A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times The Crusades, Their Origin And Their Success. byGuizot, M.
Amongst the great events of European history, none was for a longer time in preparation or more naturally brought about than the Crusades. Christianity, from her earliest days, had seen in Jerusalem her sacred cradle; it had been, in past times, the home of her ancestors, the Jews, and the centre of their history; and, afterwards, the scene of the life, death, and resurrection of her Divine Founder. Jerusalem became, more and more, the Holy City. To go to Jerusalem, to visit the Mount of Olives, Calvary, and the tomb of Jesus, was, in their most evil days, and in the midst of their obscurity and their martyrdoms, a pious passion with the early Christians. When, under Constantine, Christianity had ascended from the cross to the throne, Jerusalem had fresh attractions for Christian faith and Christian curiosity. Temples covered and surrounded the Holy Sepulchre; and at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, and nearly all the places which Jesus had consecrated by His presence and His miracles were seen to rise up churches, chapels, and monuments dedicated to the memory of them. The Emperor Constantine's mother, St. Helena, was, at seventy-eight years of age, the first royal pilgrim to the holy places. After the Pagan revival, vainly attempted by the Emperor Julian, the number and zeal of the Christian visitors to Jerusalem were redoubled. At the beginning of the fifth century, St. Jerome wrote, from his retreat at Bethlehem, that Judea overflowed with pilgrims, and that, round about the Holy Sepulchre, were heard sung, in divers tongues, the praises of the Lord. He, however, gave but scant encouragement to his friends to make the trip. "The court of heaven," he wrote to St. Paulinus, "is as open in Britain as at Jerusalem;" and the disorder which sometimes accompanied the numerous assemblages of pilgrims became such that several of the most illustrious fathers of the Church, and amongst others St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa, exerted themselves to dissuade the faithful. "Take no thought," said Augustine, "for long voyages; go where your faith is; it is not by ship, but by love, that we go to Him who is everywhere."
Events soon rendered the pilgrimage to Jerusalem difficult, and for some time impossible. At the commencement of the seventh century, the Greek empire was at war with the sovereigns of Persia, successors of Cyrus and chiefs of the religion of Zoroaster. One of them, Khosroes II., invaded Judea, took Jerusalem, led away captive the inhabitants, together with their patriarch, Zacharias, and even carried off to Persia the precious relic which was regarded as the wood of the true cross, and which had been discovered, nearly three centuries before, by the Empress Helena, whilst excavations were making on Calvary for the erection of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. But fourteen years later, after several victories over the Persians, the Greek emperor, Heraclius, retook Jerusalem, and re-entered Constantinople in triumph with the coffer containing the sacred relic. He next year (in 629) carried it back to Jerusalem, and bore it upon his own shoulders to the top of Calvary; and on this occasion was instituted the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Great was the joy in Christendom; and the pilgrimages to Jerusalem resumed their course.
But precisely at this epoch there appeared an enemy far more formidable for the Christians than the sectaries of Zoroaster. In 622 Mahomet founded Islamism; and some years after his death, in 638, the second of the khalifs, his successors, Omar, sent two of his generals, Khaled and Abou-Obeidah, to take Jerusalem. For to the Mussulmans, also, Jerusalem was a holy city. Mahomet, it was said, had been thither; it was thence, indeed, that he had started on his nocturnal ascent to heaven. On approaching the walls, the Arabs repeated these words from the Koran: "Enter we the holy land which God hath promised us." The siege lasted four months. The Christians at last surrendered, but only to Omar in person, who came from Medina to receive their submission. A capitulation concluded with their patriarch, Sophronius, guaranteed them their lives, their property, and their churches. "When the draft of the treaty was completed, Omar said to the patriarch, 'Conduct me to the temple of David.' Omar entered Jerusalem preceded by the patriarch, and followed by four thousand warriors, followers of the Prophet, wearing no other arms but their swords. Sophronius took him, first of all, to the Church of the Resurrection. 'Be-hold,' said he, 'the temple of David.' 'Thou sayest not true,' said Omar, after a few moments' reflection; 'the Prophet gave me a description of the temple of David, and it tallieth not with the building I now see.' The patriarch then conducted him to the Church of Sion. 'Here,' said he, 'is the temple of David.' 'It is a lie,' rejoined Omar, and went his way, directing his steps towards the gate named Bab-Mohammed. The spot on which now stands the Mosque of Omar was so encumbered with filth that the steps leading to the street were covered with it, and that the rubbish reached almost to the top of the vault. 'You can only get in here by crawling,' said the patriarch. 'Be it so,' answered Omar. The patriarch went first; Omar, with his people, followed; and they arrived at the space which at this day forms the forecourt of the mosque. There every one could stand upright. After having turned his eyes to right and left, and attentively examined the place, 'Allah alchbar!' cried Omar; here is the temple of David, described to me by the Prophet.'"
He found the Sakhra (the rock which forms the summit of Mount Moriah,) and which, left alone after the different destructions of the different temples, became the theme of a multitude of traditions and legends, (Jewish and Mussulman) covered with filth, heaped up there by the Christians through hatred of the Jews. "Omar spread his cloak over the rock, and began to sweep it; and all the Mussulmans in his train followed his example." (Le Temple de Jerusalem, a monograph, pp. 73-75, by Count Melchior de Vogue, ch. vi.) The Mosque of Omar rose up on the site of Solomon's temple. The Christians retained the practice of their religion in their churches, but they were obliged to conceal their crosses and their sacred books. The bell no longer summoned the faithful to prayer; and the pomp of ceremonies was forbidden them. It was far worse when Omar, the most moderate of Mussulman fanatics, had left Jerusalem. The faithful were driven from their houses, and insulted in their churches; additions were made to the tribute they had to pay to the new masters of Palestine; they were prohibited from carrying arms and riding on horseback; a girdle of leather, which they might not lay aside, was their badge of servitude; their conquerors brooked not even that the Christians should speak the Arab tongue, reserved for disciples of the Koran; and the Christian people of Jerusalem had not the right of nominating their own patriarch without the intervention of the Saracens.
From the seventh to the eleventh century the situation remained very much the same. The Mussulmans, khalifs of Egypt or Persia, continued in possession of Jerusalem; and the Christians, native inhabitants or foreign visitors, continued to be oppressed, harassed, and humiliated there. At two periods their condition was temporarily better. At the commencement of the ninth century, Charlemagne reached even there with the greatness of his mind and of his power. "It was not only in his own land and his own kingdom," says Eginhard, "that he scattered those gratuitous largesses which the Greeks call alms; but beyond the seas, in Syria, in Egypt, in Africa, at Jerusalem, at Alexandria, at Carthage, wherever he knew that there were Christians living in poverty, he had compassion on their misery, and he delighted to send them money." In one of his capitularies of the year 810 we find this paragraph: "Alms to be sent to Jerusalem to repair the churches of God." "If Charlemagne was so careful to seek the friendship of the kings beyond the seas, it was above all in order to obtain for the Christians living under their rule help and relief. . . . He kept up so close a friendship with Haroun-al- Raschid, king of Persia, that this prince preferred his good graces to the alliance of the sovereigns of the earth. Accordingly, when the ambassadors whom Charles had sent, with presents, to visit the sacred tomb of our divine Saviour, and the site of the resurrection, presented themselves before him, and expounded to him their master's wish, Haroun did not content himself with entertaining Charles's request; he wished, besides, to give up to him the complete proprietorship of those places hallowed by the certification of our redemption," and he sent him, with the most magnificent presents, the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. At the end of the same century, another Christian sovereign, far less powerful and less famous, John Zimisces, emperor of Constantinople, in a war against the Mussulmans of Asia, penetrated into Galilee, made himself master of Tiberias, Nazareth, and Mount Tabor, received a deputation which brought him the keys of Jerusalem, "and we have placed," he says himself, "garrisons in all the district lately subjected to our rule." These were but strokes of foreign intervention, giving the Christians of Jerusalem gleams of hope rather than lasting diminution of their miseries. However, it is certain that, during this epoch, pilgrimages multiplied, and were often accomplished without obstacle. It was from France, England, and Italy that most of the pilgrims went, and some of them wrote, or caused to be written, an account of their trip,—amongst others the Italian Saint Valentine, the English Saint Willibald, and the French Bishop Saint Arculf, who had as companion a Burgundian hermit named Peter, a singular resemblance in quality and name to the zealous apostle of the Crusade three centuries later. The most curious of these narratives is that of a French monk, Bernard, a pilgrim of about the year 870. "There is at Jerusalem," says he, "a hospice where admittance is given to all who come to visit the place for devotion's sake, and who speak the Roman tongue; a church, dedicated to St. Mary, is hard by the hospice, and possesseth a very noble library, which it oweth to the zeal of the Emperor Charles the Great." This pious establishment had attached to it fields, vineyards, and a garden situated in the valley of Jehosaphat.
But whilst there were a few isolated cases of Christians thus going to satisfy in the East their pious and inquisitive zeal, the Mussulmans, equally ardent as believers and as warriors, carried Westward their creed and their arms, established themselves in Spain, penetrated to the very heart of France, and brought on, between Islamism and Christianity, that grand struggle in which Charles Martel gained, at Poitiers, the victory for the Cross. It was really a definitive victory, and yet it did not end the struggle; the Mussulmans remained masters in Spain, and continued to infest Southern France, Italy, and Sicily, preserving even, at certain points, posts which they used as starting-points for distant ravages. Far then from calming down and resulting in pacific relations, the hostility between the two races became more and more active and determined; everywhere they opposed, fought, and oppressed one another, inflamed one against the other by the double feelings of faith and ambition, hatred and fear. To this general state of affairs came to be added, about the end of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century, incidents best calculated to aggravate the evil. Hakem, khalif of Egypt from 996 to 1021, persecuted the Christians, especially at Jerusalem, with all the violence of a fanatic and all the capriciousness of a despot. He ordered them to wear upon their necks a wooden cross five pounds in weight; he forbade them to ride on any animal but mules or asses; and, without assigning any motive for his acts, he confiscated their goods and carried off their children. It was told to him one day that, when the Christians assembled in the temple at Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, the priests of the church rubbed balsam-oil upon the iron chain which held up the lamp over the tomb of Christ, and afterwards set fire, from the roof, to the end of the chain; the fire stole down to the wick of the lamp and lighted it; then they shouted with admiration, as if fire from heaven had come down upon the tomb, and they glorified their faith. Hakem ordered the instant demolition of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and it was accordingly demolished. Another time a dead dog had been laid at the door of a mosque; and the multitude accused the Christians of this insult. Hakem ordered them all to be put to death. The soldiers were preparing to execute the order when a young Christian said to his friends, "It were too grievous that the whole Church should perish; it were better that one should die for all; only promise to bless my memory year by year." He proclaimed himself alone to blame for the insult, and was accordingly alone put to death. It is from this story of the historian William of Tyre, that Tasso, in his Jerusalem Delivered, has drawn the admirable episode of Olindo and Sophronia; a fine example, and not the only one, of an act of tyranny and an act of virtue inspiring a great poet with the idea of a masterpiece. "All the deeds of Hakem were without motive," says the Arab historian Makrisi, "and the dreams suggested to him by his frenzy are incapable of reasonable interpretation."
These and many other similar stories reached the West, spread amongst the Christian people and roused them to pity for their brethren in the East and to wrath against the oppressors. And it was at a critical period, in the midst of the pious alarms and desires of atonement excited by the expectation of the end of the world a thousand years after the coming of the Lord, that the Christian population saw this way opened for purchasing remission of their sins by delivering other Christians from suffering, and by avenging the wrongs of their creed. On all sides arose challenges and appeals to the warlike ardor of the faithful. The greatest mind of the age, Gerbert, who had become Pope Sylvester II., constituted himself interpreter of the popular feeling. He wrote, in the name of the Church of Jerusalem, a letter addressed to the universal Church: "To work, then, soldier of Christ! Be our standard-bearer and our champion! And if with arms thou canst not do so, aid us with thy words, thy wealth. What is it, pray, that thou givest, and to whom, pray, dost thou give? Of thine abundance thou givest a small matter, and thou givest to Him who hath freely given thee all thou possessest; but He will not accept freely that which thou shalt give; for he will multiply thine offering and will pay it back to thee hereafter." Some years after Gerbert, another great mind, the greatest among the popes of the middle ages, Gregory VII., proclaimed an expedition, at the head of which he would place himself, to go and deliver Jerusalem and the Christians of the East from the insults and the tyranny of the infidels.
Such being the condition of facts and minds, pilgrimages to Jerusalem became, from the ninth to the eleventh century, more and more numerous and considerable. "It would never have been believed," says the contemporary chronicler Raoul Glaber, "that the Holy Sepulchre could attract so prodigious an influx. First the lower classes, then the middle, afterwards the most potent kings, the counts, the marquises, the prelates, and lastly, what had never heretofore been seen, many women, noble or humble, undertook this pilgrimage." In 1026, William Traillefer, count of Angouleme; in 1028, 1035, and 1039, Foulques the Black, count of Anjou; in 1035, Robert the Magnificent, duke of Normandy, father of William the Conqueror; in 1086, Robert the Frison, count of Flanders; and many other great feudal lords quitted their estates, or, rather, their states, to go and—not deliver, not conquer, but—simply visit the Holy Land. It was not long before great numbers were joined to great names. In 1054, Liedbert, bishop of Cambrai, started for Jerusalem with a following of three thousand Picard or Flemish pilgrims; and in 1064, the archbishop of Mayence and the bishops of Spire, Cologne, Bamberg, and Utrecht set out on their way from the borders of the Rhine with more than ten thousand Christians behind them. After having passed through Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Thrace, Constantinople, Asia Minor, and Syria, they were attacked in Palestine by hordes of Arabs, were forced to take refuge in the ruins of an old castle, and were reduced to capitulation; and when at last, "preceded by the rumors of their battles and their perils, they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received in triumph by the patriarch, and were conducted, to the sound of timbrels and with the flare of torches, to the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The misery they had fallen into excited the pity of the Christians of Asia; and, after having lost more than three thousand of their comrades, they returned to Europe to relate their tragic adventures and the dangers of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land." (Histoire des Croisades, by M. Michaud, t. i. p. 62.)
Amidst this agitation of Western Christendom, in 1076, two years after Pope Gregory VII. had proclaimed his approaching expedition to the Holy Land, news arrived in Europe to the effect that the most barbarous of Asiatics and of Mussulmans, the Turks, after having first served and then ruled the khalifs of Persia, and afterwards conquered the greater part of the Persian empire, had hurled themselves upon the Greek empire, invaded Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, and lately taken Jerusalem, where they practised against the Christians, old inhabitants or foreign visitors, priests and worshippers, dreadful cruelties and intolerable exactions, worse than those of the Persian or Egyptian khalifs.
It often happens that popular emotions, however profound and general, remain barren, just as in the vegetable world many sprouts appear at the surface of the soil and die without having grown and fructified. It is not sufficient for the bringing about of great events and practical results that popular aspirations should be merely manifested; it is necessary, further, that some great soul, some powerful will, should make itself the organ and agent of the public sentiment, and bring it to fecundity by becoming its personification. The Christian passion, in the eleventh century, for the deliverance of Jerusalem and the triumph of the Cross was fortunate in this respect. An obscure pilgrim, at first a soldier, then a married man and father of several children, then a monk and a vowed recluse, Peter the Hermit, who was born in the neighborhood of Amiens, about 1030, had gone, as so many others had, to Jerusalem "to say his prayers there." Struck disconsolate at the sight of the sufferings and insults undergone by the Christians, he had an interview with Simeon, patriarch of Jerusalem, who "recognizing in him a man of discretion and full of experience in affairs of the world, set before him in detail all the evils with which the people of God, in the holy city, were afflicted. 'Holy father,' said Peter to him, 'if the Roman Church and the princes of the West were informed, by a man of energy and worthy of belief, of all your calamities, of a surety they would essay to apply some remedy thereto by word and deed. Write, then, to our lord the pope and to the Roman Church, and to the kings and princes of the West, and strengthen your written testimony by the authority of your seal. As for me, I shrink not from taking upon me a task for the salvation of my soul; and with the help of the Lord I am ready to go and seek out all of them, solicit them, show unto them the immensity of your troubles, and pray them all to hasten on the day of your relief.'" The patriarch eagerly accepted the pilgrim's offer; and Peter set out, going first of all to Rome, where he handed to Pope Urban II. the patriarch's letters, and commenced in that quarter his mission of zeal. The pope promised him not only support, but active co-operation when the propitious moment for it should arrive. Peter set to work, being still the pilgrim everywhere, in Europe, as well as at Jerusalem. "He was a man of very small stature, and his outside made but a very poor appearance; yet superior powers swayed this miserable body; he had a quick intellect and a penetrating eye, and he spoke with ease and fluency. . . . We saw him at that time," says his contemporary Guibert de Nogent, "scouring city and town, and preaching everywhere; the people crowded round him, heaped presents upon him, and celebrated his sanctity by such great praises that I remember not that like honor was ever rendered to any other person. He displayed great generosity in the disposal of all things that were given him. He restored wives to their husbands, not without the addition of gifts from himself, and he re-established, with marvellous authority, peace and good understanding between those who had been at variance. In all that he did or said he seemed to have in him something divine, insomuch that people went so far as to pluck hairs from his mule to keep as relics. In the open air he wore a woollen tunic, and over it a serge cloak which came down to his heels; he had his arms and feet bare; he ate little or no bread, and lived chiefly on wine and fish."
In 1095, after the preaching errantry of Peter the Hermit, Pope Urban II. was at Clermont, in Auvergne, presiding at the grand council, at which thirteen archbishops and two hundred and five bishops or abbots were met together, with so many princes and lay-lords, that "about the middle of the month of November the towns and the villages of the neighborhood were full of people, and divers were constrained to have their tents and pavilions set up amidst the fields and meadows, notwithstanding that the season and the country were cold to an extreme." The first nine sessions of the council were devoted to the affairs of the Church in the West; but at the tenth Jerusalem and the Christians of the East became the subject of deliberation. The Pope went out of the church wherein the Council was assembled and mounted a platform erected upon a vast open space in the midst of the throng. Peter the Hermit, standing at his side, spoke first, and told the story of his sojourn at Jerusalem, all he had seen of the miseries and humiliations of the Christians, and all he himself had suffered there, for he had been made to pay tribute for admission into the Holy City, and for gazing upon the spectacle of the exactions, insults, and tortures he was recounting. After him Pope Urban II. spoke, in the French tongue, no doubt, as Peter had spoken, for he was himself a Frenchman, as the majority of those present were, grandees and populace. He made a long speech, entertaining upon the most painful details connected with the sufferings of the Christians of Jerusalem, "that royal city which the Redeemer of the human race had made illustrious by His coming, had honored by His residence, had hallowed by His passion, had purchased by His death, had distinguished by His burial. She now demands of you her deliverance . . . men of France, men from beyond the mountains, nations chosen and beloved of God, right valiant knights, recall the virtues of your ancestors, the virtue and greatness of King Charlemagne and your other kings; it is from you above all that Jerusalem awaits the help she invokes, for to you, above all nations, God has vouchsafed signal glory in arms. Take ye, then, the road to Jerusalem for the remission of your sins, and depart assured of the imperishable glory which awaits you in the kingdom of heaven."
From the midst of the throng arose one prolonged and general shout, "God willeth it! God willeth it!" The Pope paused for a moment; and then, making a sign with his hand as if to ask for silence, he continued, "If the Lord God were not in your souls, ye would not all have uttered the same words. In the battle, then, be those your war-cry, those words that came from God; in the army of the Lord let nought be heard but that one shout, 'God willeth it! God willeth it!' We ordain not, and we advise not, that the journey be undertaken by the old or the weak, or such as be not suited for arms, and let not women set out without their husbands or their brothers; let the rich help the poor; nor priests nor clerks may go without the leave of their bishops; and no layman shall commence the march save with the blessing of his pastor. Whosoever hath a wish to enter upon this pilgrimage, let him wear upon his brow or his breast the cross of the Lord, and let him, who, in accomplishment of his desire, shall be willing to march away, place the cross behind him, between his shoulders; for thus he will fulfil the precept of the Lord, who said, 'He that doth not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me.'"
The enthusiasm was general and contagious, as the first shout of the crowd had been; and a pious prelate, Adhemar, bishop of Puy, was the first to receive the cross from the Pope's hands. It was of red cloth or silk, sewn upon the right shoulder of the coat or cloak, or fastened on the front of the helmet. The crowd dispersed to assume it and spread it.
Religious enthusiasm was not the only, but the first and the determining motive of the crusade. It is to the honor of humanity, and especially to the honor of the French nation, that it is accessible to the sudden sway of a moral and disinterested sentiment, and resolves, without prevision as well as without premeditation, upon acts which decide, for many a long year, the course and the fate of a generation, and, it may be, of a whole people. We have seen in our own day, in the conduct of populace, national assemblies, and armies, under the impulse not any longer of religious feeling, but of political and social agitation, France thus giving herself up to the rush of sentiments, generous indeed and pure, but without the least forecast touching the consequences of the ideas which inspired them or the acts which they entailed. It is with nations as with armies; the side of glory is that of danger; and great works are wrought at a heavy cost, not only of happiness, but also of virtue. It would be wrong, nevertheless, to lack respect for and to speak evil of enthusiasm: it not only bears witness to the grandeur of human nature, it justly holds its place and exercises its noble influence in the course of the great events which move across the scene of human errors and vices, according to the vast and inscrutable design of trod. It is quite certain that the crusaders of the eleventh century, in their haste to deliver Jerusalem from the Mussulmans, were far from foreseeing that, a few centuries after their triumph, Jerusalem and the Christian East would fall again beneath the yoke of the Mussulmans and their barbaric stagnation; and this future, had they caught but a glimpse of it, would doubtless have chilled their zeal. But it is not a whit the less certain that, in view of the end, their labor was not in vain; for, in the panorama of the world's history, the crusades marked the date of the arrest of Islamism, and powerfully contributed to the decisive preponderance of Christian civilization.
To religious enthusiasm there was joined another motive less disinterested, but natural and legitimate, which was the still very vivid recollection of the evils caused to the Christians of the West by the Mussulman invasions in Spain, France, and Italy, and the fear of seeing them begin again. Instinctively war was carried to the East to keep it from the West, just as Charlemagne had invaded and conquered the country of the Saxons to put an end to their inroads upon the Franks. And this prudent plan availed not only to give the Christians of the West a hope of security, it afforded them the pleasure of vengeance. They were about to pay back alarm for alarm, and evil for evil, to the enemy from whom they had suffered in the same way; hatred and pride, as well as piety, obtained satisfaction.
There is moreover great motive power in a spirit of enterprise and a taste for adventure. Care-for-nothingness is one of man-kind's chief diseases, and if it plays so conspicuous a part in comparatively enlightened and favored communities, amidst the labors and the enjoyments of an advanced civilization, its influence was certainly not less in times of intellectual sloth and harshly monotonous existence. To escape therefrom, to satisfy in some sort the energy and curiosity inherent in man, the people of the eleventh century had scarcely any resource but war, with its excitement and distant excursions into unknown regions. Thither rushed the masses of the people, whilst the minds which were eager, above everything, for intellectual movement and for knowledge, thronged, on the mountain of St. Genevieve, to the lectures of Abelard. Need of variety and novelty, and an instinctive desire to extend their views and enliven their existence, probably made as many crusaders as the feeling against the Mussulmans and the promptings of piety.
The Council of Clermont, at its closing on the 28th of November, 1095, had fixed the month of August in the following year, and the feast of the Assumption, for the departure of the crusaders for the Holy Land; but the people's impatience did not brook this waiting, short as it was in view of the greatness and difficulties of the enterprise. As early as the 8th of March, 1096, and in the course of the spring three mobs rather than armies set out on the crusade, with a strength, it is said, of eighty or one hundred thousand persons in one case, and of fifteen or twenty thousand in the other two. Persons, not men, for there were amongst them many women and children, whole families, in fact, who had left their villages, without organization and without provisions, calculating that they would be competent to find their own way, and that He who feeds the young ravens would not suffer to die of want pilgrims wearing His cross. Whenever, on their road, a town came in sight, the children asked if that were Jerusalem. The first of these mobs had for its head Peter the Hermit himself, and a Burgundian knight called Walter Havenought; the second had a German priest named Gottschalk; and the third a Count Emico, of Leiningen, potent in the neighborhood of Mayence. It is wrong to call them heads, for they were really nothing of the kind; their authority was rejected, at one time as tyrannical, at another as useless. "The grasshoppers," was the saying amongst them in the words of Solomon's proverbs, "have no king, and yet they go in companies." In crossing Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the provinces of the Greek empire, these companies, urged on by their brutal passions or by their necessities and material wants, abandoned themselves to such irregularities that, as they went, princes and peoples, instead of welcoming them as Christians, came to treat them as enemies, of whom it was necessary to get rid at any price. Peter the Hermit and Gottschalk made honorable and sincere efforts to check the excesses of their following, which were a source of so much danger; but Count Emico, on the contrary, says William of Tyre, "himself took part in the plunder, and incited his comrades to crime." Thus, at one time taking the offensive, at another compelled to defend themselves against the attacks of the justly irritated inhabitants, these three immense companies of pilgrims, these disorderly volunteers, with great difficulty arrived, after enormous losses, at the gates of Constantinople. Either through fear or through pity, the Greek emperor, Alexis (or Alexius) Comnenus, permitted them to pitch their camp there; "but before long, plenty, idleness, and the sight of the riches of Constantinople brought once more into the camp license, indiscipline, and a thirst after brigandage. Whilst awaiting the war against the Mussulmans, the pilgrims pillaged the houses, the palaces, and even the churches in the outskirts of Byzantium. To deliver his capital from these destructive guests, Alexis furnished them with vessels, and got them shipped off across the Bosphorus."
Whilst the crusade was commencing under these sad auspices, chieftains of more sense and better obeyed were preparing to give it another character and superior fortunes. Two great and real armies were forming in the north, the centre, and the south of France, and a third in Italy, amongst the Norman knights who had founded there the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, just before their countryman, William the Bastard, conquered England. The first of these armies had for its chief, Godfrey de Bouillon, duke of Lorraine, whom all his contemporaries have described as the model of a gallant and pious knight. He was the son of Eustace II., count of Boulogne, and "the lustre of nobility," says Raoul of Caen, chronicler of his times, "was enhanced in his case by the splendor of the most exalted virtues, as well in affairs of the world as of heaven. As to the latter, he distinguished himself by his generosity towards the poor, and his pity for those who had committed faults. Furthermore, his humility, his extreme gentleness, his moderation, his justice, and his chastity were great; he shone as a light amongst the monks, even more than as a duke amongst the knights. And, nevertheless, he could also do the things which are of this world, fight, marshal the ranks, and extend by arms the domains of the Church. In his boyhood he learned to be first, or one of the first, to strike the foe; in youth he made it his habitual practice; and in advancing age he forgot it never. He was so perfectly the son of the warlike Count Eustace, and of his mother, Ida de Bouillon, a woman full of piety, and versed in literature, that at sight of him even a rival would have been forced to say of him, 'For zeal in war, behold his father; for serving God, behold his mother.' The second army, consisting chiefly of crusaders from Southern France, marched under the orders of Raymond IV., count of Toulouse, the oldest chieftain of the crusade, who still, however, united the ardor of youth with the experience of ripe age and the stubbornness of the graybeard. At the side of the Cid he had fought, and more than once beaten the Moors in Spain. He took with him to the East his third wife, Elvira, daughter of Alphonso VI., king of Castile, as well as a very young child he had by her, and he had made a vow, which he fulfilled, that he would return no more to his country, and would fight the infidels to the end of his days, in expiation of his sins. He was discreet though haughty, and not only the richest but the most economical of the crusader-chiefs: "Accordingly," says Raoul of Caen, "when all the rest had spent their money, the riches of Count Raymond made him still more distinguished. The people of Provence, who formed his following, did not lavish their resources, but studied economy even more than glory," and "his army," adds Guibert of Nogent, "showed no inferiority to any other, save so far as it is possible to reproach the inhabitants of Provence touching their excessive loquacity."
Bohemond, prince of Tarento, commanded the third army, composed principally of Italians and warriors of various origins come to Italy to share in the exploits and fortunes of his father, the celebrated Robert Guiscard, founder of the Norman kingdom of Naples, who was at one time the foe, and at another the defender, of Pope Gregory VII., and who died in the island of Cephalonia just as he was preparing to attempt the conquest of Constantinople. Bohemond had neither less ambition nor less courage and ability than his father. "His appearance," says Anna Comnena, "impressed the eye as much as his reputation astounded the mind; his height surpassed that of all his comrades; his blue eyes gleamed readily with pride and anger; when he spoke you would have said he had made eloquence his study; and when he showed himself in armor, you might have believed that he had never done aught but handle lance and sword. Brought up in the school of Norman heroes, be concealed calculations of policy beneath the exterior of force, and, although he was of a haughty disposition, he knew how to be blind to a wrong when there was nothing to be gained by avenging it. He had learned from his father to regard as foes all whose dominions and riches he coveted; and he was not restrained by fear of God, or by man's opinions, or by his own oaths. It was not the deliverance of the tomb of Christ which fired his zeal or decided him upon taking up the cross; but, as he had vowed eternal enmity to the Greek emperors, he smiled at the idea of traversing their empire at the head of an army, and, full of confidence in his fortunes, he hoped to make for himself a kingdom before arriving at Jerusalem."
Bohemond had as friend and faithful comrade his cousin Tancred de Hauteville, great-grandson, through his mother, Emma, of Robert Guiscard, and, according to all his contemporaries, the type of a perfect Christian knight, neither more nor less. "From his boyhood," says Raoul of Caen, his servitor before becoming his biographer, "he surpassed the young by his skill in the management of arms, and the old by the strictness of his morals. He disdained to speak ill of whoever it might be, even when ill had been spoken of himself. About himself he would say nought, but he had an insatiable desire to give cause for talking thereof. Glory was the only passion that moved that young soul; yet was it disquieted within him, and he suffered great anxiety from thinking that his knightly combats seemed contrary to the precepts of the Lord. The Lord bids us give our coat and our cloak to him who would take them from us; whereas the knight's part is to strip all that remains from him from whom he hath already taken his coat and his cloak. These contradictory principles benumbed sometimes the courage of this man so full of propriety; but when the declaration of Pope Urban had assured remission of all their sins to all Christians who should go and fight the Gentiles, then Tancred awoke in some sort from his dream, and this new opportunity fired him with a zeal which cannot be expressed. He therefore made preparations for his departure; but, accustomed from his infancy to give to others before thinking of himself, he entered upon no great outlay, but contented himself with collecting in sufficient quantity knightly arms, horses, mules, and provisions necessary for his company."
With these four chieftains, who have remained illustrious in history,— that grave wherein small reputations are extinguished,—were associated, for the deliverance of the Holy Land, a throng of feudal lords, some powerful as well as valiant, others valiant but simple knights; Hugh, count of Vermaudois, brother of Philip I., king of France; Robert of Normandy, called Shorthose, son of William the Conqueror; Robert, count of Flanders; Stephen, count of Blois; Raimbault, count of Orange; Baldwin, count of Hainault; Raoul of Beaugency; Gerard of Roussillon, and many others whose names contemporary chroniclers and learned moderns have gathered together. Not one of the reigning sovereigns of Europe, kings or emperors, of France, England, Spain, or Germany, took part in the first crusade. It was the feudal nation, great and small, castle owners and populace, who rose in mass for the deliverance of Jerusalem and the honor of Christendom.
These three great armies of crusaders got on the march from August to October, 1096, wending their way, Godfrey de Bouillon by Germany, Hungary, and Bulgaria; Bohemond by the south of Italy and the Mediterranean; and Count Raymond of Toulouse by Northern Italy, Friuli, and Dalmatia. They arrived one after the other in the empire of the East and at the gates of Constantinople. Godfrey de Bouillon was the first to appear there, and the Emperor Alexis Comnenus learned with dismay that other armies of crusaders would soon follow that which was already so large. It was not long before Bohemond and Raymond appeared. Alexis behaved towards these formidable allies with a mixture of pusillanimity and haughtiness, promises and lies, caresses and hostility, which irritated without intimidating them, and rendered it impossible for them to feel any confidence or conceive any esteem. At one time he was thanking them profusely for the support they were bringing him against the infidels; at another he was sending troops to harass them on their road, and, when they reached Constantinople, he demanded that they should swear fealty and obedience to him, as if they were his own subjects. One day he was refusing them provisions and attempting to subdue them by famine; and the next he was lavishing feasts and presents upon them. The crusaders, on their side, when provisions fell short, spread themselves over the country and plundered it without scruple; and, when they encountered hostile troops of Greeks, charged them without warning. When the emperor demanded of them fealty and homage, the count of Toulouse answered that he had not come to the East in search of a master. Godfrey do Bouillon, after resisting every haughty pretension, being as just as he was dignified, acknowledged that the crusaders ought to restore to the emperor the towns which had belonged to the empire, and an arrangement to that effect was concluded between them. Bohemond had a proposal submitted to Godfrey to join him in attacking the Greek empire and taking possession at once of Byzantium; but Godfrey rejected the proposal, with the reminder that he had come only to fight the infidels. The emperor, fully informed of the greediness as well as ambition of Bohemond, introduced him one day into a room full of treasures. "Here," said Bohemond, "is wherewith to conquer kingdoms." Alexis had the treasures removed to Bohemond's, who at first refused, and ended by accepting them. It is even said that he asked the emperor for the title of Grand Domestic or of General of the Empire of the East. Alexis, who had held that dignity and who knew that it was the way to the throne, gave the Norman chieftain a present refusal, with a promise of it on account of future services to be rendered by him to the empire and the emperor.
The chiefs of the crusade were not alone in treating with disdain this haughty, wily, and feeble sovereign. During a ceremony at which some French princes were doing homage to the emperor, a Count Robert of Paris went and sat down free-and-easily beside him; when Baldwin, count of Hainault, took the intruder by the arm, saying, "When you are in a country you must respect its masters and its customs." "Verily," answered Robert, "I hold it shocking that this jackanapes should be seated, whilst so many noble captains are standing yonder." When the ceremony was over, the emperor, who had, no doubt, heard the words, wished to have an explanation; so he detained Robert, and asked him who and whence he was. "I am a Frenchman," quoth Robert; "and of noble birth. In my country there is, hard by a church, a spot repaired to by such as burn to prove their valor. I have been there often without any one's daring to present himself before me." The emperor did not care to take up this sort of challenge, and contented himself with replying to the warrior, "If you there waited for foes without finding any, you are now about to have what will satisfy you. I have, however, a piece of advice to give you; don't put yourself at the head or the tail of the army; keep in the middle. I have learned how to fight with Turks; and that is the best place you can choose." The crusaders and the Greeks were mutually contemptuous, the former with a ruffianly pride, the latter with an ironical and timid refinement.
This posture, on either side, of inactivity, ill-will, and irritation, could not last long. On the approach of the spring of 1097, the crusader chiefs and their troops, first Godfrey de Bouillon, then Bohemond and Tancred, and afterwards Count Raymond of Toulouse, passed the Bosphorus, being conveyed across either in their own vessels or those of the Emperor Alexis, who encouraged them against the infidels, and at the same time had the infidels supplied with information most damaging to the crusaders. Having effected a junction in Bithynia, the Christian chiefs resolved to go and lay siege to Nicaea, the first place, of importance, in possession of the Turks. Whilst marching towards the place they saw coming to meet then, with every appearance of the most woful destitution, Peter the Hermit, followed by a small band of pilgrims escaped from the disasters of their expedition, who had passed the winter, as he had, in Bithynia, waiting for more fortunate crusaders. Peter, affectionately welcomed by the chiefs of the army, recounted to them "in detail," says William of Tyre, "how the people, who had preceded them under his guidance, had shown themselves destitute of intelligence, improvident, and unmanageable at the same time; and so it was far more by their own fault than by the deed of any other that they had succumbed to the weight of their calamities." Peter, having thus relieved his heart and recovered his hopes, joined the powerful army of crusaders who had come at last; and, on the 15th of May, 1097, the siege of Nicaea began.
The town was in the hands of a Turkish sultan, Kilidge-Arslan, whose father, Soliman, twenty years before, had invaded Bithynia and fixed his abode at Nicrea. He, being informed of the approach of the crusaders, had issued forth, to go and assemble all his forces; but he had left behind his wife, his children, and his treasures, and he had sent messengers to the inhabitants, saying, "Be of good courage, and fear not the barbarous people who make show of besieging our city; to-morrow, before the seventh hour of the day, ye shall be delivered from your enemies." And he did arrive on the 16th of May, says the Armenian historian, Matthias of Edessa, at the head of six hundred thousand horsemen. The historians of the crusaders are infinitely more moderate as to the number of their foes; they assign to Kilidge-Arslan only fifty or sixty thousand men, and their testimony is far more trustworthy, being that of the victors. In any case, the Christians and the Turks fought valiantly for two days under the walls of Niccea, and Godfrey de Bouillon did justice to his fame for valor and skill by laying low a Turk "remarkable amongst all," says William of Tyre, "for his size and strength, whose arrows caused much havoc in the ranks of our men." Kilidge-Arslan, being beaten, withdrew to collect fresh troops, and, after six weeks' siege, the crusaders believed themselves on the point of entering Nicaea as masters, when, on the 26th of June, they saw floating on the ramparts the standard of the Emperor Alexis. Their surprise was the greater in that they had just written to the emperor to say that the city was on the point of surrendering, and they added, "We earnestly invite you to lose no time in sending some of your princes with sufficient retinue, that they may receive and keep in honor of your name the city which will deliver itself up to us. As for us, after having put it in the hands of your highness, we will not show any delay in pursuing, with God's help, the execution of our projects." Alexis had anticipated this loyal message. Being in constant secret communication with the former subjects of the Greek empire, and often even with their new masters the Turks, his agents in Nicaea had induced the inhabitants to surrender to him, and not to the Latins, who would treat them as vanquished. The irritation amongst the crusaders was extreme. They had promised themselves, if not the plunder of Nicaea, at any rate great advantages from their victory; and it was said in the camp that the convention concluded with the emperor contained an article purporting that "if, with God's help, there were taken any of the towns which had belonged aforetime to the Greek empire all along the line of march up to Syria, the town should be restored to the emperor, together with all the adjacent territory and that the booty, the spoils, and all objects whatsoever found therein should be given up without discussion to the crusader in recompense for their trouble and indemnification for the expenses." The wrath waxed still fiercer when it was know that the crusaders would not be permitted to enter more the ten at a time the town they had just taken, and that the Emperor Alexis had set at liberty the wife of Pilidge-Arslai together with her two sons and all the Turks led prisoners of war to Constantinople. The chiefs of the crusaders were then selves indignant and distrustful; but "they resolved with on accord," says William of Tyre, "to hide their resentment, and they applied all their efforts to calming their people, while encouraging them to push on without delay to the end of the glorious enterprise."
All the army of the crusaders put themselves in motion I cross Asia Minor from the north-west to the south-east, and to reach Syria. At their arrival before Nicaea they numbered, it is said, five hundred thousand foot and one hundred thousand horse, figures evidently too great, for everything indicates that at the opening of the crusade the three great armies, starting from France and Italy under Godfrey de Bouillon, Bohemond and Raymond of Toulouse, did not reach this number, and the, had certainly lost many during their long march through their sufferings and in their battles. However that may be, after they had marched all in one mass for two days, and had then extended themselves over a larger area, for the purpose, no doubt, of more easily finding provisions, the crusaders broke up into two main bodies, led, one by Godfrey de Bouillon and Raymond of Toulouse, the other by Bohemond and Tancred. On the 1st of July, at daybreak, this latter body, encamped at a short distance from Doryleum, in Phrygia, saw descending from the neighboring heights a cloud of enemies who burst upon the Christians, first rained a perfect hail of missiles upon them, and then penetrated into their camp, even to the tents assigned to the women, children, and old men, the numerous following of the crusaders. It was Kilidge-Arslan, who, after the fall of Nicaea, had raised this new army of Saracens, and was pursuing the conquerors on their march. The battle began in great disorder; the chiefs in person sustained the first shock; and the duke of Normandy, Robert Shorthose, took in his hand his white banner, embroidered with gold, and waving it over his head, threw himself upon the Turks, shouting, "God willeth it! God willeth it!" Bohemond obstinately sought out Kilidge-Arslan in the fray; but at the same time he sent messengers in all haste to Godfrey de Bouillon, as yet but a little way off, to summon him to their aid. Godfrey galloped up, and, with some fifty of his knights, preceding the rest of his army, was the first to throw himself into the midst of the Turks. Towards mid-day the whole of the first body arrived, with standards flying, with the sound of trumpets and with the shouting of warriors. Kilidge-Arslan and his troops fell back upon the heights whence they had descended. The crusaders, without taking breath, ascended in pursuit. The Turks saw themselves shut in by a forest of lances, and fled over wood and rock; and "two days afterwards they were still flying," says Albert of Aix, "though none pursued them, unless it were God himself." The victory of Doryleum opened the whole country to the crusaders, and they resumed their march towards Syria, paying their sole attention to not separating again.
It was not long before they had to grapple with other dangers against which bravery could do nothing. They were crossing, under a broiling sun, deserted tracts which their enemies had taken good care to ravage. Water and forage were not to be had; the men suffered intolerably from thirst; horses died by hundreds; at the head of their troops marched knights mounted on asses or oxen; their favorite amusement, the chase, became impossible for them; for their hawking-birds too—the falcons and gerfalcons they had brought with them—languished and died beneath the excessive heat. One incident obtained for the crusaders a momentary relief. The dogs which followed the army, prowling in all directions, one day returned with their paws and coats wet; they had, therefore, found water; and the soldiers set themselves to look for it, and, in fact, discovered a small river in a remote valley. They got water-drunk, and more than three hundred men, it is said, were affected by it and died.
On arriving in Pisidia, a country intersected by Water-courses, meadows, and woods, the army rested several days; but at that very point two of its most competent and most respected chiefs were very nearly taken from it. Count Raymond of Toulouse, who was also called Raymond of Saint- Gilles, fell so ill that the bishop of Orange was reading over him the prayers for the dying, when one of those present cried out that the count would assuredly live, for that the prayers of his patron saint, Gilles, had obtained for him a truce with death. And Raymond recovered. Godfrey de Bouillon, again, whilst riding in a forest, came upon a pilgrim attacked by a bear, and all but fallen a victim to the ferocious beast. The duke drew his sword and urged his horse against the bear, which, leaving the pilgrim, rushed upon the assailant. The frightened horse reared; Godfrey was thrown, and, according to one account, immediately remounted; but, according to another, he fell, on the contrary, together with his horse; however, he sustained a fearful struggle against the bear, and ultimately killed it by plunging his sword up to the hilt into its belly, says 'William of Tyre, but with so great an effort, and after receiving so serious a wound, that his soldiers, hurrying up at the pilgrim's report, found him stretched on the ground, covered with blood, and unable to rise, and carried him back to the camp, where he was, for several weeks, obliged to be carried about in a litter in the rear of the army.
Through all these perils they continued to advance, and they were approaching the heights of Taurus, the bulwark and gate of Syria, when a quarrel which arose between two of the principal crusader chiefs was like to seriously endanger the concord and strength of the army. Tancred, with his men, had entered Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul, and had planted his flag there. Although later in his arrival, Baldwin, brother of Godfrey de Bouillon, claimed a right to the possession of the city, and had his flag set up instead of Tancred's, which was thrown into a ditch. During several days the strife was fierce and even bloody; the soldiers of Baldwin were the more numerous, and those of Tancred considered their chief too gentle, and his bravery, so often proved, scarcely sufficed to form an excuse for his forbearance. Chiefs and soldiers, however, at last, saw the necessity for reconciliation, and made mutual promises to sink all animosity. On returning to the general camp, Tancred was received with marked favor; for the majority of the crusaders, being unconcerned in the quarrel at Tarsus, liked him for his bravery and for his gentleness equally. Baldwin, on the contrary, was much blamed, even by his brother Godfrey; but he was far more ambitious on his own account than devoted to the common cause. He had often heard tell of Armenia and Mesopotamia, their riches and the large number of Christians living there, almost equally independent of Greeks and Turks; and, in the hope of finding there a chance of greatly improving his personal fortunes, he left the army of the crusaders at Maresa, on the very eve of the day on which the chiefs came to the decision that no one should for the future move away from the flag, and taking with him a weak detachment of two hundred horse and one thousand or twelve hundred foot, marched towards Armenia. His name and his presence soon made a stir there; and he got hold of two little towns which received him eagerly. Edessa, the capital of Armenia and metropolis of Mesopotamia, was peopled by Christians; and a Greek governor, sent from Constantinople by the emperor, lived there, on payment of a tribute to the Turks. Internal dissensions and the fear ever inspired by the vicinity of the Turks kept the city in a state of lively agitation; and bishop, people, and Greek governor, all appealed to Baldwin. He presented himself before Edessa with merely a hundred horsemen, having left the remainder of his forces in garrison at the town he had already occupied. All the population came to meet him, bearing branches of olive and singing chants in honor of their deliverer. But it was not long before outbreaks and alarms began again; and Baldwin looked on at then, waiting for power to be offered him. Still there was no advance; the Greek governor continued where be was; and Baldwin muttered threats of his departure. The popular disquietude was extreme; and the Greek governor, old and detested as he was, thought to smooth all by adopting the Latin chief and making him his heir. This, however, caused but a short respite; Baldwin left the governor to be massacred in a fresh outbreak; the people came and offered him the government, and he became Prince of Edessa, and, ere long, of all the neighboring country, without thinking any more of Jerusalem, of which, nevertheless, he was destined at no distant day to be king.
Whilst Baldwin was thus acquiring, for himself and himself alone, the first Latin principality belonging to the crusaders in the East, his brother Godfrey and the main Christian army were crossing the chain of Taurus and arriving before Antioch, the capital of Syria. Great was the fame, with Pagans and Christians, of this city; its site, the beauty of its climate, the fertility of its land, its fish-abounding lake, its river of Orontes, its fountain of Daphne, its festivals, and its morals, had made it, under the Roman empire, a brilliant and favorite abode. At the same time, it was there that the disciples of Jesus had assumed the name of Christians, and that St. Paul had begun his heroic life as preacher and as missionary. It was absolutely necessary that the crusaders should take Antioch; but the difficulty of the conquest was equal to the importance. The city was well fortified and provided with a strong citadel; the Turks had been in possession of it for fourteen years; and its governor Accien or Baghisian (Yagui-Sian, or brother of black, according to Oriental historians), appointed by the sultan of Persia, Malekschah, was shut up in it with seven thousand horse and twenty thousand foot. The first attacks of the Christians failed; and they had the prospect of a long siege. At the outset their situation had been easy and pleasant; they encountered no hostility from the country-people, who were intimidated or indifferent; they came and paid visits to the camp, and admitted the crusaders to their markets; the harvests, which were hardly finished, had been abundant: "the grapes," says Guibert of Nogent, "were still hanging on the branches of the vines; on all sides discoveries were made of grain shut up, not in barns, but in subterranean vaults; and the trees were laden with fruit." These facilities of existence, the softness of the climate, the pleasantness of the places, the frequency of leisure, partly pleasure and partly care-for-nothingness, caused amongst the crusaders irregularity, license, indiscipline, carelessness, and often perils and reverses. The Turks profited thereby to make sallies, which threw the camp into confusion and cost the lives of crusaders surprised or scattered about. Winter came; provisions grew scarce, and had to be sought at a greater distance and at greater peril; and living ceased to be agreeable or easy. Disquietude, doubts concerning the success of the enterprise, fatigue and discouragement made way amongst the army; and men who were believed to be proved, Robert Shorthose, duke of Normandy, William, viscount of Melun, called the Carpenter, on account of his mighty battle-axe, and Peter the Hermit himself, "who had never learned," says Robert the monk, "to endure such plaguy hunger," left the camp and deserted the banner of the cross, "that there might be seen, in the words of the Apocalypse, even the stars falling from heaven," says Guibert of Nogent. Great were the scandal and the indignation. Tancred hurried after the fugitives and brought then back; and they swore on the Gospel never again to abandon the cause which they had preached and served so well. It was clearly indispensable to take measures for restoring amongst the army discipline, confidence, and the morals and hopes of Christians. The different chiefs applied themselves thereto by very different processes, according to their vocation, character, or habits. Adhdmar, bishop of Puy, the renowned spiritual chief of the crusade, Godfrey de Bouillon, Raymond of Toulouse, and the military chieftains renowned for piety and virtue made head against all kinds of disorder either by fervent addresses or severe prohibitions. Men caught drunk had their hair cut off; blasphemous and reckless gamesters were branded with a red-hot iron; and the women were shut up in separate tents. To the irregularities within were added the perils of incessant espionage on the part of the Turks in the very camp of the crusaders: and no one knew how to repress this evil. "Brethren and lords," said Bohemond to the assembled princes, "let me undertake this business by myself; I hope, with God's help, to find a remedy for this complaint." Caring but little for moral reform, he strove to strike terror into the Turks, and, by counteraction, restore confidence to the crusaders. "One evening," says William of Tyre, "whilst everybody was, as usual, occupied in getting supper ready, Bohemond ordered some Turks who had been caught in the camp to be brought out of prison and put to death forthwith; and then, having had a huge fire lighted, he gave instructions that they should be roasted and carefully prepared as if for being eaten. If it should be asked what operation was going on, he commanded his people to answer, 'The princes and governors of the camp this day decreed at their council that all Turks or their spies who should henceforth be found in the camp should be forced, after this fashion, to furnish meat of their own carcasses to the princes as well as to the whole army!'" "The whole city of Antioch," adds the historian, "was stricken with terror at hearing the report of words so strange and a deed so cruel. And thus, by the act and pains of Bohemond, the camp was purged of this pest of spies, and the results of the princes' meetings were much less known amongst the foe."
Bohemond did not confine himself to terrifying the Turks by the display of his barbarities; he sought and found traitors amongst them. During the incidents of the siege he had concocted certain relations with an inhabitant of Antioch, named Ferouz or Emir-Feir, probably a renegade Christian and seeming Mussulman, in favor with the Governor Accien or Baghisian, who had intrusted to him, him and his family, the ward of three of the towers and gates of the city. Emir-Feir, whether from religious remorse or on promise of a rich recompense, had, after the ambiguous and tortuous conversations which usually precede treason, made an offer to Bohemond to open to him, and, through him, to the crusaders, the entrance into Antioch. Bohemond, in covert terms, informed the chiefs, his comrades, of this proposal, leaving it to be understood that, if the capture of Antioch were the result of his efforts, it would be for him to become its lord. The count of Toulouse bluntly rejected this idea. "We be all brethren," said he, "and we have all run the same risk; I did not leave my own country, and face, I and mine, so many dangers to conquer new lord-ships for any particular one of us." The opinion of Raymond prevailed, and Bohemond pressed the matter no more that day. But the situation became more and more urgent; and armies of Mussulmans were preparing to come to the aid of Antioch. When these fresh alarms spread through the camp, Bohemond returned to the charge, saying, "Time presses; and if ye accept the overtures made to us, to-morrow Antioch will be ours, and we shall march in triumph on Jerusalem. If any find a better way of assuring our success, I am ready to accept it and renounce, on my own account, all conquest." Raymond still persisted in his opposition; but all the other chiefs submitted to the overtures and conditions of Bohemond. All proper measures were taken, and Emir-Fein, being apprised thereof, had Bohemond informed that on the following night everything would be ready. At the appointed hour three-score warriors, with Bohemond at their head, repaired noiselessly to the foot of the tower indicated; a ladder was hoisted and Emir-Feir fastened it firmly to the top of the wall. Bohemond looked round and round, but no one was in a hurry to mount. Bohemond, therefore, himself mounted; and, having received recognition from Emir-Fein, he leaned upon the ramparts, called in a low voice to his comrades, and rapidly re-descended to reassure them and get them to mount with him. Up they mount; that and two other neighboring towers are given up to them; the three gates are opened, and the crusaders rush in. When day appeared, on the 3d of June, 1098, the streets of Antioch were full of corpses; for the Turks, surprised, had been slaughtered without resistance or had fled into the country. The citadel, filled with those who had been able to take refuge there, still held out; but the entire city was in the power of the crusaders, and the banner of Bohemond floated on an elevated spot over against the citadel.
In spite of their triumph the crusaders were not so near marching on Jerusalem as Bohemond had promised. Everywhere, throughout Syria and Mesopotamia, the Mussulmans were rising to go and deliver Antioch; an immense army was already in motion; there were eleven hundred thousand men according to Matthew of Edessa, six hundred and sixty thousand according to Foucher of Chartres, three hundred thousand according to Raoul of Caen, and only two hundred thousand according to William of Tyre and Albert of Aix. The discrepancy in the figures is a sufficient proof of their untruthfulness. The last number was enough to disquiet the crusaders, already much reduced by so many marches, battles, sufferings, and desertions. An old Mussulman warrior, celebrated at that time throughout Western Asia, Corbogha, sultan of Mossoul (hard by what was ancient Nineveh), commanded all the hostile forces, and four days after the capture of Antioch he was already completely round the place, enclosing the crusaders within the walls of which they had just become the masters. They were thus and all on a sudden besieged in their turn, having even in the very midst of them, in the citadel which still held out, a hostile force. Whilst they had been besieging Antioch, the Emperor Alexis Comnenus had begun to march with an army to get his share in their successes, and was advancing into Asia Minor when he heard that the Mussulmans, in immense numbers, were investing the Christian army in Antioch, and not in a condition, it was said, to hold out long. The emperor immediately retraced his steps towards Constantinople, and the crusaders found that they had no Greek aid to hope for. The blockade, becoming stricter day by day, soon brought about a horrible famine in Antioch. Instead of repeating here, in general terms, the ordinary descriptions of this cruel scourge, we will reproduce its particular and striking features as they have been traced out by contemporary chroniclers. "The Christian people," says William of Tyre, "had recourse before long, to procure themselves any food whatever, to all sorts of shameful means. Nobles, free men, did not blush to hungrily stretch out the hand to nobodies, asking with troublesome pertinacity for what was too often refused. There were seen the very strongest, those whom their signal valor had rendered illustrious in the midst of the army, now supported on crutches, dragging themselves half-dead along the streets and in the public places; and, if they did not speak, at any rate they showed themselves, with countenances irrecognizable, silently begging alms of every passer-by. No self-respect restrained matrons or young women heretofore accustomed to severe restraints; they walked hither and thither, with pallid faces, groaning and searching everywhere for somewhat to eat; and they in whom the pangs of hunger had not extinguished every spark of modesty went and hid themselves in the most secret places, and gnawed their hearts in silence, preferring to die of want rather than beg in public. Children still in the cradle, unable to get milk, were exposed at the cross-roads, crying in vain for their usual nourishment; and men, women, and children, all threw themselves greedily upon any kind of food, wholesome and unwholesome, clean and unclean, that they could scrape together here and there, and none shared with another that which they picked up." So many and such sufferings produced incredible dastardliness; and deserters escaped by night, in some cases throwing themselves down, at the risk of being killed, into the city-moat; in others getting down by help of a rope from the ramparts. Indignation blazed forth against the fugitives; they were called rope-dancers; and God was prayed to treat them as the traitor Judas. William of Tyre and Guibert of Nogent, after naming some, and those the very highest, end with these words: "Of many more I know not the names, and I am unwilling to expose all that are well known to me."
"We are assured," says William of Tyre, "that in view of such woes and such weaknesses, the princes, despairing of any means of safety, held amongst themselves a secret council, at which they decided to abandon the army and all the people, fly in the middle of the night, and retreat to the sea." According to the Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa, the princes would seem to have resolved, in this hour of dejection, not to fly and leave the army to its fate, but "to demand of Corboghzi an assurance for all, under the bond of an oath, of personal safety, on the promise of surrendering Antioch to him; after which they would return home." Several Arab historians, and amongst them Ibn-el-Athir, Aboul- Faradje, and Aboul-Feda confirm the statement of conditions. Whatever may have been the real turn taken by the promptings of weakness amongst the Christians, Godfrey de Bouillon and Adhemar, bishop of Puy, energetically rejected them all; and an unexpected incident, considered as miraculous, reassured the wavering spirits both of soldiers and of chiefs. A priest of Marseilles, Peter Bartholomew, came and announced to the chiefs that St. Andrew had thrice appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Go into the church of my brother Peter at Antioch; and hard by the high altar thou wilt find, on digging up the ground, the head of the spear which pierced our Redeemer's side. That, carried in front of the army, will bring about the deliverance of the Christians." The appointed search was solemnly conducted under the eye of twelve reputable witnesses, priests and knights; the whole army was in attendance at the closed gates of the church; the spear-head was found and carried off in triumph; a pious enthusiasm restored to all present entire confidence; and with loud shouts they demanded battle. The chiefs judged it proper to announce their determination to the chief of the Mussulmans; and for this mission they chose Peter the Hermit, who was known to them as a bold and able speaker. Peter, on arriving at the enemy's camp, presented himself without any mark of respect before the Sultan, Corbogha, surrounded by his satraps, and said, "The sacred assembly of princes pleasing to God who are at Antioch doth send me unto thy Highness, to advise thee that thou art to cease from thy importunities, and that thou abandon the siege of a city which the Lord in His divine mercy hath given up to them. The prince of the apostles did wrest that city from idolatry, and convert it to the faith of Christ. Ye had forcibly but unjustly taken possession of it. They who be moved by a right lawful anxiety for this heritage of their ancestors make their demand of thee that thou choose between divers offers: either give up the siege of the city, and cease troubling the Christians, or, within three days from hence, try the power of our arms. And that thou seek not after any, even a lawful, subterfuge, they offer thee further choice between divers determinations: either appear alone in person to fight with one of our princes, in order that, if victorious, thou mayest obtain all thou canst demand, or, if vanquished, thou mayest remain quiet; or, again, pick out divers of thine who shall fight, on the same terms, with the same number of ours; or, lastly, agree that the two armies shall prove, one against the other, the fortune of battle." "Peter," answered Corbogha ironically, "it is not likely that the affairs of the princes who have sent thee be in such state that they can thus offer me choice betwixt divers proposals, and that I should be bound to accept that which may suit me best. My sword hath brought them to such a condition that they have not themselves any longer the power of choosing freely, and that they be constrained to shape and unshape their wishes according to my good pleasure. Go, then, and tell these fools that all whom I shall find in full possession of all the powers of the manly age shall have their lives, and shall be reserved by me for my master's service, and that all other shall fall beneath my sword, as useless trees, so that there shall remain of them not even a faint remembrance. Had I not deemed it more convenient to destroy them by famine than to smite them with the sword, I should already have gotten forcible mastery of the city, and they would have reaped the fruits of their voyage hither by undergoing the law of vengeance."
On returning to camp, Peter the Hermit was about to set forth in detail, before all the people of the crusaders, the answer of Corbogha, his pride, his threats, and the pomp with which he was surrounded; but Godfrey de Bouillon, "fearing lest the multitude, already crushed beneath the weight of their woes, should be stricken with fresh terror," stopped Peter at the moment when he was about to begin his speech, and, taking him aside, prevailed upon him to tell the result of his mission in a few words, just that the Turks desired battle, and that it must be prepared for at once. "Forthwith all, from the highest to the lowest, testify the most eager desire to measure swords with the infidels, and seem to have completely forgotten their miseries, and to calculate upon victory. All resume their arms, and get ready their horses, their breastplates, their helmets, their shields, and their swords. It is publicly announced throughout the city that the next morning, before sunrise, every one will have to be in readiness, and join his host to follow faithfully the banner of his prince."
Next day, accordingly, the 28th of June, 1098, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, the whole Christian army issued from their camp, with a portion of the clergy marching at their head, and chanting the 68th Psalm, "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered!" "I saw these things, I who speak," says one of the chroniclers, Raymond d'Agiles, chaplain to the count of Toulouse: "I was there, and I carried the spear of the Lord." The crusaders formed in twelve divisions; and, of all their great chiefs, the count of Toulouse alone was unable to assume the command of his; he was detained in Antioch by the consequences of a wound, and he had the duty of keeping in check the Turkish garrison, still masters of the citadel. The crusaders presented the appearance of old troops ill clad, ill provided, and surmounting by sheer spirit the fatigues and losses of a long war; many sick soldiers could scarcely march; many barons and knights were on foot; and Godfrey de Bouillon himself had been obliged to borrow a horse from the count of Toulouse. During the march a gentle rain refreshed souls as well as bodies, and was regarded as a favor from heaven. Just as the battle was commencing, Corbogha, struck by the impassioned, stern, and indomitable aspect of the crusaders, felt somewhat disquieted, and made proposals, it is said, to the Christian princes of what he had refused them the evening before—a fight between some of their knights and as many Saracens; but they in their turn rejected the proposition. There is a moment, during great struggles, when the souls of men are launched forth like bomb-shells, which nothing can stop or cause to recoil. The battle was long, stubborn, and, at some points, indecisive: Kilidge-Arslan, the indefatigable sultan of Nicaea, attacked Bohemond so briskly, that, save for the prompt assistance of Godfrey de Bouillon and Tancred, the prince of Antioch had been in great peril. But the pious and warlike enthusiasm of the crusaders at length prevailed over the savage bravery of the Turks; and Corbogha, who had promised the khalif of Bagdad a defeat of the Christians, fled away towards the Euphrates with a weak escort of faithful troops. Tancred pursued till nightfall the sultans of Aleppo and Damascus and the emir of Jerusalem. According to the Christian chroniclers, one hundred thousand infidels, and only four thousand crusaders, were left on the field of battle. The camp of the Turks was given over to pillage; and fifteen thousand camels, and it is not stated how many horses, were carried off. The tent of Corbogha himself was, for his conquerors, a rich prize and an object of admiration. It was laid out in streets, flanked by towers, as if it were a fortified town; gold and precious stones glittered in every part of it; it was capable of containing more than two thousand persons; and Bohemond sent it to Italy, where it was long preserved. The conquerors employed several days in conveying into Antioch the spoils of the vanquished; and "every crusader," says Albert of Aix, "found himself richer than he had been at starting from Europe."
This great success, with the wealth it was the means of spreading, and the pretensions and hopes it was the cause of raising amongst the crusaders, had for some time the most injurious effects. Division set in amongst them, especially amongst the chiefs. Some abandoned themselves to all the license of victory, others to the sweets of repose. Some, fatigued and disgusted, quietly prepared for and accomplished their return home; others, growing more and more ambitious and bold, aspired to conquests and principalities in the East. Why should not they acquire what Baldwin had acquired at Edessa, and what Bohemond was within an ace of possessing at Antioch? Others were jealous of the great fortunes made before their eyes: and Raymond of Toulouse was vexed at Bohemond's rule in Antioch, and refused to give up to him the citadel. One and another troubled themselves little more about the main end of their crusade, the deliverance of Jerusalem, and devoted themselves to their personal interests. A few days after the defeat of the Turks, the council of princes deliberated upon the question of marching immediately upon Jerusalem, and then all these various inclinations came out. After a lively debate, the majority decided that they should wait till the heat of summer was over, the army rested from its fatigues, and the reinforcements expected from the West arrived. The common sort of crusaders were indignant at this delay: "Since the princes will not lead us to Jerusalem," was said aloud, "choose we among the knights a brave man who will serve us faithfully, and, if the grace of God be with us, go we under his leading to Jerusalem. It is not enough for our princes that we have remained here a whole year, and that two hundred thousand men-at- arms have fallen here! Perish all they who would remain at Antioch, even as its inhabitants but lately perished!" But, murmuring all the while, they staid at Antioch, in spite of a violent epidemic, which took off, it was said, in a single month, fifty thousand persons, and amongst them the spiritual chief of the crusade, Adhemar, bishop of Puy, who had the respect and confidence of all the crusaders. To find some specious pretext, or some pious excuse for this inactivity, or simply to pass the time which was not employed as it had been sworn it should be, war-like expeditions were made into Syria and Mesopotamia; some emirs were driven from their petty dominions; some towns were taken; some infidels were massacred. The count of Toulouse persisted during several weeks in besieging Marrah, a town situated between Hamath and Aleppo. At last he took it, but there were no longer any inhabitants to be found in it; they had all taken refuge under ground. Huge fires lighted at the entrance of their hiding-place forced them to come out, and as they came they were all put to death or carried off as slaves; "which so terrified the neighboring towns," says a chronicler, "that they yielded of their own free will and without compulsion."
It was all at once ascertained that Jerusalem had undergone a fresh calamity, and fallen more and more beneath the yoke of the infidels. Abou-Kacem, khalif of Egypt, had taken it from the Turks; and his vizier, Afdhel, had left a strong garrison in it. A sharp pang of grief, of wrath, and of shame shot through the crusaders. "Could it be," they cried, "that Jerusalem should be taken and retaken, and never by Christians?" Many went to seek out the count of Toulouse. He was known to be much taken up with the desire of securing the possession of Marrah, which he had just captured; still great confidence was felt in him. He had made a vow never to return to the West; he was the richest of the crusader princes; he was conjured to take upon himself the leadership of the army; to him had been intrusted the spear of the Lord discovered at Antioch; if the other princes should be found wanting, let him at least go forward with the people, in full assurance; if not, he had only to give up the spear to the people, and the people would go right on to Jerusalem, with the Lord for their leader. After some hesitation, Raymond declared that the departure should take place in a fortnight, and he summoned the princes to a preliminary meeting. On assembling "they found themselves still less at one," says the chronicler, and the majority refused to budge. To induce them, it is said that Raymond offered ten thousand sous to Godfrey de Bouillon, the same to Robert of Normandy, six thousand to the count of Flanders, and five thousand to Tancred; but, at the same time, Raymond announced his intention of leaving a strong garrison in Marrah to secure its defence. "What!" cried the common folk amongst the crusaders, "disputes about Antioch and disputes about Marrah! We will take good care there be no quarrel touching this town; come, throw we down its walls; restore we peace amongst the princes, and set we the count at liberty: when Marrah no longer exists, he will no longer fear to lose it." The multitude rushed to surround Marrah, and worked so eagerly at the demolition of its ramparts that the count of Toulouse, touched by this popular feeling as if it were a proof of the divine will, himself put the finishing touch to the work of destruction and ordered the speedy departure of the army. At their head marched he, barefooted, with his clergy and the bishop of Akbar, all imploring the mercy of God and the protection of the saints. After him marched Tancred with forty knights and many foot. "Who then may resist this people," said Turks and Saracens one to another, "so stubborn and cruel, whom, for the space of a year, nor famine, nor the sword, nor any other danger could cause to abandon the siege of Antioch, and who now are feeding upon human flesh?" In fact a rumor had spread that, in their extreme distress for want of provisions, the crusaders had eaten corpses of Saracens found in the moats of Marrah.
Several of the chiefs, hitherto undecided, now followed the popular impulse, whilst others still hesitated. But on the approach of spring, 1099, more than eight months after the capture of Antioch, Godfrey of Bouillon, his brother, Eustace of Boulogne, Robert of Flanders, and their following, likewise began to march. Bohemond, after having accompanied them as far as Laodicea, left them with a promise of rejoining them before Jerusalem, and returned to Antioch, where he remained. Fresh crusaders arrived from Flanders, Holland, and England, and amongst them the Saxon prince, Edgar Atheling, who had for a brief interval been king of England, between the death of Harold and the coronation of William the Conqueror. The army pursued its way, pretty slowly, still stopping from time to time to besiege towns, which they took and which the chiefs continued to dispute for amongst themselves. Envoys from the khalif of Egypt, the new holder of Jerusalem, arrived in the crusaders' camp, with presents and promises from their master. They had orders to offer forty thousand pieces of gold to Godfrey, sixty thousand to Bohemond, the most dreaded by the Mussulmans of all the crusaders, and other gifts to divers other chiefs. Aboul-Kacem further promised liberty of pilgrimage and exercise of the Christian religion in Jerusalem; only the Christians must not enter, unless unarmed. At this proposal the crusader chiefs cried out with indignation, and declared to the Egyptian envoys that they were going to hasten their march upon Jerusalem, threatening at the same time to push forward to the borders of the Nile. At the end of the month of flay, 1099, they were all masse upon the frontiers of Phoenicia and Palestine, numbering according to the most sanguine calculations, only fifty thousand fighting men.
Upon entering Palestine, as they came upon spots known in sacred history or places of any importance, the same feelings of greed and jealousy which had caused so much trouble in Asia Minor and Syria caused divisions once more amongst the crusaders. The chieftain, the simple warrior almost, who was the first to enter city, or burgh, or house, and plant his flag there halted in it and claimed to be its possessor; whilst those "whom nothing was dearer than the commandments of God," say the chroniclers, pursued their march, barefooted, beneath the banner of the cross, deplored the covetousness and the quarrels of their brethren. When the crusaders arrived a Emmaus, some Christians of Bethlehem came and implore their aid against the infidels. Tancred was there; and he, with the consent of Godfrey, set out immediately, in the middle of the night, with a small band of one hundred horsemen, and went and planted his own flag on the top of the church at Bethlehem at the very hour at which the birth of Jesus Christ had been announced to the shepherds of Judea. Next day, June 10th 1099, on advancing, at dawn of day, over the heights of Emmaus, the army of the crusaders had, all at once, beneath their gaze the Holy City.
"Lo! Jerusalem appears in sight. Lo! every hand point, out Jerusalem. Lo! a thousand voices are heard as one in salutation of Jerusalem.
"After the great, sweet joy which filled all hearts at this first glimpse came a deep feeling of contrition, mingled with awful and reverential affection. Each scarcely dared to raise the eye towards the city which had been the chosen abode of Christ, where He died, was buried, and rose again.
"In accents of humility, with words low spoken, with stifled sobs, with sighs and tears, the pent-up yearnings of a people in joy and at the same time in sorrow sent shivering through the air a murmur like that which is heard in leafy forests what time the wind blows through the leaves, or like the dull sound made by the sea which breaks upon the rocks, or hisses as it foams over the beach."
It was better to quote these beautiful stanzas from "Jerusalem Delivered" than to reproduce the pompous and monotonous phrases of the chroniclers. The genius of Tasso was capable of understanding and worthy to depict the emotions of a Christian army at sight of the Jerusalem they had come to deliver.
We will not pause over the purely military and technical details of the siege. It was calculated that there were in the city twenty thousand armed inhabitants and forty thousand men in garrison, the most valiant and most fanatical Mussulmans that Egypt could furnish. According to William of Tyre, the most judicious and the best informed of the contemporary historians, "When the crusaders pitched their camp over against Jerusalem, there had arrived there about forty thousand persons of both sexes, of whom there were at the most twenty thousand foot, well equipped, and fifteen hundred knights." Raymond d'Agiles, chaplain to the count of Toulouse, reduces still further to twelve thousand the number of foot capable of bearing arms, and that of the knights to twelve or thirteen hundred. This weak army was destitute of commissariat and the engines necessary for such a siege. Before long it was a prey to the horrors of thirst. "The neighborhood of Jerusalem," says William of Tyre, "is arid; and it is only at a considerable distance that there are to be found rivulets, fountains, or wells of fresh water. Even these springs had been filled up by the enemy a little before the arrival of our troops. The crusaders issued from the camp secretly and in small detachments to look for water in all directions; and just when they believed they had found some hidden trickier, they saw themselves surrounded by a multitude of folks engaged in the same search; disputes forthwith arose amongst them, and they frequently came to blows. Horses, mules, asses, and cattle of all kinds, consumed by heat and thirst, fell down and died; and their carcasses, left here and there about the camp, tainted the air with a pestilential smell." Wood, iron, and all the materials needful for the construction of siege machinery were as much to seek as water. But a warlike and pious spirit made head against all. Trees were felled at a great distance from Jerusalem; and scaling-towers were roughly constructed, as well as engines for hurling the stones which were with difficulty brought up within reach of the city. "All ye who read this," says Raymond d'Agiles, "think not that it was light labor; it was nigh a mile from the spot where the engines, all dismounted, had to be transported to that where they were remounted." The knights protected against the sallies of the besieged the workmen employed upon this work. One day Tancred had gone alone to pray on the Mount of Olives and to gaze upon the holy city, when five Mussulmans sallied forth and went to attack him; he killed three of them, and the other two took to flight. There was at one point of the city ramparts a ravine which had to be filled up to make an approach; and the count of Toulouse had proclamation made that be would give a denier to every one who would go and throw three stones into it. In three days the ravine was filled up. After four weeks of labor and preparation, the council of princes fixed a day for delivering the assault; but as there had been quarrels between several of the chiefs, and, notably, between the count of Toulouse and Tancred, it was resolved that before the grand attack they should all be reconciled at a general supplication, with solemn ceremonies, for divine aid. After a strict fast, all the crusaders went forth armed from their quarters, and preceded by their priests, bare-footed and chanting psalms, they moved, in slow procession, round Jerusalem, halting at all places hallowed by some fact in sacred history, listening to the discourses of their priests, and raising eyes full of wrath at hearing the scoffs addressed to them by the Saracens, and seeing the insults heaped upon certain crosses they had set up and upon all the symbols of the Christian faith. "Ye see," cried Peter the Hermit; "ye hear the threats and blasphemies of the enemies of God. Now this I swear to you by your faith; this I swear to you by the arms ye carry: to-day these infidels be still full of pride and insolence, but to-morrow they shall be frozen with fear; those mosques, which tower over Christian ruins, shall serve for temples to the true God, and Jerusalem shall hear no longer aught but the praises of the Lord." The shouts of the whole Christian army responded to the hopes of the apostle of the crusade; and the crusaders returned to their quarters repeating the words of the prophet Isaiah: "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the West, and His glory from the rising of the sun."
On the 14th of July, 1099, at daybreak, the assault began at divers points; and next day, Friday, the 15th of July, at three in the afternoon, exactly at the hour at which, according to Holy Writ, Jesus Christ had yielded up the ghost, saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit," Jerusalem was completely in the hands of the crusaders. We have no heart to dwell on the massacres which accompanied the victory so clearly purchased by the conquerors. The historians, Latin or Oriental, set down at seventy thousand the number of Mussulmans massacred on the ramparts, in the mosques, in the streets, underground, and wherever they had attempted to find refuge: a number exceeding that of the armed inhabitants and the garrison of the city. Battle-madness, thirst for vengeance, ferocity, brutality, greed, and every hateful passion were satiated without scruple, in the name of their holy cause. When they were weary of slaughter, "orders were given," says Robert the monk, "to those of the Saracens who remained alive and were reserved for slavery, to clean the city, remove from it the dead, and purify it from all traces of such fearful carnage. They promptly obeyed; removed, with tears, the dead; erected outside the gates dead-houses fashioned like citadels or defensive buildings; collected in baskets dissevered limbs; carried them away, and washed off the blood that stained the floors of temples and houses."
Eight or ten days after the capture of Jerusalem, the crusader chiefs assembled to deliberate upon the election of a king of their prize. There were several who were suggested for it and might have pretended to it. Robert Shorthose, duke of Normandy, gave an absolute refusal, "liking better," says an English chronicler, "to give himself up to repose and indolence in Normandy than to serve, as a soldier, the King of kings: for which God never forgave him." Raymond, count of Toulouse, was already advanced in years, and declared "that he would have a horror of bearing the name of king in Jerusalem, but that he would give his consent to the election of anyone else." Tancred was and wished to be only the first of knights. Godfrey de Bouillon the more easily united votes in that he did not seek them. He was valiant, discreet, worthy, and modest; and his own servants, being privately sounded, testified to his possession of the virtues which are put in practice without any show. He was elected King of Jerusalem, and he accepted the burden whilst refusing the insignia. "I will never wear a crown of gold," he said, "in the place where the Saviour of the world was crowned with thorns." And he assumed only the title of Defender and Baron of the Holy Sepulchre.
It is a common belief amongst historians that after the capture of Jerusalem, and the election of her king, Peter the Hermit entirely disappeared from history. It is true that he no longer played an active part, and that, on returning to Europe, he went into retirement near Huy, in the diocese of Lige, where he founded a monastery, and where he died on the 11th of July, 1115. But William of Tyre bears witness that Peter's contemporaries were not ungrateful to him, and did not forget him when he had done his work. "The faithful," says he, "dwellers at Jerusalem, who, four or five years before had seen the venerable Peter there, recognizing at that time in the same city him to whom the patriarch had committed letters invoking the aid of the princes of the West, bent the knee before him, and offered him their respects in all humility. They recalled to mind the circumstances of his first voyage; and they praised the Lord who had endowed him with effectual power of speech and with strength to rouse up nations and kings to bear so many and such long toils for love of the name of Christ. Both in private and in public all the faithful at Jerusalem exerted themselves to render to Peter the Hermit the highest honors, and attributed to him alone, after God, their happiness in having escaped from the hard servitude under which they had been for so many years groaning, and in seeing the holy city recovering her ancient freedom."