Miscellaneous quotes

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  • Zeus, turned to gold, piercing the brazen chamber of Danae, cut the knot of intact virginity. I think the meaning of the story is this, “Gold, the subduer of all things, gets the better of brazen walls and fetters; gold loosens all reins and opens every lock, gold makes the ladies with scornful eyes bend the knee. It was gold that bent the will of Danae. No need for a lover to pray to Aphrodite, if he brings money to offer.”

Accounts of Eye-Witnesses and Participants

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August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants (Princeton University Press, 1921)

Prologue

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  • It is a joy to the living and even profitable to the dead when the deeds of brave men, and especially of those fighting for God, are read from writings, or, committed to memory, are recited with prudence in the midst of the faithful. For upon hearing the pious purposes of those who have gone before them—how, rejecting the honor of the world, leaving their parents, wives, and goods of whatsoever kind, they clung to God and followed Him according to the counsel of the Gospel—those who live in the world are themselves animated by His inspiration and aroused to love Him most ardently. It is even beneficial to those who are dead in the Lord, since the faithful, hearing their good and pious deeds, therefore bless their souls and in charity offer alms and prayers for them, whether these dead were known to them or not.
    Moved, therefore, by the requests of former comrades, I have related in careful and orderly fashion the illustrious deeds of the Franks in honor of the Saviour, when at the command of God they made an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In homely style, but, nevertheless, truly, I have recounted what I deemed worthy to be committed to memory, and I have told it as well as I can and just as I saw it myself. Although I do not dare to put this work of the Franks that I have mentioned on an equality with the distinguished achievements of the people of Israel, or of the Maccabees, or of many other peoples whom God has honored by such frequent and such wonderful miracles, still I consider it not far inferior to those works, since in connection with it miracles worked by God were often witnessed. These I have taken care to report in writing.
    In what way, indeed, do these Franks differ from the Israelites and the Maccabees? In those lands, by my very side, I have seen them dismembered, crucified, flayed, shot with arrows, butchered, or killed by other kinds of martyrdom for the love of Christ; or I have heard of it when I was far away. And yet they could be overcome neither by threats nor blandishments! Nay, even if the slayer's sword had come, many of us would not have refused to perish for the love of Christ. Oh, how many thousands of martyrs died a happy death on this expedition! Who is so hard of heart that he can hear these deeds without being moved by deepest piety to break forth in His praise? Who will not wonder how we, a few people in the midst of the lands of our enemies, were able not only to resist, but to live? Who has ever heard such things? On one side of us were Egypt and Ethiopia; on another Arabia, Chaldea, Syria, Parthia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Media; on another Persia and Scythia. A great sea separated us from Christendom and shut us up in the hands of our destroyers, as if God allowed it. But His arm mercifully defended us. "Blessed indeed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
    The history which follows shall explain how this work was begun, and how all the people of the West, once aroused to undertake so great an expedition, more than willingly applied their hearts and hands to it.

The Summons

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(After Fulcher's preface, which seems admirably suited to this account, the chapter deals with the call for Crusaders from the West. The condition of Europe on the eve of the Crusade is too large a subject to be treated adequately here, but Fulcher's brief summary contains a very suggestive survey of the situation and is interestingly supplemented by Ekkehard's contrast of conditions in East and West Frankland. Most of the causes of the movement may be inferred from Urban's speech at Clermont.
The Council of Clermont was held in November 1095 and lasted for ten days, from the eighteenth to the twenty-eighth of the month, the famous address of Urban being delivered on the day before the close of the Council. The four writers who were presumably present wrote their versions of the speech several years after it occurred, that of Fulcher being perhaps the earliest. Each may have preserved notes taken at the time, but it is extremely interesting to observe that each stresses that phase of the speech which especially appealed to him. Robert the Monk seems to have responded as a patriotic Frenchman, Balderic as a member of the Church hierarchy, Guibert as a mystic, Fulcher, here, as always, as the simple curé—all as churchmen. Enough has been added by the writers to indicate that most of Urban's audience, which consisted principally of the clergy, became unofficial preachers of the Crusade when they returned to their own districts. This is indicated also by Urban's letter to the Crusaders in Flanders, written less than a month after the Council, which was half plea and half instruction to men already aroused. Urban himself spoke at other places in France before returning to Italy to stir up the people there, but he did not go to Germany for the reasons mentioned by both Fulcher and Ekkehard. The appeal there, though indirect, was powerful, as the second chapter proves. The call to the Crusade was sounded and resounded by Urban, even to the time of his death, and by hundreds of others both during his life-time and long thereafter.)

Conditions in Europe at the beginning of the Crusades

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  • In the year of our Lord 1095, in the reign of the so-called Emperor Henry in Germany and of King Philip in France, throughout Europe evils of all kinds waxed strong because of vacillating faith. Pope Urban II then ruled in the city of Rome. He was a man admirable in life and habits, who always strove wisely and energetically to raise the status of Holy Church higher and higher. ...
    But the devil, who always desires man's destruction and goes about like a raging lion seeking whom he may devour, stirred up to the confusion of the people a certain rival to Urban, Wibert by name. Incited by the stimulus of pride and supported by the shamelessness of the aforesaid Emperor of the Bavarians, Wibert attempted to usurp the papal office while Urban's predecessor, Gregory, that is Hildebrand, was the legitimate Pope; and he thus caused Gregory himself to be cast out of St. Peter's. So the better people refused to recognize him because he acted thus perversely. After the death of Hildebrand, Urban, lawfully elected, was consecrated by the cardinal bishops, and the greater and holier part of the people submitted in obedience to him. Wibert, however, urged on by the support of the aforesaid Emperor and by the instigation of the Roman citizens, for some time kept Urban a stranger to the Church of St. Peter; but Urban, although he was banished from the Church, went about through the country, reconciling to God the people who had gone somewhat astray. Wibert, however, puffed up by the primacy of the Church, showed himself indulgent to sinners, and exercising the office of pope, although unjustly, amongst his adherents, he denounced as ridiculous the acts of Urban. But in the year in which the Franks first passed through Rome on their way to Jerusalem, Urban obtained the complete papal power everywhere, with the help of a certain most noble matron, Matilda by name, who then had great influence in the Roman state. Wibert was then in Germany. So there were two Popes; and many did not know which to obey, or from which counsel should be taken, or who should remedy the ills of Christianity. Some favored the one; some the other. But it was clear to the intelligence of men that Urban was the better, for he is rightly considered better who controls his passions, just as if they were enemies. Wibert was Archbishop of the city of Ravenna. He was very rich and revelled in honor and wealth. It was a wonder that such riches did not satisfy him. Ought he to be considered by all an exemplar of right living who, himself a lover of pomp, boldly assumes to usurp the sceptre of Almighty God? Truly, this office must not be seized by force, but accepted with fear and humility.
    What wonder that the whole world was a prey to disturbance and confusion? For when the Roman Church, which is the source of correction for all Christianity, is troubled by any disorder, the sorrow is communicated from the nerves of the head to the members subject to it, and these suffer sympathetically. This Church, indeed, our mother, as it were, at whose bosom we were nourished, by whose doctrine we were instructed and strengthened, by whose counsel we were admonished, was by this proud Wibert greatly afflicted.
    For when the head is thus struck, the members at once are sick. If the head be sick, the other members suffer. Since the head was thus sick, pain was engendered in the enfeebled members; for in all parts of Europe peace, goodness, faith, were boldly trampled under foot, within the church and without, by the high, as well as by the low. It was necessary both that an end be put to these evils, and that, in accordance with the plan suggested by Pope Urban, they turn against the pagans the strength formerly used in prosecuting battles among themselves. ...
    He saw, moreover, the faith of Christendom greatly degraded by all, by the clergy as well as by the laity, and peace totally disregarded; for the princes of the land were incessantly engaged in armed strife, now these, now those quarrelling among themselves. He saw the goods of the land stolen from the owners; and many, who were unjustly taken captive and most barbarously cast into foul prisons, he saw ransomed for excessive sums, or tormented there by the three evils, starvation, thirst, and cold, or allowed to perish by unseen death. He also saw holy places violated, monasteries and villas destroyed by fire, and not a little human suffering, both the divine and the human being held in derision.
    When he heard, too, that interior parts of Romania were held oppressed by the Turks, and that Christians were subjected to destructive and savage attacks, he was moved by compassionate pity; and, prompted by the love of God, he crossed the Alps and came into Gaul. He there called a council at Clermont in Auvergne, which council had been fittingly proclaimed by envoys in all directions. It is estimated that there were three hundred and ten bishops and abbots who bore the crozier. When they were assembled on the day appointed for the council, Urban, in an eloquent address full of sweetness, made known the object of the meeting. With the plaintive voice of the afflicted Church he bewailed in a long discourse the great disturbances which, as has been mentioned above, agitated the world where faith had been undermined. Then, as a supplicant, he exhorted all to resume the fullness of their faith, and in good earnest to try diligently to withstand the deceits of the devil, and to raise to its pristine honor the status of Holy Church, now most unmercifully crippled by the wicked.
    "Dearest brethren," he said, "I, Urban, invested by the permission of God with the papal tiara, and spiritual ruler over the whole world, have come here in this great crisis to you, servants of God, as a messenger of divine admonition. I wish those whom I have believed good and faithful dispensers of the ministry of God to be found free from shameful dissimulation. For if there be in you any disposition or crookedness contrary to God's law, because you have lost the moderation of reason and justice, I shall earnestly endeavor to correct it at once, with divine assistance. For the Lord has made you stewards over His family, that you provide it with pleasant-tasting meat in season. You will be blessed, indeed, if the Lord shall find you faithful in stewardship. You are also called shepherds; see that you do not the work of hirelings. Be true shepherds and have your crooks always in your hands. Sleep not, but defend everywhere the flock committed to your care. For if through your carelessness or neglect the wolf carries off a sheep, doubtless you will not only lose the reward prepared for you by our Lord, but, after having first been tortured by the strokes of the lictor, you will also be savagely hurled into the abode of the damned. In the words of the gospel, 'Ye are the salt of the earth'? But, it is asked, 'If ye fail, wherewith shall it be salted?' Oh, what a salting! Indeed, you must strive by the salt of your wisdom to correct this foolish people, over-eager for the pleasures of the world, lest the Lord find them insipid and rank, corrupted by crimes at the time when He wishes to speak to them. For if because of your slothful performance of duty He shall discover any worms in them, that is to say any sins. He will in contempt order them to be cast forthwith into the abyss of uncleanness; and because you will be unable to make good to Him such a loss. He will surely banish you, condemned by His judgment, from the presence of His love. But one that salteth ought to be prudent, foresighted, learned, peaceful, watchful, respectable, pious, just, fair-minded, pure. For how can the unlearned make others learned, the immodest make others modest, the unclean make others clean? How can he make peace who hates it? If anyone has soiled hands, how can he cleanse the spots from one contaminated? For it is written, 'If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit.' Accordingly, first correct yourselves, so that without reproach you can then correct those under your care. If, indeed, you wish to be the friends of God, do generously what you see is pleasing to Him.
    "See to it that the affairs of Holy Church, especially, are maintained in their rights, and that simoniacal heresy in no way takes root among you. Take care lest purchasers and venders alike, struck by the lash of the Lord, be disgracefully driven through narrow ways into utter confusion. Keep the Church in all its orders entirely free from the secular power; have given to God faithfully one-tenth of the fruits of the earth, neither selling them, nor withholding them. Whoever lays violent hands on a bishop, let him be considered excommunicated. Whoever shall have seized monks, or priests, or nuns, and their servants, or pilgrims, or traders, and shall have despoiled them, let him be accursed. Let thieves and burners of houses and their accomplices be excommunicated from the church and accursed. Therefore, we must consider especially, as Gregory says, how great will be his punishment who steals from another, if he incurs the damnation of hell who does not distribute alms from his own possessions. For so it happened to the rich man in the Gospel, who was punished not for stealing anything from another, but because, having received wealth, he used it badly.
    "By these evils, therefore, as I have said, dearest brethren, you have seen the world disordered for a long time, and to such a degree that in some places in your provinces, as has been reported to us (perhaps due to your weakness in administering justice), one scarcely dares to travel for fear of being kidnapped by thieves at night or highwayman by day, by force or by craft, at home or out of doors. Wherefore, it is well to enforce anew the Truce, commonly so-called, which was long ago established by our holy fathers, and which I most earnestly entreat each one of you to have observed in his diocese. But if any one, led on by pride or ambition, infringes this injunction voluntarily, let him be anathema in virtue of the authority of God and by the sanction of the decrees of this council."
    When these and many other things were well disposed of, all those present, priests and people alike, gave thanks to God and welcomed the advice of the Lord Pope Urban, assuring him, with a promise of fidelity, that these decrees of his would be well kept.

Urban's plea for a Crusade (27 November 1095)

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  • When now that time was at hand which the Lord Jesus daily points out to His faithful, especially in the Gospel, saying, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me," a mighty agitation was carried on throughout all the region of Gaul. (Its tenor was) that if anyone desired to follow the Lord zealously, with a pure heart and mind, and wished faithfully to bear the cross after Him, he would no longer hesitate to take up the way to the Holy Sepulchre.
    And so Urban, Pope of the Roman see, with his archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priests, set out as quickly as possible beyond the mountains and began to deliver sermons and to preach eloquently, saying: "Whoever wishes to save his soul should not hesitate humbly to take up the way of the Lord, and if he lacks sufficient money, divine mercy will give him enough." Then the apostolic lord continued, "Brethren, we ought to endure much suffering for the name of Christ — misery, poverty, nakedness, persecution, want, illness, hunger, thirst, and other (ills) of this kind, just as the Lord saith to His disciples: 'Ye must suffer much in My name,' and 'Be not ashamed to confess Me before the faces of men; verily I will give you mouth and wisdom,' and finally, 'Great is your reward in Heaven.'" And when this speech had already begun to be noised abroad, little by little, through all the regions and countries of Gaul, the Franks, upon hearing such reports, forthwith caused crosses to be sewed on their right shoulders, saying that they followed with one accord the footsteps of Christ, by which they had been redeemed from the hand of hell.
  • But the Pope added at once that another trouble, not less, but still more grievous than that already spoken of, and even the very worst, was besetting Christianity from another part of the world. He said: "Since, O sons of God, you have promised the Lord to maintain peace more earnestly than heretofore in your midst, and faithfully to sustain the rights of Holy Church, there still remains for you, who are newly aroused by this divine correction, a very necessary work, in which you can show the strength of your good will by a certain further duty, God's concern and your own. For you must hasten to carry aid to your brethren dwelling in the East, who need your help, which they often have asked. For the Turks, a Persian people, have attacked them, as many of you already know, and have advanced as far into the Roman territory as that part of the Mediterranean which is called the Arm of St. George; and, by seizing more and more of the lands of the Christians, they have already often conquered them in battle, have killed and captured many, have destroyed the churches, and have devastated the kingdom of God. If you allow them to contrive much longer, they will subjugate God's faithful yet more widely.
    "Wherefore, I exhort with earnest prayer—not I, but God—that, as heralds of Christ, you urge men by frequent exhortation, men of all ranks, knights as well as foot-soldiers, rich as well as poor, to hasten to exterminate this vile race from the lands of your brethren, and to aid the Christians in time. I speak to those present; I proclaim it to the absent; moreover, Christ commands it. And if those who set out thither should lose their lives on the way by land, or in crossing the sea, or in fighting the pagans, their sins shall be remitted. This I grant to all who go, through the power vested in me by God. Oh, what a disgrace, if a race so despised, base, and the instrument of demons, should so overcome a people endowed with faith in the all-powerful God, and resplendent with the name of Christ! Oh, what reproaches will be charged against you by the Lord Himself if you have not helped those who are counted, like yourselves, of the Christian faith! Let those who have been accustomed to make private war against the faithful carry on to a successful issue a war against infidels, which ought to have been begun ere now. Let these who for a long time have been robbers, now become soldiers of Christ. Let those who once fought against brothers and relatives now fight against barbarians, as they ought. Let those who have been hirelings at low wages now labor for an eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out to the detriment of body and soul now labor for a double glory. On the one hand will be the sad and poor, on the other the joyous and wealthy; here the enemies of the Lord; there His friends. Let no obstacle stand in the way of those who are going, but, after their affairs are settled and expense money is collected, when the winter has ended and spring has come, let them zealously undertake the journey under the guidance of the Lord."
  • ... "Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race chosen and beloved by God — as shines forth in very many of your works — set apart from all nations by the situation of your country, as well as by your Catholic faith and the honor of the Holy Church! To you our discourse is addressed, and for you our exhortation is intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to your country, what peril, threatening you and all the faithful, has brought us.
    "From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears; namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation, forsooth, which has neither directed its heart nor entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage, and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and, dragging forth the end of the intestines, bind it to a stake ; then with flogging they lead the victim around until his viscera have gushed forth, and he falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks, and then, attacking them with naked swords, they attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it can not be traversed in a march of two months. On whom, therefore, is the task of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily energy, and the strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you.
    "Let the deeds of your ancestors move you and incite your minds to manly achievements; likewise, the glory and greatness of King Charles the Great, and his son Louis, and of your other kings, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the pagans, and have extended in these lands the territory of the Holy Church. Let the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord, our Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially move you, and likewise the holy places, which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with filthiness. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, be not degenerate, but recall the valor of your forefathers!
    "However, if you are hindered by love of children, parents, and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, 'He that loveth father, or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.' 'Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake shall receive an hundred-fold and shall inherit everlasting life.' Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the sea and surrounded by mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth ; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which, as the Scripture says, 'floweth with milk and honey' was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel.
    "Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified His presence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the center of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathen. Therefore, she seeks and desires to be liberated and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you, especially, she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you, above all nations, great glory in arms. Accordingly, undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven."
    When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present that they cried out, "God wills it! God wills it!" When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:
    "Most beloved brethren, to-day is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, 'Where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them.' Unless the Lord God had been present in your minds, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your battle-cry in combat, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: 'God wills it! God wills it!'
    "And we do not command or advise that the old, or the feeble, or those unfit for bearing arms, undertake this journey; nor ought women to set out at all without their husbands, or brothers, or legal guardians. For such are more of a hindrance than aid, more of a burden than an advantage. Let the rich aid the needy; and, according to their means, let them take with them experienced soldiers. The priests and clerks of any order are not to go without the consent of their bishops; for this journey would profit them nothing if they went without such permission. Also, it is not fitting that laymen should enter upon the pilgrimage without the blessing of their priests.
    "Whoever, therefore, shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead, or on his breast. When, having truly fulfilled his vow, he wishes to return, let him place the cross on his back between his shoulders. Such, indeed, by two-fold action will fulfil the precept of the Lord, as He commands in the Gospel, 'He that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me.'" ...
  • ... "We have heard, most beloved brethren, and you have heard what we cannot recount without deep sorrow — how, with great hurt and dire sufferings our Christian brothers, members in Christ, are scourged, oppressed, and injured in Jerusalem, in Antioch, and the other cities of the East. Your own blood-brothers, your companions, your associates (for you are sons of the same Christ and the same Church) are either subjected in their inherited homes to other masters, or are driven from them, or they come as beggars among us ; or, which is far worse, they are flogged and exiled as slaves for sale in their own land. Christian blood, redeemed by the blood of Christ, has been shed, and Christian flesh, akin to the flesh of Christ, has been subjected to unspeakable degradation and servitude. Everywhere in those cities there is sorrow, everywhere misery, everywhere groaning (I say it with a sigh). The churches in which divine mysteries were celebrated in olden times are now, to our sorrow, used as stables for the animals of these people! Holy men do not possess those cities; nay, base and bastard Turks hold sway over our brothers. The blessed Peter first presided as Bishop at Antioch; behold, in his own church the Gentiles have established their superstitions, and the Christian religion, which they ought rather to cherish, they have basely shut out from the hall dedicated to God ! The estates given for the support of the saints and the patrimony of nobles set aside for the sustenance of the poor are subject to pagan tyranny, while cruel masters abuse for their own purposes the returns from these lands. The priesthood of God has been ground down into the dust. The sanctuary of God (unspeakable shame!) is everywhere profaned. Whatever Christians still remain in hiding there are sought out with unheard of tortures.
    "Of holy Jerusalem, brethren, we dare not speak, for we are exceedingly afraid and ashamed to speak of it. This very city, in which, as you all know, Christ Himself suffered for us, because our sins demanded it, has been reduced to the pollution of paganism and, I say it to our disgrace, withdrawn from the service of God. Such is the heap of reproach upon us who have so much deserved it! Who now serves the church of the Blessed Mary in the valley of Josaphat, in which church she herself was buried in body? But why do we pass over the Temple of Solomon, nay of the Lord, in which the barbarous nations placed their idols contrary to law, human and divine? Of the Lord's Sepulchre we have refrained from speaking, since some of you with your own eyes have seen to what abominations it has been given over. The Turks violently took from it the offerings which you brought there for alms in such vast amounts, and, in addition, they scoffed much and often at your religion. And yet in that place (I say only what you already know) rested the Lord; there He died for us ; there He was buried. How precious would be the longed-for, incomparable place of the Lord's burial, even if God failed there to perform the yearly miracle! For in the days of His Passion all the lights in the Sepulchre and round about in the church, which have been extinguished, are relighted by divine command. Whose heart is so stony, brethren, that it is not touched by so great a miracle? Believe me, that man is bestial and senseless whose heart such divinely manifest grace does not move to faith! And yet the Gentiles see this in common with the Christians and are not turned from their ways! They are, indeed, afraid, but they are not converted to the faith; nor is it to be wondered at, for a blindness of mind rules over them. With what afflictions they wronged you who have returned and are now present, you yourselves know too well, you who there sacrificed your substance and your blood for God.
    "This, beloved brethren, we shall say, that we may have you as witness of our words. More suffering of our brethren and devastation of churches remains than we can speak of one by one, for we are oppressed by tears and groans, sighs and sobs. We weep and wail, brethren, alas, like the Psalmist, in our inmost heart! We are wretched and unhappy, and in us is that prophecy fulfilled: 'God, the nations are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps; the dead bodies of thy servants have been given to be food for the birds of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.' Woe unto us, brethren! We who have already become a reproach to our neighbors, a scoffing, and derision to them round about us, let us at least with tears condole and have compassion upon our brothers! We who are become the scorn of all peoples, and worse than all, let us bewail the most monstrous devastation of the Holy Land! This land we have deservedly called holy in which there is not even a foot-step that the body or spirit of the Saviour did not render glorious and blessed; which embraced the holy presence of the mother of God, and the meetings of the apostles, and drank up the blood of the martyrs shed there. How blessed are the stones which crowned you, Stephen, the first martyr! How happy, O, John the Baptist, the waters of the Jordan which served you in baptizing the Saviour! The children of Israel, who were led out of Egypt, and who prefigured you in the crossing of the Red Sea, have taken that land by their arms, with Jesus as leader; they have driven out the Jebusites and other inhabitants and have themselves inhabited earthly Jerusalem, the image of celestial Jerusalem.
    "What are we saying? Listen and learn! You, girt about with the badge of knighthood, are arrogant with great pride; you rage against your brothers and cut each other in pieces. This is not the (true) soldiery of Christ which rends asunder the sheep-fold of the Redeemer. The Holy Church has reserved a soldiery for herself to help her people, but you debase her wickedly to her hurt. Let us confess the truth, whose heralds we ought to be; truly, you are not holding to the way which leads to life. You, the oppressers of children, plunderers of widows; you, guilty of homicide, of sacrilege, robbers of another's rights; you who await the pay of thieves for the shedding of Christian blood—as vultures smell fetid corpses, so do you sense battles from afar and rush to them eagerly. Verily, this is the worst way, for it is utterly removed from God! If, forsooth, you wish to be mindful of your souls, either lay down the girdle of such knighthood, or advance boldly, as knights of Christ, and rush as quickly as you can to the defence of the Eastern Church. For she it is from whom the joys of your whole salvation have come forth, who poured into your mouths the milk of divine wisdom, who set before you the holy teachings of the Gospels. We say this, brethren, that you may restrain your murderous hands from the destruction of your brothers, and in behalf of your relatives in the faith oppose yourselves to the Gentiles. Under Jesus Christ, our Leader, may you struggle for your Jerusalem, in Christian battle-line, most invincible line, even more successfully than did the sons of Jacob of old—struggle, that you may assail and drive out the Turks, more execrable than the Jebusites, who are in this land, and may you deem it a beautiful thing to die for Christ in that city in which He died for us. But if it befall you to die this side of it, be sure that to have died on the way is of equal value, if Christ shall find you in His army. God pays with the same shilling, whether at the first or eleventh hour. You should shudder, brethren, you should shudder at raising a violent hand against Christians; it is less wicked to brandish your sword against Saracens. It is the only warfare that is righteous, for it is charity to risk your life for your brothers. That you may not be troubled about the concerns of to-morrow, know that those who fear God want nothing, nor those who cherish Him in truth. The possessions of the enemy, too, will be yours, since you will make spoil of their treasures and return victorious to your own; or empurpled with your own blood, you will have gained everlasting glory. For such a Commander you ought to fight, for One who lacks neither might nor wealth with which to reward you. Short is the way, little the labor, which, nevertheless, will repay you with the crown that fadeth not away. Accordingly, we speak with the authority of the prophet: 'Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty one.' Gird yourselves, everyone of you, I say, and be valiant sons; for it is better for you to die in battle than to behold the sorrows of your race and of your holy places. Let neither property nor the alluring charms of your wives entice you from going; nor let the trials that are to be borne so deter you that you remain here."
    And turning to the bishops, he said, "You, brothers and fellow bishops; you, fellow priests and sharers with us in Christ, make this same announcement through the churches committed to you, and with your whole soul vigorously preach the journey to Jerusalem. When they have confessed the disgrace of their sins, do you, secure in Christ, grant them speedy pardon. Moreover, you who are to go shall have us praying for you; we shall have you fighting for God's people. It is our duty to pray, yours to fight against the Amalekites. With Moses, we shall extend unwearied hands in prayer to Heaven, while you go forth and brandish the sword, like dauntless warriors, against Amalek."
    As those present were thus clearly informed by these and other words of this kind from the apostolic lord, the eyes of some were bathed in tears ; some trembled, and yet others discussed the matter. However, in the presence of all at that same council, and as we looked on, the Bishop of Puy, a man of great renown and of highest ability, went to the Pope with joyful countenance and on bended knee sought and entreated blessing and permission to go. Over and above this, he won from the Pope the command that all should obey him, and that he should hold sway over all the army in behalf of the Pope, since all knew him to be a prelate of unusual energy and industry. ...
  • ... "If among the churches scattered about over the whole world some, because of persons or location, deserve reverence above others (for persons, I say, since greater privileges are accorded to apostolic sees; for places, indeed, since the same dignity which is accorded to persons is also shown to regal cities, such as Constantinople), we owe most to that church from which we received the grace of redemption and the source of all Christianity. If what the Lord says—namely, 'Salvation is from the Jews—,' accords with the truth, and it is true that the Lord has left us Sabaoth as seed, that we may not become like Sodom and Gomorrah, and our seed is Christ, in whom is the salvation and benediction of all peoples, then, indeed, the very land and city in which He dwelt and suffered is, by witness of the Scriptures, holy. If this land is spoken of in the sacred writings of the prophets as the inheritance and the holy temple of God before ever the Lord walked about in it, or was revealed, what sanctity, what reverence has it not acquired since God in His majesty was there clothed in the flesh, nourished, grew up, and in bodily form there walked about, or was carried about; and, to compress in fitting brevity all that might be told in a long series of words, since there the blood of the Son of God, more holy than heaven and earth, was poured forth, and His body, its quivering members dead, rested in the tomb. What veneration do we think it deserves? If, when the Lord had but just been crucified and the city was still held by the Jews, it was called holy by the evangelist when he says, 'Many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many,' and by the prophet Isaiah when he says, 'It shall be His glorious sepulchre,' then, surely, with this sanctity placed upon it by God the Sanctifier Himself, no evil that may befall it can destroy it, and in the same way glory is indivisibly fixed to His Sepulchre. Most beloved brethren, if you reverence the source of that holiness and glory, if you cherish these shrines which are the marks of His foot-prints on earth, if you seek (the way), God leading you, God fighting in your behalf, you should strive with your utmost efforts to cleanse the Holy City and the glory of the Sepulchre, now polluted by the concourse of the Gentiles, as much as is in their power.
    "If in olden times the Maccabees attained to the highest praise of piety because they fought for the ceremonies and the Temple, it is also justly granted you. Christian soldiers, to defend the liberty of your country by armed endeavor. If you, likewise, consider that the abode of the holy apostles and any other saints should be striven for with such effort, why do you refuse to rescue the Cross, the Blood, the Tomb? Why do you refuse to visit them, to spend the price of your lives in rescuing them? You have thus far waged unjust wars, at one time and another; you have brandished mad weapons to your mutual destruction, for no other reason than covetousness and pride, as a result of which you have deserved eternal death and sure damnation. We now hold out to you wars which contain the glorious reward of martyrdom, which will retain that title of praise now and forever.
    "Let us suppose, for the moment, that Christ was not dead and buried, and had never lived any length of time in Jerusalem. Surely, if all this were lacking, this fact alone ought still to arouse you to go to the aid of the land and city—the fact that 'Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem!' If all that there is of Christian preaching has flowed from the fountain of Jerusalem, its streams, whithersoever spread out over the whole world, encircle the hearts of the Catholic multitude, that they may consider wisely what they owe such a well-watered fountain. If rivers return to the place whence they have issued only to flow forth again, according to the saying of Solomon, it ought to seem glorious to you to be able to apply a new cleansing to this place, whence it is certain that you received the cleansing of baptism and the witness of your faith.
    "And you ought, furthermore, to consider with the utmost deliberation, if by your labors, God working through you, it should occur that the Mother of churches should flourish anew to the worship of Christianity, whether, perchance. He may not wish other regions of the East to be restored to the faith against the approaching time of the Antichrist. For it is clear that Antichrist is to do battle not with the Jews, not with the Gentiles; but, according to the etymology of his name, He will attack Christians. And if Antichrist finds there no Christians (just as at present when scarcely any dwell there), no one will be there to oppose him, or whom he may rightly overcome. According to Daniel and Jerome, the interpreter of Daniel, he is to fix his tents on the Mount of Olives; and it is certain, for the apostle teaches it, that he will sit at Jerusalem in the Temple of the Lord, as though he were God. And according to the same prophet, he will first kill three kings of Egypt, Africa, and Ethiopia, without doubt for their Christian faith. This, indeed, could not at all be done unless Christianity was established where now is paganism. If, therefore, you are zealous in the practice of holy battles, in order that, just as you have received the seed of knowledge of God from Jerusalem, you may in the same way restore the borrowed grace, so that through you the Catholic name may be advanced to oppose the perfidy of the Antichrist and the Antichristians—then, who can not conjecture that God, who has exceeded the hope of all, will consume, in the abundance of your courage and through you as the spark, such a thicket of paganism as to include within His law Egypt, Africa, and Ethiopia, which have withdrawn from the communion of our belief? And the man of sin, the son of perdition, will find some to oppose him. Behold, the Gospel cries out, 'Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 'Times of the Gentiles' can be understood in two ways: Either that they have ruled over the Christians at their pleasure, and have gladly frequented the sloughs of all baseness for the satisfaction of their lusts, and in all this have had no obstacle (for they who have everything according to their wish are said to have their time; there is that saying: 'My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready,' whence the lustful are wont to say 'you are having your time'). Or, again, 'the times of the Gentiles' are the fulness of time for those Gentiles who shall have entered secretly before Israel shall be saved. These times, most beloved brothers, will now, forsooth, be fulfilled, provided the might of the pagans be repulsed through you, with the co-operation of God. With the end of the world already near, even though the Gentiles fail to be converted to the Lord (since according to the apostle there must be a withdrawal from the faith), it is first necessary, according to the prophecy, that the Christian sway be renewed in those regions, either through you, or others, whom it shall please God to send before the coming of Antichrist, so that the head of all evil, who is to occupy there the throne of the kingdom, shall find some support of the faith to fight against him.
    "Consider, therefore, that the Almighty has provided you, perhaps, for this purpose, that through you He may restore Jerusalem from such debasement. Ponder, I beg you, how full of joy and delight our hearts will be when we shall see the Holy City restored with your little help, and the prophet's, nay divine, words fulfilled in our times. Let your memory be moved by what the Lord Himself says to the Church: 'I will bring thy seed from the East and gather thee from the West.' God has already brought our seed from the East, since in a double way that region of the East has given the first beginnings of the Church to us. But from the West He will also gather it, provided He repairs the wrongs of Jerusalem through those who have begun the witness of the final faith, that is the people of the West. With God's assistance, we think this can be done through you.
    "If neither the words of the Scriptures arouse you, nor our admonitions penetrate your minds, at least let the great suffering of those who desired to go to the holy places stir you up. Think of those who made the pilgrimage across the sea! Even if they were more wealthy, consider what taxes, what violence they underwent, since they were forced to make payments and tributes almost every mile, to purchase release at every gate of the city, at the entrance of the churches and temples, at every side-journey from place to place: also, if any accusation whatsoever were made against them, they were compelled to purchase their release; but if they refused to pay money, the prefects of the Gentiles, according to their custom, urged them fiercely with blows. What shall we say of those who took up the journey without anything more than trust in their barren poverty, since they seemed to have nothing except their bodies to lose? They not only demanded money of them, which is not an unendurable punishment, but also examined the callouses of their heels, cutting them open and folding the skin back, lest, perchance, they had sewed something there. Their unspeakable cruelty was carried on even to the point of giving them scammony to drink until they vomited, or even burst their bowels, because they thought the wretches had swallowed gold or silver; or, horrible to say, they cut their bowels open with a sword and, spreading out the folds of the intestines, with frightful mutilation disclosed whatever nature held there in secret. Remember, I pray, the thousands who have perished vile deaths, and strive for the holy places from which the beginnings of your faith have come. Before you engage in His battles, believe without question that Christ will be your standard-bearer and inseparable fore-runner."
    The most excellent man concluded his oration and by the power of the blessed Peter absolved all who vowed to go and confirmed those acts with apostolic blessing. He instituted a sign well suited to so honorable a profession by making the figure of the Cross, the stigma of the Lord's Passion, the emblem of the soldiery, or rather, of what was to be the soldiery of God. This, made of any kind of cloth, he ordered to be sewed upon the shirts, cloaks, and byrra of those who were about to go. He commanded that if anyone, after receiving this emblem, or after taking openly this vow, should shrink from his good intent through base change of heart, or any affection for his parents, he should be regarded an outlaw forever, unless he repented and again undertook whatever of his pledge he had omitted. Furthermore, the Pope condemned with a fearful anathema all those who dared to molest the wives, children, and possessions of these who were going on this journey for God. ...

The immediate response

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  • After this speech, those present were very enthusiastic in the cause, and many, thinking that nothing could be more laudable than such an undertaking, at once offered to go and diligently exhort the absent. Among these was the Bishop of Puy, Adhemar by name, who later acting as the Pope's vicegerent prudently and wisely led the whole army of God and vigorously inspired them to accomplish the undertaking. So, when those things which have been mentioned were determined upon in the council and unanimously approved of, and after the papal blessing was given, they withdrew to their homes to make known to those who were not present at the council what had been done. When these tidings were proclaimed throughout the provinces, they agreed under oath that the peace which was called the Truce should be kept mutually by all. Finally, then, many persons of every class vowed, after confession, that they were going with a pure intent whither they were ordered to go.
    Oh, how fitting and how pleasing to us all to see those crosses, beautiful, whether of silk, or of woven gold, or of any kind of cloth, which these pilgrims, by order of Pope Urban, sewed on the shoulders of their mantles, or cassocks, or tunics, once they had made the vow to go. It was indeed proper that soldiers of God who prepared to fight for His honor should be signed and fortified by this fitting emblem of victory ; and, since they thus marked themselves with this symbol under the acknowledgment of faith, finally they very truly obtained the Cross of which they carried the symbol. They adopted the sign that they might follow the reality of the sign.
    It is evident that a good intention brings about the achievement of a good work, and that good work earns the soul's salvation. For if it is good to intend well, it is still better to accomplish a good work which has been planned. Therefore the best thing one can do is to provide for the salvation of his soul by a worthy action. Let each one then plan good deeds, which by still more worthy action he will fulfil, so that he shall at length receive the never ending reward which he has earned. So Urban, a man prudent and revered, conceived a work by which later the whole universe prospered. For he restored peace and re-established the rights of the church in their pristine condition. And with a lively determination he also made an effort to drive out the pagans from the Christian lands. Therefore, since he endeavored in every way to glorify everything which was God's, almost all voluntarily submitted themselves to his paternal direction.
  • The West Franks could easily be induced to leave their lands, since for several years Gaul had suffered, now from civil war, now from famine, and again from excessive mortality; and, finally, that disease which had its origin in the vicinity of the church of St. Gertrude of Nivelle alarmed them to such an extent that they feared for their lives. This was the nature of the disease. The patient, attacked in any part of the body by invisible fire, suffered unspeakable torment for a long time, and without remedy, until either he lost his life from the agony, or he lost both the torture and the afflicted limb at the same time. There are to this day living witnesses of this disease, maimed either in hands or feet by the scourge.
    Of the other nations, some peoples or individuals acknowledged that they had been called to the land of promise not only by the proclamation of the Pope, but also by certain prophets who had lately arisen among them, or by signs and revelations from heaven; others confessed that they had been constrained to take the vows by reason of embarrassed circumstances. Indeed, the majority set out encumbered with their wives and children and all their household effects.
    But for the East Franks, the Saxons, the Thuringians, the Bavarians, and the Alemanni this trumpet call sounded only faintly, particularly because of the schism between the empire and the papacy, from the time of Pope Alexander even until today. This, alas, has strengthened our hatred and enmity against the Romans, as it has theirs towards us ! And so it came to pass that almost all the Teutonic race, at first ignorant of the reason for this setting out, laughed to scorn the many legions of knights passing through their land, the many companies of foot soldiers, and the crowds of country people, women, and little ones. They regarded them as crazed with unspeakable folly, inasmuch as they were striving after uncertainties in place of certainties and were leaving for naught the land of their birth, to seek with certain danger the uncertain land of promise; and, while giving up their own possessions, they were yearning after those of strangers. But although our people are more perverse than other races, yet in consideration of the promise of divine pity, the enthusiasm of the Teutons was at last turned to this same proclamation, for they were taught, forsooth, what the thing really meant by the crowds passing through their lands.

Urban's instructions to the assembling Crusaders

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  • Urban, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all the faithful, both princes and subjects, waiting in Flanders; greeting, apostolic grace, and blessing.
    Your brotherhood, we believe, has long since learned from many accounts that a barbaric fury has deplorably afflicted and laid waste the churches of God in the regions of the Orient. More than this, blasphemous to say, it has even grasped in intolerable servitude its churches and the Holy City of Christ, glorified by His passion and resurrection. Grieving with pious concern at this calamity, we visited the regions of Gaul and devoted ourselves largely to urging the princes of the land and their subjects to free the churches of the East. We solemnly enjoined upon them at the council of Auvergne (the accomplishment of) such an undertaking, as a preparation for the remission of all their sins. And we have constituted our most beloved son, Adhemar, Bishop of Puy, leader of this expedition and undertaking in our stead, so that those who, perchance, may wish to undertake this journey should comply with his commands, as if they were our own, and submit fully to his loosings or bindings, as far as shall seem to belong to such an office. If, moreover, there are any of your people whom God has inspired to this vow, let them know that he (Adhemar) will set out with the aid of God on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, and that they can then attach themselves to his following.
    • Written toward the end of December 1095

The March to Constantinople

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(Despite Urban's efforts to keep the expedition within the bounds of a common plan and to maintain some degree of organization, the enthusiasm which he aroused was too great to be restrained. Without waiting for the appointed day, various bands, commonly known as the Peasants' Crusade, started from the Rhine country, eager to be the first to gain the great rewards. Neither the character nor the conduct of the groups seems to have been such as to inspire any writer with a desire to recount their deeds. As a result, our information about them comes wholly from the none too sympathetic chronicles of the later writers. The versions given by the Anonymous, who met some of the survivors at Constantinople, by Ekkehard, and by Albert, both of whom lived in the country through which these bands passed, have been selected as the most accurate and complete. The persecutions of the Jews, so common along the march of the Peasants, was by no means, however, confined to them, being almost as widespread as the enthusiasm for the Crusade itself. Though the final fate of the first of these companies is described in the third chapter, they had all started before the main body, and their conduct had left a deep impression upon the peoples through whose lands they journeyed. The difficulties of the main army in these same regions were probably due in no small measure to the excesses which the Peasants had committed. The main armies must be followed up to Constantinople, as the leaders followed four different routes. The march of Godfrey and Baldwin is described by Albert, that of Bohemund by the Anonymous, who accompanied him, that of Raymond by his chaplain, Raymond of Aguilers, and that of Robert of Normandy and Stephen of Blois by Fulcher, who was with them. Hugh the Great and Robert of Flanders had no chroniclers in their, following, or, at any rate, no detailed account of their journey to Constantinople has been preserved. Due to the diverse routes chosen by the leaders, this portion of the history of the First Crusade is least well substantiated, for each of the writers could render accurate account of only his own army. References to other bands are often inaccurate and confusing, and even in the story of a single route geographical allusions are frequently uncertain or incorrect. This can be easily explained by the fact that the Crusaders were moving fairly rapidly through strange country, without the stimulus of actual warfare to fix place names in their minds. Fortunately, the well worn Roman roads through the Balkan and Danube country can still be traced, while the recognizable places mentioned by the chroniclers afford ample testimony that the Crusaders followed them in the main.)

The Departure

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  • Now then, I must turn to the history of those who went to Jerusalem and make clear to all who do not know what happened to these pilgrims on the way, how, little by little, by the grace of God, their undertaking and their labor gloriously succeeded. I, Fulcher of Chartres, went with the other pilgrims, and for the benefit of posterity I have carefully and diligently stored all this in my memory, just as I witnessed it.
    In the year 1096, and in the month of March following the council, which, as has been said. Pope Urban held during November in Auvergne, some who were more prompt in their preparation than others began to set out on the holy journey. Others followed in April, or May, in June, or in July, or even in August, or September, or October, as they were able to secure the means to defray their expenses. That year peace and good crops of grain and grapes flourished everywhere, by the disposition of God, lest those who chose to follow Him with their crosses, in accordance with His precept, should fail on the way for want of food. ...
    What further shall I say? The islands of the sea and all the regions of the earth were shaken under foot, so that it would seem that the prophecy of David was fulfilled, who said in the psalm, "All the nations thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord"; and that, also, which those who came later justly said, "We will worship in the place where His feet have stood." Of this journey, moreover, we have read much more in the Prophets, which it would be tedious to repeat. Oh what grief, what sighs, what weeping! What lamentations among friends, when the husband left his wife so dear to him, and his children, and all his possessions, his father, his mother, his brothers, or his relatives! But in spite of such tears which those who remained shed for departing friends in their very presence, the crusaders were still in no wise weakened by. this; and for love of God they left all that they possessed, firmly convinced that they would receive that hundred-fold which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Then husband advised wife of the time of his return, assuring her that if he lived, by God's grace, he would return to her. He commended her to the Lord, he kissed her tenderly, and, weeping, he promised to return. But she, fearing that she would never see him more, was unable to stand and fell senseless to the ground and wept for her love, whom, though living, she had lost as though already dead. H-e, like one who had no pity—though he had—and as if moved neither by the tears of his wife nor the grief of any friends—and still in his heart he was moved—set out, keeping his purpose firm. Sadness was the lot of those who remained, those who left were glad. What then can we add further? "This is the Lord's doings and it is marvelous in our eyes."
  • Moreover, the sign which was described before as seen in the sun, and many portents which appeared in the air, as well as on the earth, stimulated many, who had been backward before, to undertakings of this kind. Some of these portents I have deemed it desirable to insert here, but to tell all would certainly take too long. For we, too, about the Nones of October, saw a comet in the southern sky, its radiance extending out obliquely, like a sword; and two years later, on the sixth day before the Kalends of March, 1099, we saw another star in the east changing its position by leaps at long intervals. There were also blood-red clouds rising in the east, as well as in the west, and darting up into the zenith to meet each other; and, again, about midnight, fiery splendors rushed up in the north ; and frequently we even saw torches of fire flying through the air, as we proved by many witnesses. About three o'clock one day some years before this, Sigger, a certain priest of exemplary life, saw two knights rushing at each other in the air, and after they had fought for a long time, the one who bore a large cross, with which he seemed to strike the other, emerged as victor. At the same time, the priest, G—, who now belongs to the monastic profession with us, having paid the sheep which is owed to Christ in place of the first born of the ass, was walking one day at the noon hour in a wood, with two companions, when he saw a sword of wondrous length (which came, he knew not whence) carried up on high by a whirlwind. Until the great height hid it from his eyes, he not only saw the metal, but heard the crashing of the weapon. Some men who were keeping watch in a horse pasture also reported that they saw the semblance of a city in the air, and that they saw divers companies, both on horseback and on foot, hastening to it from different directions. Some even showed the sign of the cross stamped by divine power upon their foreheads, or clothes, or upon some part of the body ; and by this sign they believed that they had been predestined for the same army of the Lord. Again, others, pricked by a sudden change of heart, or taught by visions of the night, resolved to sell their lands and goods, and to sew upon their clothes the sign of the cross. To all these people, who flocked to the churches in incredible numbers, the priests, in a new rite, distributed swords along with a blessing and pilgrims' staves and bags. Why should I mention the fact that in those days a certain woman continued pregnant for two years and, at last, brought forth a boy who could speak from birth? Likewise, a child was born with a double set of limbs, and another with two heads; some lambs, also, with two heads. Again, foals were born which possessed at birth the larger teeth which we commonly call horse-teeth, and which nature does not provide until the colt is three years old.
    While by these and like signs all creation was being summoned into the army of the Lord, that enemy of men, the evil one himself (ever on the watch, even while others are sleeping) did not delay to sow his own tares, to rouse false prophets, and, under the guise of religion, to mingle with the army of the Lord false brethren and shameless women. And so, through the hypocrisy and falsehoods of some and the gross immorality of others, the army of Christ was polluted to such an extent that, according to the prophecy of the good shepherd, even the elect were led astray. At this time, the legend about Charles the Great was invented,* that he had been raised from the dead for this expedition, and about some one else who was living again; and also that foolish story of the goose that acted as its mistress's guide, and many tales of that kind. Yet, since each one may be known by his fruits, even as wolves are recognized under sheep's clothing, those same deceivers, especially these who are still alive, may be questioned as to what port they sailed from, according to their vows, and how they crossed the sea without ships, or in what battles and places they worsted so many pagans with their small forces, what fortresses of the enemy they took there, and, finally, at what part of the wall at Jerusalem they had their camp, and so forth. And those who have nothing to answer as to the alms which they have hypocritically taken from the faithful, or as to the many bands which they have misled and murdered for plunder, and, above all, as to their own apostacy, may be compelled to do penance.
  • Now then, while the princes who felt the need of large funds and the support of numerous followers were making preparations carefully and slowly, the common people, who were poor in substance but abundant in numbers, attached themselves to a certain Peter the Hermit who appeared as a master while we were as yet still considering the project.
    He was from the city of Amiens, if I am not mistaken, and we learned that he had lived as a hermit in the garb of a monk somewhere in Northern Gaul, I know not where. We beheld him leaving there, with what intent I do not know, and going about through cities and towns under the pretext of preaching. He was surrounded by such great throngs, received such enormous gifts, and was lauded with such fame for holiness that I do not remember anyone to have been held in like honor.
    He was very generous to the poor from the wealth that had been given him. He reclaimed prostitutes and provided them with husbands, not without dowry from him; and everywhere with an amazing authority, he restored peace and concord in place of strife. Whatever he did or said was regarded as little short of divine, to such an extent that hairs were snatched from his mule as relics. This we ascribe not so much to the popular love for truth as for novelty.
    He wore a plain woolen shirt with a hood and over this a cloak without sleeves, both extending to his ankles, and his feet were bare. He lived on wine and fish: he hardly ever, or never, ate bread. ...

The March of the Peasants

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Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless (March–August 1096)
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Folcmar and Gottschalk (May–July 1096)
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