CLIO mr brice - page 20

To start with, there was no one leader of
the Crusade. Emperor Alexis was useful as
a uniting figurehead even though he did
not play an active part.When his influence
waned, the progress of the army was slow
because of power struggles between its
leaders. Although no King took the cross,
many powerful figures of the European
nobility did. The majority were French,
including Raymond of Toulouse, the
strongest lord in Southern France, and
Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lower
Lorraine. They battled with Bohemond
of Taranto, his nephew Tancred and each
other for overall control of the Crusade
as well as the land and fame that would
come with it.
After keeping the Turks at bay as they
crossed Asia Minor and having Alexis
sweep up any territory they passed
through, the Crusaders finally arrived
at the great city of Antioch in autumn
1097. They set about besieging the city
but could not breach its sixty foot walls.
The siege lasted nearly a year, until the
summer of 1098. Many lost their lives in
the previous cold winter. The news that
the Sultan of Baghdad was marching with
a relief force towards
the city meant that
Bohemond risked all on
the word of an Armenian
tower commander, who
betrayed the city. He
let some of Bohemond’s
men into the city over a remote part of the
wall, and they opened up a gate through
which the Latins entered. Resistance was
broken quickly, but the Crusaders were
immediately besieged themselves by the
army of the Sultan. Knowing that they
wouldn’t be able to hold out for long,
Bohemond decided to confront the
Muslims in battle, even though his troops
were completely outnumbered. Because
the Crusaders launched a surprise attack,
the front line of the Sultan’s army fled,
forcing the vanguard with them. They
didn’t return. Bohemond took advantage
of his victory by remaining in control of
Antioch, leaving the others to march on.
All the Crusaders were fervently religious
and believed those that died would be
martyred and go straight to heaven.
Their extreme piety sustained them,
and their religious fervour increased at
Antioch when a peasant named Peter
Bartholomew discovered the ‘holy
lance’ that pierced Christ whilst he was
being crucified. Although to us it seems
unlikely that this was a true relic, it served
its purpose, which was to keep up morale
and to galvanise the crusaders to a victory.
Because they were extremely religious and
believed that they were blessed by God,
the Crusaders thought that they could do
anything if it would achieve their goal of
making Jerusalem a Christian city again.
This would lead to terrible crimes being
committed in the process.
Jerusalem was reached in early June 1099
and captured by 14th July. The leader of
the Crusade was now definitively Godfrey
de Bouillon. Raymond linked himself
too closely to Peter Bartholomew who
went mad and died in a ‘trial by fire’ after
trying to get Raymond to kill thousands
of Crusaders for being ‘sinful’. Godfrey
breached Jerusalem’s wall using a battering
ram and siege tower, and the city soon fell.
It is what happened after this victory that
is truly shocking. The streets of Jerusalem
filled with blood as the Latins mercilessly
killed all the Muslims and Jews they could
find. One Crusader described ‘mercifully
beheading’ some Muslims, but burning
others to death ‘with searing flames’.
It is generally accepted that over 10,000
soldiers and civilians were killed during the day and night
after the fall of Jerusalem”
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