The First Crusade falls naturally into two parts. One of these may be called the Crusade of the people: the other may be termed the Crusade of the princes. Of these the People's Crusade - prior in order of time, if only secondary in point of importance - may naturally be studied first. The sermon of Urban II at Clermont became the staple for wandering preachers, among whom Peter the Hermit distinguished himself by his fiery zeal. (*1*) Riding on an ass from place to place through France and along the Rhine, he carried away by his eloquence thousands of the poor. Some three or four months before the term fixed by Urban II, in April and May 1096, five divisions of pauperes had already collected. Three of these, led by Fulcher of Orleans, Gottschalk and William the Carpenter respectively, failed to reach even Constantinople. The armies of Fulcher and Gottschalk were destroyed by the Hungarians in just revenge for their excesses (June); the third, after joining in a wild Judenhetze in the towns of the valley of the Rhine, during which some 10,000 Jews perished as the first-fruits of crusading zeal, was scattered to the winds in Hungary (August). Two other divisions, however, reached Constantinople in safety. The first of these, under Walter the Penniless, passed through Hungary in May, and reached Constantinople, where it halted to wait for the Hermit, in the middle of July. The second, led by Peter himself, passed safely through Hungary, but suffered severely in Bulgaria, and only attained Constantinople with sadly diminished numbers at the end of July. These two divisions (which in spite of good treatment by Alexius began to commit excesses against the Greeks) united and crossed the Bosporus in August, Peter himself remaining in Constantinople. By the end of October they had perished utterly at the hands of the Seljuks; a heap of whitening bones also remained to testify to the later crusaders, when they passed in the spring of 1097, of the fate of the People's Crusade.
Meanwhile the knights had already begun to assemble in March 1096. In small bands, and by divers ways, they streamed gradually southward and eastward, in a steady flow, throughout 1096. But three large divisions, under three considerable leaders, were pre-eminent among the rest. Godfrey of Bouillon, with his brother Baldwin, led the crusaders of Lorraine along "the road of Charles the Great", through Hungary, to Constantinople, where he arrived on the 23rd of December. Raymond of Toulouse (the first prince to join the crusading movement) along with Bishop Adhemar, the papal commissary, led the Provencals down the coast of Illyria, and then due east to Constantinople, arriving towards the end of April 1097. Bohemond of Otranto, the destined leader of the Crusade, with his nephew Tancred, led a fine force of Normans by sea to Durazzo, and thence by land to Constantinople, which he reached about the same time as Raymond. To the same great rendezvous other leaders also gathered, some of higher rank than Godfrey or Raymond or Bohemond, but none destined to exercise an equal influence on the fate of the Crusade. Hugh of Vermandois, younger brother of Philip I of France, had reached Constantinople in November 1096, in a species of honourable captivity, and had done Alexius homage; Robert of Normandy and Stephen of Blois, to whom Urban II had given St Peter's banner at Lucca, only arrived - the last of the crusaders - in May 1097 (their original companion in arms, Count Robert of Flanders, having left them to winter at Bari, and crossed to Constantinople before the end of 1096).
Thus was gathered at Constantinople, in the spring of 1097, a great host, which Fulcher computes at 600,000 men (I. c. iv.), Urban II at 300,000, and which was probably some 150,000 strong. (*2*) Before we follow this host into Asia, we may pause to inquire into the various factors which would determine its course, or condition its activity. On the Western side, and among the crusaders themselves, there were two factors of importance, already mentioned above - the aims of the adventurer prince, and the interests of the Italian merchant; while on the Eastern side there are again two - the policy of the Greeks, and the condition of the Mahommedan East. We have already seen that among the princes who joined the First Crusade there were some who were rather politiques than devots, and who aimed at the acquisition of temporal profit as well as of spiritual merit. Of these the type - and, it may almost be said, the inspirer of the rest - was Bohemond. From the first he had an Eastern principality in his mind's eye; and if we may judge from the follower of Bohemond who wrote the Gesta Francorum, there had already been some talk at Constantinople of Antioch as the seat of this principality. Bohemond's policy seems to have inspired Baldwin, the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon to emulation; on the one hand he strove to thwart the endeavours of Tancred, the nephew of Bohemond, to begin the foundation of the Eastern principality for his uncle by conquering Cilicia, and, on the other, he founded a principality for himself in Edessa. Raymond of Provence, the third and last of the great politiques of the First Crusade, was, like Baldwin, envious of Bohemond; and jealousy drove him first to attempt to wrest Antioch from Bohemond, and then to found a principality of Tripoli to the south of Antioch, which would check the growth of his power. The political motives of these three princes, and the interaction of their different policies, was thus a great factor in determining the course and the results of the First Crusade. The influence of the Italian towns did not make itself greatly felt till after the end of the First Crusade, when it made possible the foundation of a kingdom in Jerusalem, in addition to the three principalities established by Bohemond, Baldwin and Raymond; but during the course of the Crusade itself the Italian ships which hugged the shores of Syria were able to supply the crusaders with provisions and munition of war, and to render help in the sieges of Antioch and Jerusalem. (*3*) Sea-power had thus some influence in determining the victory of the crusaders.
In the East the conditions were, on the whole, favourable to the crusaders. The one difficulty - and it was serious - was the attitude adopted by Alexius. Confronted by crusaders where he had asked for auxiliaries, Alexius had two alternative policies presented to his choice. He might, in the first place, have frankly admitted that the crusaders were independent allies, and treating them as equals, he might have waged war in concert with them, and divided the conquests achieved in the war. A boundary line might have been drawn somewhere to the north-west of Antioch; and the crusaders might have been left to acquire what they could to the south and east of that line. Unhappily, clinging to the conviction that all the lands which the crusaders would traverse were the "lost provinces" of his empire, he induced the crusaders to do him homage, so that, whatever they conquered, they would conquer in his name, and whatever they held, they would hold by his grant and as his vassals. Thus Hugh of Vermandois became the man of Alexius in November 1096; Godfrey of Bouillon was induced, not without difficulty, to do homage in January 1097; and in April and May the other leaders, including Bohemond and the obstinate Raymond himself, followed his example. The policy of Alexius was destined to produce evil results, both for the Eastern empire and for the crusading movement. The West had already its grievances against the East: the Greek emperors had taken advantage of their protectorate of the Holy Places to lay charges on the pilgrims, against which the Papacy had already been forced to remonstrate; nor were the Italian towns, with the exception of favoured Venice, disposed to be friendly to the great monopolist city of Constantinople. The old dissension of the Eastern and Western Churches had blazed out afresh in 1054; and the policy of Alexius only added new rancours to an old grudge, which culminated in the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204. On the other hand, the success of the crusading movement was imperilled, both now and afterwards, by the jealousy of the Comneni. Always hostile to the principality, which Bohemond established in spite of his oath, they helped by their hostility to cause the loss of Edessa in 1144, and thus to hasten the disintegration of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Yet one must remember, in justice to Alexius, the gravity of the problem by which he was confronted; nor was the conduct of the crusaders themselves such that he could readily make them his brethren in arms.
The condition of Asia Minor and Syria in 1097 was almost altogether such as to favour the success of the crusaders. The Seljukian sultans had only achieved a military occupation of the country which they had conquered. There were Seljukian garrisons in towns like Nicaea and Antioch, ready to offer an obstinate resistance to the crusaders; and here and there in the country there were Seljukian armies, either cantoned or nomadic. But the inhabitants of the towns were often hostile to the garrisons, and over wide tracts of country there were no forces at all. Accordingly, when the crusaders had captured the town at Nicaea, and defeated the Seljukian field-army at Dorylaeum their way lay clear before them through Asia Minor. Not only so, but they could count, at the very least, on a benevolent neutrality from the native population; while from the Armenian principalities in the south-east of Asia Minor, which survived unsubdued in the general deluge of Seljukian conquest, they could expect active assistance (the hope of which will explain the north-easterly line of march which they followed after leaving Heraclea).
But the purely military character of the Seljukian occupation helped the crusaders in yet another way. Strong generals were needed in the separate divisions of the empire, and these, as has always been the case in Eastern empires, made themselves independent in their spheres of command, because there was no organization to keep them together under a single control. On the death of Malik Shah, the last of the great Seljukian emperors (1092), the empire dissolved. A new sultan, Barkiyaroq or Barkiarok, ruled in Bagdad (1094-1104); but in Asia Minor Kilij Arslan held sway as the independent sultan of Konia (Iconium), while the whole of Syria was also practically independent. Not only was Syria thus weakened by being detached from the body of the Seljukian empire; it was divided by dissensions within, and assailed by the Fatimite caliph of Egypt from without. In 1095 two brothers, Ridwan and Dekak, ruled in Aleppo and Damascus respectively; but they were at war with one another, and Yagi-sian, the ruler of Antioch, was a party to their dissensions. Ridwan and Yagi-sian were only stopped in an attack on Damascus by news of the approach of the crusaders, which led the latter to throw himself hastily into Antioch, in the autumn of 1097.
Meanwhile the Fatimites were not slow to take advantage of these dissensions. A great religious difference divided the Fatimite caliph of Cairo, the head of the Shiite sect, from the Abbasid caliph of Bagdad, who was the head of the Sunnites. The difference may be compared to the dissension between the Greek and the Latin Churches; but it had perhaps more of the nature of a political difference. In any case, it hampered the Mahommedans as much as the jealousy between Alexius and the Latins hampered the progress of the Crusade. The crusading princes were well enough aware of the gulf which divided the caliph of Cairo from the Sunnite princes of Syria; and they sought by envoys to put themselves into connexion with him, hoping by his aid to gain Jerusalem (which was then ruled for the Turks by Sokman, the son of the amir Ortok). (*4*) But the caliph preferred to act for himself, and took advantage of the wars of the Syrian princes, and of the terror inspired by the advance of the crusaders to conquer Jerusalem (August 1098). But though the leaders of the First Crusade did not succeed in utilizing the dissensions of the Mahommedans as fully as they desired, it still remains true that these dissensions very largely explain their success. It was the disunion of the Syrian amirs, and the division between the Abbasids and the Fatimites, that made possible the conquest of the Holy City and the foundation of the kingdom of Jerusalem. When a power arose in Mosul, about 1130, which was able to unify Syria - when, again, in the hands of Saladin, unified Syria was in turn united to Egypt - the cause of Latin Christianity in the East was doomed.
We are now in a position to follow the history of the First Crusade. By the beginning of May 1097 the crusaders were crossing the Bosporus, and entering the dominions of Kilij Arslan. Their first operation was the siege of Nicaea, defended by a Seljuk garrison, but eventually captured, with the aid of Alexius, after a month's siege (June 18). Alexius took possession of the town; and though he rewarded the crusading princes richly, some discontent was excited by his action. After the capture of Nicaea, the field-army of Kilij Arslan had to be met. In a long and obstinate encounter, it was defeated at Dorylaeum (July 1); and the crusaders marched unmolested in a southeasterly direction to Heraclea. Here Tancred, followed by Baldwin, turned into Cilicia, and began to take possession of the Cilician towns, and especially of Tarsus - thus beginning, it would seem, the creation of the Norman principality of Antioch. The main army turned to the north-east, in the direction of Caesarea (in order to bring itself into touch with the Armenian princes of this district), and then marched southward again to Antioch. At Marash, half way between Caesarea and Antioch, Baldwin, who had meanwhile wrested Tarsus from Tancred, rejoined the ranks; but he soon left the main body again, and struck eastward towards Edessa, to found a principality there. At the end of October the crusaders came into position before Antioch, which was held by Yagi-sian, and began the siege of the city, which lasted from October 21, 1097, to June 3, 1098. The great figure in the siege was naturally Bohemond (who had also been the hero of Dorylaeum). He repelled attempts at relief made by Dekak (Dec. 31, 1097) and Ridwan (Feb. 9, 1098); he put the besiegers in touch with the Genoese ships lying in the harbour of St Simeon, the port of Antioch (March 1098) - a move which at once served to remedy the want of provisions from which the crusaders suffered, and secured materials for the building of castles, with which Bohemond sought - in the Norman fashion - to overawe the besieged city.
But it was finally by the treachery of one of Yagi-sian's commanders, the amir Firuz, that Bohemond was able to effect its capture. The other leaders had, however, to promise him possession of the city, before he would bring his negotiations with Firuz to a conclusion; and the matter was so long protracted that an army of relief under Kerbogha of Mosul was only at a distance of three days' march, when the city was taken (June 3, 1098). The besiegers were no sooner in the city, than they were besieged in their turn by Kerbogha; and the twenty-five days which followed were the worst period of stress and strain which the crusaders had to encounter. Under the pressure of this strain "spiritualistic" phenomena began to appear. It was in the ranks of the Provencals, where the religiosity of Count Raymond seems to have extended to his followers, that these phenomena appeared; and they culminated in the discovery of the Holy Lance, which had pierced the side of the Saviour. The excitement communicated itself to the whole army; and the nervous strength which it gave enabled the crusaders to meet and defeat Kerbogha in the open (June 28), but not before many of their number, including even Count Stephen of Blois, had deserted and fled.
With the discovery of the Lance, which became as it were a Provençal asset, Count Raymond assumes a new importance. Mingled with the religiosity of his nature there was much obstinacy and self-seeking; and when Kerbogha was finally repelled, he began to dispute the possession of Antioch with Bohemond, pleading in excuse his oath to Alexius. The struggle lasted for some months, and helped to delay the further progress of the crusaders. Raymond, indeed, left Antioch in November, and moved south-east to M'arra; but his men still held two positions in Antioch, from which they were not dislodged by Bohemond till January 1099. Expelled from Antioch, the obstinate Raymond endeavoured to recompense himself in the south (where indeed he subsequently created the county of Tripoli); and from February to May 1099 he occupied himself with the siege of Arca, to the north-east of Tripoli. It was during the siege of Arca that Peter Bartholomew, to whom the vision of the Holy Lance had first appeared, was subjected, with no definite result, to the ordeal of fire - the hard-headed Normans doubting the genuine character of any Provencal vision, the more when, as in this case, it turned to the political advantage of the Provencals. The siege was long protracted; the mass of the pilgrims were anxious to proceed to Jerusalem, and, as the altered tone of the author of the Gesta sufficiently indicates, thoroughly weary of the obstinate political bickerings of Raymond and Bohemond. Here Godfrey of Bouillon finally came to the front, and placing himself at the head of the discontented pilgrims, he forced Raymond to accept the offers of the amir of Tripoli, to desist from the siege, and to march to Jerusalem (in the middle of May 1099). Bohemond remained in Antioch: the other leaders pressed forward, and following the coast route, arrived before Jerusalem in the beginning of June. After a little more than a month's siege, the city was finally captured (July 15). The slaughter was terrible; the blood of the conquered ran down the streets, until men splashed in blood as they rode. At nightfall, "sobbing for excess of joy," the crusaders came to the Sepulchre from their treading of the winepress, and put their blood-stained hands together in prayer. So, on that day of July, the First Crusade came to an end.
It remained to determine the future government of Jerusalem; and here the eternal problem of the relations of Church and State emerged. It might seem natural that the Holy City, conquered in a holy war by an army of which the pope had made a churchman, Bishop Adhemar, the leader, should be left to the government of the Church. But Adhemar had died in August 1098 (whence, in large part, the confusion and bickerings which followed in the end of 1098 and the beginning of 1099) nor were there any churchmen left of sufficient dignity or weight to secure the triumph of the ecclesiastical cause. In the meeting of the crusaders on the 22nd of July, some few voices were raised in support of the view that a "spiritual vicar" should first be chosen in the place of the late patriarch of Jerusalem (who had just died in Cyprus), before the election of any lay ruler was taken in hand. But the voices were not heard; and the princes proceeded at once to elect a lay ruler. Raymond of Provence refused to accept their nomination, nominally on the pious ground that he did not wish to reign where Christ had suffered on the cross; though one may suspect that the establishment of a principality in Tripoli - in which he had been interrupted by the pressure of the pilgrims - was still the first object of his ambition. The refusal of Raymond meant the choice of Godfrey of Bouillon, who had, as we have seen, become prominent since the siege of Arca; and Godfrey accordingly became - not king, but "advocate of the Holy Sepulchre," while a few days afterwards Arnulf, the chaplain of Robert of Normandy, and one of the sceptics in the matter of the Holy Lance, became "vicar" of the vacant patriarchate. Godfrey's first business was to repel an Egyptian attack, which he accomplished successfully at Ascalon, with the aid of the other crusaders (August 12). At the end of August the other crusaders returned, *?* and Godfrey was left with a small army of 2000 men, and the support of Tancred, now prince of Galilee, to rule in some four isolated districts - Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ramlah and Haifa. At the end of the year came Bohemond and Godfrey's brother Baldwin (now count of Edessa) on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The result of Bohemond's visit was new trouble for Godfrey. Bohemond procured the election of Dagobert, the archbishop of Pisa, to the vacant patriarchate, disliking Arnulf, and perhaps hoping to find in the new patriarch a political supporter. Bohemond and Godfrey together became Dagobert's vassals; and in the spring Godfrey even seems to have entered into an agreement with the patriarch to cede Jerusalem and Jaffa into his hands, in the event of acquiring other lands or towns, especially Cairo, or dying without direct heirs. When Godfrey died in July 1100 (after successful forays against the Mahommedans which took him as far as Damascus), it might seem as if a theocracy were after all to be established in Jerusalem, in spite of the events of 1099.
(*1*) Later legend ascribed the origin of the First Crusade to the preaching of Peter the Hermit. The legend has been followed by modern historians; but in point of fact Peter is a figure of secondary importance. (See Peter The Hermit.)
(*2*) Godfrey's army numbered some 30,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry (Rohricht, Erst. Kreuzz. 61): Urban II. reckons Bohemond's knights as 7,000 in number (ibid. 71, n. 7).
(*3*) The Genoese had been invited by Urban II in September 1096 "to go with their gallies to Eastern parts in order to set free the path to the Lord's Sepulchre"
(*4*) Thus already on the First Crusade the path of negotiation is attempted simultaneously with the Holy War. On the Third Crusade, and above all on the Sixth, this path was still more seriously attempted. It is interesting, too, to notice the part which the laity already plays in directing the course of the Crusade. From the first the Crusade, however clerical in its conception, was largely secular in its conduct; and thus, somewhat paradoxically, a religious enterprise aided the growth of the secular motive, and contributed to the escape of the laity from that tendency towards a papal theocracy, which was evident in the pontificate of Gregory VII.
Extracted from the entry for CRUSADES in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.