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riched by the purchase of vast quantities of property at a low price. The multitude of people who enlisted would exceed all belief, were we not aware of the strength of the motives and passions which incited them to action. Contemporary historians estimate the number of those who embarked in the first crusade at six millions ; the most moderate computation is one million three hundred thousand. They marched with a red cross sewed on their clothes, from which was derived the name of croisade or crusade. When the cross had once been taken, the wearers were obliged to march, under pain of excommunication ; but this badge gained them a dispensation from all penance. Thousands of the most profligate and abandoned wretches found, in this manner, a plenary indulgence for all their crimes, and probably no band of professed pirates and freebooters ever contained a more atrocious set of villains than the armies of the first crusaders. Peter the Hermit, with sandals on his feet, a rope about his middle, acting both as prophet and general, and persuaded that God would work miracles to supply all their wants, was the first that set out, at the head of eighty thousand men without provisions or discipline. The command was shared with him by a poor gentleman called Walter the Penniless. These banditti committed the most dreadful outrages on their march through Hungary and Bulgaria, and were almost exterminated by the inhabitants before they reached Constantinople. Godeschald, a German priest, followed next with a similar rabble. These let loose their pious fury upon
the Jews, thousands of whom they massacred in cold blood. After this, they pillaged everybody without distinction,
till the inhabitants rose and cut them nearly all off. Of both these armies, about twenty thousand starving wretches at length reached Constantinople.
With the assistance of the Greek Emperor Alexius, they crossed the Bosphorus, and, in spite of his pru. dential warnings, divided their forces to plunder the Turkish provinces of Asia Minor. In order to decoy them into å snare, the sultan caused a report to be spread, that Nice, his capital, had fallen into the hands of an advanced body of crusaders. Allured by the prospect of sharing in the spoils of this city, they blindly rushed into the heart of a hostile country ; but when they descended into the plain of Nice, instead of being welcomed by the sight of the Christian banners on its walls, they found themselves surrounded by the Turkish cavalry. In the first onset, Walter fell bravely, covered with wounds; the disorderly multitude was immediately overwhelmed and slaughtered ; a remnant of three thousand escaped by flight to the nearest Byzantine fortress; and a huge mound, in which the victors piled the bones of the slain, formed an ominous monument of disaster for succeeding hosts of crusaders.
The numbers, the gross superstition, the licentious wickedness, and the miserable extirpation of this fanatical horde, were surpassed by what was exhibited in the composition and conduct of another division of the rabble of Europe. From France, from the Rhenish provinces, from Flanders, and from the British islands, there gathered, on the western confines of Ger. many, one huge mass of the vilest refuse of these nations, amounting to two hundred thousand persons.
Some bands of nobles, with their mounted followers, were not ashamed to accompany their march, and share their prey; but their leaders are undistinguishable, and the most authentic contemporary records of their proceedings compel us to repeat the incredible assertion, that their movements were guided by a goat and a goose, which were believed to be divinely inspired. The actions of these brutal wretches were as detestable as their superstition was blind and unholy. Under pretence of beginning the Holy War by extirminating the enemies of God in Europe, they let loose their fury on the Jews. The most horrible scenes of murder, rapine, and spoliation marked every step of their course from the Rhine to the Danube. But in the hour of danger they proved as dastardly as they had been ferocious. On crossing the Danube, they were met by a Hungarian army. Struck by a sudden panic, they took to flight; an unresisted slaughter fol. lowed, and so great was the carnage, that the Danube was choked with the bodies of the slain, and its waters were dyed with their blood. The remnant that escaped saved their lives only by flight and dispersion.
The first disasters of the crusades thus swept an immense mass of corruption from the surface of society. The genuine spirit of religious and martial enthusiasm was more slowly evolved. The real hero of the first crusade is Godfrey of Bouillon, a brave and accomplished French knight. His march from the banks of the Moselle was conducted with admirable prudence and order, by the same route which had proved so calamitous to the preceding rabble. The mailed and organized chivalry of Europe now began to array itself for the mighty contest. Many princely and noble leaders took the cross. Martial conduct and discipline secured them from the disasters of their predecessors, and a respectable force of crusaders was soon collected in Asia Minor, where several large cities fell into their hands. But the Turkish hordes now flocked from all quarters to the standard of the sultan. Immense armies encountered each other in the plains of Asia Minor. The sieges, the battles, and the vicissitudes of this gigantic war must, in a great measure, be passed over in our brief narrative ; we can only relate a few prominent events.
At Antioch, in 1099, the Christians were besieged by two hundred thousand infidels. The miracle of the Holy Lance revived their drooping courage, and saved the city. A priest declared that he had been favored with a revelation of the place where the lance which pierced the side of Jesus Christ was buried. The people followed him; the earth was dug, the head of a lance was found, and the multitude exclaimed, “A miracle ! a miracle !” An attack on the enemy was immediately resolved upon. The holy lance, carried into the fight, inspired the troops with heroic valor, and the infidels were defeated by the help of another miracle. Three knights, in white garments and shining armor, issued, or seemed to issue, from the hills adjoining the field of battle; and the papal legate, who bore the holy lance, immediately proclaimed them the martyrs St. George, St. Theodore, and St. Maurice. The tumult of battle allowed no time for doubt or scrutiny ; and the triumph of the crusaders was complete.
In the end of April, 1099, the army of the crusaders reached Jerusalem, forty thousand in number, having lost more than eight hundred and fifty thousand on their march. Thirty-nine days they lay before the city, and on the 7th of June they made a general assault. Battering-rams, towers, and military engines were directed against the walls ; the besieged met the assailants with darts, stones, and the Greek fire. The Christians were repulsed, but a miracle was again employed to revive their courage. At the moment when all appeared to be lost, a knight was seen on Mount Olivet, waving his glittering shield, as a sign for the soldiers to rally and return to the charge. The languishing spirit of enthusiasm was revived, and they renewed the battle with increased animation. At the hour of the day when the Saviour was crucified, a soldier leaped upon the inner wall; his brother followed ; and Godfrey was the third Christian who stood as a conqueror upon the fortifications of Jerusalem. The banner of the cross now streamed from the wall, the gates were burst open, and the Holy City was taken.
The capture of Jerusalem was disgraced by all the horrid cruelties which might be expected from a horde of fanatics maddened with the excitement of battle. The conquerors put all to the sword without distinction. The Mussulmans fought in the streets for a while, and then fled to their temples and submitted their necks to the slaughter. Arms protected not the brave, nor submission the timid. No age or sex was spared. Infants perished by the same sword that pierced their mothers. The streets were encumbered by heaps of the slain; and such was the carnage in the inosque of