People of the First Crusade: The Truth About the Christian-Muslim War Revealed
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Near the end of the eleventh century, Western Europe was in turmoil, beset by invasions from both north and south, by the breakdown of law and order, and by the laxity and ignorance of the clergy. Searching for a way out of the increasing anarchy, Pope Urban II launched an army of knights and peasants in 1095 to fight the Turks, who had seized the Holy Land.
Michael Foss tells the stories of these men and women of the First Crusade, often in their own words, bringing the time and events brilliantly to life. Through these eyewitness accounts the clichés of history vanish; the distinctions between hero and villain blur; the Saracen is as base or noble, as brave or cruel, as the crusader. In that sense, the fateful clash between Christianity and Islam teaches us a lesson for our own time. Foss reveals that the attitudes and prejudices expressed by both Christians and Muslims in the First Crusade became the basic currency for all later exchanges—down to our present day conflicts and misunderstandings—between the two great monotheistic faiths of Mohammed and Jesus Christ.
in theory at least, closed to all armed quarrels and private acts of war. Urban saw that voluntary pacts, like the Peace and the Truce of God, had little success in putting a stop to the dangerous but profitable life of war. In the storm of the times there was easy plunder to be gained amid the wreck and flotsam of damaged communities, but it seemed also to Urban that these agreements, weak though they were, indicated a mood of soul-searching within Christian society. They were a recognition of
perhaps to establish his pre-eminence, Hugh the Great (as he was known) hurried down the leg of Italy to Bari and immediately took ship. ‘He landed,’ wrote Fulcher of Chartres, ‘at the city of Durazzo with his own men. But having imprudently departed with only a scant army, he was seized by the citizens there and brought to the Emperor Alexius at Constantinople, where he was detained for a considerable time, not altogether free.’ It was a warning. Life in the eastern lands of Europe, where
Turks. The other troops, seeing the bold banner carried so bravely, stopped their retreat at once. Then all our men together rushed the amazed Turks and put them to flight, pursuing and massacring them right up to the Orontes bridge. The Turks fled to their fort, looted it, set fire to it, and ran away. Then the Armenians and the Syrians, seeing this complete defeat of the Turks, came creeping forth and laid ambushes in the wild passes, killing or taking many of the enemy. Thus, by the will of
after these rogues. He had all sorts of burning material heaped at the entrances of their caves and set on fire, to force them to surrender or else the dense smoke would suffocate them. And this is what happened, for unable to endure the heat and the all-pervading smoke the robbers came out choking and gave themselves up. Without mercy, the count at once ordered that a hundred should have their heads struck off, a summary punishment that their guilt seemed to deserve. From the stores of robbery
lord. Where we have a castle, they have a kingdom. We put no trust in the weight of numbers, nor in power nor in presumption, but in the shield of Christ and in justice.’ The chronicles of the participants, not only those of the priests Fulcher and Raymond but also that of the bluff soldier who wrote the Gesta Francorum, were full of acknowledgments of divine favour. Why did Kerbuqa fail at Antioch, wrote Fulcher, when he had so many men and such an excellent advantage? The answer was obvious: