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 371was 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 372 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. 373 "Such a slaughter of the pagans had never been seen or heard of. The number none but God knew." 374
Penitential devotions followed easily upon the gory butchery of the sword. Headed by Godfrey, clad in a suit of white lined, 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.5
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.6 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 there 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. 377 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. 378 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, 379says, "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. 380
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 1120–1125,1that 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 mediaeval 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 "in 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. 382 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 383compares his flight to an angel falling from heaven. It is probably with reference to it that Ekkehard says, "Many call him hypocrite." 384 Strange to say, Albert of Aachen and William of Tyre omit all reference to his treacherous flight. 385 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.
§ 51. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. 1099–1187.
Literature.—G. T. De Thaumassière: Assises et bons usages du royaume de Jérusalem, etc., Paris, 1690, 1712; Assises de Jérusalem, in Recueil des Historiens des croisades, 2 vols., Paris, 1841–1843.—Hody: Godefroy de Bouillon et les rois Latins de Jérus., 2d ed., Paris, 1859.—Röhricht: Regesta Regni Hierosolymitani, Innsbruck, 1893; Gesch. des Königreichs Jerus. 1100–1291, Innsbruck, 1898.—Lane-Poole: Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerus., N. Y., 1898. The first biography of Saladin in English, written largely from the standpoint of the Arab historians.—C. R. Conder: The Latin Kingd. of Jerus., London, 1899.—F. Kühn: Gesch. der ersten Patriarchen von Jerus., Leipzig, 1886.—Funk: art. Jerusalem, Christl. Königreich, in "Wetzer-Welte," VI. p. 1335 sqq.
Eight days after the capture of the Holy City a permanent government was established, known as the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Godfrey was elected king, but declined the title of royalty, unwilling to wear a crown of gold where the Saviour had worn a crown of thorns. 386 He adopted the title Baron and Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. The kingdom from its birth was in need of help, and less than a year after the capture of the city the patriarch Dagobert made an appeal to the "rich" German nation for reënforcements. 387 It had a perturbed existence of less than a century, and in that time witnessed a succession of nine sovereigns.
Godfrey extended his realm, but survived the capture of Jerusalem only a year, dying July 18, 1100. He was honored and lamented as the most disinterested and devout among the chieftains of the First Crusade. His body was laid away in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where his reputed sword and spurs are still shown. On his tomb was the inscription:, Here lies Godfrey of Bouillon, who conquered all this territory for the Christian religion. May his soul be at rest with Christ." 388
With the Latin kingdom was established the Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem. The election of Arnulf, chaplain to Robert of Normandy, was declared irregular, and Dagobert, or Daimbert, archbishop of Pisa, was elected in his place Christmas Day, 1099.9 Latin sees were erected throughout the land and also a Latin patriarchate of Antioch. Dagobert secured large concessions from Godfrey, including the acknowledgment of his kingdom as a fief of the patriarch. After the fall of Jerusalem, in 1187, the patriarchs lived in Acre. 390
The constitution and judicial procedure of the new realm were fixed by the Assizes of Jerusalem. These were deposited under seal in the church of the Holy Sepulchre and are also called the Letters of the Holy Sepulchre.1 They were afterwards lost, and our knowledge of their contents is derived from the codes of Cyprus and the Latin kingdom of Constantinople, which were founded upon the Jerusalem code.
These statutes reproduced the feudal system of Europe. The conquered territory was distributed among the barons, who held their possessions under the king of Jerusalem as overlord. The four chief fiefs were Jaffa and Ascalon, Kerat, east of the Jordan, Galilee, and Sidon. The counts of Tripoli and Edessa and the prince of Antioch were independent of the kingdom of Jerusalem. A system of courts was provided, the highest being presided over by the king. Trial by combat of arms was recognized. A second court provided for justice among the burgesses. A third gave it to the natives. Villeins or slaves were treated as property according to the discretion of the master, but are also mentioned as being subject to the courts of law. The slave and the falcon were estimated as equal in value. Two slaves were held at the price of a horse and three slaves at the price of twelve oxen. The man became of age at twenty-five, the woman at twelve. The feudal system in Europe was a natural product. In Palestine it was an exotic.
The Christian occupation of Palestine did not bring with it a reign of peace. The kingdom was torn by the bitter intrigues of barons and ecclesiastics, while it was being constantly threatened from without. The inner strife was the chief source of weakness. The monks settled down in swarms over the country, and the Franciscans became the guardians of the holy places. The illegitimate offspring of the Crusaders by Moslem women, called pullani, were a degenerate race, marked by avarice, faithlessness, and debauchery. 392
Godfrey was succeeded by his brother Baldwin, count of Edessa, who was crowned at Bethlehem. He was a man of intelligence and the most vigorous of the kings of Jerusalem. He died of a fever in Egypt, and his body was laid at the side of his brother’s in Jerusalem.
During Baldwin’s reign, 1100–1118, the limits of the kingdom were greatly extended.3 Caesarea fell in 1101, St. Jean d’Acre, otherwise known as Ptolemais, in 1104, and Berytus, or Beyrut, in 1110. Sidon capitulated to Sigurd, son of the king of Norway, who had with him ten thousand Crusaders. One-third of Asia Minor was reduced, a part of the territory reverting to the Greek empire. Damascus never fell into European hands. With the progress of their arms, the Crusaders reared strong castles from Petra to the far North as well as on the eastern side of the Jordan. Their ruins attest the firm purpose of their builders to make their occupation permanent. "We who were Westerners," said Fulcher of Chartres, "are now Easterners. We have forgotten our native land." It is proof of the attractiveness of the cause, if not also of the country, that so many Crusaders sought to establish themselves there permanently. Many who went to Europe returned a second time, and kings spent protracted periods in the East.
During Baldwin’s reign most of the leaders of the First Crusade died or returned to Europe. But the ranks were being continually recruited by fresh expeditions. Pascal II., the successor of Urban II., sent forth a call for recruits. The Italian cities furnished fleets, and did important service in conjunction with the land forces. The Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese established quarters of their own in Jerusalem, Acre, and other cities. Thousands took the cross in Lombardy, France, and Germany, and were led by Anselm, archbishop of Milan, Stephen, duke of Burgundy, William, duke of Aquitaine, Ida of Austria, and others. Hugh of Vermandois, who had gone to Europe, returned. Bohemund likewise returned with thirty-four thousand men, and opposed the Greek emperor. At least two Christian armies attempted to attack Islam in its stronghold at Bagdad.
Under Baldwin II., 1118–1131, the nephew of Baldwin I., Tyre was taken, 1124. This event marks the apogee of the Crusaders’ possessions and power.
In the reign of Fulke of Anjou, 1131–1143, the husband of Millicent, Baldwin II.’s daughter, Zengi, surnamed Imaded-din, the Pillar of the Faith, threatened the very existence of the Frankish kingdom.
Baldwin III., 1143–1162, came to the throne in his youth. 394 His reign witnessed the fall of Edessa into Zengi’s hands, 1144, and the progress of the Second Crusade, as also the rise of Zengi’s son, Nureddin, the uncle of Saladin, who conquered Damascus, 1154.