count of

Vermandois.  With him may be placed the Norman duke Robert, whose carelessness

had lost him the crown of England, and who had now pawned his duchy for a

pittance scarcely less paltry than that for which Esau bartered away his

birthright.  The number of the great chiefs who led the pilgrims from Northern

Europe is completed with the names of Robert, Count of Flanders, and of

Stephen, Count of Chartres, Troyes, and Blois.

 

     Foremost, by virtue of his title and office, among the leaders of the

southern bands was the papal legate Adhemar (Aymer) Bishop of Puy - a leader

rather as guiding the counsels of the army than as gathering soldiers under

his banner.

 

     A hundred thousand horse and foot attested, we are told, the greatness,

the wealth, and the zeal of Raymond, Count of Toulouse, lord of Auvergne and

Languedoc, who had grown old in warfare.

 

     Less tinged with the fanatical enthusiasm of his comrades, and certainly

more cool and deliberate in his ambition, Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard,

looked to the crusade as a means by which he might regain the vast regions

extending from the Dalmatian coast to the northern shores of the Aegean. Nay,

if we are to believe William of Malmesbury, he urged Urban to set forward the

enterprise for the very purpose, partly, of thus recovering what he was

pleased to regard as his inheritance, and in part of enabling the Pontiff to

suppress all opposition in Rome.  Guiscard had left his Apulian domains to a

younger son, and Bohemond was resolved, it would seem, to add to his

principality of Tarentum a kingdom which would make him a formidable rival of

the Eastern Emperor.

 

     Far above Bohemond rises his cousin Tancred, the son of the marquis Odo,

surnamed the Good, and of Emma, the sister of Robert Guiscard.

 

     In Tancred was seen the embodiment of those peculiar sentiments and modes

of thought which gave birth to the crusades, and to which the crusades in

their turn imparted marvellous strength and splendor.

 

     The miserable remnant of three thousand men who escaped from the field of

blood before the city of the Seljukian sultan found a refuge in Byzantine

territory about the time when the better appointed armies of the crusaders

were setting off on their eastward journey.  The most disciplined of these

troops set out with a vast following from the banks of the Meuse and the

Moselle under Godfrey of Bouillon, who led them safely and without opposition

to the Hungarian border.  Here the armies of Hungary barred the way against

the advance of a host at whose hands they dreaded a repetition of the havoc

wrought by the lawless bands of Peter the Hermit and his self-chosen

colleagues.  Three weeks passed away in vain attempts to get over the

difficulty.  The Hungarian King demanded as a hostage Baldwin, the brother of

the general: the demand was refused, and Godfrey put him to shame by

surrendering himself.  He asked only for a free passage and a free market; but

although these were granted, it was not in his power to prevent some disorder

and some depredations as his army or horde passed through the country.  The

mischief might have been much worse, had not the Hungarian cavalry, acting

professedly as a friendly escort, but really as cautious warders, kept close

to the crusading hosts.

 

     At length they reached the gates of Philippopolis, and here Godfrey

learned that Hugh of Vermandois, whose coming had been announced to the Greek

emperor Alexius by four-and-twenty knights in golden armor, and who styled

himself the brother of the king of kings and lord of all the Frankish hosts,

was a prisoner within the walls of Constantinople.  With Robert of Normandy

and Robert of Flanders, with Stephen of Chartres and some lesser chiefs, Hugh

had chosen to make his way through Italy; and the charms of that voluptuous

land had a greater effect, it seems, in breaking up and corrupting their

forces than the delights of Capua had in weakening the soldiers of Hannibal.

 

     With little regard to order, the chiefs determined to cross the sea as

best they might.  Hugh embarked at Bari; and if we may believe Anna Comnena,

the historian and the worshipper of her father Alexius, his fleet was broken

by a tempest which shattered his own ship on the coast between Palos and

Dyrrhachium (Durazzo), of which John Comnenus, the nephew of the Emperor, was

at this time the governor.  The Frank chief was here detained until the good

pleasure of Alexius should be known.  That wary and cunning prince saw at once

how much might be made of his prisoner, who was by his orders conducted with

careful respect and ceremony to the capital.  Kept here really as a hostage,

but welcomed to outward seeming as a friend, Hugh was so completely won by the

charm of manner which Alexius well knew how and when to put on, that, paying

him homage and declaring himself his man, he promised to do what he could to

induce others to follow his example.

 

     From Philippopolis Godfrey sent ambassadors to Alexius, demanding the

immediate surrender of Hugh.  The request was refused, and Godfrey resumed his

march, treating the land through which he passed as an enemy's country, until

by way of Adrianople he at length appeared before the walls of the capital at

Christmastide, 1096.  The fears of Alexius were aroused by the sight of a host

so vast and so formidable: they quickened into terror as he thought of the

armies which were still on their way under the command of Bohemond and

Tancred.  Of Godfrey, beyond the fact of his mission as a crusader, he knew

little or nothing; but in Bohemond he saw one who claimed as his inheritance

no small portion of his empire.  This gathering of myriads, whom a false step

on his part might convert into open enemies, was the result of his own

entreaties urged through his envoys before Urban II in the Council of

Piacenza; and his mind was divided between a feverish anxiety to hurry them on

to their destination and so to rid himself of their hateful presence, and the

desire to retain a hold not only on the crusading chiefs but on any conquests

which they might make in Syria.

 

     Hugh was sent back to Godfrey's camp; but the quarrel was patched up,

rather than ended.  It was easier to rouse suspicion and jealousy than to

restore friendship.  But it was of the first importance for Alexius that he

should secure the homage of the princes already gathered round his capital

before the arrival of his ancient enemy Bohemond.  In this he succeeded, and a

compact was made by which Alexius pledged them his word that he would supply

them with food and aid them in their eastward march, and would protect all

pilgrims passing through his dominions.  On the other hand the crusading

chiefs, as already subjects of other sovereigns, gave their fealty to the

Emperor as their liege lord only for the time during which they might remain

within his borders, and undertook to restore to him such of their conquests as

had been recently wrested from the empire.

 

     The policy and the bribes of Alexius had overcome the opposition of

Bohemond.  He was to experience a stouter resistance from Raymond of Toulouse,

who, though he had been the first to enlist, was the last to set out on his

crusade.

 

     The Count of Toulouse scarcely regarded himself as the vassal even of the

French King.  He was ready, he said, to be the friend of Alexius on equal

terms; but he would not declare himself to be his man.  On this point he was

immovable, although Bohemond tried the effect of a threat (which was never

forgiven), that if the quarrel came to blows, he should be found on the side

of the Emperor.  But Alexius soon saw that in Raymond he had to deal with an

enthusiast as sincere and persistent as Godfrey.  He took his measures

accordingly, winning the heart of the old warrior, although he failed to

compel his obedience.

 

     While Alexius was busied in dealing with Godfrey and Raymond, Bohemond

and Tancred, he was not less anxiously occupied with the task of sending

across the Bosporus the swarms which might soon become an army of devouring

locusts round his own capital.  It was easier to give them a welcome than to

get rid of them: and more than two months had passed since Christmas, when the

followers of Godfrey found themselves on the soil of Asia.

 

     Godfrey's men had no sooner been landed on the eastern side of the

Bosporus than all the vessels which had transported them were brought back to

the western shore.  With great astuteness, and at the cost of large gifts,

Alexius in like manner freed the neighborhood of his capital from the invading

multitudes.  As fast as they came they were hurried across, and the Emperor

breathed more freely when, on the Feast of Pentecost, not a single Latin

pilgrim remained on the European shore.

 

     The danger of conflict had throughout been imminent; and the danger

arose, not so much from the fact that the crusaders were armed men, marching

through the country of professed allies, but from the thorough antagonism

between Greeks and Latins in modes of thought and habits of life.  Nor must we

forget the vast gulf which separated the Eastern from the Western clergy. The

clergy of the West despised their brethren of the East for their cowardly

submission to the secular arm.  These, in their turn, shrunk with horror from

the sight of bishops, priests, and monks riding with blood-stained weapons

over fields of battle, and exhibiting at other times an ignorance equal to

their ferocity.

 

     The strength and valor of the crusaders were soon to be tested.  They

were now face to face with the Turks, on whose cowardice Urban II had enlarged

with so much complacency before the Council of Clermont.  The sultan David, or

Kilidje Arslan, placed his family and treasures in his capital city of Nice

and retreated with fifty thousand horsemen to the mountains, whence he swooped

down from time to time on the outposts of the Christians.  By these his city

was formally invested; and for seven weeks it was assailed to little purpose

by the old instruments of Roman warfare, while some of the besiegers shot

their weapons from the hill on which were mouldering the bones of the fanatic

followers of Peter.  It was protected to the west by the Askanian lake, and so

long as the Turks had command of this lake they felt themselves safe.  But

Alexius sent thither on sledges a large number of boats, and the city,

subjected to a double blockade, submitted to the Emperor, who was in no way

anxious to see the crusaders masters of the place. The crusaders were making

ready for the last assault, when they saw the imperial banner floating on the

walls.  Their disappointment at the escape of the miscreants, or unbelievers,

for so they delighted to speak of them, was vented in threats which seemed to

bode a renewal of the old troubles; but Alexius, with gifts, which added force

to his words, professed that his only desire now, as it had been, was to

forward them safely on their journey.  Nor had they to go many stages before

they found themselves again confronted with their adversary.

 

     The conflict took place near the Phrygian Dorylaion, and seemed at first

to portend dire defeat to the crusaders.  More than once the issue of the day

seemed to be turned by the indomitable personal bravery of the Norman Robert,

of Tancred, and of Bohemond; and when even those seemed likely to be borne

down, they received timely succors from Godfrey, and Hugh of Vermandois, from

Bishop Adhemar of Puy and from Raymond, Count of Toulouse.  Still the Turks

held out, and it seemed likely that they would long hold out, when the

appearance of the last division of Raymond's army filled them with the fear

that a new host was upon them.

 

     The crusaders had won a considerable victory.  Three thousand knights

belonging to the enemy had been slain, and Kilidje Arslan was hurrying away to

enlist the services of his kinsmen.  Meanwhile the Latin hosts were sweeping

onward.  Hundreds died from the heat, and dogs or goats took the place of the

baggage-horses which had perished.  At length Tancred with his troop found

himself before Tarsus, the birthplace and the home of that single-hearted

apostle who long ago had preached a gospel strangely unlike the creed of the

crusaders.  Following rapidly behind him, Baldwin saw with keen jealousy the

banner of the Italian chief floating on its towers, and insisted on taking the

precedence.  Tancred pleaded the choice of the people and his own promise to

protect them; but the intrigues of Baldwin changed their humor, and the

rejection of Tancred by the men of Tarsus was followed by an attempt at

private war between Tancred and Baldwin, in which the troops of Tancred were

overborne.  So early was the first harvest of murderous discord reaped among

the holy warriors of the Cross.  It was ruin, however, to stay where they

were; and the main army again began its march, to undergo once more the old

monotony of hardship and peril.

 

     A very small force would have sufficed to disorganize and rout them as

they clambered over the defiles of Mount Taurus; nor could Raymond, recovering

from a terrible illness, or Godfrey, suffering from wounds inflicted by a

bear, have done much to help them.  But for the present their enemies were

dismayed; and Baldwin, brother of Godfrey, hastened with eagerness to obey a

summons which besought him to aid the Greek or Armenian tyrant of Edessa.  As

Alexius had done to his brother, so this chief welcomed Baldwin as his son;

but Baldwin, having once entered into the city, cared nothing for the means

which had brought him thither, and the death of his adoptive father was

followed by the establishment at Edessa of a Latin principality which lasted

for fifty-four, or, as some have thought, forty-seven years.  Baldwin had

anticipated the unconditional surrender of Samosata; but the Turkish governor

had some of the Edessenes in his power, and he refused to give up the city

except on the payment of ten thousand gold pieces.  The Turk shortly afterward

fell into Baldwin's hands, and was put to death.

 

 

 

First Crusade

Author:      Cox, Sir George W.

 

Part II.

 

     Meanwhile the main army of the crusaders was advancing toward the Syrian

capital (Antioch), that ancient and luxurious city whose fame had gone over

the whole Roman world for its magnificence, its unbounded wealth, its soft

delights, and its unholy pleasures.  The days of its greatest splendor had

passed away.  Its walls were partially in ruins; its buildings were in some

parts crumbling away or had already fallen; but against assailants utterly

ignorant and awkward in all that relates to the blockade of cities it was

still a formidable position.  Nor could they invest it until they had passed

the iron bridge - so called from its iron-plated gates - of nine stone arches,

which spanned the stream of the Ifrin at a distance of nine miles from the

city.  This bridge was carried by the impetuous charge of Robert of Normandy,

aided by the more steady efforts of Godfrey; and in the language of an age

which delighted in round numbers, a hundred thousand warriors hurried across

to seize the splendid prize which now seemed almost within their grasp.

 

     But the city was in the hands of men who had been long accustomed to

despise the Greeks, and who had not yet learned to respect the valor of the

Latins.  Preparing himself for a resolute defence, the Seljukian governor

Baghasian had sent away as useless, if not mischievous, most of the Christians

within the town; and the crusading chiefs had begun to discuss the prudence of

postponing all operations till the spring, when Raymond of Toulouse with some

other chiefs insisted that delay would imply fear, and that the imputation of

cowardice would insure the paralysis of their enterprise.  The city was

therefore at once invested, so far as the forces of the crusaders could

suffice to encircle it; and a siege began which in the eyes of the military

historian must be absolutely without interest, and of which the issue was

decided by paroxysms of fanatical vehemence on the one side, and by lack, not

of bravery, but of generalship on the other.  Of the eastern and northern

walls the blockade was complete; of the west it was partial; and the failure

to invest a portion of the western wall, with two out of the five gates of the

city, left the movements of the Turks in this direction free.

 

     But the besiegers were in no hurry to begin the work of death.  The

wealth of the harvest and the vintage spread before them its irresistible

temptations, and the herds feeding in the rich pastures seemed to promise an

endless feast.  The cattle, the corn, and the wine were alike wasted with

besotted folly, while the Turks within the walls received tidings, it is said,

of all that passed in the crusading camp from some Greek and Armenian

Christians to whom they allowed free egress and ingress.  Of this knowledge

they availed themselves in planning the sallies by which they caused great

distress to the besiegers, whose clumsy engines and devices seemed to produce

no result beyond the waste of time, and who felt perhaps that they had done

something when they blocked up the gate of the bridge with huge stones dug

from the neighboring quarries.

 

     Three months passed away, and the crusaders found themselves not

conquerors, but in desperate straits from famine.  The winter rains had turned

the land round their camp into a swamp, and lack of food left them more and

more unable to resist the pestilential diseases which were rapidly thinning

their numbers.  A foraging expedition under Bohemond and Tancred filled the

camp with food; it was again recklessly wasted.  The second famine scared away

Tatikios, the lieutenant of the Greek emperor Alexius; but the crusading

chiefs were perhaps still more disgusted by the desertion of William of Melun,

called "the Carpenter," from the sledge-hammer blows which he dealt out in

battle.  Hunger obtained a victory even over the hermit Peter, who was

stealing away with William of Melun, when he with his companion was caught by

Tancred and brought back to the tent of Bohemond.

 

     For a moment the look of things was changed by the arrival of ambassadors

from Egypt.  To the Fatimite caliph of that country the progress of the

crusading arms had thus far brought with it but little dissatisfaction.  The

humiliation of the Seljukian Turks could not fail to bring gain to himself, if

the flood of Latin conquests could be checked and turned back in time.  His

generals besieged Jerusalem and Tyre; and when the Fatimite once more ruled in

Palestine, his envoys hastened to the crusaders' camp to announce the

deliverance of the Holy Land from its oppressors, to assure to all unarmed and

peaceable pilgrims a month's unmolested sojourn in Jerusalem, and to promise

them his aid during their march, on condition that they should acknowledge his

supremacy within the limits of his Syrian empire.

 

     The arguments and threats of the Caliph were alike thrown away.  The

Latin chiefs disclaimed all interest in the feuds and quarrels of rival

sultans and in the fortunes of Mahometan sects.  God himself had destined

Jerusalem for the Christians, and if any held it who were not Christians,

these were usurpers whose resistance must be punished by their expulsion or

their death.  The envoys departed not encouraged by this answer, and still

more perplexed by the appearance of plenty and by the magnificence of a camp

in which they had expected to see a terrible spectacle of disorder and misery.

 

     The resolute persistence of the besiegers convinced Baghasian of the need

of reinforcements.  These were hastening to him from Caesarea, Aleppo, and

other places, when they were cut off by Bohemond and Raymond, who sent a

multitude of heads to the envoys of the Fatimite Caliph, and discharged many

hundreds from their engines into the city of Antioch.  The Turks had their

opportunity for reprisals when the arrival of some Pisan and Genoese ships at

the mouth of the Orontes drew off the greater part of the besieging army. The

crusaders were returning with provisions and arms, when their enemies started

upon them from an ambuscade.  The battle was fierce; but the defeat of

Raymond, which threatened dire disaster, was changed into victory on the

arrival of Godfrey and the Norman Robert, whose exploits equalled or

surpassed, if we are to believe the story, even those of Arthur, Lancelot, or

Tristram.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of Turks fell.  Their bodies were

buried by their comrades in the cemetery without the walls: the Christians dug

them up, severed the heads from the trunks, and paraded the ghastly trophies

on their pikes, not forgetting to send a goodly number to the Egyptian Caliph,

by way of showing how his Seljukian friends or enemies had fared.  The picture

is disgusting; but if we shut our eyes to these loathsome details, the truth

of the history is gone.  We are dealing with the wars of savages, and it is

right that we should know this.

 

     The next scene exhibits Godfrey and Bohemond in fierce quarrel about a

splendid tent, which, being intended as a gift for the former, had been seized

by an Armenian chief and sent to the latter.  But there was now more serious

business on hand.  Rumor spoke of the near approach of a Persian army, and the

besieged, under the plea of wishing to arrange terms of capitulation, obtained

a truce which they sought probably only for the sake of gaining time.  The

days passed by, but no offers were made; and their disposition was shown by

seizing a crusading knight in the groves near the city and tearing his body in

pieces.  The Latins returned with increased fury to the siege: but the

defence, although more feeble, was still protracted, and Bohemond began to

feel not only that fraud might succeed where force had failed, but that from

fraud he might reap, not safety merely, but wealth and greatness.  His plans

were laid with a renegade Christian named Phirouz, high in the favor of the

governor, with whom he had come into contact either during the truce or in

some other way.  By splendid promises he insured the zealous aid of his new

ally, and then came forward in the council with the assurance that he could

place the city in their hands, but that he could do this only on condition

that he should rule in Antioch as Baldwin ruled in Edessa.  His claim was

angrily opposed by the Provencal Raymond; but this opposition was overruled,

and it was resolved that the plan should be carried out at once.

 

     There was need for so doing.  Rumors spread within the city that some

attempt was to be made to betray the place to the besiegers, and hints or open

accusations pointed out Phirouz as the traitor.  Like other traitors, the

renegade thought it best to anticipate the charge by urging that the guards of

the towers should on the very next day be changed.  His proposal was received

as indubitable proof of his innocence and his faithfulness; but he had made up

his mind that Antioch should fall that night, and that night by means of a

rope ladder Bohemond with about sixty followers (the ropes broke before more

could ascend) climbed up the wall.  Seizing ten towers, of which all the

guards were killed, they opened a gate, and the Christian host rushed in.  The

banner of Bohemond rose on one of the towers; the trumpets sounded for the

onset, and a carnage began in which at first the assailants took no heed to

distinguish between the Christian and the Turk.  In the awful confusion of the

moment some of the besieged made their way to the citadel, and there shut

themselves in, ready to resist to the death.  Of the rest few escaped; ten

thousand, it is said, were massacred.  Baghasian with some friends passed out

beyond the besiegers' lines, but, fainting from loss of blood, he fell from

his horse, and his companions hurried on.  A Syrian Christian heard his

groans, and striking off his head carried the prize to the camp of the

conquerors.  Phirouz lived to be a second time a renegade, and to close his

career as a thief.

 

     The victory was for the crusaders a change from famine to abundance; and

their feasting was accompanied by the wildest riot and the most filthy

debauchery.  But if heedless waste may have been one of the most venial of

their sins, it was the greatest of their blunders.  The reports which spoke of

the approach of the Persians were not false.  The Turks within the citadel

suddenly found that they were rather besiegers than besieged, and that the

Christians were hemmed in by the myriads of Kerboga, Prince of Mosul, and the

warriors of Kilidje Arslan.  The old horrors of famine were now repeated, but

in greater intensity; and the doom of the Latin host seemed now to be sealed.

 

     Stephen, Count of Chartres, had deserted his companions before the fall

of the city; others now followed his example, and with him set out on their

return to Europe.  In Phrygia, Stephen encountered the emperor Alexius, who

was marching to the aid of the crusaders, not only with a Greek army, but with

a force of well-appointed pilgrims who had reached Constantinople after the

departure of Godfrey and his fellows.  The story told by Stephen drove out of

his head every thought except that of his own safety.  The order for retreat

was given; and the pilgrim warriors, not less than the Greeks, were compelled

to turn their faces westward.

 

     In Antioch the crusading soldiers were fast sinking into utter despair.

Discipline had well-nigh come to an end, and so obstinate was their refusal to

bear arms any longer that Bohemond resolved to burn them out of their

quarters.  These were consumed by the flames, which spread so rapidly as to

fill him with fear that he had destroyed, not only their dwellings, but his

whole principality.  His experiment brought the men back to their duty; but so

despondingly was their work done that but for some signal succor the end, it

was manifest, must soon come.  In a credulous age such succor at the darkest

hour, if obtained at all, will generally be obtained through miracle. A

Lombard priest came forward, to whom St. Ambrose of Milan had declared in a

vision that the third year of the crusade should see the conquest of

Jerusalem; another had seen the Saviour himself, attended by his Virgin Mother

and the Prince of the Apostles, had heard from his lips a stern rebuke of the

crusaders for yielding to the seductions of pagan women - as if the profession

of Christianity altered the color and the guilt of a vice - and lastly had

received the distinct assurance that in five days they should have the help

which they needed.

 

     The hopes of the crusaders were roused; with hope came a return of

vigorous energy; and Peter Barthelemy, chaplain to Raymond of Toulouse, seized

the opportunity for recounting a vision which was to be something more than a

dream.  To him St. Andrew had revealed the fact that in the Church of St.

Peter lay hidden the steel head of the spear which had pierced the side of the

Redeemer as he hung upon the cross; and that Holy Lance should win them

victory over all their enemies as surely as the spear which imparted

irresistible power to the Knight of the Sangreal.  After two days of special

devotion they were to search for the long-lost weapon; on the third day the

workmen began to dig, but until the sun had set they toiled in vain.  The

darkness of night made it easier for the chaplain to play the part which Sir

Walter Scott, in the Antiquary, assigns to Herman Dousterswivel in the ruins

of St. Ruth.  Barefooted and with a single garment the priest went down into

the pit.  For a time the strokes of his spade were heard, and then the sacred

relic was found, carefully wrapped in a veil of silk and gold.  The priest

proclaimed his discovery; the people rushed into the church; and from the

church throughout the city spread the flame of a fierce enthusiasm.

 

     Nine or ten months later Peter Barthelemy paid the penalty of his life

for his fraud or his superstition.  A bribe taken by his master Raymond

brought that chief into ill odor with his comrades, and let loose against his

chaplain the tongue of Arnold, the chaplain of Bohemond.  Raymond had traded

on fresh visions of his clerk; and Arnold boldly attacked him in his citadel

by denying the genuineness of the Holy Lance.  Peter appealed to the ordeal of

fire.  He passed through the flames, as it seemed, unhurt.  The bystanders

pressed to feel his flesh, and were vehement in their rejoicings at the result

which vindicated his integrity.  He had really received fatal injuries.

Twelve days afterward he died, and Raymond suffered greatly in his dignity and

his influence.

 

     The infidel was doomed; but the crusaders resolved to give him one chance

of escape.  Peter the Hermit was sent as their envoy to Kerboga to offer the

alternative of departure from a land which St. Peter had bestowed on the

faithful, or of baptism which should leave him master of the city and

territory of Antioch.  The reply was short and decisive.  The Turk would not

embrace an idolatry which he hated and despised, nor would he give up soil

which belonged to him by right of conquest.  The report of the hermit raised

the spirit of the crusaders to fever heat; and on the feast of St. Peter and

St. Paul they marched out in twelve divisions, in remembrance of the mission

of the Twelve Apostles, while Raymond of Toulouse remained to prevent the

escape of the Turks shut up in the citadel.  The Holy Lance was borne by the

papal legate, Adhemar, Bishop of Puy; and the morning air laden with the

perfume of roses was now regarded as a sign assuring them of the divine favor.

They were prepared to see good omens in everything; and they went in full

confidence that departed saints would, as they had been told, take part in the

battle and smite down the infidel.  The fight - one of brute force on the

Christian side, of some little skill as well as strength on the other - had

gone on for some time when such help seemed to become needful. Tancred had

hurried to the aid of Bohemond, who was grievously pressed by Kilidje Arslan;

and Kerboga was bearing heavily on Godfrey and Hugh of Vermandois, when,

clothed in white armor and riding on white horses, some human forms were seen

on the neighboring heights.  "The saints are coming to your aid," shouted the

Bishop of Puy, and the people saw in these radiant strangers the martyrs St.

George, St. Maurice, and St. Theodore.

 

     Without awaiting their nearer approach the crusaders turned on the enemy

with a force and fury which were now irresistible.  Their cavalry could do

little.  Two hundred horses only remained of the sixty thousand which had

filled the plain a few months before.  But the hedge of spears advanced like a

wall of iron, and the Turks gave way, broke, and fled.  It was rout, not

retreat; and with the crusaders victory was followed by the massacre of men,

women, and children.  The garrison in the citadel at once surrendered.  Some

declared themselves Christians and were baptized; those who refused to abandon

Islam were taken to the nearest Mohametan territory.  The city was the prize

of Bohemond; and in his keeping it remained, although Raymond of Toulouse had

made an effort to seize it by hoisting his banner on the walls. The work of

pillage being ended, the churches were cleansed and repaired, and their altars

blazed with golden spoils taken from the infidel.  The Greek Patriarch was

again seated on his throne; but he held his office at the good pleasure of the

Latins, and two years later he was made to give place to Bernard, a chaplain

of the Bishop of Puy.

 

     Ten months had passed away after the conquest of Antioch when the main

body of the crusading army set out on its march to Jerusalem.  They had wished

to depart at once, but their chiefs dreaded to encounter waterless wastes at

the end of a Syrian summer, and for the present they were content to send Hugh

of Vermandois and Baldwin of Hainault as envoys to the Greek Emperor, to

reproach him with his remissness or his want of faith.  But the miseries

endured by Christians and Turks were the pleasantest tidings in the ears of

Alexius, for in the weakening of both lay his own strength; and he saw with

satisfaction the departure of Hugh, not for Antioch, but for Europe, whither

Stephen of Chartres had preceded him.

 

     Winter came, but the chiefs still lingered at Antioch.  Some were

occupied in expeditions against neighboring cities; but a more pressing care

was the plague which punished the foulness and disorder of the pilgrims.  A

band of fifteen hundred Germans, recently landed in strong health and full

equipments, were all, it is said, cut off; and among the victims the most

lamented perhaps was the papal legate Adhemar.  A feeling of discouragement

was again spreading through the army generally.  The chiefs vainly entreated

the Pope to visit the city where the disciples of St. Peter first received the

Christian name; the people were disheartened by the animosities and the

selfish or crooked policy of their chiefs.  Raymond still hankered after the

principality of Antioch, and insisted that Bohemond and his people should

share in the last great enterprise of the crusade.  More disgraceful than

these feuds were the scenes witnessed during the siege and after the conquest

of Marra.  Heedlessness and waste soon brought the assailants to devour the

flesh of dogs and of human beings.  The bodies of Turks were torn from their

sepulchres, ripped up for the gold which they were supposed to have swallowed,

and the fragments cooked and eaten.  Of the besieged many slew themselves to

avoid falling into the hands of the Christians; to some Bohemond, tempted by a

large bribe, gave an assurance of safety.  When the massacre had begun he

ordered these to be brought forward.  The weak and old he slaughtered; the

rest he sent to the slave markets of Antioch.

 

     A weak attempt made by Alexius to detain the crusaders only spurred them

to more vigorous efforts.  They had already left Antioch, and Laodicea was in

their hands, when he desired them to await his coming in June.  The chiefs,

remembering the departure of Tatikios with his Byzantine troops for Cyprus,

retorted that he had broken his compact, and had therefore no further claims

on their obedience.  Hastening on their way, they crossed the plain of Berytos

(Beyrout), overlooked by the eternal snows of Lebanon, along the narrow strip

of land whence the great Phoenician cities had sent their seamen and their

colonists, with all the wealth of the East, to the shores of the Adriatic and

the gates of the Mediterranean.  Having reached Jaffa, they turned inland to

Ramlah, a town sixteen miles only from Jerusalem.

 

     Two days later the crusaders came in sight of the Holy City, the object

of their long pilgrimage, the cause of wretchedness and death to millions. As

their eyes rested on the scene hallowed to them through all the associations

of their faith, the crusaders passed in an instant from fierce enthusiasm to a

humiliation which showed itself in sighs and tears.  All fell on their knees,

to kiss the sacred earth and to pour forth thanksgivings that they had been

suffered to look upon the desire of their eyes.  Putting aside their armor and

their weapons, they advanced in pilgrim's garb and with bare feet toward the

spot which the Saviour had trodden in the hours of his agony and his passion.

 

     But before their feelings of devotion could be indulged, there was other

work to be done.  The chiefs took up their posts on those sides from which the

nature of the ground gave most hope of a successful assault.  On the northern

side were Godfrey and Tancred, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy; on

the west Raymond with his Provencals.  On the fifth day, without siege

instruments, with only one ladder, and trusting to mere weight, the crusaders

made a desperate assault upon the walls.  Some succeeded in reaching the

summit, and the very rashness of their attack struck terror for a moment into

their enemies.  But the garrison soon rallied, and the invaders were all

driven back or hurled from the ramparts.  The task, it was manifest, must be

undertaken in a more formal manner.  Siege engines must be made, and the palm

and olive of the immediate neighborhood would not supply fit materials for

their construction.

 

     These were obtained from the woods of Shechem, a distance of thirty

miles; and the work of preparation was carried on under the guidance of Gaston

of Bearn by the crews of some Genoese vessels which had recently anchored at

Jaffa.  So passed away more than thirty days, days of intense suffering to the

besiegers.  At Antioch they had been distressed chiefly by famine: in place of

this wretchedness they had here the greater miseries of thirst.  The enemy had

carefully destroyed every place which might serve as a receptacle of water;

and in seeking for it over miles of desolate country they were exposed to the

harassing attacks of Moslem horsemen.  Nor had visions and miracles improved

the morals or discipline of the camp; and the ghost of Adhemar of Puy appeared

to rebuke the horrible sins which were drawing down upon them the judgments of

the Almighty.  Better service was done by the generosity of Tancred, who made

up his quarrel with Raymond: and the enthusiasm of the crusaders was again

roused by the preaching of Arnold and the hermit Peter.  The narrative of the

siege of Jericho in the book of Joshua suggested probably the procession in

which the clergy singing hymns preceded the laity round the walls of the city.

 

     The Saracens on the ramparts mocked their devotions by throwing dirt upon

crucifixes; but they paid a terrible price for these insults.  On the next day

the final assault began, and was carried on through the day with the same

monotony of brute force and carnage which marked all the operations of this

merciless war.  The darkness of night brought no rest.  The actual combat was

suspended, but the besieged were incessantly occupied in repairing the

breaches made by the assailants, while these were busied in making their

dispositions for the last mortal conflict.  In the midst of that deadly

struggle, when it seemed that the Cross must after all go down before the

Crescent, a knight was seen on Mount Olivet, waving his glistening shield to

rouse the champions of the Holy Sepulchre to the supreme effort.  "It is St.

George the Martyr who has come again to help us," cried Godfrey, and at his

words the crusaders started up without a feeling of fatigue and carried

everything before them.

 

     The day, we are told, was Friday, the hour was three in the afternoon -

the moment at which the last cry from the cross announced the accomplishment

of the Saviour's passion - when Letold of Tournay stood, the first victorious

champion of the Cross, on the walls of Jerusalem.  Next to him came, we are

told, his brother Engelbert; the third was Godfrey.  Tancred with the two

Roberts stormed the gate of St. Stephen; the Provencals climbed the ramparts

by ladders, and the conquest of Jerusalem was achieved.  The insults offered a

little while ago to the crucifixes were avenged by Godfrey's orders in the

massacre of hundreds; the carnage in the Mosque of Omar swept away the bodies

of thousands in a deluge of human blood.  The Jews were all burnt alive in

their synagogues.  The horses of the crusaders, who rode up to the porch of

the Temple, were - so the story goes - up to the knees in the loathsome

stream; and the forms of Christian knights hacking and hewing the bodies of

the living and the dead furnished a pleasant commentary on the sermon of Urban

at Clermont.

 

     From the duties of slaughter these disciples of the Lamb of God passed to

those of devotion.  Bareheaded and barefooted, clad in a robe of pure white

linen, in an ecstasy of joy and thankfulness mingled with profound contrition,

Godfrey entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and knelt at the tomb of his

Lord.  With groans and tears his followers came, each in his turn, to offer

his praises for the divine mercy which had vouchsafed this triumph to the

armies of Christendom.  With feverish earnestness they poured forth the vows

which bound them to sin no more, and the excitement of prayer and slaughter,

perhaps of both combined, led them to see everything which might be needed to

give effect to the closing scene of this appalling tragedy.  As the saints had

arisen from their graves when the Son of Man gave up the ghost on Calvary, so

the spirits of the pilgrims who had died on the terrible journey came to take

part in the great thanksgiving.  Foremost among them was Adhemar of Puy,

rejoicing in the prayers for forgiveness and the resolutions of repentance

which promised a new era of peace upon earth and of good-will toward all men.

 

     With departed saints were mingled living men who deserved all the honor

which might be paid to them.  The backsliding of the hermit Peter was blotted

out of the memory of those who remembered only the fiery eloquence which had

first called them to their now triumphant pilgrimage, and the zeal which had

stirred the heart of Christendom to cut short the tyranny of the Unbeliever in

the birthland of Christianity.  The assembled throng fell down at his feet,

and gave thanks to God, who had vouchsafed to them such a teacher.  His task

was done, and in the annals of the time Peter is heard of no more.

 

     On this dreadful day Tancred had spared three hundred captives to whom he

had given a standard as a pledge of his protection and a guarantee of their

safety.  Such misplaced mercy was a crime in the eyes of the crusaders. The

massacre of the first day may have been aggravated by the ungovernable

excitement of victory; but it was resolved that on the next day there should

be offered up a more solemn and deliberate sacrifice.  The men whom Tancred

had spared were all murdered; and the wrath of Tancred was roused, not by

their fate, but by an act which called his honor into question.  The butchery

went on with impartial completeness, old and young, decrepit men and women,

mothers with their infants, boys and girls, young men and maidens in the bloom

of their vigor, all were mowed down, and their bodies mangled until heads and

limbs were tossed together in awful chaos.  A few were hidden away by Raymond

of Toulouse; his motive, however, was not mercy, but the prospects of gain in

the slave market.  After this great act of faith and devotion the streets of

the Holy City were washed by Saracen prisoners; but whether these were

butchered when their work was ended we are not told.

 

     Four centuries and a half had passed away, when these things were done,

since Omar had entered Jerusalem as a conqueror and knelt outside the Church

of Constantine, that his followers might not trespass within it on the

privileges of the Christians.  The contrast is at the least marked between the

Caliph of the Prophet and the children of the Holy Catholic Church.

 

     When, the business of the slaughter being ended, the chiefs met to choose

a king for the realm which they had won with their swords, one man only

appeared to whom the crown could fitly be offered.  Baldwin was lord of

Edessa; Bohemond ruled at Antioch; Hugh of Vermandois and Stephen of Chartres

had returned to Europe; Robert of Flanders cared not to stay; the Norman

Robert had no mind to forfeit the duchy which he had mortgaged; and Raymond

was discredited by his avarice, and in part also by his traffic in the visions

of Peter Barthelemy.  But in the city where his Lord had worn the thorny

crown, the veteran leader who had looked on ruthless slaughter without

blanching and had borne his share in swelling the stream of blood would wear

no earthly diadem nor take the title of king.  He would watch over his

Master's grave and the interests of his worshippers under the humble guise of

Baron and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre; and as such, a fortnight after his

election, Godfrey departed to do battle with the hosts of the Fatimite Caliph

of Egypt, who now felt that the loss of Jerusalem was too high a price for the

humiliation of his rivals.  The conflict took place at Ascalon, and the

Fatimite army was miserably routed.  Godfrey returned to Jerusalem, to hang

the sword and standard of the Sultan before the Holy Sepulchre and to bid

farewell to the pilgrims who were now to set out on their homeward journey. He

retained, with three hundred knights under Tancred, only two thousand foot

soldiers for the defence of his kingdom; and so ended the first act in the

great drama of the crusades.

 

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