In the ancient kingdom of Tiryns, the mighty King Eurystheus, felt a little less mighty having his cousin and potential rival return wearing the Nemean Lion’s coat as a trophy. The hero had proved his reputation for unparalleled strength and valour, a situation Euystheus couldn’t allow to stand. So, Heracles was summoned to face another terrible and cunning foe – the Lernaean Hydra. Eurystheus, driven by both fear and envy of Heracles’ power, had devised this perilous quest as the second of his twelve labours.Continue reading “Demigod (Part 3 – The Nine-Headed Lernaean Hydra)”
Historiography (or Historiology) is a term that refers to the study of historical writing and its methods of interpretation. In science fiction, historiography plays a significant role in exploring the complexities of the past, present and future of a story.Continue reading “Panology of Science Fiction: H”
THE FIRST CRUSADE
Epochs of Modern History: The Crusades
A.D. 1096, Departure of the first rabble of Crusaders under Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless.
LITTLE more than half the time allowed for the gathering of the crusaders had passed away, when a crowd of some sixty thousand men and women neither caring nor thinking about the means by which their ends could be attained, insisted that the hermit Peter should lead them at once to the holy city. Mere charity may justify the belief that some even amongst these may have been folk of decent lives moved by the earnest conviction that their going to Jerusalem would do some good; that the vast majority looked upon their vow as a license for the commission of any sin, there can be no moral doubt; that they exhibited not a single quality needed for the successful prosecution of their enterprise, is absolutely certain. With a foolhardiness equal to his ignorance, Peter undertook the task, in which he was aided by Walter the Penniless, a man with some pretensions to the soldier-like character. But the utter disorder of this motley host made it impossible for them to journey long together.
At Cologne they parted company; and 15,000 under the penniless Walter made their way to the frontiers of Hungary, while Peter led onwards a host which swelled gradually on the march to about 40,000.
Second rabble under Emico and Gotschalk
Another army or horde of perhaps 20,000 marched under the guidance of Emico count of Leiningen, a third under that of the monk Gottschalk, a man not notorious for the purity or disinterestedness of his motives. Behind these, came a rabble, it is said, of 200,000 men, women, and children, preceded by a goose and a goat, or, as some have supposed, by banners on which, as symbols of the mysterious faith of Gnostics and Paulicians, the likeness of these animals was painted. In this vile horde, no pretence was kept up of order or of decency.
Sinning freely, it would seem, that grace might abound, they plundered and harried the lands through which they marched, while 3,000 horsemen, headed by some counts and gentlemen, were not too dignified to act as their attendants and to share their spoil.
Bloody persecutions of the Jews.
But if they had no scruple in robbing Christians, their delight was to prove the reality of their mission as soldiers of the cross by plundering, torturing, and slaying Jews. The crusade against the Turk was interpreted as a crusade directed not less explicitly against the descendants of those who had crucified the Redeemer. The streets of Verdun and Treves, and of the great cities on the Rhine, ran red with the blood of their victims; and if some saved their lives by pretended conversions, many more cheated their persecutors by throwing their property and their persons either into the rivers or into the consuming fires.
The Jews taken under the protection of the empire.
Thus auspiciously began the mighty enterprise on which pope Urban had insisted as the first duty of all Christians; and thus early did the result of his preaching tend to revive the waning power of the emperor, Henry IV., who interposed his authority to this merciless onslaught on a peaceable and useful class of his subjects. The Jews were taken under the protection of the empire, and for the time the change was a real relief. Their posterity found to their cost that their guardian might in his turn become their plunderer and tormentor.
March of Walter and his followers through Hungary and Bulgaria
A space of six hundred miles lay between the Austrian frontier and Constantinople; and across this dreary waste the followers of Walter the Penniless struggled on, destitute of money, and rousing the hostility of the inhabitants whom they robbed and ill-used. In Bulgaria, their misdeeds provoked reprisals which threatened their destruction, and none perhaps would have reached Constantinople, if the imperial commander at Naissos had not rescued them from their enemies, supplied them with food, and guarded them through the remainder of their journey. These succours involved some costs; and the costs were paid by the sale of unarmed men amongst the pilgrims, and especially of the women and children, who were seized to provide the necessary funds. Of those who formed the train of the hermit Peter, seven thousand only, it is said, reached Constantinople.
Passage of the pilgrims across the Bosporus.
Of such a rabble rout the Emperor Alexios needed not to be afraid. He had already seen and encountered far larger armies of Normans, Turks, and Romans; and he now extended to this vanguard of the hosts of Latin Christendom a hospitality which was almost immediately abused. They had refused to comply with his request that they should quietly await the arrival of their fellow crusaders; and consulting the safety of his people not less than his own, he induced them to cross the Bosporos, and pitch their camp on Asiatic soil, the land which they had come to wrest from the unbelievers.
Alexios wished simply to be rid of their presence: they had to deal with an enemy still more crafty and formidable in the Seljukian Sultan David, whose surname Kilidje Arslan marked him out as the Sword of the Lion.
Their utter destruction by Kilidje Arslan.
The vagrants whom Peter and Walter had brought thus far on the road to Jerusalem were scattered about the land in search of food; and it was no hard task for David to cheat the main body with the false tidings that their companions had carried the walls of Nice (Nikaia), and were revelling in the pleasures and spoils of his capital. The doomed horde rushed into the plain which fronts the city; and a vast heap of bones alone remained to tell the story of the great catastrophe when the forces which might more legitimately claim the name of an army passed the spot where the Seljukian had entrapped and crushed his victims. In this wild expedition not less, it is said, than 300,000 human beings had already paid the penalty of their lives.
Still the first crusade was destined to accomplish more than any of the seven or eight crusades which followed it; and this measure of success it achieved probably because none of the great European sovereigns took part in it.
Rank and character of the leaders of the First Crusade.
The Western emperor, Henry IV., the representative of Charles the Great, was the enemy of the pope; Philip I. king of France had been excommunicated by Urban in the council of Clermont; the sovereigns of Denmark, Scotland, Sweden, and Poland were as yet scarcely brought within the community of European monarchs; the Spanish kings had their crusades ready made at home; and we have already seen that the English William II. was more intent on acquiring dukedoms than on running the risk of a blessed martyrdom at the gates of Jerusalem. The task of setting up a Latin kingdom in Palestine was to be achieved by princes of the second order.
Godfrey of Bouillon and his brothers Baldwin and Eustace.
Of these the foremost and the most deservedly illustrious was Godfrey, of Bouillon in the Ardennes, a kinsman of the counts of Boulogne, and duke of Lothringen (Lorraine). In the service of the emperor Henry IV., the enemy or the victim of Hildebrand, he had been the first to mount the walls of Rome and cleave his way into the city; he might hope that his crusading vow would be accepted as an atonement for his sacrilege. Speaking the Frank and Teutonic dialects with equal ease, he exercised by his bravery, his wisdom, and the uprightness of his life, an influence which brought to his standard, it is said, not less than 80,000 infantry and 10,000 horsemen, together with his brothers Baldwin and Eustace count of Boulogne.
Hugh of Vermandois.
Among the most conspicuous of Godfrey’s colleagues was Hugh count of Vermandois, whose surname the Great has been ascribed by some to his birth as the brother of Philip I. the French king, by others merely to his stature, as ‘Hugh the long.’
Robert of Normandy.
With him may be placed the Norman duke Robert, whose carelessness had lost him the crown of England, and who had now pawned his duchy for a pittance scarcely less paltry than that for which Esau bartered away his birthright. The picture drawn of him is indeed not unlike that of the forefather of the Edomite tribes. Careless of the future, open in his friendship or his enmity, free from duplicity in himself and unsuspicious of treachery in others, charming others and injuring himself by his lighthearted cheerfulness and his lavish generosity, Robert was a man whom the total lack of the qualities which marked his iron-hearted father brought to a horrible captivity and death in the dungeons of Cardiff Castle.
Robert of Flanders and Stephen of Chartres.
The number of the great chiefs who led the pilgrims from northern Europe is completed with the names of Robert count of Flanders, whom his followers lauded as the Sword and Lance of the Christians, and of Stephen count of Chartres, Troyes, and Blois, the possessor, if we choose to believe the tale, of 365 castles, and as rich in his eloquence as in his fortresses. The same arithmetic would have us think that the minor chiefs were more numerous than the champions whom Agamemnon led to the Trojan war; and the assertion is perhaps as much and as little to be credited as the catalogue of Greek warriors in the Iliad.
Adhemar bishop of Puy.
Foremost, by virtue of his title and office, among the leaders of the southern bands, was the papal legate Adhemar (Aymer) bishop of Puy; a leader rather as guiding the counsels of the army than as gathering soldiers under his banner.
Raymond of Toulouse.
A hundred thousand horse and foot attested, we are told, the greatness, the wealth, and the zeal of Raymond count of Toulouse, lord of Auvergne and Languedoc, who had grown old in warfare, and won for himself a mingled reputation for wisdom and haughtiness, obstinacy and greed.
Less tinged with the fanatical enthusiasm of his comrades, and certainly more cool and deliberate in his ambition, Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard, whom we have seen fighting at Dyrrhachium and victorious at Larissa (p. 23), looked to the crusade as a means by which he might regain the vast regions extending from the Dalmatian coast to the northern shores of the Egean.
Nay, if we are to believe William of Malmesbury, he urged Urban to set forward the enterprise for the very purpose, partly, of thus recovering what he was pleased to regard as his inheritance, and in part of enabling the pontiff to suppress all opposition in Rome. Guiscard had left his Apulian domains to a younger son, and Bohemond was resolved, it would seem, to add to his principality of Tarentum a kingdom which would make him a formidable rival of the Eastern emperor.
Far above his companion Bohemond, rises his cousin Tancred, the son of the marquis Odo, surnamed the Good, and of Emma the sister of Robert Guiscard; and his reputation comes not from his wealth or the greatness of his following, but from the qualities of mind and person which raised him indefinitely nearer than his fellows to the standard of the very gentle perfect knight’ of Chaucer. In Tancred was seen the embodiment of those peculiar sentiments and modes of thought which gave birth to the crusades, and to which the crusades in their turn imparted marvellous strength and splendour.
Cause and effect of chivalry.
When in the council of Clermont pope Urban dwelt on the cowardice and ignoble fears of the Turks, he probably touched a chord which grated on the more generous and enthusiastic amongst his hearers, and was in fact speaking as a priest when with greater wisdom he should have used the language of a general. There can be little doubt that the finer spirits of the age were moved by the eager desire of rescuing a crowd of helpless Christians from conquerors whose might it was impossible for them to resist, and who were worthy antagonists even for the noblest knights of Latin and Teutonic Christendom. The rescue of this feeble multitude could be effected only at the cost of a great sacrifice, the sacrifice of houses and lands, of luxuries and pleasures: and the consciousness of large sacrifices, cheerfully made for the weak and suffering, is amongst the highest feelings which may be awakened in the human heart.
Thus in the most noble-minded and disinterested of the crusading champions there was distinctly a combination of two ideas, seemingly discordant, yet working together to produce one definite moral result. These were the indignation with which they regarded the tyranny exercised over the Christians of the East, and the involuntary respect and even admiration which they felt for the conquerors as the most redoubtable warriors of the age next to the foremost knights of Christendom. The former feeling would impel them to the most desperate efforts for the recovery of the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulchre; the latter would place checks dimly recognised and not always heeded on the ferocious warfare with which they would without scruple seek to sweep away all meaner or more savage enemies.
So far as he was actuated by such motives, the crusader was cultivating in himself the germs of forbearance and toleration which must at once to whatever extent soften the horrors of war and which would in the end yield more solid and satisfying fruits. In this same direction the influence of the Church was felt with constantly increasing power. It had been her aim to curb, when she could not repress, the violence of her children, and to establish by a solemn sanction that Truce of God which prevented the practice of private war from becoming a burden too heavy for the earth to bear. But in the expedition for the delivery of the Holy Land war itself was sanctified; and the knight, initiated even in past years by rites, which, heathen in their origin, had been made sacred by the Church, was raised almost to the level of the priest and the monk.
Henceforth the young aspirant for the knightly dignity and office was treated much as the catechumens had been treated in the first Christian centuries. He must enter on his work with clean thoughts and a pure conscience, and the spotless garment of the catechumen, purified by his long fast, was reproduced in the white robe which the young squire put on after cleansing his body in the bath, while the profession of baptism was repeated in the knightly vow which (after a special confession of sin followed by absolution) pledged the young man to deal justly, truly, and generously, defending the oppressed, succouring the needy and helpless, and everywhere showing himself the unsparing antagonist of all tyrants and evildoers.
In an especial degree he was to be the champion of women, the protector of children; and he rose from his knees before the assembled clergy, dubbed a knight by the sword of his godfather in the names of God, of our Lady, and of St. Michael, or St. George. The nearest to the heart of those who uttered this formula, as to that of the young knight, was the name of the Virgin Mother, whose image, it would seem, has fascinated multitudes without curing them of savage treachery and bloodthirsty ferocity. In feudal phrase she was his Lady (Notre Dame), as the crucified Jesus was his Lord (Notre Seigneur); and the adoring and humble love which he bore for her was held to sanctify and to be reflected in the devotion which he felt for every noble lady and more especially for the one favoured dame who became the idol of his heart, a star to be worshipped at a distance, if not a queen at whose feet he might throw himself in an ecstasy of passion.
This being whom he delighted to picture to himself as the peerless ideal of womanhood might be the wife of another man; and these extravagant fancies produced not unfrequently the most lamentable and ruinous results. But the knightly or chivalrous spirit, thus sometimes led astray, tended nevertheless to impose moral checks on rude and savage minds which had never felt them before; and the growth of this spirit was ensured chiefly by the crusades. The iniquities wrought by the soldiers of the Cross were fearful indeed; but the horrors of the warfare were in some small measure softened by the honour which the foremost warriors on both sides paid each to the bravery and good faith of the other; and this feeling expressed itself in a word which even now has by no means lost its meaning.
The quality of courtesy so named displayed itself in the readiness to give place to another where strength and power might have refused all concessions. It was closely allied to the Christian qualities of meekness and mercy, and any approach to this heavenly temper was a gain indeed in a brutalised and ferocious age. The highest glory of the crusading knight was to be a mirror of courtesy: and this glory is especially associated with the name of Tancred.
Tancred lived, fought, and conquered: the Rinaldo whom Tasso paints in his epic poem on the deliverance of Jerusalem is a being of cloudland like the Greek Achilleus, the Trojan Hektor, and the Persian Rustam.
A. D. 1096. August. Departure of the army of the Crusaders under Godfrey.
The miserable remnant of 3,000 men who escaped from the field of blood before the city of the Seljukian Sultan (p. 41), found a refuge in Byzantine territory about the time when the better-appointed armies of the crusaders were setting main off on their eastward journey. The most disciplined of these troops set out with a vast following from the banks of the Meuse and the Moselle under Godfrey of Bouillon who led them safely and without opposition to the Hungarian border. Here the armies of Hungary barred the way against the advance of a host at whose hands they dreaded a repetition of the havoc wrought by the lawless bands of Peter the Hermit and his self-chosen colleagues.
Three weeks passed away in vain attempts to get over the difficulty. The Hungarian king demanded, as a hostage Baldwin the brother of the general: the demand was refused, and Godfrey put him to shame by surrendering himself. He asked only for a free passage and a free market; but although these were granted, it was not in his power to prevent some disorder and some depredations as his army or horde passed through the country. The mischief might have been much worse, had not the Hungarian cavalry, acting professedly as a friendly escort but really as cautious warders, kept close to the crusading hosts.
Captivity of Hugh of Vermandois.
At length, they reached the gates of Philippopolis, and here Godfrey learnt that Vermandois, whose coming had been announced to the Greek Hugh of emperor Alexios by four-and-twenty knights in golden armour, and who styled himself the brother of the king of kings and lord of all the Frankish hosts, was a prisoner within the walls of Constantinople.
With Robert of Normandy and Robert of Flanders, with Stephen of Chartres and some lesser chiefs, Hugh had chosen to make his way through Italy; and the charms of that voluptuous land had a greater effect, it seems, in breaking up and corrupting their forces than the delights of Capua had in weakening the soldiers of Hannibal.
With little regard to order the chiefs determined to cross the sea as best they might. Hugh embarked at Bari; and if we may believe Anna Comnena, the historian and the worshipper of her father Alexios, his fleet was broken by a tempest which shattered his own ship on the coast between Palos and Dyrrhachium (Durazzo), of which John Comnenos, the nephew of the emperor, was at this time the governor. The Frank chief was here detained until the good pleasure of Alexios should be known. That wary and cunning prince saw at once how much might be made of his prisoner, who was by his orders conducted with careful respect and ceremony to the capital. Kept here really as a hostage, but welcomed to outward seeming as a friend, Hugh was so completely won by the charm of manner which Alexios well knew how and when to put on, that, paying him homage and declaring himself his man, he promised to do what he could to induce others to follow his example.
A.D. 1096. Christmas. Arrival of Godfrey before the walls of Constantinople.
From Philippopolis Godfrey sent ambassadors to Alexios, demanding the immediate surrender of Hugh. The request was refused, and Godfrey resumed his march, treating the land through which he passed as an enemy’s country, until by way of Adrianople he at length appeared before the walls of the capital at Christmastide, 1096.
The fears of Alexios were aroused by the sight of a host so vast and so formidable: they quickened into terror as he thought of the armies which were still on their way under the command of Bohemond and Tancred.
Policy of the emperor Alexios.
Of Godfrey, beyond the fact of his mission as a crusader, he knew little or nothing: but in Bohemond he saw one who claimed as his inheritance no small portion of his empire. This gathering of myriads, whom a false step on his part might convert into open enemies, was the result of his own entreaties urged through his envoys before Urban II. in the council of Piacenza; and his mind was divided between a feverish anxiety to hurry them on to their destination and so to rid himself of their hateful presence, and the desire to retain a hold not only on the crusading chiefs but on any conquests which they might make in Syria.
Hugh was sent back to Godfrey’s camp; but the quarrel was patched up, rather than ended. It was easier to rouse suspicion and jealousy than to restore friendship.
Compact between Alexios and the Crusaders
But it was of the first importance for Alexis that he should secure the homage of the princes already gathered round his capital before the arrival of his ancient enemy Bohemond. In this he succeeded, and a compact was made by which Alexios pledged them his word that he would supply them with food and aid them in their eastward march, and would protect all pilgrims passing through his dominions.
On the other hand the crusading chiefs, as already subjects of other sovereigns, gave their fealty to the emperor as their liege lord only for the time during which they might remain within his borders, and undertook to restore to him such of their conquests as had been recently wrested from the empire. In order to secure this treaty Alexios had been compelled to go through the fatigue of interminable audiences with the Western warriors and to put up with not a little insolence. The effrontery of a crusader, who flinging himself on the imperial throne declared that he saw no reason for standing while one rustic remained seated, was denounced as intolerable rudeness even by his companions; but Robert count of Paris, if indeed it was he, closed a brief career not many weeks later, and is more conspicuous in modern romance than in the pages of mediæval historians.
Homage of the Crusaders to Alexios
The spirit of Bohemond was stirred deeply within him when on reaching Constantinople he found that his colleagues, instead of remaining independent chiefs, had made themselves vassals of the Byzantine monarch. But Alexios was vigorously aided by Robert of Flanders whose friendly offices were the result of an alliance made with his father eight years before; and Bohemond soon saw that he must in appearance follow the example of his comrades, whatever course it might suit him to take hereafter. He became the guest of the emperor, listened with complacency to his flatteries, accepted a magnificent gift or bribe, and accompanied his submission with a request for the office of Grand Domestic, or general of the East.
The emperor put him off with the promise of an independent principality, and turned with more genuine warmth to the honest simplicity of Godfrey. This disinterested crusader was anxious only to fulfil his vows; and Alexios felt that he was making no sacrifice and entering into no inconvenient engagements by adopting him as his son.
Disastrous march of Raymond of Toulouse to Constantinople.
The policy and the bribes of Alexios had overcome the opposition of Bohemond. He was to experience a stouter resistance from Raymond of Toulouse, who, though he had been the first to enlist, was the last to set out on his crusade.
He should never make another journey, he said, and he was determined to be well prepared. Wishing to avoid, so far as he could, the lines of march chosen by the chiefs who had preceded him, he took the road through Lombardy. Thus far his march was easily accomplished: but things wore a different look when he reached the savage mountains and desolate valleys of Dalmatia and Slavonia. The people had driven their cattle (and their cattle formed practically their whole property) into inaccessible glens: and instead of plundering others the crusaders found themselves harassed and their stragglers cut off by thieves and murderers.
Raymond retaliated by cutting off the hands and noses of all who were taken prisoners and putting out their eyes; and the wrath of the natives was roused to desperate resistance. At Scodra he entered into some sort of agreement with the Servian chief Bodin; but the country could yield little for the support of this vast army, which was compelled to struggle onwards under dire difficulties. It is astonishing to hear that Raymond could still speak of himself as the leader of a hundred thousand warriors, when he refused flatly to do homage to the Greek emperor.
Refusal of Raymond to do homage.
The count of Toulouse scarcely regarded himself as the vassal even of the French king. He was ready, he said, to be the friend of Alexios on equal terms; but he would not declare himself to be his man. On this point he was immovable, although Bohemond tried the effect of a threat, which was never forgiven, that if the quarrel came to blows, he should be found on the side of the emperor.
But Alexios soon saw that in Raymond he had to deal with an enthusiast as sincere and persistent as Godfrey. He took his measures accordingly, and winning the heart of the old warrior, although he failed to compel his obedience, he confessed to him his dislike of the rude and noisy habits of the Franks and his deep-seated fears of Bohemond. The admiration of Anna Comnena was as great as the esteem professed for him by her father. Raymond in her fervent language shone among the barbarians as the sun among the stars of heaven.
Conduct of Alexios to the crusaders.
While Alexios was thus busied in dealing with Godfrey and Raymond, Bohemond and Tancred, he was not less anxiously occupied with the task of sending across the Bosporos the swarms which might soon become an army of devouring locusts round his own capital.
A.D. 1097. March.
It was easier to give them a welcome than to get rid of them: and more than two months had passed since Christmas, when the followers of Godfrey found themselves on the soil of Asia. It was well to place even a narrow strait of sea between himself and these dangerous friends, who had threatened him at first with all the horrors of savage war. The rumour had got abroad that Alexios meant to hem them in among marshes, and leave them there to starve; and an assault of the crusaders on the suburbs showed the emperor what he might expect, if these suspicions were not quieted.
Passage of the Crusaders across the Bosporos.
Probably he had not intended to entrap them to their death: but he had felt less scruple in submitting them to cheatings with debased coin and to extortions which carried with them no sense of novelty for his own people. Even these he found it politic to abandon, and so zealously did he employ an opposite method that for the time the crusaders seemed to have become his mercenaries.
Godfrey’s men had no sooner been landed on the eastern side of the Bosporos, than all the vessels which had transported them were brought back to the western shore. With great astuteness, and at the cost of large gifts, Alexios in like manner freed the neighbourhood of his capital from the invading multitudes. As fast as they came, they were hurried across, and the emperor breathed more freely when, on the feast of Pentecost, not a single Latin pilgrim remained on the European shore.
Thorough antagonism between the Crusaders and the Greeks.
The danger of conflict had throughout been imminent; and the danger arose, not so much from the fact that the crusaders were armed men, marching through the country of professed allies, but from the thorough antagonism between Greeks and Latins in modes of thought and habits of life, in the first notions of civilisation, law, and duty.
For the Greeks feudalism was a thing of the remote past; in other words, was a thing unknown. To get at a state resembling that of Western Europe they would have had to go back for nearly twenty centuries – to the days of Solon and of the Thessalian and Theban nobility, who were among the most efficient allies of Xerxes.
For the crusading armies or rather for their chiefs (of the common herd there was no need to take any account), nothing was so hateful as a central authority which pressed on all orders in the state alike: nothing was so precious as local tyranny and the right of private war, which respected neither person nor property.
For the subjects of the Eastern empire the protection of person and property was everything, and in order to secure this they were willing to put up with a large amount of oppression and of corruption in their governors. In a sense not so high perhaps as that which the words bore in the days of Herodotos, law was still their king; and of public law the Latins could scarcely be said to have any conception.
Contrast between the Greek and Latin clergy.
Nor must we forget the vast gulf which separated the Eastern from the Western clergy. The latter were now becoming well broken into the yoke of celibacy which had been finally thrust upon them by Peter Damiani and Hildebrand; for the former marriage was valid, if it preceded the reception of their orders. The Latin clergy had by this change been converted into a close order or caste, which looked up to the Roman pontiff as their head and hated the thought of allegiance to any temporal ruler.
This empire within an empire was an idea which had not dawned on the Greek or the Eastern mind; and the clergy of the West despised their brethren of the East for their cowardly submission to the secular arm. These, in their turn, shrank with horror from the sight of bishops, priests, and monks riding with blood-stained weapons over fields of battle, and exhibiting at other times an ignorance equal to their ferocity. Harmony between nations and races under such conditions is as hopeless as the voluntary mingling of oil and water; and the result of contact was an exasperation of the suspicion, jealousy, and hatred which the one side felt instinctively for the supposed treachery, lying, and violence of the other.
Numbers of the Crusaders.
Thus was gathered on the eastern shores of the Hellespont and the Bosporos a host, we may well believe, more vast than that which Xerxes drove before him for the invasion of Europe, and leaving behind it in utter insignificance the scanty force with which Alexander attempted and achieved the conquest of Asia.
When tribes or a nation pour out their whole population, men, women, and children alike, there is practically no limit to the numbers which may be set in motion; nor is it any tax on our credulity to believe that a hundred thousand horsemen, fully armed in the light coats of mail worn during the first crusading age, were marshalled on the Bithynian plains, even if we put aside as an absurd exaggeration the notion of the chaplain of Count Baldwin, that the whole body of the crusaders amounted to not less than six hundred thousand.
June. Siege and fall of Nice (Nikaia).
Their strength and valour were soon to be tested. They were now face to face with the Turks on whose cowardice Urban II. had enlarged with so much complacency before the council of Clermont. The Sultan David, or Kilidje Arslan (p. 41), placed his family and treasures in his capital city of Nice (Nikaia), and retreated with 50,000 horsemen to the mountains, whence he swooped down from time to time on the outposts of the Christians.
By these his city was formally invested; and for seven weeks it was assailed to little purpose by the old instruments of Roman warfare, while some of the besiegers shot their weapons from the hill on which were mouldering the bones of the fanatic followers of Peter. It was protected to the west by the Askanian lake, and so long as the Turks had command of this lake they felt themselves safe. But Alexios sent thither on sledges a large number of boats, and the city, subjected to a double blockade, submitted to the emperor, who was in no way anxious to see the crusaders masters of the place. The crusaders were making ready for the last assault, when they saw the imperial banner floating on the walls.
Their disappointment at the escape of the miscreants, or unbelievers, for so they delighted to speak of them, was vented in threats which seemed to bode a renewal of the old troubles: but Alexios, with gifts which added force to his words, professed that his only desire now, as it had been, was to forward them safely on their journey. Nor had they to go many stages before they found themselves again confronted with their adversary.
July 4. Battle of Dorylaion.
The conflict took place near the Phrygian Dorylaion, and seemed at first to portend dire defeat to the crusaders. More than once the issue of the day seemed to be turned by the indomitable personal bravery of the Norman Robert, of Tancred, and of Bohemond; and when even those seemed likely to be borne down, they received timely succours from Godfrey, and Hugh of Vermandois, from bishop Adhemar of Puy and from Raymond count of Toulouse.
Still the Turks held out, and it seemed likely that they would long hold out, when the appearance of the last division of Raymond’s army filled them with the fear that a new host was upon them.
March to Cogni and the Pisidian Antioch.
The crusaders had won a considerable victory. Three thousand knights belonging to the enemy had been slain, and Kilidje Arslan was hurrying away to enlist the services of his kinsmen. Meanwhile, the Latin hosts were sweeping onwards, passing Cogni (Ikonion, Iconium), Erekli (Herakleia), and the Pisidian Antioch. Their dangers were great; their sufferings terrible. The son of Kilidje Arslan had hurried on before them with ten thousand horsemen, and declared before the gates of each city that they came as conquerors, not as fugitives.
They had ravaged the lands as they came along; in the town they sacked the churches, plundered the houses, emptied the granaries; and the crusaders who followed them had to journey over a naked soil under the burning Phrygian sun. Hundreds died from the heat and dogs or goats took the place of the baggage horses which had perished.
Quarrel between Baldwin and Tancred at Tarsus
At length Tancred with his troop found himself before Tarsus, the birthplace and the home of that single-hearted apostle who long ago had preached a gospel strangely unlike the creed of the crusaders.
Following rapidly behind him, Baldwin saw with keen jealousy the banner of the Italian chief floating on its towers, and insisted on taking the precedence. Tancred pleaded the choice of the people and his own promise to protect them; but the intrigues of Baldwin changed their humour, and the rejection of Tancred by the men of Tar sus was followed by an attempt at private war between Tancred and Baldwin, in which the troops of Tancred were overborne.
So early was the first harvest of murderous discord reaped among the holy warriors of the cross. It was ruin, however, to stay where they were; and the main army again began its march, to undergo once more the old monotony of hardship and peril.
Conquest of Edessa by Baldwin.
A very small force would have sufficed to disorganise and rout them as they clambered over the defiles of Mount Taurus; nor could Raymond, recovering from a terrible illness, or Godfrey, suffering from wounds inflicted by a bear, have done much to help them. But for the present their enemies were dismayed; and Baldwin, brother of Godfrey, hastened with eagerness to obey a summons which besought him to aid the Greek or Armenian tyrant of Edessa.
As Alexios had done to his brother, so this chief welcomed Baldwin as his son; but Baldwin, having once entered into the city, cared nothing for the means which had brought him thither, and the death of his adoptive father was followed by the establishment at Edessa of a Latin principality which lasted for fifty-four, or, as some have thought, forty-seven years. Baldwin had anticipated the unconditional surrender of Samosata; but the Turkish governor had some of the Edessenes in his power, and he refused to give up the city except on the payment of ten thousand gold pieces. The Turk shortly afterwards fell into Baldwin’s hands, and was put to death.
The goddess Hera, determined to destroy Heracles, had unleashed a monstrous lion she had raised and sent to terrorize the hills of Nemea. The offspring of Echidna and Typhon, and the brother of the dragon Ladon, this lion was officially trained and settled on Earth to be a menace to mankind. It had golden fur that was robust and impenetrable by human weapons, and sharper than mortal swords. This lion could destroy any strong armour making it invulnerable to attack and effectively unstoppable, a formidable opponent for anyone who dared to face it.Continue reading “Demigod (Part 2 – The Lion of Nemea)”
THE COUNCIL OF CLERMONT.
Epochs of Modern History: The CrusadesG.W. Cox
Influence of Roman Imperialism on the Early Popes
THE pope is the bishop of Rome, and the traditions of the papacy delight in recalling the humble origin of his vast monarchy, at once spiritual and temporal, ecclesiastical and secular. If the poor Galiæan fisherman ever entered the Eternal City, it was as a stranger who had come to be the guide and friend of a small knot of men who saw and hated and wished to keep themselves aloof from the abominable corruption of Roman society.Continue reading “The Crusades (Chapter 2)”
All myths and legends are connected to reality in some way, rooted in truth primarily as a storytelling technique employed by ancient and modern societies in an attempt to understand the universe around them, and to explain and justify things like morality, virtues, suffering, death, love, and war.Continue reading “Demigod (Part 1 – Hera’s Wrath)”
CAUSES LEADING TO THE CRUSADES.
Epochs of Modern History: The CrusadesG.W. Cox
THE Crusades were a series of popular wars, waged by men who wore on their garments the badge of the Cross as a pledge binding them to rescue the Holy Land, and the Sepulchre of Christ from the grasp of the unbeliever.
A.D 1095, November
The dream of such an enterprise had long floated before the minds of keen-sighted popes and passionate enthusiasts: it was realised for the first time when, after listening to the burning eloquence of Urban II. at the council of Clermont, the assembled multitude with one voice welcomed the sacred war as the will of God.
If we regard this undertaking as the simple expression of popular feeling stirred to its inmost depths, we may ascribe to the struggle to which they thus committed themselves a character wholly unlike that of any ear her wars waged in Christendom, or by the powers of Christendom against enemies who lay beyond its pale. Statesmen (whether popes, kings, or dukes) might have availed themselves eagerly of the overwhelming impulse imparted by the preaching of Peter the Hermit to passions long pent up; but no authority of pope, emperor, or king, could suffice of itself to open the floodgates for the waters which might sweep away the infidel.
In this sense only were men stirred, whether at the council of Piacenza in 1094 or in that of Clermont, to a strife of a wholly new kind. If Urban II. gave his blessing to the missionaries who were to convert the Saracens at the point of the sword, the papal benediction had been given nearly thirty years before at the instigation of Hildebrand to the expedition by which the Norman William hoped to crush the free English people and usurp the throne of the king whom they had chosen.
Distinction between the Crusades and other wars of the Middle Ages
But the movement of the Norman duke against England was merely the work of a sovereign well awake of his own interest and confident in the methods by which he chose to promote it. Under the sacred standard sent to him by Pope Alexander II. he gathered, indeed, a motley host of adventurers; but the enthusiasm by which these may have fancied themselves to be animated had reference chiefly perhaps to the broad acres to which they looked forward as their recompense. The great gulf which separated such an undertaking from the crusade of the hermit Peter lay in the conviction, deep even to fanaticism, that the wearers of the Cross had before them an enterprise in which failure, disaster, and death were not less blessed, not less objects of envy and longing than the most brilliant conquests and the most splendid triumphs.
They were hastening to the land where their Divine Master had descended from his throne in heaven to take on Himself the form of man- where for years the everlasting Son of the Almighty Father had patiently toiled, healing the sick, comforting the afflicted, and raising the dead, until at length He carried his own Cross up the height of Calvary, and having offered up bis perfect sacrifice, put off the garments of his humiliation when the earthquake shattered the prison-house of his sepulchre.
For them the whole land had been rendered holy by the tread of his sacred feet: and the pilgrim who had traced the scenes of his life from his cradle at Bethlehem to the spot of his ascent from Olivet, might sing the Nune dimittis, as having with his own eyes seen the divine salvation.
Absence of local feeling in the earliest Christian traditions.
Thus the crusade preached by Peter the Hermit, and solemnly sanctioned by Pope Urban, was rendered possible by the combination of papal authority with an irresistible popular conviction. That papal authority was the necessary result of the old imperial tradition of Rome; the popular conviction was the growth of a tendency which had characterised every religion professed by Aryan or Semitic nations; and both these causes were wholly unconnected with the teaching of Christ and of his disciples, as it is set before us in the New Testament.
Far from ascribing special sanctity to any one spot over another, the emphatic declaration that the hour was come in which men should worship the Father not merely in Jerusalem or on the Samaritan mountain, proclaimed a gospel which taught that al] men in all places are alike near to God in whom they live, move, and have their being.
If we turn to the narrative which relates the Acts of the Apostles, we shall find not a sign of the feeling which regards Bethlehem, Jerusalem, or Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, or the banks of the Jordan, as places which of themselves should awaken any enthusiastic or passionate feeling.
The thoughts of the disciples, if we confine ourselves to this record, were absorbed with more immediate and momentous concerns, Before their generation should pass away, the Son of Man would return to judgement, and the dead should be summoned from their graves to his awful tribunal. Hence any vehement longing for one spot of earth over another was wretchedly out of place for those who held that the time was short and that it behoved those who had wives to be as though they had none, those that bought as though they possessed not, and those that wept and rejoiced as though they wept and rejoiced not.
Nay, more, with a feeling almost approaching to impatience, the great apostle of the Gentiles could put aside the yearnings of a weaker sentiment and declare that although he had known Christ in the flesh, yet henceforth he would so know Him no more,
The Christianity of St. Paul
The image, therefore, of the great founder of Christianity was for him purely spiritual. In the letters which he wrote to the churches formed by his converts, there is not a sign that the thought or the sight of Bethlehem or Nazareth would awaken in him any deeper feeling than places wholly destitute of historical associations. If he speaks of Jerusalem, he never implies that it had for him any special sanctity. His mission was to preach a faith altogether independent of time and place, and not only not needing but even rejecting the sensuous aid afforded by visible memorials of the Master whom he loved.
The Christianity of the Roman Empire.
Such was the Christianity of St. Paul, and with such weapons, it went forth to assail and throw down the strongholds of heathenism. Three centuries later we behold Christianity as dominant as the religion of the Roman Empire, but in its outward aspect and in its practical working it has undergone a vast and significant change. It cannot be supposed that this change was wrought at once by the mere fact of its recognition by the temporal power. The endless debates, which fill the history of early Christianity, on the relations of the Persons of the Trinity and on the mystery of the Incarnation, may to some degree have helped to fix the minds of men on the land where the Saviour had lived, and on the several scenes of his ministry; but this alone would never have sufficed to work the revolution which Christianity has manifestly undergone, even before we reach the age of Constantine.
The victory won over heathenism, if not merely nominal, was at best partial. The religion of the empire knew nothing of the One Eternal God, who demands from all men a spontaneous submission to his righteous law, and bids them find their highest good in his divine love. That religion rested on the might of the Capitoline Jupiter and the visible majesty of the Emperor; but the real influences which were at work from the first to modify the Christianity of St. Paul lay in the lower strata of society, in the modes of thought and feeling prevalent among the masses who furnished the converts of the first two or three centuries. In these converts we cannot doubt that there was wrought a real change,—a change manifests chiefly in the conviction that the divine law is binding on all, and that the state of things in the Roman world was unspeakably shameful.
In the Jesus whom Paul preached, they beheld the righteous teacher who condemned the iniquities of godless rulers and a corrupt people, the avenger of their unjust deeds, the loving Redeemer in whose arms the weary and heavy-laden might find rest, the awful Judge who should be seen at the end of the world on his great white throne, with all the kindreds of mankind awaiting their doom before Him. The personal human love thus kindled in them turned only into a different channel thoughts and feelings which it would need centuries to root out,
Localism of heathen religions.
These thoughts and feelings had been fed by that tendency to localise incidents in the supposed history of gods or heroes which is the most prominent characteristic of all heathen religions; and of the vast crowd of these heathen religions or superstitions, there was if we may trust the statements of Roman writers, scarcely one which had not its adherents and votaries at Rome.
Here were gathered the priests and worshippers of the Egyptian Isis, the virgin mother of Osiris, the god who rose again after his crucifixion to gladden the earth with his splendour; here might be seen the adorers of the Persian sun-god Mithras, born at the winter solstice, and growing in strength until he wins his victory over the powers of darkness after the vernal equinox.
But this idea of the death and resurrection of the lord of light was no new importation brought in by the theology of Egypt or Persia. The story of the Egyptian Osiris was repeated in the Greek stories of Sarpedon and Memnon, of Tithonos and Asklepios (Aesculapius), of the Teutonic Baldur and Woden (Odin). The birthplace of these deities, the scenes associated with their traditional exploits, became holy spots, each with its own consecrating legends, and not a few attracting to themselves vast gatherings of pilgrims.
Influence of these local religions on Christianity.
It was not wonderful therefore that the worshippers of these or other like gods should, on professing the faith of Christ, carry with them all that they could retain of their old belief without utterly contradicting the new; that his nativity should be celebrated at the time when the sun begins to rise in the heavens, and his resurrection when the victory of light over darkness is achieved in the spring,
The worshipper of the Egyptian Amoun, the ram, carried his old associations with him when he became a follower of the Lamb of God; and the burst of light which heralded the return of the Maiden to the Mourning Mother in the Greek mysteries of Eleusis was reproduced in the miracle still repeated year by year by the patriarch of Jerusalem when he announces the descent of the sacred fire in the sepulchre of Christ.
Growth of local association in Palestine.
Thus for the Christians of the third century, if not of the second, Judea or Palestine became a holy land; and with the growth of devotion to the human person of Christ grew the feeling of reverence for every place which He had visited and every memorial which He had left behind Him. The impulse once given soon became irresistible. Every incident of the gospel narratives was associated with some particular spot, and the certainty of the verification was never questioned by the thousands who felt that the sight of these places brought them nearer to heaven and was in itself a purification of their souls.
They could follow the Redeemer from the cave in which He was born and where the Wise Men of the East laid before Him their royal offerings, to the mount from which He uttered his blessings on the pure, the merciful, and the peacemakers, and thence to the other mount on which He offered his perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
The spots associated with his passion, his burial, his resurrection, called forth emotions of passionate veneration which were intensified by the alleged discovery of the cross on which He had suffered, together with the two crosses on which the thieves had been condemned to die.
If the presence of the tablet containing the title inscribed by Pontius Pilate still left it uncertain to which of the crosses that tablet belonged, and to which therefore the homage of the faithful should be paid, all doubt was removed when a woman at the point of death on whom the touch of two of these crosses had no effect was restored to strength and youth by the touch of the third.
Growth of pilgrimage to the holy places of Palestine
The splendid churches raised by the devout zeal of Constantine and his mother Helena over the cave at Bethlehem and the sepulchre at Jerusalem became for the Christians that which the Temple had been to the Jew, or the sacred stone at Mecca and the tomb of the prophet at Medina became afterwards for the followers of Islam, nor can we be surprised if the emperor whose previous life had been marked by special devotion to the Greek and Roman sun-god transferred the characteristics of Apollon (Apollo) to the meek and merciful Jesus whose teaching to the last he utterly misapprehended.
The purpose which drew to Palestine the long lines of pilgrims, which each year increased in numbers, was not the mere aimless love of wandering which is supposed to furnish the motive for Tartar pilgrimages in our own as in former ages, The Aryan, so far as we know, was never a nomadic race; but we can understand the eagerness even of a stationary population to undertake a long and dangerous journey, if the mere making of it should insure the remission of their sins.
Nothing less than this was the pilgrim led to expect, who had traversed land and sea to bathe in the Jordan and offer up his prayers at the birthplace and tomb of his Master. A few men, of keener discernment and wider culture, might see the mischiefs lurking in this belief, and protest against the superstition.
Augustine, the great doctor whose ‘Confessions’ have made his name familiar to thousands who know nothing of his life or teaching, might bid Christians remember that righteousness was not to be sought in the East nor mercy in the West, and that voyages are useless to carry us to Him with whom g hearty faith makes us immediately present. In these protests he might be upheld by men like Gregory of Nyssa and Jerome; but Jerome, while he dwelt on the uselessness of pilgrimage and the absurdity of supposing chat prayers offered in one place could be more acceptable than the same prayers offered in another, took up his abode in a cave at Bethlehem, and there discoursed to Roman ladies, who had crossed the sea to listen to his splendid eloquence.
Heaven, he insisted, was as accessible from Britain as from Palestine: but his actions contradicted his words, and his example exercised a more potent influence than his precept.
Gradual decay of spiritual religion.
The purely spiritual faith on which Jerome laid stress was as much beyond the spirit of the age as the moral feelings of a later age were behind those of the woman who in the crusade of St. Louis was seen carrying in her right hand a porringer of fire, and in her left a bottle of water. With the fire she wished, as Joinville tells us, to burn paradise, with the water to drown hell, so that none might do good for the reward of the one, nor avoid evil from fear of the other since every good ought to be done from the perfect and sincere love which man owes to his Creator, who is the supreme good. Such a tone of thought was in ludicrous discord with the temper which brought Jerome himself to Bethlehem, and which soon began to fill the land with those who had nothing of Jerome’s culture and the sobriety which in whatever degree must spring from it.
Encouragement given to pilgrimages.
The contagion spread. From almost every country of Europe, wanderers took their way to Palestine, under the conviction that the shirt which they wore when they entered the holy city would, if laid by to be used as their winding sheet, convey them (like the carpet of Solomon in the Arabian tale) at once to heaven, An enterprise so laudable roused the sympathy and quickened the charity of the faithful. The pilgrim seldom lacked food and shelter, and houses of repose or entertainment were raised for his comfort on the stages of his journey as well as in the city which was the goal of his pilgrimage.
Here he was welcomed in the costly house which had been raised for his reception by the munificence of Pope Gregory the Great. If he died during his absence, his kinsfolk envied rather than bewailed his lot; if he returned, he had their reverence as one who had washed away his sins, and still more perhaps as one who had brought away in his wallet relics of value so vast and of virtue so great that the touch of them made the journey to Palestine almost a superfluous ceremony.
Trade in relics.
Wherever these pilgrims went, these fragments of the true cross might be found; and the happy faith of those who gave in exchange for them more than their weight in gold never stopped to think that the barren log which was supposed to have produced them must have spread abroad its branches wider than the most magnificent cedar in Libanus.
Nor probably even in the earliest ages, was the traffic consequent on these pilgrimages confined to holy things.
Stimulus given by pilgrimages to commerce with the East.
The Ease was not only the cradle of Christianity, but a land rich in spices and silks, in gold and jewels: and the keen-sighted merchant, looking to solid profits on earth, followed closely on the steps of the devotee who sought his reward in heaven.
The long struggle between Rome and Persia.
The first interruption to the peaceful and prosperous fortunes of pilgrims and merchants was caused by one of the periodical ebbs and flows which for nearly seven hundred years had marked the struggle between the powers of Persia and of Rome. The kings of the restored Persian kingdom had striven to avenge on the West the wrongs committed by Alexander the Great, if not those even of earlier invaders; and the enterprise which Khosru Nushirvan had taken in hand was carried on forty years later by his grandson Khosru (Chosroes) II.
Capture of Jerusalem by the Persian king, Khosru II.
Almost at the outset of his irresistible course, Jerusalem fell, nor was it the fault of the Persians that the great churches of Helena and Constantine were not destroyed utterly by fire.
Ninety thousand Christians, it is said, were put to death: but, according to the feeling of the age, a greater loss was sustained in the carrying off of the true cross into Persia.
Persian invasion of Egypt.
From Palestine, the wave of Persian conquest spread southward into Egypt, and the greatness of Khosru seemed to be unbounded when from an unknown citizen of Mecca he received the bidding to acknowledge the unity of the Godhead and to own Mahomet as the prophet of God.
The Persian king tore the letter to pieces, and the man of Mecca, whose successors were to carry the crescent to Jerusalem and Damascus, to the banks of the Nile and the mountains of Spain, warned him that his kingdom should be treated as he had treated his letter.
Campaigns of the Emperor Heraclius
For the present, the signs of this catastrophe were not to be seen. The Roman emperor was compelled to sign an ignominious peace and to pay a yearly tribute to the sovereign of Persia. But Heraclius (Herakleios) woke suddenly from the sluggishness which marked the earlier years of his reign.
A.D. 622 – 625
The Persians were defeated among the defiles of Mount Taurus, and the destruction of the birthplace of Zoroaster offered some compensation for the mischief done to the churches of Helena and Constantine.
A.D. 627 Battle of Nineveh
Two years later the Roman emperor carried his arms into the heart of the enemy’s land; and during the battle of Nineveh, in which he won a splendid victory, he slew with his own hands the Persian general Rhazates. Khosru fled across the Tigris; but he could not escape from the plots of his son, and his death in a dungeon ended the glories of the Sassanid dynasty, under whom the Persian power had, in the third century of our era, revived from the death-sleep into which it had sunk after the conquests of Alexander.
A.D. 628 Restoration of the true cross by the Persians
With Siroes, the son and murderer of Khosru, the Roman emperor concluded a peace which not merely delivered all his subjects from captivity, but repaired the loss which the church of the Holy Sepulchre had sustained by the theft of the true Restoration cross. The great object of pilgrimage was thus restored to Jerusalem, and thither Heraclius (Herakleios) during the following year betook himself to pay his vows of thanksgiving.
A.D. 629. Pilgrimage of Heraclius to Jerusalem
With the pageant which marked this ceremony, the splendour of his reign was closed. Before his death, the followers of Mahomet had deprived him of the provinces which he had wrested from the Persians.
A.D. 637. Conquest of Palestine by Omar.
Eight years only had passed after the visit of Heraclius (Herakleios) to Jerusalem, when the armies which had already seized Damascus advanced to the siege of the Holy City. A blockade of four months convinced the patriarch Sophronios that there was no hope of withstanding the force of Islam: but he demanded the presence of the caliph himself at the ratification of the treaty which was to secure a second sacred capital to the disciples of the Prophet.
After some debate his request was granted; and Omar, who on the death of Abubekr had been chosen as the vicegerent of Mahomed, set out from Medina on a camel, which carried for him his leathern water-bottle, his bags of corn and dates, and his wooden dish.
Terms of the treaty made by Omar with the Christians and Jerusalem.
The terms imposed by the caliph sufficiently marked the subjection of the Christians, but they imposed no severe hardships and perhaps showed a large toleration. The Christians were to build no new churches, and they were to admit Mahomedans into those which they already had, whether by day or by night. The cross was no longer to be seen on the exterior of their buildings or to be paraded in the streets. The church bells should be tolled only, not rung. The use of saddles and of weapons was altogether interdicted, and the Christians, distinguished from their conquerors by their attire, were to show their respect for the latter by rising up to them if they were sitting. On these conditions, the Christians were not only to be safe in their persons and fortunes but undisturbed in the exercise of their religion and in the use of their churches.
Omar and the patriarch Sophronios.
For the observance of this last stipulation, the rugged and uncouth conqueror showed a greater care than the patriarch who regarded his presence in the church of the Resurrection as the abomination of desolation in the holy place.
The hour of prayer came, and Omar asked Sophronios where he might offer his devotion ‘Here,’ answered the patriarch; but Omar positively refused, and repeated his refusal when he was led away into the church of Constantine. At last, he knelt down on the steps outside that church and afterwards told the patriarch that had he worshipped within the building, the document securing its use to the Christians would have been worthless.
His words were verified by the zeal of his followers, who insisted on inclosing within a mosque the steps on which he had prayed: but the mosque which bears Omar’s name rose over the great sacrificial altar of the temple, which passed for Jacob’s stone.
Effects of Arabian conquest on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
This second conquest may have again checked the rush of pilgrims to the Holy Land; but the difficulties which it placed in their way only added to the glory and the benefits of the enterprise: and, after all, the victory of Omar did little more than share the holy city between two races each of which acknowledged its sanctity and reverenced the relics of the righteous men whose bodies reposed beneath its sacred soil. Nor had the Christians any stronger ground of complaint than that the Saviour whom they worshipped was regarded by their conquerors as a prophet if not equal, only inferior, to the founder of Islam.
Uninterrupted continuance of pilgrimage.
Nearly four centuries had passed away after the submission of Sophronios to Omar; and during this long series of generations the West had without let or hindrance sent forth its troops of pilgrims, in whose train merchants may have found sources of profit for more worldly callings.
If the palmy days during which the wanderers might regard themselves as practically lords of the land through which they travelled had passed away, they underwent at the worst nothing which could greatly excite their anger or rouse the indignation of Christendom.
A.D. 1010. Ravages of the Egyptian Caliph Hakem in Jerusalem.
Nor was this state of things materially changed by the furious onslaught of Hakem the mad Fatimite caliph of Egypt, when spurred on by a bigotry unknown to his predecessors, he resolved to destroy the Christian sanctuary in Jerusalem.
The rule of these earlier sovereigns of Egypt had been more beneficial to the Christians than that of the Abbasside caliphs of Bagdad. But Hakem cared nothing for the worldly interests of his kingdom or of the profits to be derived from trade with the unbeliever, and his soldiers were busied on the dignified task of demolishing the church of the Resurrection, and attempts to destroy with their hammers the very cave in which, as it was supposed, the body of the Saviour had been laid, In this task they had but a very partial success, and to Hakem probably the suspension for a single year of the descent of the sacred fire scarcely outweighed the risks of a combined attack from the maritime powers of Christendom.
Persecution of Jews in Europe.
For the present no such alliance was threatened; but a cruel persecution of the Jews in many Christian cities was a symptom of the temper which was placing a great gulf between men who professed nevertheless to worship the same Almighty Father.
Tax levied on pilgrims to enter the gates of Jerusalem.
After this violent but transient storm, the condition of the pilgrims became much what it had been before, except that a toll was now levied on each pilgrim before he was suffered to enter the gates of Jerusalem; but this impost may have been rather welcomed than resented by the Christians, as it gave to the richer among them an opportunity of discharging it for their poorer brethren, and so of securing for themselves a higher degree of merit. The world, too, seemed to have taken a new lease of existence, and everything appeared to promise a long continuance of comparative peace.
A.D. 1000 Expectations of the end of the world.
Ten years before, all Christendom was fluttering with the expectation of immediate judgement. At the close of the millennium, which came to an end with the year 1000, a belief almost universal looked forward to the summons which would call the dead from their graves and cut short the course of a weary and sin-laden world. But the tale of years had been completed, the sun continued to rise and set as it had risen and set before, and the flood of pilgrims soon began to stream towards the East in greater volume than ever.
Men of all ranks and classes left their homes to offer up their prayers at the tomb of Christ; bishops abandoned their dioceses, princes their dominions, to visit the scenes where the Redeemer had suffered and where He had achieved his triumph. More numerous, more earnest, more than all, were the Franks or the Frenchmen, whose name became henceforth in the East the common designation of all Europeans.
For the weak and the inexperienced, for the women and the youths, who pledged themselves to the enterprise, there might be special and grave dangers; nor were the strongest assured against serious, if not fatal, disasters. With thirty horsemen fully equipped, Ingulf, a secretary of William the Conqueror, set out on his journey to the Holy Land. Of these twenty returned on foot, with no other possessions than their wallet and their staff. But their losses had been caused probably by no human enemies, and the men who had died could claim the credit of martyrdom only in the sense in which it is accorded to the Holy Innocents massacred by the decree of Herod.
A.D. 997 Conversion of Hungary under King Stephen.
On the whole, the difficulties of the enterprise were as much smoothed down as in a rude and ill-governed age they could well be. The conversion of Hungary opened a safe highway across the heart of Europe, and the pilgrims had a defender, as well as a friend, in St. Stephen, the apostle of his kingdom.
But a change far greater than that which had been wrought by Omar was to be effected by a power which had been working its way from the distant East and menacing the existence of the empire itself.
Advance of the Seljuk Turks.
From the deserts of central Asia, the Seljukian Turks had advanced westwards, overrunning the kingdoms of the Persian empire, and subjugating Asia Minor, the inheritance of the Caesars of Rome.
A.D, 1092. Division of the Seljukian empire.
In this task, they received no slight help from the neutrality of a great part of the Christian population, in whom financial exactions and ecclesiastical tyranny had awakened feelings of strong discontent, if not of burning indignation. The rulers of Byzantium had, indeed, done all that they could to make the way smooth for the invaders. The accumulation of land in the hands of a few owners had dangerously diminished the number of inhabitants; nor was it long before the Turks were in a majority throughout Cappadocia, Phrygia, and Galatia, and were enabled successfully to resist the crusading hosts in countries which they had conquered but as yesterday.
The Seljukian sovereigns who had advanced thus far on the road to Constantinople chose as their abode the city of Nice (Nikaia, Nicsea) in which the first general council of Christendom had defined the Catholic faith on the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity.
Here these fierce invaders proclaimed the mission of Mahomet as the prophet of God and issued the decrees which assigned Christian churches to profanation or destruction, and Christian youths and maidens to a disgraceful and shameful slavery.
Appeal of the Greek Emperor Alexios to Western Christendom.
Mountains visible from the dome of Sancta Sophia were already within the borders of Turkish territory. The danger seemed imminent, and Alexios, the Emperor of the East, invoked the aid of Latin Christendom: but the fire was not yet kindled, and for the time his appeal was made in vain.
A.D. 1076 Seljukian conquest of Jerusalem.
No long time, however, had passed before the Seljukian Toucush was master of Jerusalem; and the Christians learnt to their cost that servitude to the fierce wanderers from the northern deserts was very different from submission to the rugged and uncultured Omar.
Increased burdens and the Christian
The lawful toll levied on the pilgrims gave way before a system of extortion and violent robbery carried out in every part of the land, and the mere journey to Jerusalem involved dangers from which the bravest might well shrink. Insults to the persons of the pilgrim were accompanied by insults, harder to be borne, offered to the holy places and to those who ministered in them The sacred offices were savagely interrupted, and the patriarch, dragged by his hair along the pavement, was thrown into a dungeon, pending the payment of an exorbitant ransom.
Decline of commerce with the East.
For the pilgrims themselves, there might be dangers as they made their way through Europe: but these were increased tenfold on the eastern side of the Hellespont. Thus far they had journeyed in comparative security, and the merchants who sought to combine profit with devotion added to that security by their numbers and their prudence.
The Easter fair of Jerusalem had drawn to the ports of Palestine the fleets of Genoa and Pisa and had sufficiently rewarded the munificence of the merchants of Amalfi, the founders of the hospital of St. John. But commerce has no liking for perils of flood and field: and with the risk of disaster these fleets disappeared and the caravans were confined to those for whom the sanctuary of Jerusalem was a goal to be reached at all costs.
Oppression of the Christians of Palestine.
These went forth still by hundreds; they returned by tens or units to recount the miseries and wanton cruelties which they had undergone and to draw fearful pictures of the savage tyranny exercised over the Christians of Jerusalem and of the East generally. The church of Christ was in the iron grasp of the infidel, and the blood of his martyrs cried aloud for vengeance.
General indignation felt in Western Christendom.
Throughout the length and breadth of Christendom a fierce indignation felt was stirring the hearts of men, and the pent-up waters needed only guidance to rush forth as a flood over the lands defiled by the unbeliever, But unless the enterprise was to run to waste in random efforts, it must have the solemn sanction of religion.
The people might be ready, but popular fury acting by itself will soon spend its strength like the hurrying tempest, Princes might be willing for a time to abandon their dominions, but the pressure of difficulties abroad and at home would soon make them grow weary of the task.
Need of a religious sanction to sustain and direct this feeling.
There must be a constraining power; to keep them to their vows by sanctions which stretched beyond the present life to the life after death; and these sanctions could come only from him who held the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whose seat was the feeling rock of Peter, Prince of the Apostles.