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Chapter XXXV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 1 page 4


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While the Christian army was reposing in the midst of plenty, Hugh of Vermandois and Baldwin of Mons were dispatched to Constantinople on a mission to the Emperor Alexius. Baldwin fell into a Turkish ambuscade, and his fate is not known; but Hugh of Vermandois arrived safely at the Byzantine Court. Alexius, careless of his plighted faith, refused to send the reinforcements which were demanded, and suffered events to take their course. The Count of Vermandois having tasted once more the pleasures of ease and luxury, and wearied with the fatigues and privations of the Crusade, abandoned the cause which he had sworn to maintain, and leaving his companions in arms to their fate, he returned to his estates in France.

Meanwhile a pestilence broke out in Antioch, and compelled the chiefs to separate and distribute their men in cantonments over the country. A desultory but successful warfare continued to be waged against the Turks, and many towns and fortresses fell into the hands of the Crusaders. At length, after further sufferings and much hard fighting, the remnant of the army of the cross arrived before Jerusalem. Of those immense armies, the flower of European chivalry, which had passed in splendid array under the walls of Constantinople, only about fifty thousand men were left to reach the Holy City.

An attack was commenced June 7, 1099, headed by Godfrey of Bouillon, Tancred, Robert of Normandy, an: Robert of Flanders. The barbacans were carried, and a portion of the wall was thrown down; but such was the strength of the fortifications, and so obstinate the defence of the Turks, that it became necessary to construct engines of assault similar to those which had been used in the siege of Nice. Catapults and movable towers were prepared, and to these was added a machine called the "sow," made of wood and covered with raw hides to protect it from fire. The hollow space within was filled with soldiers, who, with this protection, were occupied in undermining the walls.

To secure success to the final effort of the enterprise, the leaders exerted themselves to heal the dissensions which had hitherto existed in the army, and Tancred set an example of conciliation by embracing his foe, Raimond of Toulouse, in sight of the troops. An expiatory procession, headed by the chiefs and the clergy, was made round the walls of the city, and prayers were offered up at some of the holy places in the neighbourhood for the success of the Christian arms. These demonstrations were treated by the Turks with contempt. They mocked at the procession as it passed before them, and having raised the cross upon the walls, they threw dirt upon the sacred symbol. The anger of the Crusaders was excited to the utmost, and their interpretation of the religion of peace permitted them to mingle oaths of vengeance with the prayers for victory.

The preparations having been completed, the towers were rolled up to the walls, and the attack commenced. The chiefs of the Christian army appeared on the higher stages of the towers, and Godfrey of Bouillon himself was seen with a crossbow in his hand directing his shafts within the town. The Turks replied by pouring out sheets of flame (The nature of the chemical preparation known as the "Greek fire" has not been ascertained with certainty, but it is probable that naphtha was one of the principal ingredients.) and flights of arrows upon their assailants. The assault had continued for ten days without result, when the Crusaders redoubled their efforts. Some soldiers from the tower of Godfrey effected a lodgment upon the walls, and were immediately followed by the Lord of Lorraine, with Baldwin de Bourg, and other chiefs of the army. Robert of Normandy and Tancred forced open one of the gates, and the standard of the cross was raised upon the walls of Jerusalem, July 15, 1099.

The details of the massacre that ensued form one of the bloodiest pages of history. The Turks, after a vain attempt to dispute the advance of the Crusaders, fled to the mosques, and were slain before the altars. The inhabitants of the city were put to the sword without distinction, women and children sharing the fate of their husbands and their fathers. Ten thousand men are said to have been butchered in the Temple of Soliman, where they had attempted to defend themselves. Streams of blood flowed down the streets of the city, and few of the infidel race escaped the carnage. Such was the vengeance taken by the Crusaders for the persecutions suffered by the Christians in Jerusalem; such were the deeds of horror perpetrated in the name of the Saviour of mankind, as though the Majesty of Heaven could be propitiated by a libation of human blood. The leaders of the Crusade had been taught to believe that in directing the work of slaughter they were engaged in an act acceptable to God, and that the highest duty of religion lay in the extermination of the infidel.

It became necessary to place the safety of the Holy City in the care of one powerful chief, and Godfrey of Bouillon was elected the first King of Jerusalem. He was invested with his new dignity in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but refused to be crowned, saying that it was not fitting that he should wear a crown of gold in the city where the Saviour had been crowned with thorns.

On the return of Godfrey from an expedition against the Saracens, the Emir of Caesarea went to the king, and offered him the fruits of Palestine. Godfrey ate an apple, and fell sick so suddenly, that it was supposed he had been poisoned. He returned with difficulty to his capital, and there died, July 18, 1100. His body was laid near to the sepulchre of that Saviour in whose cause, though with a mistaken devotion, he had given his life.

It does not fall within the scope of this history to trace the progress of events at Jerusalem under its Latin king?. Some account may, however, be given of the origin of two powerful orders of knighthood, which indirectly owed their origin to the First Crusade.

In the year a.d. 1048, some merchants from Amalfi obtained permission from the caliph to build a hospital at Jerusalem for the protection of pilgrims. A piece of ground near to the site of the Holy Sepulchre was assigned to them for this purpose, and a chapel and hospital were built there, the first being dedicated to St. Mary, and the second to St. John the Almoner. During the siege of Jerusalem many of the sick and wounded Crusaders were brought into the hospital; and, in gratitude for the benefits they received there, they determined to dedicate their lives to charitable acts, and to enter the Monastery of St. John. They assumed as a dress a black robe, with the figure of a white cross with eight points. Pope Pascal II. bestowed many valuable privileges upon the order, and the Poor Brothers of the Hospital of St. John became a wealthy community, famed throughout Europe. During the reign of Baldwin of Bourg, the third King of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers resumed the sword, binding themselves by a vow to draw it only against the enemies of Christ. The order of St. John was then divided into the several classes of knights, clergy, and serving brothers. The knights were highest in rank, and commanded in battle or in the hospital; the serving brothers filled the offices of esquires, or assisted the clergy in attendance upon the sick. The vows, which were taken by all, without distinction, included the duties of chastity, of obedience to the council, and of a renunciation individually of all worldly possessions.

The order of the Red Cross Knights, or Templars, is to be, referred to a different origin, though the objects for which it was instituted were of a similar kind. The military order of Knights Templars was founded by Baldwin II., King of Jerusalem, in a.d. 1118, and they first came to England in a.d. 1185. They took vows of obedience to a Grand Master whom they had appointed, and also bound themselves to purity of life, to mutual assistance, and that they would fight continually against the infidel, never turning back from less than four adversaries. Having no fixed dwelling-place, these knights lived in the Temple, whence they derived the title of Templars, which afterwards became so famous. They wore a white robe, to which was attached a red cross. In addition to their great standard, which also displayed these colours, they carried in battle a banner with black and white stripes, which was intended to signify charity and kindness to their friends, and destruction to their enemies. The Knights Templars, whose rules, like those of the Hospitallers, enjoined humility and poverty, soon became the proudest and wealthiest order in Christendom; and while the Knights of St. John remained during several centuries honoured and respected for acts of benevolence, the Templars became hated and feared for their vices and their cruelty. Much of the chivalry of Europe afterwards became merged in these two orders of knighthood, to which it became a matter of high distinction to be attached; and men did not hesitate to assume the religious habit, and assent to rules of mortification, while they neither revered the one nor were bound by the other.

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Pictures for Chapter XXXV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 1 page 4

The Army of Peter the Hermit
The Army of Peter the Hermit >>>>
Christian Constantinople
Christian Constantinople >>>>
Godfrey of Bouillon
Godfrey of Bouillon >>>>
Marble Column
Marble Column >>>>
Throne of the Emperor of Constantinople
Throne of the Emperor of Constantinople >>>>
Santa Sophia
Santa Sophia >>>>
Ancient Constantinople
Ancient Constantinople >>>>
Empress of Constantinople
Empress of Constantinople >>>>
Crown of the Empress of Constantinople
Crown of the Empress of Constantinople >>>>
Movable Tower
Movable Tower >>>>
Sword of Godfrey of Bouillon
Sword of Godfrey of Bouillon >>>>
Tomb of Godfrey of Bouillon
Tomb of Godfrey of Bouillon >>>>
Templars
Templars >>>>

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