First Crusade

First Crusade
Part of the Crusades

The capture of Jerusalem marked the First Crusade's success

Date 1096–1099
Location Near East (Anatolia, Levant, Palestine)
Result Decisive Christian victory and land control
Anatolia and Levant captured for Christendom;
Kingdom of Jerusalem/crusader states created

Holy Roman Empire

Kingdom of France Kingdom of England Duchy of Apulia Byzantine Empire
Kingdom of Cilicia

Great Seljuq Empire

Guglielmo Embriaco

Godfrey of Bouillon
Raymond IV
Stephen II
Baldwin of Boulogne
Eustace III of Boulogne
Robert II of Flanders
Adhemar of Le Puy
Hugh of Vermandois
Robert II of Normandy
Bohemond of Taranto
Tancred, Prince of Galilee
Alexios I Komnenos
Constantine I

Kilij Arslan I

Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan
Ghazi ibn Danishmend
Iftikhar ad-Daula
Al-Afdal Shahanshah

~ 35,000 men[1]
  • 30,000 infantry[2] 
  • 5,000 cavalry[2]
~ 2,000 men[2]
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The First Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to the appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexius I. The Emperor requested that western volunteers come to their aid and repel the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia, Modern day Turkey. The Crusade soon turned into a religious conquest and a secondary goal was created - reconquer the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and free the Eastern Christians from Islamic rule. What started as an appeal quickly turned into a wholescale Western migration and conquest of territory outside of Europe. Both knights and peasants from many nations of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea towards Jerusalem and captured the city in July 1099, establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and other Crusader states. Although these gains lasted for less than two hundred years, the First Crusade was part of the Christian response to the Islamic conquests, as well as the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.




The origins of the crusades in general, and of the First Crusade in particular, are varied and are widely debated among historians. They are most commonly linked to the political and social history of eleventh-century Europe, the rise of a reform movement within the Papacy, and the political and religious situation of Christianity and Islam in Europe and the Middle East. Christianity, which had spread throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in the early Middle Ages, was by the early eighth century limited to Europe and Asia Minor after the Muslim conquests. The Umayyad Caliphate had conquered Syria, Egypt, and North Africa from the predominantly Christian Byzantine Empire, and Spain from the Christian Visigothic Kingdom.[3] In North Africa, the Ummayad empire eventually collapsed and a number of smaller Muslim kingdoms emerged, such as the Aghlabids, who entered Italy in the 9th century, although the Kalbids became prey to the Normans capturing Sicily by 1091. Pisa, Genoa, and Aragon began to battle other Muslim kingdoms for control of the Mediterranean, exemplified by the Mahdia campaign and battles at Majorca and Sardinia.[4]

At the western edge of Europe and of Islamic expansion, the Reconquista in Spain was well underway by the eleventh century; it was intermittently ideological, as evidenced by the Epitome Ovetense written at the behest of Alfonso III of Asturias in 881, but it was not a proto-crusade.[5] Increasingly in the eleventh century foreign knights, mostly from France, visited Spain to assist the Christians in their efforts.[6] Shortly before the First Crusade, Pope Urban II had encouraged Spanish Christians to reconquer Tarragona, near Barcelona, using much of the same symbolism and rhetoric that was later used to preach the crusade.[7]

In the east was the Byzantine Empire, fellow Christians who had long followed a separate Orthodox rite. Since 1054 the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches had been in schism, and it has been argued that the desire to impose Roman church authority in the east may have been one of the goals of the crusade, [8] although it should be noted that Urban II, who actually launched the First Crusade, never refers to such a goal in his letters on crusading. The Seljuks had taken over almost all of Anatolia after the Byzantine defeat at Manzikert in 1071, with the result that the total territory controlled by the Byzantine Empire fell by more than half.[9] By the time of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, the Byzantine Empire was largely confined to Balkan Europe and the western coast of Anatolia, and faced Norman enemies in the west as well as Seljuk Turks in the east. In response to the defeat of Manzikert and subsequent Byzantine losses in Anatolia in 1074, Pope Gregory VII had called for the milites Christi ("soldiers of Christ") to go to Byzantium's aid. This call, while largely ignored and even opposed, nevertheless focused a great deal of attention on the east.[10]

Umayyad Caliphate at its greatest extent
The Seljuks and Byzantines continually fought for control of Anatolia and Syria. The Seljuks, who were orthodox Sunni Muslims, formerly ruled a large empire ("Great Seljuk") but by the time of the First Crusade it had divided into several smaller states after the death of Malik Shah I in 1092. Malik Shah was succeeded in the Anatolian Sultanate of Rüm by Kilij Arslan I, and in Syria by his brother Tutush I, who died in 1095. Tutush's sons Radwan and Duqaq inherited Aleppo and Damascus respectively, further dividing Syria amongst emirs antagonistic towards each other, as well as Kerbogha, the atabeg of Mosul.[11]

Egypt and much of Palestine were controlled by the ArabShi'iteFatimids, whose empire was significantly smaller since the arrival of the Seljuks. Warfare between the Fatimids and Seljuks caused great disruption for the local Christians and for western pilgrims. The Fatimids, at this time ruled by caliphal-Musta'li, with the vizieral-Afdal Shahanshah holding actual power, had lost Jerusalem to the Seljuks in 1076, but recaptured it from the Ortoqids, a smaller Turkic tribe associated with the Seljuks, in 1098, just before the arrival of the crusaders.[12]

The heart of western Europe itself had been relatively stabilized after the Christianization of the Saxons, Vikings, and Magyars by the end of the tenth century. However, the breakdown of the Carolingian Empire gave rise to an entire class of warriors who now had little to do but fight among themselves.[13] The random violence of the knightly class, and often knighthood itself, were regularly condemned by the church, and the Peace of God was established to prohibit fighting on certain days of the year. At the same time, the reform-minded Papacy came into conflict with the German Empire (later called the Holy Roman Empire), resulting in the Investiture Controversy. Popes such as Gregory VII justified the subsequent warfare against the German Empire's partisans in theological terms. It became acceptable for the Pope to utilize knights in the name of Christendom, not only against political enemies of the Papacy, but also against Muslim Spain, or, theoretically, against the Seljuks in the east.[14]


All these events are claimed by historians to have contributed to the origin of the crusades. According to the "Erdmann thesis", developed by German historian Carl Erdmann, the origin was directly linked to the eleventh-century reform movements. Exportation of violence to the east, and assistance to the struggling Byzantine Empire were the primary goals, with Jerusalem a secondary, popular goal.[15]

Generally, historians have either followed Erdmann, with further expansions upon his thesis; more recently, they have also considered the influence of the rise of Islam. According to Steven Runciman, there was no immediate threat from Islam, for "in the middle of the eleventh century the lot of the Christians in Palestine had seldom been so pleasant."[16] The crusade was a combination of theological justification for holy war and a "general restlessness and taste for adventure", especially among the Normans and the "younger sons" of the French nobility who had no other opportunities.[17]Thomas Asbridge argues that the crusade was simply Pope Urban II's attempt to expand the power of the church, and to reunite the churches of Rome and Constantinople, which had been in schism since 1054. The spread of Islam was unimportant, because "Islam and Christendom had coexisted for centuries in relative equanimity."[18]Thomas Madden represents the opposite view; while the crusade was certainly linked to church reform and attempts to assert papal authority, it was most importantly a pious struggle, waged by faithful idealists, to liberate fellow Christians who "had suffered mightily at the hands of the Turks." This argument distinguishes the relatively recent violence and warfare that followed the arrival of the Turks from the general advance of Islam which is dismissed by Runciman and Asbridge.[19]Christopher Tyerman incorporates both arguments; the crusade developed out of church reform and theories of holy war as much as it was a response to conflicts with Islam throughout Europe and the Middle East.[20] For Jonathan Riley-Smith, poor harvests, overpopulation, and a pre-existing movement towards colonising the frontier areas of Europe also contributed to the crusade; he also notes, however, that "most commentators then and a minority of historians now have maintained that the chief motivation was a genuine idealism."[21]

The idea that the crusades were a response to Islam dates back as far as twelfth-century historian William of Tyre, who began his chronicle with the fall of Jerusalem to Umar ibn al-Khattab.[22] Although the original Islamic conquests took place centuries before the First Crusade, there were more recent events that European Christians still remembered. In 1009 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah; Pope Sergius IV supposedly called for a military expedition in response, and in France, many Jewish communities were even attacked in misplaced retaliation. Nevertheless, the Church was rebuilt after al-Hakim's death, and pilgrimages resumed, including the Great German Pilgrimage of 1064–1065, although those pilgrims also suffered attacks from local Muslims.[23]

Chronological sequence of the Crusade

Council of Clermont

Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont. Illumination from the Livre des Passages d'Outre-mer, of c 1490 (Bibliothèque National)
Whatever the ultimate causes of the crusade, the most immediate factor was a request for assistance from Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Alexius was worried about the advances of the Turks, who had reached as far west as Nicaea, not far from Constantinople. In March of 1095, Alexius I sent envoys to the Council of Piacenza to ask Pope Urban II for aid against the Turks. Urban responded favourably, perhaps hoping to heal the Great Schism of forty years prior and re-unite the Church under papal primacy by helping the Eastern churches in their time of need.[24]

In July of 1095, Urban turned to his homeland of France to recruit men for the expedition. His travels there culminated in the Council of Clermont in November, where, according to the various speeches attributed to him, he gave an impassioned sermon to a large audience of French nobles and clergy, graphically detailing the fantastic atrocities being committed against pilgrims and eastern Christians. There are five versions of the speech written by people who may have been at the council (Baldric of Dol, Guibert of Nogent, Robert the Monk, and Fulcher of Chartres) or who went on crusade (Fulcher and the anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum), as well as other versions found in later historians (such as William of Malmesbury and William of Tyre). All of these versions were written after Jerusalem had been captured, and it is difficult to know what was actually said and what was recreated in the aftermath of the successful crusade. The only contemporary records are a few letters written by Urban in 1095.[25]

All the versions generally agree that Urban talked about the violence of European society and the necessity of maintaining the Peace of God; about helping the Greeks, who had asked for assistance; about the crimes being committed against Christians in the east; and about a new kind of war, an armed pilgrimage, and of rewards both on earth and in heaven, where remission of sins was offered to any who might die in the undertaking.[26] They do not all specifically mention Jerusalem as the ultimate goal, but it seems clear from Urban's subsequent preaching that he intended the expedition to reach Jerusalem all along.[27] The enthusiastic crowd responded with cries of Deus lo volt! ("God wills it!").[28]


Urban's speech had been well-planned; he had discussed the crusade with Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, and Raymond IV of Toulouse, and instantly the expedition had the support of two of southern France's most important leaders. Adhemar himself was present at the Council and was the first to "take the cross." For the rest of 1095 and into 1096, Urban spread the message throughout France, and urged his bishops and legates to preach in their own dioceses elsewhere in France, Germany, and Italy as well. However, it is clear that the response to the speech was much larger than even the Pope, let alone Alexius, expected. During his tour of France, Urban tried to forbid certain people (including women, monks, and the sick) from joining the crusade, but found this nearly impossible. In the end most who took up the call were not knights, but peasants who were not wealthy and had little in the way of fighting skills, in an outpouring of a new emotional and personal piety that was not easily harnessed by the ecclesiastical and lay aristocracy.[29] Typically preaching would conclude with every volunteer taking a vow to complete a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; they were also given a cross, usually sewn onto their clothes.[30]

As Thomas Asbridge wrote, "Just as we can do nothing more than estimate the number of thousands who responded to the crusading ideal, so too, with the surviving evidence, we can gain only a limited insight into their motivation and intent."[31] Previous generations of scholars argued that the crusaders were motivated by greed, hoping to find a better life away from the famines and warfare occurring in France, but as Asbridge says, "this image is ... profoundly misleading."[32] Greed is unlikely to have been a major factor because of the extremely high cost of travelling so far from home, and because almost all of the crusaders eventually returned home after completing their pilgrimage, rather than trying to carve out possessions for themselves in the Holy Land.[33] It is difficult or impossible to assess the motives of the thousands of poor for whom there is no historical record, and even for the knights, whose stories were usually told by monks or clerics. However, since the secular medieval world was so deeply ingrained with the spiritual world of the church, it is likely that personal piety was a major factor for many crusaders.[34]

Despite this popular enthusiasm, however, Urban ensured that there would be an army of knights, drawn from the French aristocracy. Aside from Adhemar and Raymond, the leaders he recruited throughout 1096 were Bohemond of Taranto, a southern Italian ally of the reform popes; Bohemond's nephew Tancred; Godfrey of Bouillon, who had previously been an anti-reform ally of the Holy Roman Emperor; his brother Baldwin of Boulogne; Hugh of Vermandois, brother of the excommunicated King Philip I of France; Robert of Normandy, brother of King William II of England; and his relatives Stephen of Blois and Robert of Flanders. The crusaders represented northern and southern France, Germany, and southern Italy, and so they were divided into four separate armies which were not always cooperative, although they were held together by their common ultimate goal.[35]

The motives of the nobility are somewhat clearer; greed was apparently not a major factor. It is commonly assumed, for example by Runciman as mentioned above, that only younger members of a family went on crusade, looking for wealth and adventure elsewhere, as they had no prospects for advancement at home. Riley-Smith has shown that this was not the case. The crusade was led by some of the most powerful nobles of France, who left everything behind, and it was often the case that entire families went on crusade, at their own great expense.[36] For example, Robert of Normandy sold the Duchy of Normandy to his brother, and Godfrey sold or mortgaged his property to the church.[37] According to Tancred's biographer, he was worried about the sinful nature of knightly warfare, and was excited to find a holy outlet for violence.[38] Tancred and Bohemond, as well as Godfrey, Baldwin, and their older brother Eustace are examples of families who crusaded together. Riley-Smith argues that the enthusiasm for the crusade was perhaps based on family relations, as most of the French crusaders were distant relatives.[39]

People's Crusade

The defeat of the People's Crusade
The great French nobles and their trained armies of knights were not the first to undertake the journey towards Jerusalem. Urban had planned the departure of the crusade for 15 August 1096, the Feast of the Assumption, but months before this a number of unexpected armies of peasants and petty nobles set off for Jerusalem on their own, led by a charismatic priest named Peter the Hermit of Amiens. Peter was the most successful of the preachers of Urban's message, who developed an almost hysterical enthusiasm among his followers, although he was probably not an "official" preacher sanctioned by Urban at Clermont.[40] A century later he was already a legendary figure; William of Tyre believed that it was Peter who had planted the idea for the crusade in Urban's mind.[41] It is commonly believed that Peter led a massive group of untrained and illiterate peasants who did not even have any idea where Jerusalem was, but in fact there were many knights among the peasants, including Walter Sansavoir.[42]

Lacking military discipline, and in what likely seemed to the participants a strange land (Eastern Europe), they quickly landed in trouble, in Christian territory. Walter's army fought with the Hungarians over food at Belgrade, but otherwise arrived in Constantinople unharmed. Peter and his army, marching separately from Walter, also fought with the Hungarians and may have captured Belgrade. At Nish the Byzantine governor tried to supply them, but Peter had little control over his followers and Byzantine troops were needed to quell their attacks. Peter arrived at Constantinople in August, where they joined with Walter's army, which had already arrived, as well as separate bands of crusaders from France, Germany, and Italy. This unruly mob began to attack and pillage outside the city in search of supplies and food, and one week later Emperor Alexius ferried them all across the Bosporus.[43]

After crossing into Asia Minor, the crusaders split up and began to pillage the countryside, wandering into Seljuk territory around Nicaea. The greater experience of the Turks was overwhelming; most of the crusaders were massacred. Some Italian and German crusaders were defeated and killed at Xerigordon at the end of August. Meanwhile, Walter and Peter's followers, who, though for the most part untrained in battle, were led by about 50 knights, fought a battle against the Turks at Civetot in October. The Turkish archers destroyed the crusader army, and Walter was among the dead. Peter, who was absent in Constantinople at the time, later joined the main crusader army, along with the few survivors of Civetot.[44]

Another army of Bohemians and Saxons did not make it past Hungary before splitting up.[45]

Attacks on Jews in the Rhineland

1250 French Bible illustration depicts Jews (identifiable by Judenhut) being massacred by Crusaders
At the local level, the preaching of the First Crusade ignited organized violence against Jews, which some historians call "the first Holocaust".[46] At the end of 1095 and beginning of 1096 there were attacks on Jewish communities in France and Germany. In May 1096, Emicho of Flonheim (sometimes incorrectly known as Emicho of Leiningen) attacked the Jews at Speyer and Worms, and other crusaders from Swabia, led by Hartmann of Dillingen, as well as French, English, Lotharingian, and Flemish crusaders, led by Drogo of Nesle and William the Carpenter, joined him in the destruction of the Jewish community of Mainz at the end of May.[47] In Mainz, one Jewish woman killed her children rather than see them killed by the crusaders; the chief rabbi, Kalonymos, was also killed.[48] Some crusaders then went on to Cologne, and others continued on to Trier, Metz, and other cities. Godfrey of Bouillon extorted money from the Jews of Cologne and Mainz.[49] Peter the Hermit may have been involved in violence against the Jews, and Regensburg, and an army led by a priest named Folkmar also attacked the Jews further east in Bohemia.[50]

The crusaders seem to have wanted to force the Jews to convert, although they were also interested in acquiring money from them. Physical violence against Jews was never part of the church hierarchy's official policy for crusading, and the Christian bishops, especially the Archbishop of Cologne, did their best to protect the Jews, as they were theologically required to do. Nevertheless, some of them also extorted money in return for their protection. The attacks probably originated in the belief that Jews and Muslims were equally enemies of Christ, and enemies were to be fought or converted to Christianity. Jews were thought to be responsible for the crucifixion, and they were more immediately visible than the far-away Muslims. Many people wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home.[51]

Emicho's army continued into Hungary but was defeated by the army of King Coloman. His followers dispersed and eventually joined the main armies, although he himself went home.[49]

The attacks on the Jews were witnessed by Ekkehard of Aura and Albert of Aix; among the Jewish communities, the main contemporary witnesses are the Mainz Anonymous, Eliezer ben Nathan, and Solomon bar Simson.

Princes' Crusade

Route of the leaders of the first crusade
The four main crusader armies left Europe around the appointed time in August 1096. They took different paths to Constantinople and gathered outside its city walls between November 1096 and April 1097; Hugh of Vermandois arrived first, followed by Godfrey, Raymond, and Bohemond. This time Emperor Alexius was more prepared and there were fewer incidents of violence along the way.[52] The size of the entire crusader army is difficult to estimate; various numbers were given by the eyewitnesses, and equally various estimates have been offered by modern historians. Crusader military historian David Nicolle considers the armies to have consisted of about 30,000-35,000 crusaders, including 5,000 cavalry. Raymond had the largest contingent of about 8,500 infantry and 1,200 cavalry.[53]

The princes arrived in Constantinople with little food and expected provisions and help from Alexius. Alexius was understandably suspicious after his experiences with the People's Crusade, and also because the knights included his old Norman enemy, Bohemond, who had invaded Byzantine territory on numerous occasions with his father, Robert Guiscard, and may have even attempted to organize an attack on Constantinople while encamped outside the city.[54] The crusaders may have expected Alexius to become their leader, but he had no interest in joining them, and was mainly concerned with transporting them into Asia Minor as quickly as possible.[55] In return for food and supplies, Alexius requested the leaders to swear fealty to him and promise to return to the Byzantine Empire any land recovered from the Turks. Godfrey was the first to take the oath, and almost all the other leaders followed him, though only after warfare had almost broken out in the city between the citizens and the crusaders who were eager to pillage for supplies. Raymond alone avoided swearing the oath, instead pledging that he would simply cause no harm to the Empire. Before ensuring that the various armies were shuttled across the Bosporus, Alexius advised the leaders on how best to deal with the Seljuk armies that they would soon encounter.[56]

Byzantine Empire and Crusader States after the First Crusade


The crusader armies crossed over into Asia Minor throughout the first half of 1097, and were joined by Peter the Hermit and the remainder of his little army. Alexius also sent two of his own generals, Manuel Boutoumides and Taticius, to assist the crusaders. Their first objective was Nicaea, an old Byzantine city, but now the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rüm under Kilij Arslan I. Arslan was campaigning against the Danishmends in central Anatolia having left behind his treasury and his family, and having underestimated the strength of these new crusaders.[57] The city was subjected to a lengthy siege, and when Arslan heard of it, he rushed back to Nicaea and attacked the crusader army on 16 May. He was driven back by the unexpectedly large crusader force, but with heavy losses being suffered on both sides.[58] The siege continued but the crusaders had little success, as they could not blockade the lake on which the city was situated, and from which it could be provisioned. Alexius sent ships, rolled over land on logs, and at the sight of them the Turkish garrison surrendered on June 18.[59] The city was handed over to the Byzantine troops, which has often been depicted as a source of conflict between the Empire and the crusaders; Byzantine standards flew from the walls, and the crusaders were forbidden from looting the city or even entering it except in small escorted bands. However, this was in keeping with the oaths made to Alexius, and the emperor ensured that the crusaders were well-paid for their support. As Thomas Asbridge says. "the fall of Nicaea was a product of the successful policy of close co-operation between the crusaders and Byzantium."[60] The crusaders now began the journey to Jerusalem. Stephen of Blois, in a letter to his wife Adela, wrote that he believed it would take five weeks.[61] In fact, the journey would take two years.


At the end of June the crusaders marched on through Anatolia. They were accompanied by some Byzantine troops under Taticius, and still hoped that Alexius would send a full Byzantine army after them. They also divided the army into two more easily-manageable groups, one led by the Normans, and the other led by the French.[62] The two groups intended to meet again at Dorylaeum, but on 1 July, the Normans, who had marched ahead of the French, were attacked by Kilij Arslan. Arslan had gathered a much larger army after his defeat at Nicaea, and now surrounded the Normans with his fast moving mounted archers. The Normans "were deployed in a tight-knit defensive formation", surrounding all their equipment and the non-combattants who had followed them along the journey, and sent for help from the other group. When they arrived, Godfrey broke through the Turkish lines, and the legate Adhemar outflanked the Turks from the rear; the Turks, who had expected to destroy the Normans and did not anticipate the quick arrival of the French, fled instead of facing the combined crusader army.[63]

The crusaders' march through Anatolia was thereafter unopposed, but it was unpleasant, as Arslan had burned and destroyed everything he left behind on his retreat. It was the middle of summer and the crusaders had very little food and water; many men died, as did many horses.[64] Christians, in Asia as in Europe, sometimes gave them gifts of food and money, but more often the crusaders looted and pillaged whenever the opportunity presented itself. Individual leaders continued to dispute the overall leadership, although none of them were powerful enough to take command; still, Adhemar was always recognized as the spiritual leader. After passing through the Cilician Gates, Baldwin of Boulogne set off on his own towards the Armenian lands around the Euphrates. In Edessa early in 1098, he was adopted as heir by King Thoros, an ArmenianGreek Orthodox ruler who was disliked by his Armenian subjects for his religion. Thoros was soon assassinated and Baldwin became the new ruler, thus creating the County of Edessa, the first of the crusader states.[65]

 Siege of Antioch

A mitred Adhémar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade
The crusader army, meanwhile, marched on to Antioch, which lay about half way between Constantinople and Jerusalem. On 20 October 1097 the crusader army set Antioch to a siege which lasted almost eight months,[66] during which time they also had to defeat two large relief armies under Duqaq of Damascus and Ridwan of Aleppo. Antioch was so large that the crusaders did not have enough troops to fully surround it, and thus it was able to stay partially supplied.[67]

In May 1098, Kerbogha of Mosul approached Antioch to relieve the siege. Bohemond bribed an Armenian guard named Firuz to surrender his tower, and in June the crusaders entered the city and killed most of the inhabitants.[68] However, only a few days later the Muslims arrived, laying siege to the former besiegers.[69] At this point a minor monk by the name of Peter Bartholomew claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance in the city, and although some were skeptical, this was seen as a sign that they would be victorious.[70]

Bohemond of Taranto alone mounts the rampart of Antioch, in an engraving by Gustave Doré.
On 28 June 1098 the crusaders defeated Kerbogha in a pitched battle outside the city, as Kerbogha was unable to organize the different factions in his army.[71] While the crusaders were marching towards the Muslims, the Fatimid section of the army deserted the Turkish contingent, as they feared Kerbogha would become too powerful if he were to defeat the Crusaders. According to legend, an army of Christian saints came to the aid of the crusaders during the battle and crippled Kerbogha's army.

Bohemond argued that Alexius had deserted the crusade and thus invalidated all of their oaths to him. Bohemond asserted his claim to Antioch, but not everyone agreed, notably Raymond of Toulouse, and the crusade was delayed for the rest of the year while the nobles argued amongst themselves. It is a common historiographical assumption that the Franks of northern France, the Provençals of southern France, and the Normans of southern Italy considered themselves separate "nations" and that each wanted to increase its status. This may have had something to do with the disputes, but personal ambition was just as likely to blame.[citation needed]

Meanwhile, a plague broke out, killing many, including the legate Adhemar, who died on 1 August.[72] There were now even fewer horses than before, and Muslim peasants refused to give them food. In December, the Arab town of Ma'arrat al-Numan was captured after a siege, which saw the first occurrence of cannibalism among crusaders.[73] The minor knights and soldiers became restless and threatened to continue to Jerusalem without their squabbling leaders. Finally, at the beginning of 1099, the march was renewed, leaving Bohemond behind as the first Prince of Antioch.

Siege of Jerusalem

Path of the First Crusade
Proceeding down the coast of the Mediterranean, the crusaders encountered little resistance, as local rulers preferred to make peace with them and give them supplies rather than fight.[74] On 7 June the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuks by the Fatimids of Egypt only the year before.[75] Many Crusaders wept on seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach.

As with Antioch, the crusaders put the city to a siege, in which the crusaders themselves suffered many casualties, due to the lack of food and water around Jerusalem.[75] By the time the Crusader army reached Jerusalem, it has been estimated that only 12,000 men including 1,500 cavalry remained.[76] Faced with a seemingly impossible task, their morale was raised when a priest, by the name of Peter Desiderius, claimed to have had a divine vision instructing them to fast and then march in a barefoot procession around the city walls, after which the city would fall, following the Biblical example of Joshua at the siege of Jericho.[75] On 8 July 1099 the crusaders performed the procession as instructed by Desiderius. The Genoese troops, led by commander Guglielmo Embriaco, had previously dismantled the ships in which the Genoese came to the Holy Land; Embriaco, using the ship's wood, made some siege towers and seven days later on 15 July, the crusaders were able to end the siege by breaking down sections of the walls and entering the city. Some Crusaders also entered through the former pilgrim's entrance.

Over the course of that afternoon, evening, and next morning, the crusaders are alleged by some to have murdered almost every inhabitant of Jerusalem.[77] However, this claim seems to be a projection of the great massacre of Muslims that the eyewitness sources agree took place on the Temple Mount, into the city as a whole, which was not subjected to such a wholesale slaugther. Contrary to what is sometimes alleged, no eyewitness source refers to Crusaders killing Eastern Christians in Jerusalem, and early Eastern Christian sources (Matthew of Edessa, Anna Comnena, Michael the Syrian, Chronicle to 1234, etc.) make no such allegation about the Crusaders in Jerusalem. Although many Muslims sought shelter in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Jews in their synagogue by the Western wall, the crusaders spared few of them.[77] According to the anonymous Gesta Francorum, referring to the massacre on the Temple Mount area, "...  our men followed, killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles ..." According to Raymond of Aguilers, again referring only to the Temple Mount area: "in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins." However, this imagery should not be taken literally since it was taken directly from the biblical passage Apocalypse 14:20.[78] The chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi states the Jewish defenders sought refuge in their synagogue, but the "Franks burned it over their heads", killing everyone inside.[79] Since eyewitness Western sources do not refer to the killing of Jews in Jerusalem, although they unabashedly boast about the slaughter of large numbers of Muslims on the Temple Mount, this massacre is likely to have been a spillover effect by ad hoc groups of anti-Jewish Crusaders, rather as happened during various Crusader marches through the Rhineland in Europe. Tancred claimed the Temple quarter for himself and offered protection to some of the Muslims there, but he was unable to prevent their deaths at the hands of his fellow Crusaders. Writing about the Temple Mount area alone Fulcher of Chartres, who was not an eyewitness to the Jerusalem siege because he stayed with Baldwin in Edessa, says: "In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared".[80]

The eyewitness Gesta Francorum states some people managed to escape the siege unharmed. Its anonymous author wrote, "When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished."[81] Later the same source says, "[Our leaders] also ordered all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses; and so the living Saracens dragged the dead before the exits of the gates and arranged them in heaps, as if they were houses. No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids, and no one knows their number except God alone."[82] The other eyewitness source, Raymond of Aguilers, also knows that some Muslims survived. After recounting the slaughter on the Temple Mount he reports of some who "took refuge in the Tower of David, and, petitioning Count Raymond for protection, surrendered the Tower into his hands." [83] A version of this tradition is also known to the later Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (10, 193-95), who recounts that after the city was taken and pillaged: "A band of Muslims barricaded themselves into the Oratory of David (Mihrab Dawud) and fought on for several days. They were granted their lives in return for surrendering. The Franks honoured their word, and the group left by night for Ascalon." [84]

On 22 July, a council was held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Raymond of Toulouse at first refused to become king,[85] perhaps attempting to show his piety but probably hoping that the other nobles would insist upon his election anyway. Godfrey, who had become the more popular of the two after Raymond's actions at the siege of Antioch, did no damage to his own piety by accepting a position as secular leader. Raymond was incensed at this development and took his army out into the countryside. The exact nature and meaning of Godfrey's title is somewhat of a controversy. Although it is widely claimed that he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri ("advocate" or "defender" of the Holy Sepulchre), this title is only used in a letter which was not written by Godfrey. Instead, Godfrey himself seems to have used the more ambiguous term princeps, or simply retained his title of dux from back home in Lower Lorraine. According to William of Tyre, writing in the later 12th century when Godfrey was already a legendary hero in crusader Jerusalem, he refused to wear "a crown of gold" where Christ had worn "a crown of thorns".[86]Robert the Monk is the only contemporary chronicler of the crusade to report that Godfrey took the title "king".[87] In the last action of the crusade, Godfrey defeated an invading Fatimid army at the Battle of Ascalon. He died in July 1100, and was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin of Edessa, the first to take the title King of Jerusalem.

Crusade of 1101 and the establishment of the kingdom

A map of western Anatolia, showing the routes taken by Christian armies during the Crusade of 1101
Having captured Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the crusading vow was now fulfilled.[88] However, there were many who had gone home before reaching Jerusalem, and many who had never left Europe at all. When the success of the crusade became known, these people were mocked and scorned by their families and threatened with excommunication by the clergy. Many crusaders who had remained with the crusade all the way to Jerusalem also went home; according to Fulcher of Chartres there were only a few hundred knights left in the newfound kingdom in 1100.

In 1101, another crusade set out, including Stephen of Blois and Hugh of Vermandois, both of whom had returned home before reaching Jerusalem. This crusade was almost annihilated in Asia Minor by the Seljuks, but the survivors helped reinforce the kingdom when they arrived in Jerusalem.[89] In the following years, assistance was also provided by Italian merchants who established themselves in the Syrian ports, and from the religious and military orders of the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitaller which were created during Baldwin I's reign.


The First Crusade succeeded in establishing the "Crusader States" of Edessa, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Tripoli in Palestine and Syria (as well as allies along the Crusaders' route, such as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia).

Back at home in western Europe, those who had survived to reach Jerusalem were treated as heroes. Robert of Flanders was nicknamed "Hierosolymitanus" thanks to his exploits. The life of Godfrey of Bouillon became legendary even within a few years of his death. In some cases, the political situation at home was greatly affected by crusader absences: while Robert Curthose was away, England had passed to his brother Henry I of England, and their conflict resulted in the Battle of Tinchebrai in 1106.

Meanwhile the establishment of the crusader states in the east helped ease Seljuk pressure on the Byzantine Empire, which had regained some of its Anatolian territory with crusader help, and experienced a period of relative peace and prosperity in the 12th century. The effect on the Muslim dynasties of the east was gradual but important. In the wake of the death of Malik Shah I in 1092 the political instability and the division of Great Seljuk, that had pressed the Byzantine call for aid to the Pope, meant that it had prevented a coherent defense against the aggressive and expansionist Latin states. Cooperation between them remained difficult for many decades, but from Egypt to Syria to Baghdad there were calls for the expulsion of the crusaders, culminating in the recapture of Jerusalem under Saladin later in the century when the Ayyubids had united the surrounding areas.

 In arts and literature

The success of the crusade inspired the literary imagination of poets in France, who, in the 12th century, began to compose various chansons de geste celebrating the exploits of Godfrey of Bouillon and the other crusaders. Some of these, such as the most famous, the Chanson d'Antioche, are semi-historical, while others are completely fanciful, describing battles with a dragon or connecting Godfrey's ancestors to the legend of the Swan Knight. Together, the chansons are known as the crusade cycle.

The First Crusade was also an inspiration to artists in later centuries. In 1580, Torquato Tasso wrote Jerusalem Delivered, a largely fictionalized epic poem about the capture of Jerusalem. George Frideric Handel composed music based on Tasso's poem in his opera, Rinaldo. The 19th century poet Tommaso Grossi also wrote an epic poem, which was the basis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera I Lombardi alla prima crociata.

Gustave Doré made a number of engravings based on episodes from the First Crusade.

Stephen J Rivelle has written a largely fictional account of the First Crusade, in his book A Booke of Days, as has Stephen R Lawhead, with the first of a trilogy, named 'The Celtic Crusades: Book 1: The Iron Lance'

According to Ming and Qing dynasty stone monuments, a Jewish community has existed in China since the Han Dynasty, but a majority of scholars cite the early Song Dynasty (roughly a century before the First Crusade).[90] A legend common among the modern-day descendants of the Kaifeng Jews states they reached China after fleeing Bodrum from the invading crusaders. A section of the legend reads, “The Jews became merchants and traders in the region [of the Near East], but new troubles came in the 1090s. Life became difficult and dangerous. The first bad news was heralded by a word they had never heard before: 'Crusade,' the so-called Holy War ... Jews were warned; "Convert to Christianity or die!"[91]

[edit] References

  1. ^ D. Nicolle, The First Crusade 1096–99: Conquest of the Holy Land, 21.
  2. ^ abc D. Nicolle, The First Crusade 1096–99: Conquest of the Holy Land, 32.
  3. ^Christopher Tyerman, God's War: A New History of the Crusades (Penguin Books, 2006), pp. 51–54
  4. ^ See H.E.J. Cowdrey, "The Mahdia campaign of 1087" (The English Historical Review 92 (1977), pp. 1–29.
  5. ^ R. A. Fletcher (1987) "Reconquest and Crusade in Spain c. 1050–1150," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, 37, 34, quotes the pertinent passage: They [the Saracens] take the kingdom of the Goths, which until today they stubbornly possess in part; and against them the Christians do battle day and night, and constantly strive; until the divine fore-shadowing orders them to be cruelly expelled from here. Amen.
  6. ^ The NormanRoger I of Tosny went in 1018. Lynn H. Nelson (1978), "The Foundation of Jaca (1076): Urban Growth in Early Aragon," Speculum,53(4), 697n27, lists some foreign ventures into Aragon: the War of Barbastro in 1063, Moctadir of Zaragoza feared an expedition with foreign assistance in 1069, Ebles II of Roucy planned one in 1073, William VIII of Aquitaine was sent back from Aragon in 1080, a French army came to the assistance of Sancho Ramírez in 1087 after Castile was defeated at the Battle of Sagrajas, Centule I of Bigorre was in the valley of Tena in 1088, and there was a major French component to the "crusade" launched against Zaragoza by Peter I of Aragon and Navarre in 1101.
  7. ^Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, 2nd ed. (Yale University Press, 2005), p. 7.
  8. ^Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade: A New History (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 17.
  9. ^ Warren Treadgold, A history of the Byzantine state and society, Stanford University, 1997, Graph 1, p. 8.
  10. ^ Asbridge, pp. 15–20.
  11. ^ Peter M. Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517 (Longman, 1986), pp. 11, 14–15.
  12. ^ Holt, pp. 11–14.
  13. ^ Asbridge, pp. 3–4.
  14. ^Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), pp. 5–8.
  15. ^ Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading, p. 1. Erdmann's Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens was published in 1935 and was translated into English as The Origin of the Idea of Crusade by Marshall W. Baldwin and Walter Goffart in 1977.
  16. ^Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. I, The First Crusade (Cambridge University Press, 1951; reprint Folio Society, 1994), p. 31.
  17. ^ Runciman, p. 76. Runciman is both vividly readable and widely read; it is safe to say that most popular conceptions of the crusades are based on his account, though the academic world has long moved past him.
  18. ^ Asbridge, p. 17; for Urban's personal motives, see pp. 19–21.
  19. ^Thomas Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), p. 7.
  20. ^ Tyerman, pp. 56–57.
  21. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, p. 17.
  22. ^William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, trans. E.A. Babcock and A.C. Krey (Columbia University Press, 1943), p. 60.
  23. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, pp. 10–12. William of Tyre also mentions the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre as a cause of the First Crusade, pp. 65–66.
  24. ^ Asbridge, p. 15.
  25. ^ Asbridge, p. 32. The first attempt to reconcile the different speeches was made by Dana Munro, "The speech of Urban II at Clermont, 1095", American Historical Review 11 (1906), pp. 231–242. The different versions of the speech are collected in The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and Other Source Materials, ed. Edward Peters (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2nd ed., 1998). The accounts can also be read online at The Internet Medieval Sourcebook.
  26. ^ Asbridge, pp. 31–39; Edwards, pp. 21–22; Munro, pp. 236–240.
  27. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, p. 8.
  28. ^ Tyerman, p. 65.
  29. ^ Asbridge, pp. 46–49.
  30. ^ Asbridge, pp. 65–66.
  31. ^ Asbridge, p. 41.
  32. ^ Asbridge, pp. 68.
  33. ^ Asbridge, p. 69; Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusaders, 1095–1131 (Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 15.
  34. ^ Asbridge, pp. 69–71.
  35. ^ Asbridge, pp. 55–65.
  36. ^ Riley-Smith, The First Crusaders, p. 21.
  37. ^ Asbridge, p. 77.
  38. ^ Asbridge, p. 71.
  39. ^ Riley-Smith, The First Crusaders, pp.93–97.
  40. ^ Asbridge, pp. 78–82.
  41. ^ William of Tyre, pp. 82–85. This story was taken as fact by historians until the nineteenth century; Asbridge, pp. 80–81.
  42. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, p. 28; Asbridge, p. 82.
  43. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, pp. 26–27.
  44. ^ Asbridge, pp. 101–103.
  45. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, p. 28.
  46. ^ Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading, p. 50.
  47. ^ Asbridge, pp. 84–85.
  48. ^ Tyerman, p. 102.
  49. ^ ab Tyerman, p. 103.
  50. ^ Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, p. 24.
  51. ^ Tyerman, pp. 103–106.
  52. ^ Asbridge, pp. 103-105.
  53. ^David Nicolle, The First Crusade 1096-99: Conquest of the Holy Land, pp. 21, 32.
  54. ^ Asbridge, pg. 106.
  55. ^ Asbridge, pg. 110.
  56. ^ Asbridge, pp. 110-113.
  57. ^ Asbridge, pp. 117-120.
  58. ^ Asbridge, pp. 124-126.
  59. ^ Asbridge, pp. 126-130.
  60. ^ Asbridge, pg. 130.
  61. ^ Tyerman, pg. 122
  62. ^ Asbridge, pp. 132-34.
  63. ^ Asbridge, pp. 135-37.
  64. ^ Asbridge, pp. 138-39.
  65. ^ Runciman, The First Crusade, p. 149.
  66. ^ Asbridge. The First Crusade, pp. 163–187.
  67. ^ Tyerman God's War p. 135
  68. ^ Runciman. History of the Crusades, p. 231.
  69. ^ Tyerman God's War pp. 142–143
  70. ^ Asbridge. The First Crusade, pp. 163–187.
  71. ^ Tyerman God's War p. 137
  72. ^ Lock Companion to the Crusades p. 23
  73. ^ Runciman. History of the Crusades, p. 261.
  74. ^ Tyerman God's War p. 150
  75. ^ abc Tyerman God's War p. 153–157
  76. ^ A. Konstam, Historical Atlas of the Crusades, 133.
  77. ^ ab Tyerman God's War pp. 157–158
  78. ^ This observation was first made in 1969 by scholars John and Laurita Hill (Kedar, Benjamin Z. "The Jerusalem Massacre of July 1099 in the Western Historiography of the Crusades." in The Crusades ( Vol. 3). ed. Benjamin Z. Kedar and Jonathan S.C. Riley-Smith. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2004 (ISBN 075464099X p. 65)
  79. ^Gibb, H. A. R.The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades: Extracted and Translated from the Chronicle of Ibn Al-Qalanisi. Dover Publications, 2003 (ISBN 0486425193)
  80. ^ Fulcher of Chartres, "The Siege of the City of Jerusalem", Gesta Francorum Jerusalem Expugnantium.
  81. ^Medieval Sourcebook: Gesta Francorum
  82. ^Medieval Sourcebook: Gesta Francorum
  83. ^[1]
  84. ^ Francesco Gabrieli, "Arab historians of the Crusades, Ch. 1. From Godefry to Saladin," University of California, 1984, p. 11
  85. ^ Tyerman God's War pp. 159–160
  86. ^ William of Tyre, Book 9, Chapter 9.
  87. ^Jonathan Riley-Smith, "The Title of Godfrey of Bouillon", Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 52 (1979), 83–86, and Alan V. Murray, "The Title of Godfrey of Bouillon as Ruler of Jerusalem", Collegium Medievale 3 (1990), 163–78.
  88. ^ Lock Companion to the Crusades p. 141
  89. ^ Lock Companion to the Crusades pp. 142–144
  90. ^ Weisz, Tiberiu. The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China. New York: iUniverse, 2006 (ISBN 0-595-37340-2).
  91. ^ Xu, Xin, Beverly Friend, and Cheng Ting. Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng. Hoboken, N.J.: KTAV Pub, 1995 (ISBN 0881255289).


Primary sources

Primary sources online

Secondary sources