The letter of Guibert to Lysiard
Some of my friends have often asked me why I do not sign this little work with my own name; until now I have refused, out of fear of sullying a pious history with the name of hateful person. However, thinking that the story, splendid in itself, might become even more splendid if attached to the name of a famous man, I have finally decided to attach it to you. Thus I have placed a most pleasing lamp in front of the work of an obscure author. For, since your ancient lineage is accompanied by a knowledge of literature, as well an unusual serenity and moral probity, one may justly believe that God in his foresight wanted the dignity of the bishop's office to honor the gift of such reverence. By embracing your name, the little work that follows may flourish: crude in itself, it may be made agreeable by the love of the one to whom it is written, and made stronger by the authority of the office by which you stand above others. Certainly there were bishops, and others, who have heard something about this book and about some of my other writings; leaving them aside, my greatest wish was to reach you. In reading this you should consider that, if I occasionally have deviated from common grammatical practice, I have done it to correct the vices, the style that slithers along the ground, of the earlier history. I see villages, cities, towns, fervently studying grammar, for which reason I tried, to the best of my abilities, not to deviate from the ancient historians. Finally, consider that while taking care of my household duties, listening to the many cases brought to my attention, I burned with the desire to write, and, even more, to pass the story along; and while I was compelled outwardly to listen to various problems, presented with biting urgency, inwardly I was steadily compelled to persist in what I had begun. No one should be surprised that I make use of a style very much different from that of the Commentaries on Genesis or the other little treatises; for it is proper and permissible to ornament history with the crafted elegance of words; however, the mysteries of sacred eloquence should be treated not with poetic loquacity, but with ecclesiastical plainess. Therefore I ask you to accept this graciously, and to keep it as a perpetual monument to your name.
Preface to the book of the deeds of God by means of the Franks
In trying to compose the present small work, I have placed my faith not in my literary knowledge, of which I have very little, but rather in the spiritual authority of the history events themselves, for I have always been certain that it was brought to completion only by the power of God alone, and through those men whom he willed. Likewise, the story undoubtedly was written down by whatever men, even if uneducated, God willed. I am unable to doubt that He who guided their steps through so many difficulties, who removed the many military obstacles that lay before them, will implant within me, in whatever manner he pleases, the truth about what happened, nor will he deny to me the ability to choose the correct and fitting words. A version of this same history, but woven out of excessively simple words, often violating grammatical rules, exists, and it may often bore the reader with the stale, flat quality of its language. It works well enough for the less learned, who are not interested in the quality of the diction, but only in the novelty of the story, nor is it the case that the author should have spoken in a way that they do not understand. Those, moreover, who think that honesty nourishes eloquence, when they see that the words have been chosen less carefully than the narrative demands, and that the story is told briefly where the elaborate variety of mollifying eloquence was appropriate, when they see the narration proceed bare-footed, then, as the poet says, they will either sleep or laugh. They hate a badly performed speech, which they judge should have been recited in a much different way. The style of writers should fit the status of the events: martial deeds should be told with harsh words; what pertains to divine matters must be brought along at more controlled pace. In the course of this work, if my ability is equal to the task, I should perform in both modes, so that haughty Gradivus may find that his lofty crimes have been represented in matching words, and, when piety is the subject, gravity is never violated by excessive cleverness. Even if I have been unable to follow these standards, nevertheless I have learned to admire or praise for the most part what is done well by someone else. Therefore I confess that I, with shameless temerity, but out of love of faith, have run the risk of being criticized by judges whom I do not know because, when they find that I have taken up this project with a vow to correct a previous work, they may value the second less than the first. Since we see a passion for grammar everywhere, and we know that the discipline, because of the number of scholars that now exist, is now open to the worst students, it would be horrid thing not to write, even if we write only as we are able, and not as we should, about this glory of our time, or even to leave the story hidden in the scabbiness of artless speech. I have seen what God has done in these times -- miracles greater than any he has ever performed -- and now I see a gem of this kind lying in the lowest dust. Impatient with such contemptuous treatment, I have taken care, with whatever eloquence I have, to clean what was given over to neglect more preciously than any gold. I have not boldly done this entirely on my own initiative, but I have faithfully promised others, who were eager for this to be done. Some asked that I write in prose; but most asked that it be done in meter, since they knew that I had, in my youth, performed more elementary exercises in verse than I should have. Older and more responsible, however, I thought that it should not be done with words designed to be applauded, or with the clatter of verse; but I thought, if I may dare to say this, that it deserved being told with greater dignity than all the histories of Jewish warfare, if God would grant someone the ability to do this. I do not deny that I set my mind to writing after the capture of Jerusalem, when those who had taken part in the expedition began to return; but because I did not want to be importunate, I put the task off. However, because, with the permission (I do not know if it is in accordance with the will) of God, the chance to carry out my wishes came about, I have gone forward with what I had desired piously, perhaps only to be laughed at by everyone, yet I shall transcend the laughter of some, as long as I may occupy myself with the daily growth of my creation, no matter what objections others may bark. If anyone does laugh, let him not blame man who has done what he was able to do, whose intentions were sound; may he not instantly cauterize the fault in my writings, but if he utterly despises them, let him lay aside the war of words, rewrite what was badly done, and offer his own examples of correct writing. Furthermore, if anyone accuses me of writing obscurely, let him fear inflicting on himself the stigma of weak intellect, since I know for certain that no one trained in letters can raise a question about whatever I may have said in the following book.
In proceeding to offer a model to correct (or perhaps to corrupt) the history, I have first attempted to consider the motives and needs that brought about this expedition, as I have heard them, and then, having shown how it came about, to relate the events themselves. I learned the story, related with great veracity, from the previous author whom I follow, and from those who were present on the expedition. I have often compared the book's version of events with what was said by those who saw what happened with their own eyes, and beyond a doubt I have seen that neither testimony was discordant with the other. Whatever I have added, I have learned from eye-witnesses, or have found out for myself. If anything described is false, no clever critic may rightly accuse me of lying, I say, since he cannot argue, as God is my witness, that I have spoken out of a desire to deceive. How can it be surprising if we make errors, when we are describing things done in a foreign land, when we are clearly unable not only to express in words our own thoughts and actions, but even to collect them in the silence of our own minds? What can I say then about intentions, which are so hidden most of the time that they can scarcely be discerned by the acuity of the inner man? Therefore we should not be severely attacked if we stumble unknowingly in our words; but relentless blame should be brought to bear when falsity is willfully woven into the text, in an attempt to deceive, or out of a desire to disguise something. Furthermore, the names of men, provinces, and cities presented me with considerable difficulties; I knew some of the familiar ones were written down incorrectly by this author, and I do not doubt that in recording foreign, and therefore less known, names, errors were also made. For example, we inveigh every day against the Turks, and we call Khorasan by its new name; when the old word has been forgotten and has almost disappeared, no use of ancient sources, even if they were available, has been made: I have chosen to use no word unless it were in common use. Had I used Parthians instead of Turks, as some have suggested, Caucasus and not Khorasan, in the pursuit of authenticity, I might have been misunderstood and laid myself open to the attacks of those who argue about the proper names of provinces. In particular, since I have observed that in our lands provinces have been given new names, we should assume that the same changes take place in foreign lands. For if what was once called Neustria is now called Normandy, and what was once called Austrasia is now, because of a turn of events, called Lotharingia, why should one not believe that the same thing happened in the East? As some say, Egyptian Memphis is now called Babylon. Instead of using different names, thereby becoming obscure or participating in polemics, I have preferred to make use of the common word. I was in doubt for a long time about the name of the bishop of Puy, and learned it just before finishing this work, for it was not in the text from which I was working. Please, my reader, knowing without a doubt that I certainly had no more time for writing than those moments during which I dictated the words themselves, forgive the stylistic infelicities; I did not first write on wax tablets to be corrected diligently later, by I wrote them directly on the parchment, exactly as it is, harshly barked out. I inscribed a name that lacks arrogance, and brings honor to our people: The Deeds of God through the Franks. Here ends the preface to the history which is called the Deeds of God through the Franks, written by the reverend Dom Guibert, abbot of the monastery of Saint Mary at Nogent, which is located near Coucy, in the district of Laon. -
Sometimes but not always incorrectly, certain mortals have developed the foul habit of praising previous times and attacking what modern men do. Indeed the ancients should be praised for the way in which they balanced good fortune with restraint, as well as for the way in which thoughtfulness controlled their use of energy. However, no discerning individual could prefer in any way the temporal prosperity of the ancients to any of the strengths of our own day. Although pure strength was pre-eminent among the ancients, yet among us, though the end of time has come upon us, the gifts of nature have not entirely rotted away. Things done in early times may rightly be praised because done for the first time, but far more justly are those things worth celebrating which are usefully done by uncultivated men in world slipping into old age. We admire foreign nations famous for military strength; we admire Philip for his merciless slaughter and victories everywhere, never without relentless shedding of blood. We commend with resounding rhetoric the fury of Alexander, who emerged from the Macedonian forge to destroy the entire East. We measure the magnitude of the troops of Xerxes at Thermopylae, and of Darius against Alexander, with the terrible killing of infinite numbers of nations. We wonder at Chaldean pride, Greek bitterness, the sordidness of the Egyptians, the instability of the Asiatics, as described by Trogus - Pompeius and other fine writers. We judge that the early Roman institutions usefully served the common good and the spread of their power. And yet, if the essence of these things were laid bare, not only would their bravery be considered praiseworthy by wise men, but the relentless madness of fighting without good reason, only for the sake of ruling, would obviously deserve reproach. Let us look carefully, indeed let us come to our senses about the remains, I might have said dregs, of this time which we disdain, and we may find, as that foolish king said, that our little finger is greater than the backs of our fathers, whom we praise excessively. If we look carefully at the wars of the pagans and the kingdoms they traveled through by great military effort, we shall conclude that none of their strength, none of their armies, by the grace of God, is comparable in any way to ours. Although we have heard that God was worshipped among the Jews, we know that Jesus Christ, as he once was among the ancients, today exists and prevails by clear proofs among the moderns. Kings, leaders, rulers and consuls, have collected vast armies from everywhere, and from among the so-called powerful of nations everywhere, have amassed hordes of people to fight. They, however, come together here out of fear of men. What shall I say of those who, without master, without a leader, compelled only by God, have traveled not only beyond the borders of their native province, beyond even their own kingdom, but through the vast number of intervening nations and languages, from the distant borders of the Britannic Ocean, to set up their tents in the center of the earth? We are speaking about the recent and incomparable victory of the expedition to Jerusalem, whose glory for those who are not totally foolish is such that our times may rejoice in a fame that no previous times have ever merited. Our men were not driven to this accomplishment by desire for empty fame, or for money, or to widen our borders -- motives which drove almost all others who take up or have taken up arms. About these the poet correctly says:
Quis furor, o cives, quae tanta licentia ferri,
Gentibus invisis proprium praebere cruorem? (Lucan 1.8,9)
What madness was this, my countrymen, what fierce orgy of slaughter...to give to hated nations the spectacle of Roman bloodshed?
Bella geri placuit, nullos habitura triumphos.
It was decided to wage wars that could win no triumphs.
If they were taking up the cause of protecting liberty or defending the republic, they would be able to offer morally acceptable excuse for fighting. Indeed, in the case of an invasion of barbarians or pagans, no knight could rightly be prevented from taking up arms. And if these conditions were not the case, then simply to protect Holy Church they waged the most legitimate war. But since this pious purpose is not in the minds of everyone, and instead the desire for material acquisitions pervades everyone's hearts, God ordained holy wars in our time, so that the knightly order and the erring mob, who, like their ancient pagan models, were engaged in mutual slaughter, might find new way of earning salvation. Thus, without having chosen (as is customary) a monastic life, without any religious committment, they were compelled to give up this world; free to continue their customary pursuits, nevertheless they earned some measure of God's grace by their own efforts. Therefore, we have seen nations, inspired by God, shut the doors of their hearts towards all kinds of needs and feelings, taking up exile beyond the Latin world, beyond the known limits of the entire world, in order to destroy the enemies of the name of Christ, with an eagerness greater than we have seen anyone show in hurrying to the the banquet table, or in celebrating a holiday. The most splendid honors, the castles and towns over which they held power, meant nothing to them; the most beautiful women were treated as though they were worthless dirt; pledges of domestic love, once more precious than any gem, were scorned. What no mortal could have compelled them to do by force, or persuade them to do by rhetoric, they were carried forward to do by the sudden insistence of their transformed minds. No priest in church had to urge people to this task, but one man urged another, both by speech and by example, proclaiming his determination, both at home and in the streets, to go on the expedition. Every man showed the same fervor; the chance to go on the trip appealed both to those who had little property, and to those whose vast possessions or stored-up treasures permitted them to take the richest provisions for the journey. You would have seen Solomon's words clearly put into action, "the locusts have no king, yet they march together in bands." This locust made no leap of good works, as long as he lay in the frozen torpor of deep sin, but when the heat of the sun of justice shone, he leaped forward in the flight of a double (or natural) movement, abandoning his paternal home and family, changing his behaviour to take on a sacred purpose. The locust had no king, because each faithful soul had no leader but God alone; certain that He is his companion in arms, he has no doubt that God goes before him. He rejoices to have undertaken the journey by the promptings of God's will, who will be his solace in tribulation. But what is it that drives a whole community unless it is that simplicity and unity which compels the hearts of so many people to desire one and the same thing? Although the call from the apostolic see was directed only to the French nation, as though it were special, what nation under Christian law did not send forth throngs to that place? In the belief that they owed the same allegiance to God as did the French, they strove strenuously, to the full extent of their powers, to share the danger with the Franks. There you would have seen the military formations of Scots, savage in their own country, but elsewhere unwarlike, their knees bare, with their shaggy cloaks, provisions hanging from their shoulders, having slipped out of their boggy borders, offering as aid and testimony to their faith and loyalty, their arms, numerically ridiculous in comparison with ours. As God is my witness I swear that I heard that some barbarian people from I don't know what land were driven to our harbor, and their language was so incomprehensible that, when it failed them, they made the sign of the cross with their fingers; by these gestures they showed what they could not indicate with words, that because of their faith they set out on the journey. But perhaps I shall treat these matters at greater length when I have more room. Now we are concerned with the state of the church of Jerusalem, or the Eastern church, as it was then.
In the time of the faithful Helen, the mother of the ruler Constantine, throughout the regions known for the traces of the Lord's sufferings, churches and priests worthy of these churches were established by this same Augusta. From church history we learn that, for a long time after the death of those just mentioned, these institutions endured while the Roman Empire continued. However, the faith of Easterners, which has never been stable, but has always been variable and unsteady, searching for novelty, always exceeding the bounds of true belief, finally deserted the authority of the early fathers. Apparently, these men, because of the purity of the air and the sky in which they are born, as a result of which their bodies are lighter and their intellect consequently more agile, customarily abuse the brilliance of their intelligence with many useless commentaries. Refusing to submit to the authority of their elders or peers, "they searched out evil, and searching they succumbed." Out of this came heresies and ominous kinds of different plagues. Such a baneful and inextricable labyrinth of these illnesses existed that the most desolate land anywhere could not offer worse vipers and nettles. Read through the catalogues of all heresies; consider the books of the ancients against heretics; I would be surprised if, with the exception of the East and Africa, any books about heretics could be found in the Roman world. I read somewhere that Pelagius, unless I am mistaken, was a British heretic; but I believe that no one has ever been able to compose an account of the mistaken people, or their errors. The Eastern regions were lands cursed on earth in the work of its teachers, bringing forth thorns and prickly weeds for those working it. Out of Alexandria came Arius, out of Persia Manes. The madness of one of them tore and bloodied the mantle of holy Church, which had until then no spot or wrinkle, with such persistence that the persecution of Datian seemed shorter in time, and more narrowly confined in space. Not only Greece, but, afterwards, Spain, Illyria, and Africa succumbed to it. The fictions of the other, although ridiculous, nevertheless deceived the sharpest minds far and wide with its trickery. What should I say about the Eunomians, the Eutychians, the Nestorians, how can I represent the thousands of hideous groups whose frenzy against us was so relentless, and against whom victory was so difficult, that the heresies seemed to be beheaded not with swords but with sticks? If we examine the early histories of the beginnings of their kingdoms, and if we chatter about the ridiculous nature of their kings, we must wonder at the sudden overthrowing and replacing of rulers brought about by Asiatic instability. Anyone who wants to learn about their inconstancy may look at the Antiochi and Demetrii, whirling and alternating in and out of power; the man flourishing in power today may be driven tomorrow not merely from power, but from his native land, exiled by the fickleness of the peoples whom he had ruled. Their foolishness, both in secular behavior and in religious belief, has thrived until this day, so that neither in the preparation of the Eucharist, nor in the location of the Apostolic see do they have anything in common with us. But if making the sacrament out of leavened bread is defended with the apparently reasonable argument that using yeast is not harmful when it is done in good faith, and that the Lord had put an end to the old ways by eating lamb with unleavened bread, and celebrating the sacrament of his own body with the same bread, because there was no other bread, and he could not fulfill the law at that time in any other way, to them the use of unleavened bread, necessary at the time, did not seem a central part of the mystery, just as the dipping of the mouthful was an indication not of the carrying out of the sacrament but of Judas' betrayal. If, I say, these things and others also can be proposed as either true or false, then what will they say about the Holy Spirit, those who impiously argue, in accordance with the vestiges of the Arian heresy, that He is less than the Father and the Son, and who disagree, both in thought and in many of their actions, with the ancient laws of the fathers, and with the holy ritual of the Western Church, they have added this increment to their damnation: they claim that God limps, having inflicted upon him an inequality of his own nature. For if one is baptized according to the teaching of the Son of God, "in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit," it is for this reason, that the three are one God; arguing that any of the three is less than the other is to argue that he is not God. Therefore the herd of such bulls among the cows of the people now shuts out those who have proved themselves worth their weight in silver, since some of our countrymen, stirred by the debate with the Greeks, have published splendid books on the office of the Holy Spirit. However, since God places stumbling-block before those who sin voluntarily, their land has spewed forth its own inhabitants, since they were first deprived of the awareness of true belief, and rightly and justly they have been dispossessed of all earthly possessions. For since they fell away from faith in the Trinity, like those who fall in the mud and get muddier, little by little they have come to the final degradation of having taken paganism upon themselves; as the punishment for their sin proceeded, foreigners attacked them, and they lost the soil of their native land. Even those who managed to remain in their native land must pay tribute to foreigners. The most splendidly noble cities, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Nicea, and the provinces, Syria, Palestine, and Greece, the seed-beds of the new grace, have lost their internal strength at the roots, while the aborted Italians, French, and English, have flourished. I am silent about the fact that so many abuses have become customary in those worthless churches, that in many of these regions no one is made a priest unless he has chosen a wife, so that the apostle's statement that a man who is to be chosen should have only one wife be observed. That this statement does not concern a man who has and uses a wife, but does concern man who had a wife and sent her away, is confirmed by the authority of the Western church. I am also silent about the fact that, against Latin custom, people of the Christian faith, regardless of whether they are men or women, are bought and sold like brute animals. To add to the cruelty, they are sent far from their native country to be sold as slaves to pagans. Finally, worse than all these, it appears that imperial law among them generally sanctions young girls (a freedom permitted everywhere as though to be just) being taken to become prostitutes. An example: if a man has three or four daughters, one of them is put in a house of prostitution; some part of the smelly lucre derived from the suffering of these unhappy women goes to the wretched emperor's treasury, while part goes to support the woman who earned it in such a base way. Hear how the clamor ascends mightily to the ears of the Lord of Hosts. Moreover, the priests who are in charge of celebrating the divine sacraments prepare the Lord's body after they have eaten, as I have heard, and offer it to be eaten by anyone who is fasting. While they wander in these and similar paths of evil, and while they "follow their own devices," God has set up over them a new law-giver, "so that the people may know that they are mortal." And since they, more wanton than the beasts of the field, have knowingly transgressed the limits set by their fathers, they have become objects of opprobrium. But just let me tell something about the authority upon which the nations of the East rely when they decide to abandon the Christian religion to return to paganism.
According to popular opinion, there was a man, whose name, if I have it right, was Mathomus, who led them away from belief in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. He taught them to acknowledge only the person of the Father as the single, creating God, and he said that Jesus was entirely human. To sum up his teachings, having decreed circumcision, he gave them free rein for every kind of shameful behavior. I do not think that this profane man lived a very long time ago, since I find that none of the church doctors has written against his licentiousness. Since I have learned nothing about his behavior and life from writings, no one should be surprised if I am willing to tell what I have heard told in public by some skillful speakers. To discuss whether these things are true or false is useless, since we are considering here only the nature of this new teacher, whose reputation for great crimes continues to spread. One may safely speak ill of a man whose malignity transcends and surpasses whatever evil can be said of him.
An Alexandrian patriarch died, I'm not sure when, and the leaderless church was divided, as usual, into various factions; the more eagerly each argued for the person whom he favored, the more strongly he argued against the person whom he opposed. The choice of the majority was a hermit who lived nearby. Some of the more discerning men often visited him, to find out what he was really like, and from these conversations they discovered that he disagreed with them about the Catholic faith. When they found this out, they immediately abandoned the choice they had made, and, with the greatest regret, set about condemning it. Scorned, torn apart by bitter grief, since he had been unable to reach what he had striven for, like Arius, he began to think carefully how to take vengeance by spreading the poison of false belief, to undermine Catholic teaching everywhere. Such men, whose whole aim in life is to be praised, are mortally wounded, and bellow unbearably, whenever they feel that their standing in the community is diminished in any way. Seeing his opportunity with the hermit, the Ancient Enemy approached the wretch with these words, "If," he said, "you want certain solace for having been rejected, and you want power far greater than that of a patriarch, look very carefully at that young man who was with those who came to you lately -- I shall recollect for you his clothing, his face, his physical appearance, his name -- fill his vigorous, receptive mind with the teaching that lies near to your heart. Pursue this man, who will listen faithfully to your teachings and propagate them far and wide." Encouraged by the utterance, the hermit searched among the groups that visited him for the identifying signs of the young man. Recognizing him, he greeted him affectionately, then imbued him with the poison with which he himself was rotting. And because he was a poor man, and a poor man has less authority than a rich one, he proceeded to procure wealth for himself by this method: a certain very rich woman had recently become a widow; the filthy hermit sent a messenger to bring her to him, and he advised her to marry again. When she told him that there was no one appropriate for her to marry, he said that he had found for her a prophet who was appropriate, and that, if she consented to marry him, she would live in perfect happiness. He persisted steadily in his blandishments, promising that the prophet would provide for her both in this life and in the next, and he kindled her feminine emotions to love a man she did not know. Seduced, then, by the hope of knowing everything that was and everything that might be, she was married to her seer, and the formerly wretched Mahomet, surrounded by brilliant riches, was lifted, perhaps to his own great stupefaction, to unhoped-for power. And since the vessel of a single bed frequently received their sexual exchanges, the famous prophet contracted the disease of epilepsy, which we call, in ordinary language, falling sickness; he often suffered terribly while the terrified prophetess watched his eyes turning upward, his face twisting, his lips foaming, his teeth grinding. Frightened by this unexpected turn of events, she hurried to the hermit, accusing him of the misfortune which was happening to her. Disturbed and bitter in her heart, she said that she would prefer to die rather than to endure an execrable marriage to a madman. She attacked the hermit with countless kinds of complaints about the bad advice he had given her. But he, who was supplied with incomparable cleverness, said, "you are foolish for ascribing harm to what is a source of light and glory. Don't you know, blind woman, that whenever God glides into the minds of the prophets, the whole bodily frame is shaken, because the weakness of the flesh can scarcely bear the visitation of divine majesty? Pull yourself together, now, and do not be afraid of these unusual visions; look upon the blessed convulsions of the holy man with gratitude, especially since spiritual power teaches him at those moments about the things it will help you to know and to do in the future." Her womanly flightiness was taken in by these words, and what she had formerly thought foul and despicable now seemed to her not only tolerable, but sacred and remrkable. Meanwhile the man was being filled with profane teaching drawn by the devil's piping through the heretical hermit. When the hermit, like a herald, went everywhere before him, Mahomet was believed by everyone to be a prophet. When far and wide, in the opinion of everyone, his growing reputation shone, and he saw that people in the surrounding as well as in distant lands were inclining towards his teachings, after consulting with his teacher, he wrote a law, in which he loosened the reins of every vice for his followers, in order to attract more of them. By doing this he gathered a huge mob of people, and the better to deceive their uncertain minds with the pretext of religion, he ordered them to fast for three days, and to offer earnest prayers for God to grant a law. He also gives them a sign, because, should it please God to give them law, he will grant it in an unusual manner, from an unexpected hand. Meanwhile, he had a cow, whom he himself had trained to follow him, so that whenever she heard his voice or saw him, almost no force could prevent her from rushing to him with unbearable eagerness. He tied the book he had written to the horns of the animal, and hid her in the tent in which he himself lived. On the third day he climbed a high platform above all the people he had called together, and began to declaim to the people in a booming voice. When, as I just said, the sound of his words reached the cow's ears, she immediately ran from the tent, which was nearby, and, with the book fastened on her horns, made her way eagerly through the middle of the assembled people to the feet of the speaker, as though to congratulate him. Everyone was amazed, and the book was quickly removed and read to the breathless people, who happily accepted the licence permitted by its foul law. What more? the miracle of the offered book was greeted with applause over and over again. As though sent from the sky, the new license for random copulation was propagated everywhere, and the more the supply of permitted filth increased, the more the grace of a God who permitted more lenient times, without any mention of turpitude, was preached. All of Christian morality was condemned by a thousand reproofs, and whatever examples of goodness and strength the Gospel offered were called cruel and harsh. But what the cow had delivered was considered universal liberty, the only one recommended by God. Neither the antiquity of Moses nor the more recent Catholic teachings had any authority. Everything which had existed before the law, under the law, under grace, was marked as implacably wrong. If I may make inappropriate use of what the Psalmist sings, "God did not treat other nations in this fashion, and he never showed his judgements to any other people." The greater opportunity to fulfil lust, and, going beyond the appetites of beasts, by resorting to multiple whores, was cloaked by the excuse of procreating children. However, while the flow of nature was unrestrained in these normal acts, at the same time they engaged in abnormal acts, which we should not even name, and which were unknown even to the animals. At the time, the obscurity of this nefarious sect first covered the name of Christ, but now it has wiped out his name from the furthest corners of the entire East, from Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and even the more remote coasts of Spain -- a country near us. But now to describe how this marvelous law-giver made his exit from our midst. Since he often fell into sudden epileptic fit, with which we have already said he struggled, it happened once, while he was walking alone, that a fit came upon him and he fell down on the spot; while he was writhing in this agony, he was found by some pigs, who proceeded to devour him, so that nothing could be found of him except his heels. While the true Stoics, that is, the worshipers of Christ, killed Epicurus, lo, the greatest law-giver tried to revive the pig, in fact he did revive it, and, himself a pig, lay exposed to be eaten by pigs, so that the master of filth appropriately died a filthy death. He left his heels fittingly, since he had wretchedly fixed the traces of false belief and foulness in wretchedly deceived souls. We shall make an epitaph for his heels in four lines of the poet:
Regalique situ pyramidum altius:
(I have built a monument) more lasting than brass, taller that the royal site of the Pyramids...
So that the fine man, happier than any pig, might say with the poet:
Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei
I shall not die entirely, a great part of me shall avoid Hell.
Manditur ore suum, qui porcum vixerat, hujus
Membra beata cluunt, podice fusa suum.
Quum talos ori, tum quod sus fudit odori,
Digno qui celebrat cultor honore ferat.
He who has lived by the pig is chewed to death by the pig and the limbs which were called blessed have become pigs' excrement. May those who wish to honor him carry to their mouths his heels, which the pig has poured forth in stench.
What if there is some truth in what the Manicheans say about purification, that in every food something of God is present and that part of God is purified by chewing and digesting, and the purified part is turned into angels, who are said to depart from us in belching and flatulence: how many angels may be believe were produced by the flesh eaten by these pigs and by the great farts they let go? But, laying aside the comic remarks intended to mock his followers, my point is that they did not think that he was God, but a just man and leader, through whom divine laws might be transmitted. They imagined that he had been taken up into heaven, with only his heels left as a monument for his faithful adherents, who visit them with great veneration, and condemn eating pork, because pigs consumed their lord with their bites.
After the pagan heresy had grown strong over a long time, and for many generations, the people whom we have mentioned above invaded Palestine, Jerusalem, and the Holy Sepulchre, and captured Armenia, Syria, and the part of Greece that extends almost to the sea which is called the Arm of Saint George. Among all the Eastern kingdoms, the Babylonian empire was from ancient times the most powerful, and ruled over many kingdoms. However, the kingdom of the Parthians, whom we, because of changes in the language, call the Turks, is pre-eminent in military matters, in horsemanship, and in courage, although it is a very small country. And so the Babylonian emperor occupied the areas we just mentioned with a large army, but in the course of time he lost them, as the Turks grew in number, and the Assyrians were defeated. More energetic, and in command of an astute boldness, they were attacking the empire of Constantinople and seemed about to besiege the city, when the emperor of the Greeks, frightened by their frequent and relentless incursions, sent a letter to France, written to the elder Robert, count of Flanders, offering him reasons that might urge him to defend endangered Greece. He did not approach him because he thought that Robert, although extremely wealthy, and capable of raising a large force, could alone supply enough troops for the task, but because he realized that if a man of such power went on such a journey, he would attract many of our people, if only for the sake of a new experience, to support him. This count was truly as wise in military matters as he was perspicacious and discriminating in literary matters. He had once before gone to Jerusalem, for the sake of prayer, and, happening to pass through Constantinople on the way, had spoken with the emperor; as result, on the basis of the great feeling of trust he had developed for him, the emperor was impelled to call upon him for aid. Since inserting the letter itself in this little work would produce a tedious effect, I have preferred to offer some of what was said, but clothed in my own words.
He complained that, "after Christianity was driven out, the churches which the pagans held had been turned into stables for horses, mules, and other animals. It was also true that they had set up in them temples, which they called Mahomeries, and they carried out all kinds of filthy activity in them, so that they had become not cathedrals, but brothels and theaters. Moreover, there would be no purpose to my mentioning the slaughter of Catholics, since the faithful who died received in exchange eternal life, while those who survived led lives wretchedly bound by the yoke of slavery, harsher, I believe, than what those who died endured. They took virgins and made them public prostitutes, since they were never deterred by shame or feeling for marital fidelity. Mothers were violated in the presence of their daughters, raped over and over again by different men, while their daughters were compelled , not only to watch, but to sing obscene songs and to dance. Then they changed places, and the suffering, which is painful and shameful to speak of, was inflicted upon the daughters, while the filthy activity was adorned by the obscene songs of the unfortunate mothers. Finally reverence for all that was called Christian was handed over to the brothel. When the female sex was not spared (an action which might be excused since it is at least in accord with nature), they became worse than animals, breaking all human laws by turning on men. Their lust overflowed to the point that the execrable and profoundly intolerable crime of sodomy, which they committed against men of middle or low station, they also committed against a certain bishop, killing him. How can this urgent lust, worse than any insanity anywhere, which perpetually flees wisdom and modesty, and is enkindled more powerfully the more it is quenched, control itself among human beings, whom it befouls with couplings unheard of among beasts, actions to which Christians may not give name. And although, according to their own judgment, these wretches may have many women, that is not enough, but they must stain their dignity at the hog-trough of such filth by using men also. It is not surprising that God could not tolerate their ripe wantoness, and turned it into grief, and the earth, in its ancient way, cast out the excrement of such destructive inhabitants." Therefore, after he had expressed his great fears about the siege of Constantinople, which would follow the crossing of the Arm of Saint George by his enemies, he added, among other remarks, the following: "This great city is most deserving of every kind of help if for no other reason than to prevent the six apostles whose bodies are buried here from being burned by unbelievers, or buried in the swirling sea." And certainly nothing is more true. For that city, not only superior for its monuments of the saints, but also famed for the merit and renown of its founder, and particularly for the divine revelation which transformed it from a very old little town into a miraculous city and a second Rome, is worth of having the whole world come together to help it, if that were possible. Then, after speaking of the apostles, the emperor said that they had the head of John the Baptist, which (although it was not true) seemed to be covered with hair and skin, as though alive today. Now if this were true, one would have to investigate the head of John the Baptist that is glorified by the monks at Angers. Now we are certain that two John the Baptists did not exist, nor did the one man have two heads, which would be impious to say. In this matter, one should consider the frequent but not deadly error, which particularly assails the churches of France, regarding the bodies of saints: two different places claim to have the same martyr or confessor, but a single entity cannot occupy two spaces simultaneously. This mistaken contention arises from the fact that saints are not permitted to enjoy the peace of the permanent burial they deserve. And I do not doubt that their bodies are covered with silver and gold out of motives lower than piety; open and extremely foul avarice drives them to collect money by displaying bones and dragging around wagons. These things would stop if, as in the case of the Lord Jesus, their limbs were shut up in locked tombs.
However, setting these things aside, let us go on. The emperor added that if neither the prevention of such evil, nor the love of the aforementioned saints inspired them to perform this task, then at least greed for gold and silver, of which there was a plentiful supply in his region, might entice them. Finally he offered an argument that has no power over men with self-control, saying that they would be drawn by the pleasure of seeing the most beautiful women, as though the beauty of Greek women were so great that they would be preferred to the women of Gaul, and for this reason alone, the Frankish army would march to Thrace. While this foul tyrant was offering this argument, he should have kept in mind that for this very reason the most powerful adversity had descended upon him and his people; in well-known proclamation, he had issued an order throughout the land that families with several daughters give one of them up to prostitution, and place in his own treasury money gained from the disgusting experience. In addition, he had issued another edict, ordering families with several sons to have one castrated, thus rendering their bodies, deprived of virility, weak and effeminate, no longer fit for military service. Even worse, they were cut off from producing progeny for the future, who might have been looked for as aid against their enemies. Therefore he who had brought destruction upon himself was now compelled to seek help from foreigners. In addition, one should note that this emperor had received the purple not by legitimate succession, but because he had been one of the officers of the palace, under the ruler whose name, unless I am mistaken, was Michael, who had put him in charge of the larger group of Western soldiers, whose natural probity made them the best of the emperor's men, and the emperor's bodyguard. Gathering boldness from the men he commanded, he undertook a coup against his own prince. Invading the city of Constantinople, he captured his ruler, cruelly deprived him of his eyes, and placed him under close guard in a certain town. Then he usurped imperial power entirely without legal right. Compelled by necessity, as we said above, he sought the Franks. But after he saw such remarkable leaders assembled, distinguished both for their impeccable conduct and military ability, he envied the size of the forces, but envied their wisdom even more. When they successfully completed what they had set out to do, his envy of the ability of our men grew even greater; after the victory at Jerusalem, the emperor feared that they might turn their victorious arms against him, especially since they had learned that, among the nations in that area, he was their most powerful rival. We also heard, however, before the beginning of the journey had been announced, that the emperor's mother, a sorceress, had predicted that a man of Frankish origin would take his empire and his life from him. Judging by events, Bohemund tried to fulfill this oracle, attacking the emperor with such force, and compelling him so often to flee from battle, that a large part of the provinces fell into his hands. Since his family was from Normandy, a part of France, and since he had obtained the hand of the daughter of the king of the Franks, he might be very well be considered a Frank.
HERE ENDS THE FIRST BOOK OF THE DEEDS OF GOD AS PERFORMED BY THE FRENCH.
Pope Urban, whose name was Odo before becoming Pope, was descended from a noble French family from the area and parish of Rheims, and they say, unless the report is in error, that he was the first French Pope. A cleric, he was made a monk of Cluny, after the abbot of glorious memory who aided Hugo; not long afterwards he was made prior, and then, because of his abilities, he was appointed bishop of the city of Ostia, by order of Pope Gregory VII; finally, he was elected supreme pontiff of the Apostolic See. His greatness of spirit was made manifest when he urged that the journey be undertaken, because when he first showed how it was to be done the whole world was astonished. His death, resplendent in miracles, attests to the state of his mind. According to what the bishop who succeeded him at Osti wrote, many signs were seen after he was dead and buried; a certain young man stood at his tomb, and swore by his own limbs that no sign had ever been given or might be given by the merit of Urban, who was called Odo. Before he could move a step, he was struck dumb, and paralyzed on one side; he died the next day, offering testimony to the power of Urban. This great man, although honored with great gifts, and even with prayers, by Alexius, prince of the Greeks, was driven much more by the danger to all of Christendom, which was diminished daily by pagan incursions (for he heard that Spain was steadily being torn apart by Saracen invasions), decided to make a journey to France, to recruit the people of his country. It was, to be sure, the ancient custom for pontiffs of the apostolic see, if they had been harmed by neighboring people, always to seek help from the French: the Pontiffs Stephen and Zacharias, in the time of Pepin and Charles, took refuge with them; Pepin made an expedition to Ticinum to restore to the church its patrimony, and to place Stephen back on his throne. Charles compelled king Desiderius, by the mere threat of combat, to return what he had seized by force. More respectful and humble than other nations toward blessed Peter and pontifical decrees, the French, unlike other peoples, have been unwilling to behave insolently against God. For many years we have seen the Germans, particularly the entire kingdom of Lotharingia, struggling with barbaric obstinacy against the commands of Saint Peter and of his pontiffs. In their striving, they prefer to remain under a daily, or even eternal excommunication rather than submit. Last year while I was arguing with a certain archdeacon of Mainz about a rebellion of his people, I heard him vilify our king and our people, merely because the king had given a gracious welcome everywhere in his kingdom to his Highness Pope Paschal and his princes; he called them not merely Franks, but, derisively, "Francones." I said to him, "If you think them so weak and languid that you can denigrate a name known and admired as far away as the Indian Ocean, then tell me upon whom did Pope Urban call for aid against the Turks? Wasn't it the French? Had they not been present, attacking the barbarians everywhere, pouring their sturdy energy and fearless strength into the battle, there would have been no help for your Germans, whose reputation there amounted to nothing." That is what I said to him. I say truly, and everyone should believe it, that God reserved this nation for such a great task. For we know certainly that, from the time that they received the sign of faith that blessed Remigius brought to them until the present time, they succumbed to none of the diseases of false faith from which other nations have remained uncontaminated either with great difficulty or not at all. They are the ones who, while still laboring under the pagan error, when they triumphed on the battlefield over the Gauls, who were Christians, did not punish or kill any of them, because they believed in Christ. Instead, those whom Roman severity had punished with sword and fire, native French generosity encased in gold and silver, covered with gems and amber. They strove to welcome with honor not only those who lived within their own borders, but they also affectionately cared for people who came from Spain, Italy, or anywhere else, so that love for the martyrs and confessors, whom they constantly served and honored, made them famous, finally driving them to the glorious victory at Jerusalem. Because it has carried the yoke since the days of its youth, it will sit in isolation, a nation noble, wise, war-like, generous, brilliant above all kinds of nations. Every nation borrows the name as an honorific title; do we not see the Bretons, the English, the Ligurians call men "Frank" if they behave well? But now let us return to the subject.
When the Pope crossed our borders, he was greeted with such great joy by crowds in the cities, towns, and villages, because no one alive could remember when the bishop of the apostolic see had come to these lands. The year of the incarnate Word 1097 was hastening to its end, when the bishop hastily convoked a council, choosing a city in Auvergne, famous for the most learned of all bishops, Sidonius, although its name has now been changed to Clermont. The council was even more crowded because of the great desire to see the face and to hear the words of such an excellent, rarely seen person. In addition to the multitudes of bishops and abbots, whom some, by counting their staves, estimated at approximately 400, learned men from all of France and the dependent territories flowed to that place. One could see there how he presided over them with serene gravity, with a dignified presence, and, if I may use the words of Sidonius, with what peppery eloquence the most learned Pope answered whatever objections were raised. It was noted with what gentleness the most brilliant man listened gently to the most vehemently argued speeches, and how little he valued the social position of people, judging them only by God's laws.
Then Philip, king of the French, who was in the thirty-seventh year of his reign, having put aside his own wife, whose name was Berta, and having carried off Bertrada, the wife of the count of Anjou, was excommunicated by the Pope, who spurned both the attempts by important people to intercede for the king, and the offers of innumerable gifts. Nor was he afraid that he was now within the borders of the kingdom of France. In this council, just as he had planned before leaving Rome and seeking out the French for this reason, he gave a fine speech to those who were in attendance. Among other things, which were said to exceed the memories of the listeners, he spoke about this project. His eloquence was reinforced by his literary knowledge; the richness of his speech in Latin seemed no less than that of any lawyer nimble in his native language. Nor did the crowd of disputants blunt the skill of the speaker. Surrounded by praiseworthy teachers, apparently buried by clouds of cases being pressed upon him, he was judged to have overcome, by his own literary brilliance, the flood of oratory and to have overwhelmed the cleverness of every speech. Therefore his meaning, and not his exact words, follow: "If, among the churches scattered through the whole world, some deserve more reverence than others because they are associated with certain people and places, then, because of certain persons, I say, greater privileges are granted to apostolic sees; in the case of places, some privilege is granted to royal cities, as is the case with the city of Constantinople. We are grateful for having received from this most powerful church the grace of redemption and the origin of all Christianity. If what was said by the Lord remains true, namely that "salvation is from the Jews," and it remains true that the Lord of the Sabbath has left his seed for us, lest we become like those of Sodom and Gomorrha, and that Christ is our seed, in whom lies salvation and blessing for all people, then the earth and the city in which he lived and suffered is called holy by the testimony of Scripture. If this land is the inheritance of God, and his holy temple, even before the Lord walked and suffered there, as the sacred and prophetic pages tell us, then what additional sanctity and reverence did it gain then, when the God of majesty took flesh upon Himself there, was fed, grew up, and moving in his bodily strength walked here and there in the land? To abbreviate a matter that could be spun out at much greater length, this is the place where the blood of the Son of God, holier than heaven and earth, was spilled, where the body, at whose death the elements trembled, rested in its tomb. What sort of veneration might we think it deserves? If, soon after our Lord's death, while the city was still in the possession of the Jews, the Evangelist called it sacred, when he said, "Many bodies of the saints that have been asleep here have awoken, and come to the holy city, and they been seen by many.", and it was said by the prophet Isaiah, "His tomb will be glorious,", since this very sanctity, once granted by God the sanctifier himself, cannot be overcome by any evil whatsoever, and the glory of his tomb in the same way remains undiminished, then, O my dearly beloved brothers, you must exert yourselves, with all your strength, and with God leading you and fighting for you, to cleanse the holiness of the city and the glory of the tomb, which has been polluted by the thick crowd of pagans, if you truly aspire to the author of that holiness and glory, and if you love the traces that he has left on earth. If the Maccabees once deserved the highest praise for piety because they fought for their rituals and their temple, then you too, O soldiers of Christ, deserve such praise, for taking up arms to defend the freedom of your country. If you think you must seek with such effort the thresholds of the apostles and of others, then why do you hesitate to go see and to snatch up the cross, the blood, and to devote your precious souls to rescuing them? Until now you have waged wrongful wars, often hurling insane spears at each other, driven only by greed and pride, for which you have deserved only eternal death and damnation. Now we propose for you battles which offer the gift of glorious martyrdom, for which you will earn present and future praise. If Christ had not died and been buried in Jerusalem, had not lived there at all, if all these things had not taken place, surely this fact alone should be enough to drive you to come to the aid of the land and the city: that the law came from Zion and the word of God from Jerusalem. If all Christian preaching flows from the fountain of Jerusalem, then let the rivulets, wherever they flow over the face of the earth, flow into the hearts of the Catholic multitude, so that they may heed of what the owe to this overflowing fountain. If "rivers return to the place whence they flow, so that they may continue to flow," according to the saying of Solomon, it should seem glorious to you if you are able to purify the place whence you received the cleansing of baptism and the proof of faith. And you should also consider with the utmost care whether God is working through your efforts to restore the church that is the mother of churches; he might wish to restore the faith in some of the eastern lands, in spite of the nearness of the time of the Antichrist. For it is clear that the Antichrist makes war neither against Jews, nor against pagans, but, according to the etymology of his name, he will move against Christians. And if the Antichrist comes upon no Christian there, as today there is scarcely any, there will be no one to resist him, or any whom he might justly move among. According to Daniel and Jerome his interpreter, his tent will be fixed on the Mount of Olives, and he will certainly take his seat, as the Apostle teaches, in Jerusalem, "in the temple of God, as though he were God," and, according to the prophet, he will undoubtedly kill three kings pre-eminent for their faith in Christ, that is, the kings of Egypt, of Africa, and of Ethiopia. This cannot happen at all, unless Christianity is established where paganism now rules. Therefore if you are eager to carry out pious battles, and since you have accepted the seedbed of the knowledge of God from Jerusalem, then you may restore the grace that was borrowed there. Thus through you the name of Catholicism will be propagated, and it will defeat the perfidy of the Antichrist and of the Antichristians. Who can doubt that God, who surpasses every hope by means of his overflowing strength, may so destroy the reeds of paganism with your spark that he may gather Egypt, Africa and Ethiopia, which no longer share our belief, into the rules of his law, and "sinful man, the son of perdition," will find others resisting him? See how the Gospel cries out that "Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the time of the nations will be fulfilled.""The time of nations" may be understood in two ways: either that they ruled at will over the Christians, and for their own pleasures have wallowed in the troughs of every kind of filth, and in all of these things have found no obstruction (for "to have one's time" means that everything goes according to one's wishes, as in "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready," and one customarily says to voluptuaries, "You have your time;") or else the "time of nations" means the multitudes of nations who, before Israel is saved, will join the faith. These times, dearest brothers, perhaps will now be fulfilled, when, with the aid of God, the power of the pagans will be pushed back by you, and, with the end of the world already near, even if the nations do not turn to the Lord, because, as the Apostle says, "there must be a falling away from faith." Nevertheless, first, according to the prophecies, it is necessary, before the coming of the Antichrist in those parts, either through you or through whomever God wills, that the empire of Christianity be renewed, so that the leader of all evil, who will have his throne there, may find some nourishment of faith against which he may fight. Consider, then, that Almighty providence may have destined you for the task of rescuing Jerusalem from such abasement. I ask you to think how your hearts can conceive of the joy of seeing the holy city revived by your efforts, and the oracles, the divine prophecies fulfilled in our own times. Remember that the voice of the Lord himself said to the church, "I shall lead your seed from the East, and I shall gather you from the West." The Lord has led our seed from the East, in that he brought forth for us in double manner out of the Eastern land the early progeny of the Church. But out of the West he assembled us, for through those who last began the proof of faith, that is the Westerners, (we think that, God willing, this will come about through your deeds), Jerusalem's losses will be restored. If the words of Scripture and our own admonitions do not move your souls, then at least let the great suffering of those who wish to visit the holy places touch you. Think of the pilgrims who travel the Mediterranean; if they are wealthy, to what tributes, to what violence are they subjected; at almost every mile they are compelled to pay taxes and tributes; at the gates of the city, at the entrances of churches and temples, they must pay ransoms. Each time they move from one place to another they are faced with another charge, compelled to pay ransom, and the governors of the Gentiles commonly coerce with blows those who are slow to give gifts. What shall we say about those who have taken up the journey, trusting in their naked poverty, who seem to have nothing more than their bodies to lose? The money that they did not have was forced from them by intolerable tortures; the skin of their bones was probed, cut, and stripped, in search of anything that they might have sewed within. The brutality of these evil-doers was so great that, suspecting that the wretches had swallowed gold and silver, they gave them purgatives to drink, so that they would either vomit or burst their insides. Even more unspeakable, they cut their bellies open with swords, opening their inner organs, revealing with a hideous slashing whatever nature holds secret. Remember, I beg you, the thousands who died deplorably, and, for the sake of the holy places, whence the beginnings of piety came to you, take action. Have unshakable faith that Christ will be the standard-bearer and inseparable advance guard before you who are sent to His wars."
The superb man delivered this speech, and by the power of the blessed Peter absolved everyone who vowed to go, confirming this with an apostolic benediction, and establishing a sign of this honorable promise. He ordered that something like a soldier's belt, or rather that for those about to fight for the Lord, something bearing the sign of the Lord's passion, the figure of a Cross, be sewn onto the tunics and cloaks of those who were going. If anyone, after accepting this symbol, and after having made the public promise, then went back on his good intentions, either out of weak regretfulness, or out of domestic affection, such a person, according to the Pope's decree, would be considered everywhere an outlaw, unless he came to his senses and fulfilled the obligation which he had foully laid aside. He also cursed with a horrible anathema all those who might dare to harm the wives, sons, and possessions of those who took up God's journey for all of the next three years.
Finally, he entrusted the leadership of the expedition to the most praiseworthy of men, the bishop of the city of Puy (whose name, I regret, I have never discovered or heard). He granted him the power to teach the Christian people as his representative, wherever they went, and therefore, in the manner of the apostles, he laid hands upon him and gave him his blessing as well. How wisely he carried out his commission the results of this wonderful effort demonstrate.
And so, when the council held at Clermont at the octave of blessed Martin in the month of November was over, the great news spread through all parts of France, and whoever heard the news of the Pontiff's decree urged his neighbors and family to undertake the proposed "path of God" (for this was it epithet). The courtly nobility were already burning with desire, and the middle-level knights were bursting to set out, when lo the poor also were aflame with desire, without any consideration for the scarcity of their resources, and without worrying about suitably disposing of their homes, vineyards, and fields. Instead, each sold his assets at a price much lower than he would have received if he had been shut up in a painful prison and needed to pay an immediate ransom. At this time there was a general famine, with great poverty even among the very wealthy, since when even though there were enough things, here and there, for sale for some people, they had nothing or scarcely anything with which those things could be bought. Masses of poor people learned to feed often on the roots of wild plants, since they were compelled by the scarcity of bread to search everywhere for some possible substitute. The misery that everyone was crying out about was clearly threatening to the powerful people as they watched, and, while each man, considering the anguish of the starving mob to be of little importance, became fastidiously parsimonious, fearing that he might squander the wealth for which he had worked hard by spending money too easily. The thirsty hearts of the avaricious, who rejoiced that the times smiled upon their brutal rates of interest, thought of the bushels of grain they had stored through the fertile years, and calculated how much their sale would add to their accumulating mountains of money. Thus, while some suffer terribly, and others swiftly go about their business, Christ, "breaking the ships of Tarshish with a powerful wind," resounded in everyone's ears, and he "who freed those who were in adamantine chains" broke the shackles of those desperate men whose hearts were ensnared by greed. Although, as I just said, hard times reduced everyone's wealth, nevertheless, when the hard times provoked everyone to spontaneous exile, the wealth of many men came out into the open, and what had seemed expensive when no one was moved, was sold at a cheap price, now that everyone one was eager for the journey. As many men were rushing to depart (I shall illustrate the sudden and unexpected drop in prices with one example of those things that were sold), seven sheep brought an unheard-of price of five cents. The lack of grain became surfeit, and each tried to get whatever money he could scrape together by any means; each seemed to be offering whatever he had, not at the seller's, but at the buyer's price, lest he be late in setting out on the path of God. It was a miraculous sight: everyone bought high and sold low; whatever could be used on the journey was expensive, since they were in a hurry; they sold cheaply whatever items of value they had piled up; what neither prison nor torture could have wrung from them just a short time before they now sold for a few paltry coins. Nor is it less absurd that many of those who had no desire to go, who laughed one day at the frantic selling done by the others, declaring that they were going on a miserable journey, and would return even more miserable, were suddenly caught up the next day, and abandoned all their good for a few small coins, and set out with those at whom they had laughed.
Who can tell of the boys, the old men, who were stirred to go to war? Who can count the virgins and the weak, trembling old men? Everyone sang of battle, but did not say that they would fight. Offering their necks to the sword, they promised martyrdom. "You young men," they said, "will draw swords with your hands, but may we be permitted to earn this by supporting Christ."
Indeed they seemed to have a desire to emulate God, "but not according to knowledge," but God, who customarily turns many vain undertakings to a pious end, prepared salvation for their simple souls, because of their good intentions. There you would have seen remarkable, even comical things; poor people, for example, tied their cattle to two-wheel carts, armed as though they were horses, carrying their few possessions, together with their small children, in the wagon. The little children, whenever they came upon a castle or a city, asked whether this was the Jerusalem to which they were going.
At that time, before people set out on the journey, there was a great disturbance, with fierce fighting, throughout the entire kingdom of the Franks. Everywhere people spoke of rampant thievery, highway robbery; endless fires burned everywhere. Battles broke out for no discernible reason, except uncontrollable greed. To sum up briefly, whatever met the eye of greedy men, no matter to whom it belonged, instantly became their prey. Therefore the change of heart they soon underwent was remarkable and scarcely believable because of the heedless state of their souls, as they all begged the bishops and priests to give the sign prescribed by the above-mentioned Pope, that is, the crosses. As the force of powerful winds can be restrained by the gentle rain, so all of the feuds of each against the other were put to rest by the aspiration imbedded undoubtedly by Christ Himself.
While the leaders, who needed to spend large sums of money for their great retinues, were preparing like careful administrators, the common people, poor in resources but copious in number, attached themselves to a certain Peter the Hermit, and they obeyed him as though he were the leader, as long as the matter remained within our own borders. If I am not mistaken, he was born in Amiens, and, it is said, led a solitary life in the habit of a monk in I do not know what part of upper Gaul, then moved on, I don't know why, and we saw him wander through cities and towns, spreading his teaching, surrounded by so many people, given so many gifts, and acclaimed for such great piety, that I don't ever remember anyone equally honored. He was very generous to the poor with the gifts he was given, making prostitutes morally acceptable for husbands, together with generous gifts, and, with remarkable authority, restoring peace and treaties where there had been discord before. Whatever he did or said seemed like something almost divine. Even the hairs of his mule were torn out as though they were relics, which we report not as truth, but as a novelty loved by the common people. Outdoors he wore a woolen tunic, which reached to his ankles, and above it a hood; he wore a cloak to cover his upper body, and a bit of his arms, but his feet were bare. He drank wine and ate fish, but scarcely ever ate bread. This man, partly because of his reputation, partly because of his preaching, had assembled a very large army, and decided to set out through the land of the Hungarians. The restless common people discovered that this area produced unusually abundant food, and they went wild with excess in response to the gentleness of the inhabitants. When they saw the grain that had been piled up for several years, as is the custom in that land, like towers in the fields, which we are accustomed to call "metas" in every-day language, and although supplies of various meats and other foods were abundant in this land, not content with the natives' decency, in a kind of remarkable madness, these intruders began to crush them. While the Hungarians, as Christians to Christians, had generously offered everything for sale, our men willfully and wantonly ignored their hospitality and generosity, arbitrarily waging war against them, assuming that they would not resist, but would remain entirely peaceful. In an accursed rage they burned the public granaries we spoke of, raped virgins, dishonored many marriage beds by carrying off many women, and tore out or burned the beards of their hosts. None of them now thought of buying what he needed, but instead each man strove for what he could get by theft and murder, boasting with amazing impudence that he would easily do the same against the Turks. On their way they came to a castle that they could not avoid passing through. It was sited so that the path allowed no divergence to the right or left. With their usual insolence they moved to besiege it, but when they had almost captured it, suddenly, for a reason that is no concern of mine, they were overwhelmed; some died by sword, others were drowned in the - 89 - river, others, without any money, in abject poverty, deeply ashamed, returned to France. And because this place was called Moisson, and when they returned they said that they had been as far as Moisson, they were greeted with great laughter everywhere.
When he was unable to restrain this undisciplined crowd of common people, who were like prisoners and slaves, Peter, together with a group of Germans and the dregs of our own people, whose foresight had enable them to escape, reached the city of Constantinople on the calends of August (July 30). But a large army of Italians, Ligurians, Langobards, together with men from parts of countries beyond the Alps, had preceded him, and had decided to wait for his army and the armies of the other Frankish leaders, because they did not think that they had a large enough army to go beyond the province of the Greeks and attack the Turks. By order of the emperor they had been granted permission to buy everything they wanted, and to conduct business in the city, but, on the advice of this prince, they were forbidden to cross the Arm of Saint George, which was the sea that provided border with the Turks, because he said that it was sure destruction for so few men to go up against so many. But they were not held back by the decency of the people of the province, nor were they mollified by the emperor's affability, but they behaved very insolently, wrecking palaces, burning public buildings, tearing the roofs of churches that were covered with lead, and then offering to sell the lead back to the Greeks. Disturbed by such foul arrogance, the emperor instructed them to delay their crossing of the waters of the Arm no longer. Once they had made the crossing, they continued to behave as they had on the other side; those who had taken a vow to fight against the pagans fought against men of our own faith, destroying churches everywhere, and stealing the possessions of Christians. Since they were not subject to the severity of a king, who might correct their errors with judicial strength, nor did they reflect soberly upon divine law, which might have restrained the instability of their minds, they fell to sudden death, because death comes to meet the undisciplined, and the man who cannot control himself does not last long.
When they finally reached Nicomedia, the Italians, Lombards, and Germans, unable to bear the pride of the Franks, separated from them. For the Franks, as their name indicates, were famous for their great energy, but, in large groups, unless they are restrained by a firm hand, they are fiercer than they should be. And so the people from beyond the Alps, having separated, as we just said, from the Franks, chose as their leader a certain Rainald, and entered the province which is called Romania. Four days march from Nicomedia, they came upon a castle which its builder had been pleased to call Exorogorgum, and which, since it had been abandoned by its inhabitants, lay open to the troops, who immediately rushed in. The inhabitants had fled out of fear of the invaders; desperate to save themselves, they gave no thought to carrying with them their goods, of which they had a considerable amount. Thus the troops found an abundance of food there, and they ate their full. When the Turks discovered that the Christians had occupied the castle, they laid siege to it with great force. In front of the entrance to the city was a well, and below it, not far from the city walls, another well, where their leader Rainald cleverly set an ambush, to keep an eye on the Turks. Soon the Turks who were being watched advanced towards the city, and on the day on which the memory of the blessed Michael was celebrated, the duke and his retainers were attacked, and many of those who lay in ambush were killed, while others were forced to return in disgrace within the battlements. The surrounding Turks attacked so relentlessly that the Crusaders were prevented from drawing water. They became so thirsty that they drew blood from their horses and asses, and were compelled to drink the blood. Some, by dipping their belts and rags into a cistern, and squeezing the liquid into their mouths, seemed to find some relief. Others, horrible though it is to say, drank their own urine, while others dug a hole and placed themselves in the hole they had dug, covering their parched breasts with the recently dug up earth, in the belief that they might relieve their burning insides with a bit of moisture. The bishops and priests who were present, and were themselves suffering in the same way, seeing that the dangers were hideous and human help unavailable, offered consolation, continuing to promise heavenly rewards. For eight days their suffering continued. While they all seemed to be subject to the same misery, they did not all hope for God's mercy in the same way; those who had been the leaders plotted treacherously to save themselves. Rainald, who lead them in prosperity, secretly and foully concluded a pact with the Turks, promising to betray to them all the soldiers he commanded. And so he marched out as though about to battle them, but while pretending to lead them in this way, he and many of his own men fled to the Turks, and he remained with them from then on; the others were captured. Some of the prisoners were challenged about their faith, and ordered to renounce Christ, but they proclaimed Christ with steady heart and voice, and were decapitated.
And now Christ will have new honors, like those he had long ago, ornamenting our age with new martyrs. How fragrant are the laurels on the brows of those who prepare to offer their throats to the swift blade! I shall call them happy who endure those few moments: their firm faith has brought them eternal life. Now the least of us need despair no longer, having dared what can scarcely be imitated.
The Turks divided up among themselves some of the captives, whose lives they had spared, or rather reserved for a more painful death, and submitted them to dismal servitude at the hands of cruel masters. Some were exposed in public, like targets, and were pierced by arrows; others were given away as gifts, while others were sold outright. Those to whom they were given took them back to their own homes, bringing some of them to the region called Khorasan, and others to the city of Antioch, where they would endure wretched slavery under the worst masters imaginable.
They underwent a torture much longer than that endured by those whose heads were severed swiftly by the sword. A cruel master drives them, subjecting them to painful labor; everywhere the pious man serves the ungrateful man. The conscientious worker is flogged; the faithful man, who performs eagerly and competently, is punished. What he sees, what he hears, what he does during the day, because he resists doing evil, becomes foul torture. I have no doubt that their suffering was more excruciating than three days of torture on the rack.
These were the first martyrs God made in the nearly desperate state of our modern times.
Meanwhile Peter, about whom we spoke earlier, often troubled by the folly of his retinue, disturbed by frequent losses, finally gave the reins of leadership over to well-born man, a powerful warrior from beyond the Seine, whose name was Walter, in the hope that those whom he had been unable to control by warnings might at least be restrained by military authority. Walter hurried, together with his insane army, to reach Civitot, a city that is said to be located above Nicaea. When the Turks, who were keeping track of our movements, found out, they hurried to Civitot, eager to act out their great ill will. Half-way there, they met up with the above-mentioned Walter and his group, and they killed him and a great many of his men. Peter, called the Hermit, unable to restrain the insanity of the men he had gathered together, was afraid of being caught up in their undisciplined, improvident folly, and wisely retreated to Constantinople. The Turks attacked them without warning, and, finding some of them asleep, and others not only without weapons, but unclothed as well, immediately killed them all. Among them they found a certain priest performing mass, and they killed him in the very act of completing the sacrament; while he was sacrificing to God, they sacrificed him at the same altar.
What better host can be offered to God than the flesh of him who becomes a victim for his God. What prayer did he utter from the depths of his heart when the trumpets of battle sounded? The victors tore them to pieces, the clangor of arms resounded, and the wretched band of fugitives howled. The fine priest embraced the altar, holding the sacred host closely, "Good Jesus," he said,"you are here as my protection. Since I am holding you, let the hope of flight disappear. I shall enter into an eternal pact with you. I am killed, and you, God, shall carry out the sacred things we have begun."
Those who were able to escape fled to the city of Civetot. The depths of the sea received some, who, unable to escape, preferred to choose their death rather than have it thrust upon them. Others sought out the mountains and hid among the rocks, while others hid in the woods. After they had captured or taken vengeance on those they found outside, the Turks quickly attacked those who were hiding inside the castle and they set up a siege, bringing wood to start fire. They lit fires for those who were being besieged, thinking that the fire would burn those inside the castle. However, in accordance with God's judgment, the whole force of the fire fell upon the Turks, and burned some of them, while none of it reached our men. They continued to attack, however, and the town was captured. Those whom they found alive they tied up and then, as had been done to the others before them, they were sent to the various provinces from which the enemy had come, to endure perpetual exile. These things happened in the month of October. When the treacherous Emperor was informed of the disaster that had befallen the faithful, the wretch was elated with joy, and ordered that the remaining troops be given permission to cross the Arm of Saint George, and to retreat to the nearer parts of Greece. When he saw them return to the territory over which he had power, he forced them to sell their arms to him. Such was the end of the group under the command of Peter the Hermit. We have followed this story without interrupting it so that we might show that Peter's group in no way helped the others, but in fact added to the audacity of the Turks. And now we shall return to the men we have passed over, who followed the same path that Peter did, but in a far more restrained and fortunate way.
Duke Godfrey, the son of count Eustace of Boulogne, had two brothers: Baldwin, who ruled Edessa, and succeeded his brother as king of Jerusalem, and who still rules there; and Eustace, who rules in the county he inherited from his father. They had a powerful father, who was competent in worldly affairs, and their mother was, if I am not mistaken, a learned Lotharingian aristocrat, but most remarkable for her innate serenity and great devotion to God. The joys she received from such exemplary sons were due, we believe, to her profound religious belief. Godfrey, about whom we are now speaking, had received a duchy in Lotharingia as his maternal heritage. All three, in no way inferior to their mother in honesty, flourished in great military deeds, as well as in the restraint of their behavior. The glorious woman used to say, when she marveled at the result of the journey and the success of her sons, that she had heard from the mouth of her son the duke a prediction of the outcome long before the beginning of the expedition. For he said that he wanted to go to Jerusalem not as a simple pilgrim, as others had done, but forcefully, with a large army, if he could raise one. In accordance with this divinely inspired intuition, fortune later smiled on his project. The three brothers, heedless of the great honors they already had, set out on the journey. But even as Godfrey was wiser than his other brothers, so he was equipped with a larger army. He was joined by Baldwin, Count of Mons, son of Robert, the paternal uncle of the young count of Flanders. With the splendid knightly ceremony and spectacle, the band of powerful young men entered the land of the Hungarians, in possession of what Peter was unable to obtain: control over his army. Two days before Christmas, the first of the French leaders to arrive, they reached the city of Constantinople, but their lodgings were outside the city. The treacherous emperor, frightened when he heard that the brilliant duke had arrived, offered formal, but grudging signs of respect, and offered him permission to dwell in front of the walls, in a suburb of the city. And so, after accepting the emperor's offer, the duke and each of his men sent their own squires to get straw and whatever was necessary for their horses from wherever they could. While they were thinking that they could go safely and securely wherever they wished, the foul prince secretly ordered the men around him to kill, without making any distinctions, all of the men who were carrying out the duke's instructions, wherever they found them. When Baldwin, the duke's brother, found out about this, he set an ambush; when he discovered the Turcopolitans violently attacking his own men, he forcefully attacked them, as was right. And with God's favor he won such a victory that he captured sixty of them; he killed some of them and handed others over to his brother the duke. When news of this event reached the impious emperor, he was filled with self-reproach. Made more cautious by this event, the duke left the suburb of the city where he had been staying, and set up camp outside of its borders. However, as evening approached, the emperor, unable to put aside his anger, hastily collected an army and began hostilities against the duke and his men. Forcefully accepting the challenge, the duke defeated them and drove them in flight back into the city, killing seven men. After this fortunate turn of events, the duke returned to his encampment, and remained there for five days, while he and the emperor negotiated a treaty. The frightened emperor asked that the duke cross the Arm of Saint George, promising in return that he would order to be brought to them supplies of whatever kinds of food were to be found in Constantinople and that he would give alms to their poor. And this was done.
Since we have spoken about the duke and his journey up to this point, I must return to the leaders of central France; I shall give a brief sketch of who they were, by what roads they traveled, and what the outcome of their efforts was. The Bishop of Puy, a man to be admired for his life, knowledge, teaching, and wisdom in military affairs, together with a large group of his countrymen, chose to set out through the land of the Slavs. Earlier I expressed my regret at not knowing his name, and for being unable to learn it from the history of which I seem to be the interpreter; finally, however, through those who knew him on that expedition, and who were familiar with him, I learned that this precious man's name was Aimarus.
Among the rest of the leaders, it seems to me that Hugh the Great, the brother of Philip the king of the Franks, must be dealt with first. Although others were wealthier or more powerful, he was second to none in birth or in the probity of his behavior. He was most justly celebrated for being forceful in arms, serenely secure in his noble birth, and, even more important, humble towards every sacred order, forthright and restrained. Certain leaders attached themselves to him, thinking that they would make him king if it happened that, after the Gentiles were driven out, the occupation of the land came about as a result of battle.
After him came Count Stephen, a man endowed with such power that, according to report, he controlled as many castles as the year has days. His generosity was unexcelled, his presence very pleasing, his performance in council sober, steady, and thoughtfully mature; he so excelled in his activities as a knight, that the entire holy army chose him as their chief magistrate and general for the duration of the battle against the Turks. His wife was the wisest of women, the daughter of King William the elder, who had conquered the kingdoms of the English and the Scots. If we wish to praise her wisdom, generosity, bountifulness, and opulence, I fear lest, by praising his wife, we cast shadow on the magnificent man, which he has earned now that he has been deprived of her. Robert the younger, son of Robert the elder, to whom the emperor had sent a letter, with great eagerness took charge of building up their forces; he gave up the county of Flanders, which he had ruled with great military skill, to become a fellow soldier on the journey with those who had chosen to become exiles for Christ. The rest of the present history will indicate how steadily he carried out what he had begun. Leaving behind their superb wives and their fine sons, they put aside whatever they felt great affection for, choosing instead exile. I say nothing about their honors and possessions, which are outside our concerns. But what surprises us most is the way in which loving husbands and wives, attached even more closely to each other by the bond of children, could be separated, when there was no present danger to either.
It would hardly be right to remain silent about Robert, Count of Normandy, whose bodily indulgences, weakness of will, prodigality with money, gourmandising, indolence, and lechery were expiated by the perseverance and heroism that he vigorously displayed in the army of the Lord. His inborn compassion was naturally so great that he did not permit vengeance to be taken against those who had plotted to betray him and had been sentenced to death, and if something did happen to them, he wept for their misfortune. He was bold in battle, although adeptness at foul trickery, with which we know many men befouled themselves, should not be praised, unless provoked by unspeakable acts. For these and for similar things he should now be forgiven, since God has punished him in this world, where he now languishes in jail, deprived of all his honors.
Each of the illustrious leaders was followed on the journey by many lesser princes, whom we shall not list at this point, because it might seem to be distracting, and we shall perhaps have better reason for naming them in the - 102 - course of the narration. Who can count the masters of one, two, three, or four castles? There were so many that the siege of Troy could scarcely have brought so many together. At the time that this expedition was being undertaken by the magnates of the kingdom, and a meeting was being held by them with Hugh the Great, with Philip the king present, at Paris, in the month of February, on the eleventh day of the month, a lunar eclipse took place just before midnight. Little by little the moon turned to the color of blood, until it had turned completely and hideously blood red, but at dawn an unusually bright splendor shone around the circle of the moon. Soon afterward stars seemed to fall from the skies, like a heavy rain. This was so like a portent that many churches considered it to be one, and they instituted public prayers to avert the punishment that it might signify, and they wrote down the time of the event.
Soon after, in the month of August, on the eighth day, just before sunset, the part around the center of the moon turned black, and many people saw this happen. It should be said that, although the moon normally undergoes eclipses when full, nevertheless some of these changes of colors are manifestations of portents, and are customarily recorded in the pontifical books and in the deeds of kings. Other things were also seen, most of which we shall pass over.
Raymond, Count of Saint Gilles is placed last, not because he is of no worth, but to complete the list. Because he lived at the furthest edge of France, he has offered us less information about his activities; but he ennobles the telling of this history, from the beginning to the end, with the model of his great virtue and constancy. Having left behind his own son to rule his land, he brought with him his present wife and the only son he had had with her. Raymond was older than the other leaders, but his army was in no way inferior, except perhapsfor the Provencal habit of talking too much. When this large force of powerful knights, having traveled over the road which we customarily take to Rome, arrived in Apulia, they had contracted a great many illnesses, and many died, because of the great heat of the summer, the foul air, and the strange food. To cross the se they gathered at different ports:
many went to Brundisi, pathless Hydrus (Otrante) received others, while the fishy waters of Bari welcomed others.
Hugh the Great did not wait for his men and the knights of the princes who were his allies, but hastily and unwisely went to the port of Bari, and after a fortunate sea-journey, arrived at Dyrrachium. He should have considered that at the prospect of so many men, such great numbers of knights and foot soldiers, all of Greece, as one might say, trembled to its very foundations. And although other leaders had greater repute among us than he, nevertheless, among foreigners, and particularly among the Greeks, who are the laziest of men, his unbounded fame as the brother of the king of France preceded him. Therefore, when the leader appointed by the emperor to govern that place saw such well-known man without a large retinue about him, he seized the opportunity to make something out of his isolation. He took the man and ordered him to be conducted carefully and respectfully to Constantinople, with one purpose in mind: that he might promise the frightened prince that he would not harm his life or honor. Thus what happened to this famous man weakened the courage of the great leaders who came after him, for the cleverness of the treacherous prince compelled the others, either by force, or in secret, or by imprecations, to do what he had done. But now the end of this book has come.
books 3 and 4