“No idle fancy was it when of yore
Pilgrims in countless numbers braved the seas,
And legions battled on the farthest shore,
Only to pray at Thy sepulchral bed,
Only in pious gratitude to kiss
The sacred earth on which Thy feet did tread.”
— Uhland, An den Unsichtbaren.
47. Literature on the Crusades as a Whole
Sources. — First printed collection of writers on the Crusades by Jac. Bongars: Gesta Dei (and it might be added, et diaboli) per Francos, sive orientalium expeditionum, etc., 2 vols. Hanover, 1611. Mostly reports of the First Crusade and superseded. — The most complete collection, edited at great expense and in magnificent style, Recueil des Historiens des Croisades publié par l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, viz. Historiens Occidentaux, 5 vols. Paris, 1841-1895; Histt. Orientaux, 4 vols. 1872-1898; Histt. Grecs, 2 vols. 1875-1881; Documents Arméniens, 1869. The first series contains, in vols. I., II., the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre and the free reproduction in French entitled L’Estoire de Eracles Empéreur et la Conqueste de la terre d’ Outremer. Vol. III. contains the Gesta Francorum; the Historia de Hierolosymitano itinere of Peter Tudebodus, Hist. Francorum qui ceperunt Jherusalem of Raymund of Aguilers or Argiles; Hist. Jherusolymitana or Gesta Francorum Jherusalem perigrinantium 1095-1127, of Fulcher of Chartres; Hist. Jherusol. of Robert the Monk, etc. Vol. IV. contains Hist. Jherusolem. of Baldric of Dol (Ranke, VIII 82, speaks highly of Baldric as an authority); Gesta Del per Francos of Guibert of Nogent; Hist. Hier. of Albert of Aachen, etc. Vol. V. contains Ekkehardi Hierosolymita and a number of other documents. Migne’s Latin Patrology gives a number of these authors, e.g., Fulcher and Petrus Tudebodus, vol. 155; Guibert, vol. 156; Albert of Aachen and Baldric, vol. 166; William of Tyre, vol. 201. — Contemporary Chronicles of Ordericus Vitalis, Roger of Hoveden, Roger of Wendover, M. Paris, etc. — Reports of Pilgrimages, e.g., Count Riant: Expéditions et pèlerinages des Scandinaves en Terre Sainte au temps des Croisades, Paris, 1865, 1867; R. Röhricht: Die Pilgerfahrten nach d. heil. Lande vor den Kreuzzügen, 1875; Deutsche Pilgerreisen nach dem heil. Lande, new ed. Innsbruck, 1900; H. Schrader: D. Pilgerfahrten nach. d. heil. Lande im Zeitalter vor den Kreuzzügen, Merzig, 1897. Jaffé: Regesta. — Mansi: Concilia. — For criticism of the contemporary writers see Sybel, Gesch. des ersten Kreuzzugs, 2d ed. 1881, pp. 1-143. — H. Prutz (Prof. in Nancy, France): Quellenbeiträge zur Gesch. der Kreuzzüge, Danzig, 1876. — R. Röhricht: Regesta regni Hierosolymitani 1097-1291, Innsbruck, 1904, an analysis of 900 documents.
Modern Works. — *Friedrich Wilken (Libr. and Prof. in Berlin, d. 1840): Gesch. der Kreuzzüge, 7 vols. Leipzig, 1807-1832. — J. F. Michaud: Hist. des croisades, 3 vols. Paris, 1812, 7th ed. 4 vols. 1862. Engl. trans. by W. Robson, 3 vols., London, 1854, New York, 1880. — *Röhricht (teacher in one of the Gymnasia of Berlin, d. 1905; he published eight larger works on the Crusades): Beitäge zur Gesch. der Kreuzzüge, 2 vols. Berlin, 1874-1878; D. Deutschen im heil. lande, Innsbruck, 1894; Gesch. d. Kreuzzüge, Innsbruck, 1898. — B. Kugler (Prof. in Tübingen): Gesch. der Kreuzzüge, illustrated, Berlin, 1880, 2d ed. 1891. — A. De Laporte: Les croisades et le pays latin de Jérusalem, Paris, 1881. — *Prutz: Kulturgesch. der Kreuzzüge, Berlin, 1883. — Ed. Heyck: Die Kreuzzüge und das heilige Land, Leipzig, 1900. — Histories in English by Mills, London, 1822, 4th ed. 2 vols. 1828; Keightley, London. 1847; Proctor, London, 1858; Edgar, London, 1860; W. E. Dutton, London, 1877; G. W. Cox, London, 1878; J. I. Mombert, New York, 1891; *Archer and Kingsford: Story of the Crus., New York, 1895; J. M. Ludlow: Age of the Crusades, New York, 1896; Art. Kreuzzüge by Funk in Wetzer-Welte, VII. 1142-1177. — Ph. Schaff in “Ref. Quarterly Rev.” 1893, pp. 438-459. — J. L. Hahn: Ursachen und Folgen der Kreuzzüge, Greifswald, 1859. — Chalandon: Essai sur le régne d’Alexis Comnène, Paris, 1900. — *A. Gottlob: D. päpstlichen Kreuzzugs-Steuren des 13. Jahrhunderts, Heiligenstadt, 1892, pp. 278; Kreuzablass und Almosenablass, Stuttgart, 1906, pp. 314. — Essays on the Crusades by Munro, Prutz, Diehl, Burlington, 1903. — H. C. Lea: Hist. of Auric. Confession and Indulgences, vol. III. — See also *Gibbon, LVIII-LIX; Milman; Giesebrecht: Gesch. d. deutschen Kaiserzeit; Ranke: Weltgesch., VIII. pp. 88-111, 150-161, 223-262, 280-307; IX. 93-98; Finlay: Hist. of the Byznt. and Gr. Empires, 1057-1453; Hopf: Gesch. Griechenlands vom Beginn des Mittelalters, etc., Leipzig, 1868; Besant And Palmer: Hist. of Jerusalem, London, 1890; Guy Le Strange: Palestine under the Moslems, London, 1890.
The Poetry of the Crusades is represented chiefly by Raoul De Caen in Gestes de Tancrède; Torquato Tasso, the Homer of the Crusades, in La Jerusalemme liberata; Walter Scott: Tales of the Crusades, Talisman, Quentin Durward, etc. The older literature is given in full by Michaud; Bibliographie des Croisades, 2 vols. Paris, 1822, which form vols. VI., VII, of his Histoire des Croisades.
The First Crusade
Sources. — See Literature above. Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolymitorum by an anonymous writer who took part in the First Crusade, in Bongars and Recueil des Croisades. See above. Also Hagenmeyer’s critical edition, Anonymi Gesta Francorum, Heidelberg, 1890. — Robertus, a monk of Rheims: Hist. Hierosolymitana, in Bongars, Rec., and Migne, vol. 155. — Baldrich, abp. of Dol: Hist. Hierosol., in Bongars, and Rec. — Raymund de Aguilers, chaplain to the count of Toulouse: Hist. Francorum, 1095-1099, in Bongars, Rec., and Migne, vol. 155. See Clem. Klein: Raimund von Aguilers, Berlin, 1892. — Fulcher, chaplain to the count of Chartres and then to Baldwin, second king of Jerusalem: Gesta Francorum Jerusalem perigrinantium to 1125, in Bongars, Rec., and Migne, vol. 155. — Guibert, abbot of Nogent: Gesta Dei per Francos, to 1110, in Bongars, Rec., Migne, vol. 156. — Albertus Of Aachen (Aquensis): Hist. Hierosol. expeditionis, to 1121, in Bongars, Rec., Migne, vol. 166. See B. Kugler: Albert von Aachen, Stuttgart, 1885. — William of Tyre, abp. of Tyre, d. after 1184: Hist. rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, Basel, 1549, under the title of belli sacri historia, in Bongars, Rec., Migne, vol. 201, Engl. trans. by Wm. Caxton, ed. by Mary N. Colvin, London, 1893. — Anna Comnena (1083-1148): Alexias, a biogr. of her father, the Greek emperor, Alexis I., in Rec., Migne, Pat. Graeca, vol. 131; also 2 vols. Leipzig, 1884, ed. by Reifferscheid; also in part in Hagenmeyer, Peter der Eremite, pp. 303-314. — Ekkehard of Urach: Hierosolymita seu libellus de oppressione, liberatione ac restauratione sanctae Hierosol., 1095-1187, in Rec., and Migne, vol. 154, and Hagenmeyer: Ekkehard’s Hierosolymita, Tübingen, 1877, also Das Verhältniss der Gesta Francorum zu der Hiersol. Ekkehards in “Forschungen zur deutschen Gesch.,” Göttingen, 1876, pp. 21-42. — Petrus Tudebodus, of the diocese of Poitiers: Hist. de Hierosolymitano itinere, 1095-1099, largely copied from the Gesta Francorum, in Migne, vol. 155, and Recueil. — Radulphus Cadomensis (Raoul of Caen): Gesta Tancredi, 1099-1108, Migne, vol. 155, and Recueil. — Riant: Inventaire critique des lettres Hist. des croisades, I., II., Paris, 1880. — H. Hagenmeyer: Epistulae et chartae ad historiam primi belli sacri spectantes quae supersunt, etc., 1088-1100, Innsbruck, 1901. See the translation of contemporary documents in Trans. and Reprints, etc., published by Department of History of Univ. of Penn., 1894.
The Poetry of the First Crusade: La Chanson d’Antioche, ed. by Paulin Paris, 2 vols. Paris, 1848. He dates the poem 1125-1138, and Nouvelle Étude sur la Chanson d’Antioche, Paris, 1878. — La Conquête de Jérusalem, ed. by C. Hippeau, Paris, 1868. — Roman du Chevalier au Cygne et Godefroi de Bouillon.
Modern Works. — *H. Von Sybel: Gesch. des ersten Kreuzzugs, Düsseldorf, 1841, 3d ed. Leipzig, 1900. The Introduction contains a valuable critical estimate of the contemporary accounts. Engl. trans. of the Introd. and four lectures by Sybel in 1858, under the title, The Hist. and Lit. of Crusades, by Lady Duff Gordon, London, 1861. — J. F. A. Peyre: Hist. de la première croisade, Paris, 1859. — *Hagenmeyer: Peter der Eremite, Leipzig, 1879; Chron. de la premiére croisade, 1094-1100, Paris, 1901. — Röhricht: Gesch. des ersten Kreuzzuges, Innsbruck, 1901. — F. Chalandon: Essai sur le règne d’Alexis I. Comnène, 1081-1118, Paris, 1900. — Paulot: Un pape Français, Urbain II., Paris, 1902. — D. C. Munro: The Speech of Urban at Clermont. “Am. Hist. Rev.” 1906, pp. 231-242. — Art. in Wetzer-Welte, by Funk, Petrus von Amiens, Vol. IX.
48. Character and Causes of the Crusades
“‘O, holy Palmer!’ she began, —
For sure he must be sainted man
Whose blessed feet have trod the ground
Where the Redeemer’s tomb is found.”
— Marmion, V. 21.
The Crusades were armed pilgrimages to Jerusalem under the banner of the cross. They form one of the most characteristic chapters of the Middle Ages and have a romantic and sentimental, as well as a religious and military, interest. They were a sublime product of the Christian imagination, and constitute a chapter of rare interest in the history of humanity. They exhibit the muscular Christianity of the new nations of the West which were just emerging from barbarism and heathenism. They made religion subservient to war and war subservient to religion. They were a succession of tournaments between two continents and two religions, struggling for supremacy, — Europe and Asia, Christianity and Mohammedanism. Such a spectacle the world has never seen before nor since, and may never see again.
These expeditions occupied the attention of Europe for more than two centuries, beginning with 1095. Yea, they continued to be the concern of the popes until the beginning of the sixteenth century. Columbus signed an agreement April 17, 1492, to devote the proceeds of his undertaking beyond the Western seas to the recovery of the holy sepulchre. Before his fourth and last journey to America he wrote to Alexander VI., renewing his vow to furnish troops for the rescue of that sacred locality. There were seven greater Crusades, the first beginning in 1095, the last terminating with the death of St. Louis, 1270. Between these dates and after 1270 there were other minor expeditions, and of these not the least worthy of attention were the tragic Crusades of the children.
The most famous men of their age were identified with these movements. Emperors and kings went at the head of the armies, — Konrad III., Frederick Barbarossa, Frederick II., Richard I. of England, Louis VII., Philip Augustus and Louis IX. of France, Andrew of Hungary. Fair women of high station accompanied their husbands or went alone to the seats of war, such as Alice of Antioch, Queen Eleanor of France, Ida of Austria, Berengaria, wife of Richard, and Margaret, queen of Louis IX. Kings’ sons shared the same risks, as Frederick of Swabia, Sigurd, and Edward, son of Henry III., accompanied by Eleanor, his wife. Priests, abbots, and higher ecclesiastics fought manfully in the ranks and at the head of troops. The popes stayed at home, but were tireless in their appeals to advance the holy project. With many of the best popes, as Honorius III. and Gregory X., the Crusades were their chief passion. Monks, like Peter the Hermit, St. Bernard, and Fulke of Neuilly, stirred the flames of enthusiasm by their eloquence. But if some of the best men of Europe and those most eminent in station went on the Crusades, so also did the lowest elements of European society, — thieves, murderers, perjurers, vagabonds, and scoundrels of all sorts, as Bernard bears witness. So it has been in all wars.
The crusading armies were designated by such titles as the army “of the cross,” “of Christ,” “of the Lord,” “of the faith.” The cross was the badge of the Crusaders and gave to them their favorite name. The Crusaders were called the soldiers of Christ pilgrims, peregrini, and “those signed with the cross,” crucisignati or signatores. Determining to go on a crusade was called, “taking the cross” or, “taking the sign of the cross.”
Contemporaries had no doubt of the Crusades being a holy undertaking, and Guibert’s account of the First Crusade is called, “The Deeds of God, accomplished through the Franks,” Gesta Dei per Francos.
Those who fell under Eastern skies or on their way to the East received the benefits of special indulgence for sins committed and were esteemed in the popular judgment as martyrs. John VIII., 872-882, pressed by the Saracens who were devastating Italy, had promised to soldiers fighting bravely against the pagans the rest of eternal life and, as far as it belonged to him to give it, absolution from sins. This precedent was followed by Urban II., who promised the first Crusaders marching to Jerusalem that the journey should be counted as a substitute for penance. Eugenius, 1146, went farther, in distinctly promising the reward of eternal life. The virtue of the reward was extended to the parents of those taking part in Crusades. Innocent III. included in the plenary indulgence those who built ships and contributed in any way, and promised to them “increase of eternal life.” God, said the abbot Guibert, chronicler of the First Crusade, invented the Crusades as a new way for the laity to atone for their sins, and to merit salvation.
The rewards were not confined to spiritual privileges. Eugenius III., in his exhortations to the Second Crusade, placed the Crusaders in the same category with clerics before the courts in the case of most offences. The kings of France, from 1188 to 1270 joined with the Holy See in granting to them temporal advantages, exemption from debt, freedom from taxation and the payment of interest. Complaint was frequently made by the kings of France that the Crusaders committed the most offensive crimes under cover of ecclesiastical protection. These complaints called forth from Innocent IV., 1246, and Alexander IV., 1260, instructions to the bishops not to protect such offenders. William of Tyre, in his account of the First Crusade, and probably reading into it some of the experiences of a later date, says (bk. I. 16), “Many took the cross to elude their creditors.”
If it is hard for us to unite the idea of war and bloodshed with the achievement of a purely religious purpose, it must be remembered that no such feeling prevailed in the Middle Ages. The wars of the period of Joshua and the Judges still formed a stimulating example. Chrysostom, Augustine, and other Church Fathers of the fifth century lifted up their voices against the violent destruction of heathen temples which went on in Egypt and Gaul; but whatever compunction might have been felt for the wanton slaying of Saracens by Christian armies in an attitude of aggression, the compunction was not felt when the Saracens placed themselves in the position of holding the sacred sites of Palestine.
Bernard of Clairvaux said, pagans must not be slain if they may by other means be prevented from oppressing the faithful. However, it is better they should be put to death than that the rod of the wicked should rest on the lot of the righteous. The righteous fear no sin in killing the enemy of Christ. Christ’s soldier can securely kill and more safely die. When he dies, it profits him; when he slays, it profits Christ. The Christian exults in the death of the pagan because Christ is glorified thereby. But when he himself is killed, he has reached his goal. The conquest of Palestine by the destruction of the Saracens was considered a legal act justified by the claim which the pope had by reason of the preaching of the Apostles in that country and its conquest by the Roman empire.
In answer to the question whether clerics might go to war, Thomas Aquinas replied in the affirmative when the prize was not worldly gain, but the defence of the Church or the poor and oppressed.
To other testimonies to the esteem in which the Crusaders were held may be added the testimony of Matthew Paris. Summing up the events of the half-century ending with 1250, he says: “A great multitude of nobles left their country to fight faithfully for Christ. All of these were manifest martyrs, and their names are inscribed in indelible characters in the book of life.” Women forced their husbands to take the cross. And women who attempted to hold their husbands back suffered evil consequences for it. Kings who did not go across the seas had a passion for the holy sepulchre. Edward I. commanded his son to take his heart and deposit it there, setting apart £2000 for the expedition. Robert Bruce also wanted his heart to find its last earthly resting-place in Jerusalem.
The Crusades began and ended in France. The French element was the ruling factor, from Urban II., who was a native of Châtillon, near Rheims, and Peter of Amiens, to St. Louis. The contemporary accounts of the Crusades are for the most part written by Frenchmen. Guibert of Nogent and other chroniclers regard them as especially the work of their countrymen. The French expression, outre-mer, was used for the goal of the Crusades. The movement spread through all Europe from Hungary to Scotland. Spain alone forms an exception. She was engaged in a crusade of her own against the Moors; and the crusades against the Saracens in the Holy Land and the Moors in Spain were equally commended by an ecumenical council, the First Lateran (can. 13). The Moors were finally expelled from Granada under Ferdinand and Isabella, and then, unwearied, Spain entered upon a new crusade against Jews and heretics at home and the pagan Indians of Mexico and Peru. In Italy and Rome, where might have been expected the most zeal in the holy cause, there was but little enthusiasm.
The aim of the Crusades was the conquest of the Holy Land and the defeat of Islam. Enthusiasm for Christ was the moving impulse, with which, however, were joined the lower motives of ambition, avarice, love of adventure, hope of earthly and heavenly reward. The whole chivalry of Europe, aroused by a pale-faced monk and encouraged by a Hildebrandian pope, threw itself steel-clad upon the Orient to execute the vengeance of heaven upon the insults and barbarities of Moslems heaped upon Christian pilgrims, and to rescue the grave of the Redeemer of mankind from the grasp of the followers of the False Prophet. The miraculous aid of heaven frequently intervened to help the Christians and confound the Saracens.
The Crusaders sought the living among the dead. They mistook the visible for the invisible, confused the terrestrial and the celestial Jerusalem, and returned disillusioned. They learned in Jerusalem, or after ages have learned through them, that Christ is not there, that He is risen, and ascended into heaven, where He sits at the head of a spiritual kingdom. They conquered Jerusalem, 1099, and lost it, 1187; they reconquered, 1229, and lost again, 1244, the city in which Christ was crucified. False religions are not to be converted by violence, they can only be converted by the slow but sure process of moral persuasion. Hatred kindles hatred, and those who take the sword shall perish by the sword. St. Bernard learned from the failure of the Second Crusade that the struggle is a better one which is waged against the sinful lusts of the heart than was the struggle to conquer Jerusalem.
The immediate causes of the Crusades were the ill treatment of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and the appeal of the Greek emperor, who was hard pressed by the Turks. Nor may we forget the feeling of revenge for the Mohammedans begotten in the resistance offered to their invasions of Italy and Gaul. In 841 they sacked St. Peter’s, and in 846 threatened Rome for the second time, and a third time under John VIII. The Normans wrested a part of Sicily from the Saracens at the battle of Cerame, 1063, took Palermo, 1072, Syracuse, 1085, and the rest of Sicily ten years later. A burning desire took hold of the Christian world to be in possession of —
“those holy fields
Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail’d
For our advantage on the bitter cross.”
From an early day Jerusalem was the goal of Christian pilgrimage. The mother of Constantine, Helena, according to the legend, found the cross and certainly built the church over the supposed site of the tomb in which the Lord lay. Jerome spent the last period of his life in Bethlehem, translating the Scriptures and preparing for eternity. The effect of such examples was equal to the station and fame of the pious empress and the Christian scholar. In vain did such Fathers as Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and even Jerome himself, emphasize the nearness of God to believers wherever they may be and the failure of those whose hearts are not imbued with His spirit to find Him even at Jerusalem.
The movement steadily grew. The Holy Land became to the imagination a land of wonders, filled with the divine presence of Christ. To have visited it, to have seen Jerusalem, to have bathed in the Jordan, was for a man to have about him a halo of sanctity. The accounts of returning pilgrims were listened to in convent and on the street with open-mouthed curiosity. To surmount the dangers of such a journey in a pious frame of mind was a means of expiation for sins. Special laws were enacted in the pilgrim’s behalf. Hospitals and other beneficent institutions were erected for their comfort along the main route and in Jerusalem.
Other circumstances gave additional impulse to the movement, such as the hope of securing relics of which Palestine and Constantinople were the chief storehouses; and the opportunity of starting a profitable trade in silk, paper, spices, and other products of the East.
These pilgrimages were not seriously interrupted by the Mohammedans after their conquest of Jerusalem by Omar in 637, until Syria and Palestine passed into the hands of the sultans of Egypt three centuries later. Under Hakim, 1010, a fierce persecution broke out against the Christian residents of Palestine and the pilgrims. It was, however, of short duration and was followed by a larger stream of pilgrims than before. The favorite route was through Rome and by the sea, a dangerous avenue, as it was infested by Saracen pirates. The conversion of the Hungarians in the tenth century opened up the route along the Danube. Barons, princes, bishops, monks followed one after the other, some of them leading large bodies of pious tourists. In 1035 Robert of Normandy went at the head of a great company of nobles. He found many waiting at the gates of Jerusalem, unable to pay the gold bezant demanded for admission, and paid it for them. In 1054 Luitbert, bishop of Cambray, is said to have led three thousand pilgrims. In 1064 Siegfried, archbishop of Mainz, was accompanied by the bishops of Utrecht, Bamberg, and Regensburg and twelve thousand pilgrims. In 1092 Eric, king of the Danes, made the long journey. A sudden check was put upon the pilgrimages by the Seljukian Turks, who conquered the Holy Land in 1076. A rude and savage tribe, they heaped, with the intense fanaticism of new converts, all manner of insults and injuries upon the Christians. Many were imprisoned or sold into slavery. Those who returned to Europe carried with them a tale of woe which aroused the religious feelings of all classes.
The other appeal, coming from the Greek emperors, was of less weight. The Eastern empire had been fast losing its hold on its Asiatic possessions. Romanus Diogenes was defeated in battle with the Turks and taken prisoner, 1071. During the rule of his successor, an emir established himself in Nicaea, the seat of the council called by the first Constantine, and extended his rule as far as the shores of the sea of Marmora. Alexius Comnenus, coming to the throne 1081, was less able to resist the advance of Islam and lost Antioch and Edessa in 1086. Thus pressed by his Asiatic foes, and seeing the very existence of his throne threatened, he applied for help to the west. He dwelt, it is true, on the desolations of Jerusalem; but it is in accordance with his imperial character to surmise that he was more concerned for the defence of his own empire than for the honor of religion.
This dual appeal met a response, not only in the religious spirit of Europe, but in the warlike instincts of chivalry; and when the time came for the chief figure in Christendom, Urban II., to lift up his voice, his words acted upon the sensitive emotions as sparks upon dry leaves.
Three routes were chosen by the Crusaders to reach the Holy Land. The first was the overland route by way of the Danube, Constantinople, and Asia Minor. The second, adopted by Philip and Richard in the Third Crusade, was by the Mediterranean to Acre. The route of the last two Crusades, under Louis IX., was across the Mediterranean to Egypt, which was to be made the base of operations from which to reach Jerusalem.
49. The Call to the Crusades
Of many colored Life that Fortune pours
Round the Crusaders.”
— Wordsworth, Ecclesiastical Sonnets.
The call which resulted in the first expedition for the recovery of Jerusalem was made by Pope Urban II. at the Council of Clermont, 1095. Its chief popular advocate was Peter the Hermit.
The idea of such a movement was not born at the close of the eleventh century. Gregory VII., appealed to by Michael VII. of Constantinople, had, in two encyclicals, 1074, urged the cause upon all Christians, and summoned them to go to the rescue of the Byzantine capital. He reminded them that the pagans had forced their way almost up to the walls of the city and killed many thousands of their brethren like cattle. He also repeatedly called attention to the project in letters to the counts of Burgundy and Poitiers and to Henry IV. His ulterior hope was the subjection of the Eastern churches to the dominion of the Apostolic see. In the year 1074 he was able to announce to Henry IV. that fifty thousand Christian soldiers stood ready to take up arms and follow him to the East, but Gregory was prevented from executing his design by his quarrel with the emperor.
There is some evidence that more than half a century earlier Sergius IV., d. 1012, suggested the idea of an armed expedition against the Mohammedans who had “defiled Jerusalem and destroyed the church of the Holy Sepulchre.” Earlier still, Sylvester II., d. 1003, may have urged the same project.
Peter the Hermit, an otherwise unknown monk of Amiens, France, on returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, spread its tale of woes and horrors. In Jerusalem he had seen the archbishop, Simeon, who urged him to carry to Europe an appeal for help against the indignities to which the Christians were subjected. While asleep in the church of the Holy Sepulchre and after prayer and fasting, Peter had a dream in which Christ appeared to him and bade him go and quickly spread the appeal that the holy place might be purged. He hurried westward, carrying a letter from Simeon, and secured the ear of Urban at Rome. This is the story as told by William of Tyre and by Albert of Aachen before him. Alleged dreams and visions were potent forces during the First Crusade, and it is altogether likely that many a pilgrim, looking upon the desolation of Jerusalem, heard within himself the same call which Peter in imagination or in a real dream heard the Lord making to him.
Urban listened to Peter’s account as he had listened to the accounts of other returning pilgrims. He had seen citizens of Jerusalem itself with his own eyes, and exiles from Antioch, bewailing the plight of those places and begging for alms. Peter, as he journeyed through Italy and across the Alps, proclaimed the same message. The time for action had come.
At the Council of Piacenza, in the spring of 1095, envoys were present from the emperor Alexius Comnenus and made addresses, invoking aid against the advancing Turks. In the following November the famous Council of Clermont, Southern France, was held, which decreed the First Crusade. The council comprised a vast number of ecclesiastics and laymen, especially from France. Urban II. was present in person. On the day of the opening there were counted fourteen archbishops, two hundred and fifty bishops, and four hundred abbots. Thousands of tents were pitched outside the walls. On the ninth day, the pope addressed the multitude from a platform erected in the open air. It was a fortunate moment for Urban, and has been compared to Christmas Day, 800, when Charlemagne was crowned. The address was the most effective sermon ever preached by a pope or any other mortal. It stirred the deepest feelings of the bearers and was repeated throughout all Europe.
At Clermont, Urban was on his native soil and probably spoke in the Provençal tongue, though we have only Latin reports. When we recall the general character of the age and the listening throng, with its mingled feelings of love of adventure and credulous faith, we cannot wonder at the response made to the impassioned appeals of the head of Christendom. Urban reminded his hearers that they, as the elect of God, must carry to their brethren in the East the succor for which they had so often cried out. The Turks, a “Persian people, an accursed race,” had devastated the kingdom of God by fire, pillage, and sword and advanced as far as the Arm of St. George (the Hellespont). Jerusalem was laid waste. Antioch, once the city of Peter, was under their yoke. As the knights loved their souls, so they should fight against the barbarians who had fought against their brothers and kindred. Christ himself would lead the advancing warriors across sea and mountains. Jerusalem, “the navel of the world,” and the land fruitful above all others, a paradise of delights, awaited them. “The way is short, the toil will be followed by an incorruptible crown.”
A Frenchman himself, Urban appealed to his hearers as Frenchmen, distinguished above all other nations by remarkable glory in arms, courage, and bodily prowess. He appealed to the deeds of Charlemagne and his son Lewis, who had destroyed pagan kingdoms and extended the territory of the Church.
To this moving appeal the answer came back from the whole throng, “God will sit, God will sit.” “It is,” added the pope, “it is the will of God. Let these words be your war-cry when you unsheathe the sword. You are soldiers of the cross. Wear on your breasts or shoulders the blood-red sign of the cross. Wear it as a token that His help will never fail you, as the pledge of a vow never to be recalled.” Thousands at once took the vow and sewed the cross on their garments or branded it upon their bare flesh. Adhemar, bishop of Puy, knelt at Urban’s feet, asking permission to go, and was appointed papal legate. The next day envoys came announcing that Raymund of Toulouse had taken the vow. The spring of 1096 was set for the expedition to start. Urban discreetly declined to lead the army in person.
The example set at Clermont was followed by thousands throughout Europe. Fiery preachers carried Urban’s message. The foremost among them, Peter the Hermit, traversed Southern France to the confines of Spain and Lorraine and went along the Rhine. Judged by results, he was one of the most successful of evangelists. His appearance was well suited to strike the popular imagination. He rode on an ass, his face emaciated and haggard, his feet bare, a slouched cowl on his head, and a long mantle reaching to his ankles, and carrying a great cross. In stature he was short. His keen wit, his fervid and ready, but rude and unpolished, eloquence, made a profound impression upon the throngs which gathered to hear him. His messages seemed to them divine. They plucked the very hairs from his ass’ tail to be preserved as relics. A more potent effect was wrought than mere temporary wonder. Reconciliations between husbands and wives and persons living out of wedlock were effected, and peace and concord established where there were feud and litigation. Large gifts were made to the preacher. None of the other preachers of the Crusade, Volkmar, Gottschalk, and Emich, could compare with Peter the Hermit for eloquence and the spell he exercised upon the masses. He was held in higher esteem than prelates and abbots. And Guibert of Nogent says that he could recall no one who was held in like honor.
In a few months large companies were ready to march against the enemies of the cross.
A new era in European history was begun. A new passion had taken hold of its people. A new arena of conquest was opened for the warlike feudal lord, a tempting field of adventure and release for knight and debtor, an opportunity of freedom for serf and villein. All classes, lay and clerical, saw in the expedition to the cradle of their faith a solace for sin, a satisfaction of Christian fancy, a heaven appointed mission. The struggle of states with the papacy was for the moment at an end. All Europe was suddenly united in a common and holy cause, of which the supreme pontiff was beyond dispute the appointed leader.
50. The First Crusade and the Capture of Jerusalem
“And what if my feet may not tread where He stood,
Nor my ears hear the dashing of Galilee’s flood,
Nor my eyes see the cross which He bowed Him to bear,
Nor my knees press Gethsemane’s garden of prayer,
Yet, Loved of the Father, Thy Spirit is near
To the meek and the lowly and penitent here;
And the voice of Thy Love is the same even now,
As at Bethany’s tomb or on Olivet’s brow.”
The 15th of August, 1096, the Feast of the Assumption, fixed by the Council of Clermont for the departure of the Crusaders, was slow in coming. The excitement was too intense for the people to wait. As early as March throngs of both sexes and all ages began to gather in Lorraine and at Treves, and to demand of Peter the Hermit and other leaders to lead them immediately to Jerusalem. It was a heterogeneous multitude of devout enthusiasts and idle adventurers, without proper preparation of any kind. The priest forsook his cell, the peasant left his plough and placed his wife and children on carts drawn by oxen, and thus went forth to make the journey and to fight the Turk. At the villages along the route the children cried out, “Is this Jerusalem, is this Jerusalem?” William of Malmesbury wrote (IV. 2), “The Welshman left his hunting, the Scot his fellowship with lice, the Dane his drinking party, the Norwegian his raw fish. Fields were deserted of their husbandmen; whole cities migrated …. God alone was placed before their eyes.”
The unwieldy bands, or swarms, were held together loosely under enthusiastic but incompetent leaders. The first swarm, comprising from twelve thousand to twenty thousand under Walter the Penniless, marched safely through Hungary, but was cut to pieces at the storming of Belgrade or destroyed in the Bulgarian forests. The leader and a few stragglers were all that reached Constantinople.
The second swarm, comprising more than forty thousand, was led by the Hermit himself. There were knights not a few, and among the ecclesiastics were the archbishop of Salzburg and the bishops of Chur and Strassburg. On their march through Hungary they were protected by the Hungarian king; but when they reached the Bulgarian frontier, they found one continuous track of blood and fire, robbery and massacre, marking the route of their predecessors. Only a remnant of seven thousand reached Constantinople, and they in the most pitiful condition, July, 1096. Here they were well treated by the Emperor Alexius, who transported them across the Bosphorus to Asia, where they were to await the arrival of the regular army. But they preferred to rove, marauding and plundering, through the rich provinces. Finally, a false rumor that the vanguard had captured Nicaea, the capital of the Turks in Asia Minor, allured the main body into the plain of Nicaea, where large numbers were surrounded and massacred by the Turkish cavalry. Their bones were piled into a ghastly pyramid, the first monument of the Crusade. Walter fell in the battle; Peter the Hermit had fled back to Constantinople before the battle began, unable to control his followers. The defeat of Nicaea no doubt largely destroyed Peter’s reputation.
A third swarm, comprising fifteen thousand, mostly Germans under the lead of the monk Gottschalk, was massacred by the Hungarians.
Another band, under count Emich of Leiningen, began its career, May, 1096, by massacring and robbing the Jews in Mainz and other cities along the Rhine. Albert of Aachan, who describes these scenes, does not sympathize with this lawlessness, but saw a divine judgment in its almost complete annihilation in Hungary. This band was probably a part of the swarm, estimated at the incredible number of two hundred thousand, led by banners bearing the likeness of a goose and a goat, which were considered as bearers of the divine Spirit. Three thousand horsemen, headed by some noblemen, attended them, and shared the spoils taken from the Jews. When they arrived at the Hungarian frontier they had to encounter a regular army. A panic seized them, and a frightful carnage took place.
These preliminary expeditions of the first Crusade may have cost three hundred thousand lives.
The regular army consisted, according to the lowest statements, of more than three hundred thousand. It proceeded through Europe in sections which met at Constantinople and Nicaea. Godfrey, starting from lower Lorraine, had under him thirty thousand men on foot and ten thousand horse. He proceeded along the Danube and by way of Sofia and Philipoppolis, Hugh of Vermandois went by way of Rome, where he received the golden banner, and then, taking ship from Bari to Durazzo, made a junction with Godfrey in November, 1096, under the walls of Constantinople. Bohemund, with a splendid following of one hundred thousand horse and thirty thousand on foot, took the same route from Bari across the Adriatic. Raymund of Toulouse, accompanied by his countess, Elvira, and the papal legate, bishop Adhemar, traversed Northern Italy on his way eastward. The last of the main armies to start was led by Robert, duke of Normandy, and Stephen of Blois, who crossed the Alps, received the pope’s blessing at Lucca, and, passing through Rome, transported their men across the Adriatic from Bari and Brindisi.
Godfrey of Bouillon was accompanied by his brothers, Baldwin and Eustace. Hugh, count of Vermandois, was a brother of Philip I. of France. Robert of Normandy was the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and had made provision for his expedition by pledging Normandy to his brother, William Rufus, for ten thousand marks silver. Raymund, count of Toulouse, was a veteran warrior, who had a hundred thousand horse and foot at his command, and enjoyed a mingled reputation for wealth, wisdom, pride, and greed. Bohemund, prince of Tarentum, was the son of Robert Guiscard. His cousin, Tancred, was the model cavalier. Robert, count of Flanders, was surnamed, “the Sword and Lance of the Christians.” Stephen, count of Chartres, Troyes, and Blois, was the owner of three hundred and sixty-five castles. These and many other noblemen constituted the flower of the French, Norman, and Italian nobility.
The moral hero of the First Crusade is Godfrey of Bouillon, a descendant of Charlemagne in the female line, but he had no definite command. He had fought in the war of emperor Henry IV. against the rebel king, Rudolf of Swabia, whom he slew in the battle of Mölsen, 1080. He had prodigious physical strength. With one blow of his sword he clove asunder a horseman from head to saddle. He was as pious as he was brave, and took the cross for the single purpose of rescuing Jerusalem from the hands of the infidel. He used his prowess and bent his ancestral pride to the general aim. Contemporary historians call him a holy monk in military armor and ducal ornament. His purity and disinterestedness were acknowledged by his rivals.
Tancred, his intimate friend, likewise engaged in the enterprise from pure motives. He is the poetic hero of the First Crusade, and nearly approached the standard of “the parfite gentil knyght” of Chaucer. He distinguished himself at Nicaea, Dorylaeum, Antioch, and was one of the first to climb the walls of Jerusalem. He died in Antioch, 1112. His deeds were celebrated by Raoul de Caen and Torquato Tasso.
The emperor Alexius, who had so urgently solicited the aid of Western Europe, became alarmed when he saw the hosts arriving in his city. They threatened to bring famine into the land and to disturb the order of his realm. He had wished to reap the benefit of the Crusade, but now was alarmed lest he should be overwhelmed by it. His subtle policy and precautions were felt as an insult by the Western chieftains. In diplomacy he was more than their match. They expected fair dealing and they were met by duplicity. He held Hugh of Vermandois in easy custody till he promised him fealty. Even Godfrey and Tancred, the latter after delay, made the same pledge. Godfrey declined to receive the emperor’s presents for fear of receiving poison with his munificence.
The Crusaders had their successes. Nicaea was taken June 19, 1097, and the Turks were routed a few weeks later in a disastrous action at Dorylaeum in Phrygia, which turned into a more disastrous flight. But a long year elapsed till they could master Antioch, and still another year came to an end before Jerusalem yielded to their arms. The success of the enterprise was retarded and its glory diminished by the selfish jealousies and alienation of the leaders which culminated in disgraceful conflicts at Antioch. The hardships and privations of the way were terrible, almost beyond description. The Crusaders were forced to eat horse flesh, camels, dogs, and mice, and even worse. The sufferings from thirst exceeded, if possible, the sufferings from hunger. To these discouragements was added the manifest treachery of the Greek emperor at the capture of Nicaea.
During the siege of Antioch, which had fallen to the Seljuks, 1084, the ranks were decimated by famine, pestilence, and desertion, among the deserters being Stephen of Chartres and his followers. Peter the Hermit and William of Carpentarius were among those who attempted flight, but were caught in the act of fleeing and severely reprimanded by Bohemund. Immediately after the first recapture of the city, through the treachery of Phirouz, an Armenian, the Crusaders were themselves besieged by an army of two hundred thousand under Kerboga of Mosul. Their languishing energies were revived by the miraculous discovery of the holy lance, which pierced the Saviour’s side. This famous instrument was hidden under the altar of St. Peter’s church. The hiding place was revealed in a dream to Peter Barthelemy, the chaplain of Raymund of Toulouse. The sacred weapon was carried in front of the ranks by Raymund of Agiles, one of the historians of the Crusade, and it aroused great enthusiasm. Kerboga withdrew and the city fell into the Crusaders’ hands, June 28, 1098. Bohemund appropriated it to himself as his prize. Baldwin, after the fall of Nicaea, had done the same with Edessa, which became the easternmost citadel of the Crusaders. Others followed the examples of these leaders and went on independent expeditions of conquest. Of those who died at Antioch was Adhemar.
The culmination of the First Crusade was the fall of Jerusalem, July 15, 1099. It was not till the spring following the capture of Antioch, that the leaders were able to compose their quarrels and the main army was able again to begin the march. The route was along the coast to Caesarea and thence southeastward to Ramleh. Jerusalem was reached early in June. The army was then reduced to twenty thousand fighting men. In one of his frescos in the museum at Berlin, representing the six chief epochs in human history, Kaulbach has depicted with great effect the moment when the Crusaders first caught sight of the Holy City from the western hills. For the religious imagination it was among the most picturesque moments in history as it was indeed one of the most solemn in the history of the Middle Ages. The later narratives may well have the essence of truth in them, which represent the warriors falling upon their knees and kissing the sacred earth. Laying aside their armor, in bare feet and amid tears, penitential prayers, and chants, they approached the sacred precincts.
A desperate but futile assault was made on the fifth day. Boiling pitch and oil were used, with showers of stones and other missiles, to keep the Crusaders at bay. The siege then took the usual course in such cases. Ladders, scaling towers, and other engines of war were constructed, but the wood had to be procured at a distance, from Shechem. The trees around Jerusalem, cut down by Titus twelve centuries before, had never been replaced. The city was invested on three sides by Raymund of Toulouse, Godfrey, Tancred, Robert of Normandy, and other chiefs. The suffering due to the summer heat and the lack of water was intense. The valley and the hills were strewn with dead horses, whose putrefying carcasses made life in the camp almost unbearable. In vain did the Crusaders with bare feet, the priests at their head, march in procession around the walls, hoping to see them fall as the walls of Jericho had fallen before Joshua. Help at last came with the arrival of a Genoese fleet in the harbor of Joppa, which brought workmen and supplies of tools and food.
Friday, the day of the crucifixion, was chosen for the final assault. A great tower surmounted by a golden cross was dragged alongside of the walls and the drawbridge let down. At a critical moment, as the later story went, a soldier of brilliant aspect was seen on the Mount of Olives, and Godfrey, encouraging the besiegers, exclaimed: “It is St. George the martyr. He has come to our help.” According to most of the accounts, Letold of Tournay was the first to scale the walls. It was noticed that the moment of this crowning feat was three o’clock, the hour of the Saviour’s death.
The scenes of carnage which followed belong to the many dark pages of Jerusalem’s history and showed how, in the quality of mercy, the crusading knight was far below the ideal of Christian perfection. The streets were choked with the bodies of the slain. The Jews were burnt with their synagogues. The greatest slaughter was in the temple enclosure. With an exaggeration which can hardly be credited, but without a twinge of regret or a syllable of excuse, it is related that the blood of the massacred in the temple area reached to the very knees and bridles of the horses. “Such a slaughter of the pagans had never been seen or heard of. The number none but God knew.”
Penitential devotions followed easily upon the gory butchery of the sword. Headed by Godfrey, clad in a suit of white linen, the Crusaders proceeded to the church of the Holy Sepulchre and offered up prayers and thanksgivings. William of Tyre relates that Adhemar and others, who had fallen by the way, were seen showing the path to the holy places. The devotions over, the work of massacre was renewed. Neither the tears of women, nor the cries of children, nor the protests of Tancred, who for the honor of chivalry was concerned to save three hundred, to whom he had promised protection — none of these availed to soften the ferocity of the conquerors.
As if to enhance the spectacle of pitiless barbarity, Saracen prisoners were forced to clear the streets of the dead bodies and blood to save the city from pestilence. “They wept and transported the dead bodies out of Jerusalem,” is the heartless statement of Robert the Monk.
Such was the piety of the Crusaders. The religion of the Middle Ages combined self-denying asceticism with heartless cruelty to infidels, Jews, and heretics. “They cut down with the sword,” said William of Tyre, “every one whom they found in Jerusalem, and spared no one. The victors were covered with blood from head to foot.” In the next breath, speaking of the devotion of the Crusaders, the archbishop adds, “It was a most affecting sight which filled the heart with holy joy to see the people tread the holy places in the fervor of an excellent devotion.” The Crusaders had won the tomb of the Saviour and gazed upon a fragment of the true cross, which some of the inhabitants were fortunate enough to have kept concealed during the siege.
Before returning to Europe, Peter the Hermit received the homage of the Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem, who remembered his visit as a pilgrim and his services in their behalf. This was the closing scene of his connection with the Crusades. Returning to Europe, he founded the monastery at Huy, in the diocese Liège, and died, 1115. A statue was dedicated to his memory at Amiens, June 29, 1854. He is represented in the garb of a monk, a rosary at his waist, a cross in his right hand, preaching the First Crusade.
Urban II. died two weeks after the fall of Jerusalem and before the tidings of the event had time to reach his ears.
No more favorable moment could have been chosen for the Crusade. The Seljukian power, which was at its height in the eleventh century, was broken up into rival dynasties and factions by the death of Molik Shah, 1092. The Crusaders entered as a wedge before the new era of Moslem conquest and union opened.
Note on the Relation of Peter the Hermit to the First Crusade
The view of Peter the Hermit, presented in this work, does not accord with the position taken by most of the modern writers on the Crusades. It is based on the testimony of Albert of Aachen and William of Tyre, historians of the First Crusade, and is, that Peter visited Jerusalem as a pilgrim, conversed with the patriarch Simeon over the desolations of the city, had a dream in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, returned to Europe with letters from Simeon which he presented to the pope, and then preached through Italy and beyond the Alps, and perhaps attended the Council of Clermont, where, however, he took no prominent part.
The new view is that these occurrences were fictions. It was first set forth by von Sybel in his work on the First Crusade, in 1841. Sybel’s work, which marks an epoch in the treatment of the Crusades, was suggested by the lectures of Ranke, 1837. Its author, after a careful comparison of the earliest accounts, announced that there is no reliable evidence that Peter was the immediate instigator of the First Crusade, and that not to him but to Urban II. alone belongs the honor of having originated the movement. Peter did not make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, meet Urban, or preach about the woes of the Holy City prior to the assembling of the Synod of Clermont.
These views, with some modification, have been advocated by Hagenmeyer in his careful and scholarly work on Peter the Hermit and in other writings on the First Crusade. In our own country the same view has been set forth by eminent scholars. Professor Oliver J. Thatcher, in an article on the Latin Sources of the First Crusade, says, “The stories about Peter the Hermit, his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his visions there, his journey to the pope at Rome, his successful appeals to Urban to preach a crusade, and Peter’s commanding position as one of the great preachers and leaders of the Crusade, all are found to be without the least foundation in fact.” Dr. Dana C. Munro has recently declared that the belief that Peter was the instigator of the First Crusade has long since been abandoned.
It is proper that the reasons should be given in brief which have led to the retention of the old view in this volume. The author’s view agrees with the judgment expressed by Archer, Story of the Crusades, p. 27, that the account of Albert of Aachen “is no doubt true in the main.”
Albert of Aachen wrote his History of Jerusalem about 1120-1125, that is, while many of the Crusaders were still alive who took part in the siege of Jerusalem, 1099. William, archbishop of Tyre, was born probably in Jerusalem about 1130. He was a man of learning, acquainted with Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Arabic; well read in the Bible, as his quotations show, and travelled in Europe. He is one of the ablest of the medieval historians, and his work is the monumental history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was by his residence thoroughly acquainted with Palestine. It is not unworthy of mention that William’s History represents the “office of the historian to be not to write what pleases him, but the material which the time offers,” bk. XXIII. From the sixteenth to the twenty-third book he writes from personal observation. William stands between the credulous enthusiasm of the first writers on the Crusades and the cold scepticism of some modern historians.
The new view, setting aside these two witnesses, bases its conclusion on the strictly contemporary accounts. These are silent about any part Peter took in the movement leading to the First Crusade prior to the Council of Clermont. They are: (1) the Gesta Francorum, written by an unknown writer, who reached Jerusalem with the Crusaders, wrote his account about 1099, and left the original, or a copy of it, in Jerusalem. (2) Robert the Monk, who was in Jerusalem, saw a copy of the Gesta, and copied from it. His work extends to 1099. He was present at the Council of Clermont. (3) Raymund, canon of Agiles, who accompanied the Crusaders to Jerusalem. (4) Fulcher of Chartres, who was present at Clermont, continued the history to 1125, accompanied the Crusaders to Jerusalem, and had much to do with the discovery of the holy lance. (5) The priest Tudebodus, who copied from the Gesta before 1111 and added very little of importance. (6) Ekkehard of Urach, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 1101. (7) Radulph of Caen, who in 1107 joined Tancred and related what he heard from him. (8) Guibert of Nogent, who was present at Clermont and wrote about 1110. (9) Baldric of Dol, who was at Clermont and copied from the Gesta in Jerusalem.
Another contemporary, Anna Comnena, b. 1083, is an exception and reports the activity of Peter prior to the Council of Clermont, and says he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but was not permitted by the Turks to enter. He then hastened to Europe and preached about the woes of the city in order to provide a way to visit it again. Hagenmeyer is constrained by Anna’s testimony to concede that Peter actually set forth on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but did not reach the city.
The silence of nine contemporary writers is certainly very noticeable. They had the means of knowing the facts. Why, then, do we accept the later statements of Albert of Aachen and William of Tyre? These are the considerations.
1. The silence of contemporary writers is not a final argument against events. Eusebius, the chief historian of the ancient Church, utterly ignores the Catacombs. Silence, said Dr. Philip Schaff, referring to the Crusades, “is certainly not conclusive,” “Reformed Ch. Rev.” 1893, p. 449. There is nothing in the earlier accounts contradictory to Peter’s activity prior to the Clermont synod. One and another of the writers omit important events of the First Crusade, but that is not a sufficient reason for our setting those events aside as fictitious. The Gesta has no account of Urban’s speech at Clermont or reference to it. Guibert and Fulcher leave out in their reports of Urban’s speech all reference to the appeal from Constantinople. Why does the Gesta pass over with the slightest notice Peter’s breaking away from Germany on his march to Constantinople? This author’s example is followed by Baldric, Tudebod, Fulcher, and Raymund of Agiles. These writers have not a word to say about Gottschalk, Volkmar, and Emich. As Hagenmeyer says, pp. 129, 157, no reason can be assigned for these silences, and yet the fact of these expeditions and the calamities in Hungary are not doubted.
2. The accounts of Albert of Aachen and of William of Tyre are simply told and not at all unreasonable in their essential content. William definitely makes Peter the precursor of Urban. He was, he said, “of essential service to our lord the pope, who determined to follow him without delay across the mountains. He did him the service of a forerunner and prepared the minds of men in advance so that he might easily win them for himself.” There is no indication in the archbishop’s words of any purpose to disparage Urban’s part in preparing for the Crusade. Urban followed after John the Baptist. William makes Urban the centre of the assemblage at Clermont and gives to his address great space, many times the space given to the experiences of Peter, and all honor is accorded to the pope for the way in which he did his part, bk. I. 16.
3. Serious difficulties are presented in the theory of the growth of the legend of Peter’s activity. They are these: (1) Albert of Aachen lived close to the events, and at the most twenty-five years elapsed between the capture of Jerusalem and his writing. (2) There is nothing in Peter’s conduct during the progress of the Crusade to justify the growth of an heroic legend around him. The very contrary was the case. Moreover, neither Albert nor William know anything about Peter before his pilgrimage. Hagenmeyer has put the case in the proper light when he says, “Not a single authority suggests that Peter enjoyed any extraordinary repute before his connection with the Crusade. On the contrary, every one that mentions his name connects it with the Crusade,” p. 120. (3) It is difficult to understand how the disposition could arise on the part of any narrator to transfer the credit of being the author of the Crusade from a pope to a monk, especially such a monk as Peter turned out to be. In reference to this consideration, Archer, p. 26, has well said, “There is little in the legend of Peter the Hermit which may not very well be true, and the story, as it stands, is more plausible than if we had to assume that tradition had transferred the credit from a pope to a simple hermit.” (4) We may very well account for Anna Comnena’s story of Peter’s being turned back by the Turks by her desire to parry the force of his conversation with the Greek patriarch Simeon. It was her purpose to disparage the Crusade. Had she admitted the message of Simeon through Peter to the pope, she would have conceded a strong argument for the divine approval upon the movement. As for Anna, she makes mistakes, confusing Peter once with Adhemar and once with Peter Barthelemy.
(5) All the accounts mention Peter. He is altogether the most prominent man in stirring up interest in the Crusade subsequent to the council. Hagenmeyer goes even so far as to account for his success by the assumption that Peter made telling use of his abortive pilgrimage, missglückte Pilgerfahrt. As already stated, Peter was listened to by “immense throngs;” no one in the memory of the abbot of Nogent had enjoyed so much honor. “He was held in higher esteem than prelates and abbots,” says Robert the Monk. As if to counteract the impression upon the reader, these writers emphasize that Peter’s influence was over the rude and lawless masses, and, as Guibert says, that the bands which followed him were the dregs of France. Now it is difficult to understand how a monk, before unknown, who had never been in Jerusalem, and was not at the Council of Clermont, could at once work into his imagination such vivid pictures of the woe and wails of the Christians of the East as to attain a foremost pre-eminence as a preacher of the Crusade.
(6) Good reasons can be given for the omission of Peter’s conduct prior to the Council of Clermont by the earliest writers. The Crusade was a holy and heroic movement. The writers were interested in magnifying the part taken by the chivalry of Europe. Some of them were with Peter in the camp, and they found him heady, fanatical, impracticable, and worse. He probably was spurned by the counts and princes. Many of the writers were chaplains of these chieftains, — Raymund, Baldwin, Tancred, Bohemund. The lawlessness of Peter’s bands has been referred to. The defeat at Nicaea robbed Peter of all glory and position he might otherwise have had with the main army when it reached Asia. In Antioch he brought upon himself disgrace for attempting flight, being caught in the act by Tancred and Bohemund. The Gesta gives a detailed account of this treachery, and Guibert compares his flight to an angel falling from heaven. It is probably with reference to it that Ekkehard says, “Many call him hypocrite.” Strange to say, Albert of Aachen and William of Tyre omit all reference to his treacherous flight. It is not improbable that, after the experiences they had of the Hermit in the camp, and the disregard and perhaps the contempt in which he was held by the princes, after his inglorious campaign to Constantinople and Nicaea, the early writers had not the heart to mention his services prior to the council. Far better for the glory of the cause that those experiences should pass into eternal forgetfulness.
Why should legend then come to be attached to his memory? Why should not Adhemar have been chosen for the honor which was put upon this unknown monk who made so many mistakes and occupied so subordinate a position in the main crusading army? Why stain the origin of so glorious a movement by making Peter with his infirmities and ignoble birth responsible for the inception of the Crusade? It would seem as if the theory were more probable that the things which led the great Crusaders to disparage, if not to ridicule, Peter induced the earlier writers to ignore his meritorious activity prior to the Council of Clermont. After the lapse of time, when the memory of his follies was not so fresh, the real services of Peter were again recognized. For these reasons the older portrait of Peter has been regarded as the true one in all its essential features.