The Pope of 1095 opened the artery of faith across Europe and caused a great flow of people across the continent. The Holy War of the middle Ages lasted for almost two hundred years and caused a transformation in the Middle East for both Christian and Islamic cultures. Two of the world’s greatest religions came into bloody conflict and thousands upon thousands of people would perish during these violent and fanatical wars. Christian Crusaders would evolve into societies of warrior casts that would wage war upon all non-believers of Christian religion, while the Muslims would have Jihadi warriors of the same magnitude. During these Holy Wars, Christians would set up and create Christian Crusader states governed by Christian Kings, Dukes and Barons – all the ranks of European society would be enforced upon the Christian Crusader ruled provinces of the Middle East.
These Crusader Kingdoms and states would reach their height after the first hundred years until the retaking of Jerusalem by Saladin the Great of the Islamic rulers. But first the Latin Christian soldiers would push their Christian Crusader states forward carving a huge area of land out for themselves in the Middle East – mainly in the countries of today’s Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and parts of today’s Turkey, Syria and fringes of Egyptian territory too.
After the fall of Jerusalem, back to Islam, there were more crusades, but Jerusalem was never retaken. The Crusaders built strong castle fortifications of their own and were able to maintain rule over smaller areas of land along the coast. More crusades would come about, but eventually, the Crusader kingdoms would become less influential.
During the high times of the Crusades, when all European Christians believed in the great religious odyssey, many kingdoms or principalities were formed in these heathen lands, colonised by Latin Christian Crusaders. These European invaders held devout conviction in their faithful vanity and what they were attempting seemed very just indeed. The kingdoms that arose and fell were as follows:
1. Edessa – a large area of land which was short lived in the First Crusade; lasting form 1098 – 1149. It was a large landlocked area east of the Euphrates.
2. Antioch – Principality of, lasted from 1098 -1268. This land was smaller than Edessa but lasted longer. This Crusader kingdom generated vast wealth. It was mainly controlled by Italian nobles who set up kingdom here during the First Crusade.
3. Jerusalem – the Kingdom of, the absolute jewel in the crown of the Crusader states. It lasted from 1099 – 1291, but went through a transformation during its almost two hundred years existence. The capitol Jerusalem fell in 1187 to Saladin the Great of the Ayyubid Islamic rulers and much of the Kingdom of Jerusalem came back under Islamic control until King Richard I of England reclaimed much back during the Third Crusade. Though the city of Jerusalem remained under Islamic control. The new capitol became Arce until 1291.
4. Tripoli – County of, lasted from 1109 – 1289. During the final days of this Crusader nation’s existence, they sent Crusaders to ally with invading Mongols. Because of this; the Islamic forces battling the Mongols, attacked and destroyed the County of Tripoli, ending the existence of Crusader rule that had been for one hundred and seventy years.
Pope Urban II Dynamic Speech and the Genesis of the Crusades
In the year of 1095, Pope Urban II (Head of the Holy Roman Empire) went to Clermont in France to stand before the council and the multitude of God-fearing people who had flocked to see his holiness the Pope. This was at a time when Europe was divided by many feuding Lords and the Holy Roman church was in conflict with the German Empire. Also, there was the division between the eastern Christian factions of the Byzantine Empire competing against Holy Rome’s Latin western bloc of the Holy Roman Empire. All of this made Europe an unstable place to live compared to the advanced cultures in the Middle East and Asia. The one binding thing that Europe did have was its Christian religion that formed the backbone of all cultural ways – the one binding element of this clashing and fragmented society.
Pope Urban II was able to tap into the one thing that could unite all of these quarrelling factions and bring everyone together on a gargantuan quest. The speech, Pope Urban made, would send shock waves throughout all of Christian Europe and bring masses of people from all walks of life to answer the divine call of God. All Europeans believed such a monumental instruction to be from the Almighty, who spoke to them through the divine Pope Urban II. Everyone had been taught this from birth.
The peoples of Europe had been raised to believe that they were imperfect and that they had to lead a life of devotion to be considered by God in judgement when they died – everlasting paradise in Heaven if they lived well and devoted lives or eternal damnation and torment in the fires of Hell if they did not heed such instruction – depending on how they spent their mortal life was everything to all God fearing Christians. To abide by the Pope’s request was a way of achieving divine absolution and the promise of Heaven, doing God’s work as he spoke to the multitude through a human vassal upon Earth – His Holiness the Pope.
Before attending the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II had received a delegation in the northern Italian town of Piacenza. This delegation was from the Eastern Christian faction of the Byzantine Empire and was led by Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Komnenos and they brought news of Muslim Turks who were over running Byzantine territory and defiling all things Christian. The continuous conquest of Byzantine territory would spread into south Eastern Europe and perhaps extend onwards into the devoutly Christian continent. The one thing that all the feuding Lords had in common was absolute faith in their saviour and God. All heathens were to be resisted and crushed.
Under such belief and devotion one might imagine the small people of Europe gathering excitedly to see such an Iconic figure of a Pope – a man championed by Almighty God, standing before them in the flesh. Anything the Pope said would be true, to these people. If Pope Urban II could offer some form of salvation of their souls before God on judgement day; anyone would be eager to do what ever they could before God. Pope Urban II would not disappoint the crowd as he began to address the masses before him. Part of what he said, is as follows:
Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be. But if there is in you any deformity or crookedness contrary to God's law, with divine help I will do my best to remove it. For God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it. Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship. You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings. But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands. Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged with remorse for your faults-, you will be fiercely overwhelmed in hell, the abode of death. For according to the gospel you are the salt of the earth [Matt. 5:13]. But if you fall short in your duty, how, it may be asked, can it be salted? O how great the need of salting! It is indeed necessary for you to correct with the salt of wisdom this foolish people which is so devoted to the pleasures of this -world, lest the Lord, when He may wish to speak to them, find them putrefied by their sins unsalted and stinking. For if He, shall find worms, that is, sins, in them, because you have been negligent in your duty, He will command them as worthless to be thrown into the abyss of unclean things. And because you cannot restore to Him His great loss, He will surely condemn you and drive you from His loving presence. But the man who applies this salt should be prudent, provident, modest, learned, peaceable, watchful, pious, just, equitable, and pure. For how can the ignorant teach others? How can the licentious make others modest? And how can the impure make others pure? If anyone hates peace, how can he make others peaceable? Or if anyone has soiled his hands with baseness, how can he cleanse the impurities of another? We read also that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch [Matt. 15:14]. But first correct yourselves, in order that, free from blame, you may be able to correct those who are subject to you. If you wish to be the friends of God, gladly do the things which you know will please Him. You must especially let all matters that pertain to the church be controlled by the law of the church. And be careful that simony does not take root among you, lest both those who buy and those who sell [church offices] be beaten with the scourges of the Lord through narrow streets and driven into the place of destruction and confusion. Keep the church and the clergy in all its grades entirely free from the secular power. See that the tithes that belong to God are faithfully paid from all the produce of the land; let them not be sold or withheld. If anyone seizes a bishop let him be treated as an outlaw. If anyone seizes or robs monks, or clergymen, or nuns, or their servants, or pilgrims, or merchants, let him be anathema [that is, cursed]. Let robbers and incendiaries and all their accomplices be expelled from the church and anthematized. If a man who does not give a part of his goods as alms is punished with the damnation of hell, how should he be punished who robs another of his goods? For thus it happened to the rich man in the gospel [Luke 16:19]; he was not punished because he had stolen the goods of another, but because he had not used well the things which were his.
Christian Europe gathers for the Grand Religious Quest
There was, of course, a great deal more to the long speech that captivated the crowd. The word spread and peoples from all parts of Europe flocked to do God’s work upon a grand adventure in the Holy Land where their saviour Jesus Christ had been born and lived – the very place where he was martyred by the Roman overlords and Jewish religious leaders.
In 1096, Lords and Barons across Europe sold their land and possessions to form armies complete with squires and other ranks. All this to fund their campaign in the Holy land. Peasants of all social ranks packed up and marched alongside the grand processions of knights and soldiers and they left towns all over Europe amid cheering crowds who formed to give all a rapturous send of. Men, women and children marched across Europe in scattered processions bound for the Holy Land. Many so poor they could not afford the cost of ship passage across sea. So they walked down through main Europe and towards the Balkans into Greece and finally, the City of Constantinople – the edge of the known Christian world and capitol of the Byzantine Empire. Upon the way they attacked Jewish communities killing and burning property while charged up with religious zeal and fanaticism.
All of these scattered new Christian Crusader armies began to meet at the great Byzantine city and numbered over 100,000 people ready to do the Christian work of God, in whom they all devoutly believed. Of course not all of these travelling people were knights or soldiers. They came from various walks of life and some very humble in social standing. All shared in the belief of doing God’s will in the Holy Land. This was against an enemy believing in the Islamic work of God in whom all Muslim people devoutly believed. Two of the greatest religions in the world believing in God, but with different ways of worship. And then there was the Hebrews too, who also believed in God without prophets. It might be said that the Middle East was already a place of confusion without the arrival of fanatical Christian Crusaders. But then we can look at things today from a liberal perspective. Such a view was beyond these masses of indoctrinated peoples – gathered in their multitude of thousands upon thousands and with more to come in the future – a mass exodus of Christian Europeans flooding into the Middle East to claim their Holy Land above all and to detriment of all else.
The Byzantine Emperor must have looked upon the Latin Christian Exodus, outside of Constantinople’s walls, with great trepidation for he had, in the past, come into conflict with Latin Christians who were not always consolatory to the orthodox Christianity of the Byzantine. Now, in 1097, he had 30,000 plus Christian Crusader soldiers with all manner of others making up the 100,000 camped outside of Constantinople and in need of food and supplies. Emperor Alexios had a serpent by the tail and wanted to be rid of it. He needed a substantial army to fight the Muslim Turks who threatened the Byzantine Empire and the multitude of Latin zealots would do nicely, but he did not want to lead this Crusade of Latin Christian forces that were flocked outside his great city. He needed to ferry them across the Bosporus into Asia Minor and basically let them lose upon the Muslim Turks. In exchange for food and supplies he wanted assurances from the Crusader knights that Byzantine territories, won back from Islamic rule, would be returned into the Byzantine Empire. This was agreed and the efforts of ferrying the multitude across the Bosporus began for control of the Latin Crusaders was getting more difficult as Constantinople’s citizens were becoming vexed and intolerant of the western Crusader immigrants.
When the multitude of Crusaders landed on the Asia Minor side of the Bosporus, they began their march into the Holy Land with two of Emperor Alexios’ Generals and some Byzantine soldiers. These combined forces of Crusaders and Byzantines marched upon the city of Nicaea – a stronghold that was formally Byzantine but was now (in 1097) under Islamic control. The Muslim king Kilij Arslan I was not present at the time for he was campaigning against another Islamic kingdom and paid little heed to the Crusaders. This Muslim king underestimated the potential of the Crusader invasion force.
The first Crusaders began to arrive before the walls of Nicaea in early May of 1097 and by 16th they put the city under siege. Forces were stationed all around the city walls but Nicaea was by a lake and the inhabitants could receive supplies this way. Many of the Crusaders lacked food and provisions and requests were sent back to Constantinople for replenishment. By this time many of the Crusaders were falling to sickness and malnutrition while before them stood the first of many quests – a vast stronghold with over 200 towers. Among the Crusaders were Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, Raymond IV of Toulouse, Robert II of Flanders and a strange priest from Amiens called Peter the Hermit. This also included the two Byzantine Generals and their forces. Nicaea was once in the Byzantine Empire and Emperor Alexios wanted the city back.
An army of Turks rod out of the city to engage the Crusader and Byzantine forces but were driven back with severe losses. The Islamic defenders then sent word to their absent king, Kilij Arslan to return with all haste to Nicaea. When King Kilij Arslan realised the extent of the Christian Crusader forces capability; he hastily returned to attack the enemy. He was met by the Crusaders and defeated in a pitched battle that lasted for some time. Many soldiers were killed on both sides but the Crusaders came away from the confrontation victorious.
Nicaea was left to face the Crusader blockade. A huge siege tower was built by the Crusaders and moved forward to take one of the city’s defence towers. The castle tower was damaged but the Muslim defenders held firm. The Byzantine Emperor Alexios I arrived behind the Crusaders with boats that had been rolled across land. These were put into the lake and were able to obstruct Nicaea from receiving supplies. By this time it was mid-June and the siege had been going on for six weeks and almost seven since the first invading forces arrived.
Secretly, and without Crusader knowledge, Emperor Alexios sent his Byzantine emissaries to Nicaea to parley with the Muslim defenders, persuading them that it would be better to surrender to the Byzantines then the Crusaders. This was done and efforts were made by the Crusaders to attack the city walls. When they breached them alongside Byzantine soldiers they found the city was already surrendered to Byzantine Emperor Alexios I. The Crusaders were not allowed into the city for fear of them taking revenge and causing mass slaughter. Only small accompanied Crusader groups went in on a few occasions. In short, the Crusaders were thanked by the Byzantine Empire and sent on their merry way into the Holy land to take what they wanted in the name of Latin Christian Crusaders and their view of God.
The first Crusaders lacked the later dress code of others that became established in later years, but this first exodus had to endure terrible hardship. After leaving Nicaesa, the Crusader army and its, by now, wretched followers split in two. The Norman led contingent with some of the French knights led one expedition. These two groups (Norman and French) agreed to meet at a place called Dorylaeum. They marched eastwards deeper into today’s Syria.
Finding the Crusader State County of Edessa
The Norman contingent went out first and began to march towards Dorylaeum across harsh terrain. They lacked the water and food needed for the quest. Many of the animals brought along had perished unable to tolerate the type of climate and conditions of the Middle East. A large number of the Knights had lost their mounts because they had died on journey and many of the followers – men, women and children had passed away too. Families that had sought a new life in the Holy Land had fallen to the harsh reality of the immense undertaking of the Crusade. By this time, the Crusaders had become a rag-taggle mob under the guidance of Lords and Barons that had given up land and wealth in Europe to go upon the demanding quest. However, these Crusaders that remained still held true to the one binding thing they had left – their devout belief in the Christian way of worshipping God and that nothing came without harsh penance. The more they might endure, the greater the redemption before God.
The new test before this Norman and French crusade, moving east, would be another Turkish army led by Kilij Arslan who had gathered more Jihadi warriors since his defeat trying to break the Siege of Nicaea. He had gained allies and was able to unleash fine Turkish horse bowmen who could ride swiftly and unleash arrows into the Crusader column as they tried to travel towards Doryleaum. Many hundreds were killed among the Crusaders and eventually, the Norman led Knights were forced to form defencive formations to hold off the Turks, while word was sent back to the French Crusader contingent to make haste and come to their aid.
All of the less well armed Christian foot soldiers and none-fighting citizens (women and children) were able to get inside the shielded Crusader knight formations. The Turkish horsemen galloped in close and unleashed arrows before retiring and coming back to do the same manoeuvre. Because of the Norman defensive arrangement of shield walls was needed to protect the rank and file; the Crusaders were unable to counter attack. The quick hit and run of the Turkish horsemen also made it difficult to inflict casualties upon the Jihadi warriors too. It was developing into a stalemate because the Turks were unable to do much damage to the fighting knights, though they did inflict casualties upon Christian foot soldiers and other Christian civilian migrants – also horses. This type of fighting went on for many hours with Turks galloping in at close range and unleashing arrows then galloping off before the Crusaders could counter attack. The Crusaders would not break ranks and held firm in the blistering heat stubbornly defending their ranks to the best of their ability.
During the day groups of French Crusader knights galloped through the Turkish ranks to reinforce the defensive formation of Norman Crusaders. The relief column was on its way, but small groups galloped ahead in support of their Norman allies and fellow Christian Crusader brethren. Many of the reinforcements were unhorsed and killed by the Turks who tried to prevent the small scattered groups from breaking through towards the besieged Norman defence.
Realising that more Crusaders would be coming to aid the surrounded Crusader army, the Turks became more aggressive and began to push the Crusader Norman defence back into marshes.
While the Turkish Jihadi warriors devoted their efforts to this, the French Crusader contingent arrived in force and attacked the flank of the Muslim horseman. This allowed the Norman contingent to rally while the Turks went into confusion. The Turks did manage to reorganise themselves but only temporarily as another group of Crusaders led by a papal envoy attacked their encampment and put it to the torch.
The Turkish forces retired from the field leaving the Crusaders with a victory. The will of the Kilij Arslan and his Muslim soldiers was broken by this staunch Crusader defiance, though the fighting effectiveness of Kilij Arslan and the Turkish horsemen remained.
The Crusaders continued their journey through Anatolia but Kilij Arslan had adopted a scorched earth policy, which caused further hardship upon the Crusaders as they made towards Armenian lands in the Euphrates and a city called Edessa. Among this Crusader force was a man called Baldwin of Boulogne. Through his late wife he had lost all that he owned in Europe and there remained nothing for him to return home to. He decided to acquire a fiefdom for himself in the lands of Armenia. He gained influence among the nobility of Edessa and inherited rule after the mysterious death of the unpopular orthodox ruler. Thus the County of Edessa came about – a Crusader Kingdom principality – others would follow.
The Crusader State Principality of Antioch
A second force that left Nicaea marched south towards the great city of Antioch. This Crusader force was led mainly by Italian nobles though there were Crusaders from other lands too. Because so many of the knights had lost horses, the Christian knights were using all sorts of beasts to carry them – mules, donkeys and ox. The people of Antioch must have thought the Crusaders rather wretched. The city was so vast that the Crusaders could not possibly surround the great walls completely. Therefore it was relatively easy for the city to be resupplied, especially by sea.
For eight months the siege went on and the Christian forces outside of Antioch were suffering from lack of food and water, yet still they remained – hoping for something to come their way – something divine perhaps. During this time, the Crusaders were forced to defeat two Islamic armies sent to relieve Antioch. In these two confrontations the Crusaders were victorious and then in March of 1098, a Crusader fleet arrived with supplies for the Christian troops outside the walls of Antioch.
In the following May, a third Muslim force was moving towards Antioch to relive the people of the great city. They were made up of combined Muslim factions and were led by a man called Kerbogha. However one of the Crusader’s Italian nobles, Bohemund of Taranto, had won over an Armenian orthodox Christian within the ranks of the Muslim defenders inside the City of Antioch. This traitor allowed a small force of Crusaders to climb the walls and dispatch the guards upon the battlements. They then got to the city gates and opened them, allowing the waiting Crusader horde to enter the city during the night. With swords drawn the fanatical Christian zealots charged into the streets of Antioch in their thousands intent on bloody murder of all Muslim and Jews – women and children of the none Christian inhabitants were to be given no quarter either.
What followed was nothing short of vile murder and mayhem as the Christian Crusaders screamed, “God wills it, God wills it.” All that came before them were hideously butchered as the killing and slaughter went on for days. Almost all of the inhabitants perished in the bloody murder and mayhem that ensued.
Then after a few days of taking the city, the Crusaders found themselves under siege by the arrival of Kerbogha and his Islamic army. The Crusaders were now in a dire situation. They had butchered almost everyone and could not negotiate terms. The Muslims wanted to put them to the sword the way, their brethren of Antioch had perished – they wanted bloody revenge upon the Christians Crusaders for what had been done.
Visionary or Charlatan
Among the Christian Crusaders in Antioch was a soldier/mystic/layman named Peter of Bartholomew who claimed to have had visions in his dreams. This Frenchman told of Saint Andrew taking him to the church of Saint Peter in Antioch where the lance that had stabbed Christ upon the cross was buried. Many were sceptical of the mystic’s vision but he and a group of people began to dig within the church of Saint Peter until word came of an incredible find – a spear head that fitted such a vision, though many including a papal envoy, believed Peter Bartholomew had planted the spearhead himself.
In desperation, the Crusaders came out of the city of Antioch bearing this Holy relic and they met the Muslim forces of Kerbogha in open battle. Against the odds, the Crusaders won the battle and drove the Muslim army off in disarray. Many historians believe that the Muslims forces were not as united as seemed and that there were different warlords in charge of different factions. These were easily fragmented during the battle and maybe the find of the Holy lance might have spurred the Crusaders on causing a placebo effect and belief in their divine ability. Whatever the reason, another great victory had been won and the Crusaders believed this to be God’s will.
The papal envoy still doubted the authenticity of Peter Bartholomew’s vision and find. In desperation, the Frenchman called for a trial by ordeal – a medieval trail by ordeal. A great bonfire was built and Peter Bartholomew fasted for days leading up to the event. On the night of the trial by ordeal, the bonfire cauldron was lit and Peter Bartholomew entered the gauntlet of flames carrying the lance. There are different points of view written from eye witness accounts; some who believed in Peter Bartholomew and those who did not.
He emerged from the other side of the flaming gauntlet on fire and blistering. He fell to the floor alive but badly burnt and injured from the flaming ordeal. His believers viewed it as a sign of success, even though he died a martyr several days later from his injuries. Of course, his doubters needed to say no more. He was a charlatan in their eyes.
Bohemund of Taranto kept Antioch for himself – a fiefdom of his own taken by somewhat dubious means. Perhaps God helped those who helped themselves. Thus the Crusader Principality of Antioch was created with Bohemund as its first Prince.
The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
Many stayed at Antioch and the remaining Crusader who pushed on towards the prize goal of all found little resistance along the way. Many towns surrendered on terms rather than fight the Crusaders. They were fed at these places as the pushed on towards Jerusalem, the holiest of all cities.
The depleted forces that arrived in summer 1099 were too few in numbers to surround and lay siege to the large city. The numbers, by now, were just 12,000. Of the original Crusade only one in ten remained. Many had perished, some had gone to Edessa with Baldwin of Boulogne, others remained at Antioch with Bohemund and a great many had perished in the battles and from illness. Those that remained were probably the most fanatical and resilient of all however, and the Fatimid of Egypt, who ruled Jerusalem, would not surrender to the Christian zealots who had marched across the Middle East to stand before the walls of the great ancient city. The Fatimid rulers knew the Crusader’s numbers were reduced and perhaps the fire of faith was less fierce now with so few numbers?
Despite all of this the Crusaders began to stubbornly assault the walls of the great city but were easily repulsed. Engineers arrived with timber to build siege engines, and a holy priest was present too. He told of a vision in which all should walk around the city of Jerusalem in bare feet and wait for the walls to fall down. The way of such a happening to the city of Jericho - a biblical event. The ceremony was performed and ended with an argument concerning such an act in the first place. Then news came of a Fatimid relief force making way from Egypt.
In the mid July, Jerusalem was attacked again by the Crusaders – one force at the gates while another force tried to scale the walls. By now the Christian forces were getting desperate, knowing that the Fatimid Caliphate had sent this new army to relieve the Muslim defenders of Jerusalem. The desperate struggle went on for two days until a force of Crusaders captured a rampart of one of the city walls. Across Jerusalem, the defenders abandoned the walls and retreated into the city streets and dwellings. This allowed the Crusaders to gain access in many parts of the ancient and holy city of Jerusalem.
What followed was a slaughter that reverberated throughout history to this very day. It is believed by most, that the massacre was extremely violent and even Muslims that were talked into surrender were killed the following day. They were offered protection if they surrendered when a Crusader stopped the killings at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The terrified Muslims agreed to this, but all were subsequently murdered on the following day.
Jews were burnt alive in a synagogue, killed in the streets and their dwellings and where ever the wretched and terrified people of Jerusalem walked or ran; the Crusaders could kill indiscriminately with no fear of retribution. This went on for almost two days and those Muslims and Jews, who remained alive, were taken prisoner and ransomed.
From this violent capturing of Jerusalem by the Christian Crusaders; the new Christian Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem came about. There was some argument about how a leader might be chosen. It came to a man called Godfrey after Raymond of Toulouse turned down the offer. He was not called king at first but soon became known as the King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The first test came within weeks as the Fatimid Army from Egypt consisting of 30,000 Jihadi warriors marched towards Jerusalem. The Crusader Kingdom might perish before it could get started. All attempts at brokering a peace were rejected by the Fatimid Vizier, al-Afdal Shahanshah, who led the Islamic forces.
As the Fatimid Army of Jihadi warriors camped close to the city of Ascalon, they were unaware they had been observed by Crusader spies. Godfrey of Boullion had left Jerusalem to confront the Muslim army with 1,200 knights and 9,000 foot soldiers. His Crusader army came upon the Islamic forces and took them by surprise. The Battle of Ascalon was quick and the Muslim forces were quickly routed though many escaped into the city walls of Ascalon. The Vizier, al-Afdal Shahanshah, escaped back to Egypt aboard a boat.
The Crusaders plundered the abandoned came and returned to Jerusalem, from where they prepared to defend their new and coveted Kingdom of Jerusalem ruled over by their grand Crusader Godfrey – King of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
For many of the rank and file foot soldiers that had endured the long and testing quest; they must have finally felt complete before God in Heaven. They had done right according to their Christian doctrines and fore filled Pope Urban II’s great request – the supreme message from God. Many of these laymen would return to Europe sure in the knowledge that God in Heaven would grant them redemption. Many would become Lay priests – not daring to go out into society and become corrupted by wrong. They had achieved their spiritual goal and might maintain it throughout mortal life with further devotion in monasteries, for Crusaders would be respected in all European Christendom’s for many centuries to come. These men that had done bloody murder in the name of Christian God, were pure and would surely go to Heaven for doing such Godly work in the Holy Land.
It is quite frightening when we take a step back and look at things from a liberal point of view. It is an indulgence in this day and age, but we can do this, none the less. Many of these Crusader men thought they were pious and right before God and firmly believed they were doing just things. Many must have been good men, yet they had slaughtered and killed civilian people in faraway cities because they believed them evil and ungodly – entire masses of people indoctrinated to do such things begs belief, yet the achievements of these driven Crusaders was frighteningly immense.
It is all gone now – what remains is dust in the desert wind.