Little Bits of History

First Crusade

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 27, 2010

The Siege of Antioch, a medieval miniature painting done in 1490 by Sébastien Mamerot

November 27, 1095: Pope Urban II, in a speech given at the Council of Clermont in France, calls for Christian princes in Europe to rescue the Holy Lands, especially Jerusalem, from the Turks. Muslims had ruled Jerusalem since 638 but had allowed Christian pilgrims access to the Holy City. By the 11th century Seljuk Turks had taken over rule in the area and Christians were no longer given free passage to Jerusalem, nor safety while in pilgrimage.

There were several Crusades to free the Holy City from Muslim control. They are arbitrarily divided into anywhere from seven to twelve waves. The dates given are definite in the starting point with 1095 the beginning, ending dates vary. Usually the end of the 13th century is given, however Crusades continued with the last in 1669 by the Duke of Burgundy from Candia.

The First Crusade was divided into three waves. The People’s Crusade in which 100,000 peasants and lowly knights were led by the charismatic and inflammatory Peter the Hermit of Amiens. These peasants fought along the way with about one-quarter dying in battles before reaching the Holy Lands where the rest died in unskilled fighting. The German Crusade was marred by the anti-Semitism that was already a part of life. They enacted pogroms against both resident Jews and Muslims, to the Pope’s dismay. The Princes Crusade was a group of 7,000 titled men who came without supplies to fight in the desert where many died of heat and thirst. The 1,500 survivors made their way to Jerusalem where they took control of the city in 1099 by murdering or capturing nearly all the inhabitants.

The Crusades overall were unsuccessful. They did not take lasting control of the Holy Lands, they increased the antipathy between Latin and Greek Christians and actually brought about the disintegration of the Eastern Empire, they were marred by anti-Semitism, and they fostered the hatred between Christian and Muslim that lives on to this day.

“The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America and the introduction of African slaves in their place.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“[Erdmann argued that, in proclaiming the First Crusade, Pope Urban II was less interested in restoring the rights of Christians to make pilgrimages to the Holy Sepulchre than in unleashing] an ecclesiastical-knightly war upon heathens … the conceptual change from armed pilgrim to soldier for the faith took place.” – Henry IV

“There are telltale signs about an extremist. When critics start speaking of a Zionist conspiracy, a Christian crusade, and when those things justify violence, that’s scary stuff.” – Muqtedar Khan

“God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. God wills it!” – Pope Urban II

Also on this day, in 1978 George Mascone and Harvey Milk were murdered.

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