That's right serf! God wants YOU to go to The Holy Land. What's that you say? You don't want to die? Just look at yourself! What's to live for?

It's not like you even have the Magna Carta yet to provide you with the slightest semblance of a Democracy. For Christ's Sakes (quite literally), you work with pigs! And by that I mean you're a herd swine. And on top of your job, it's not like God is going to let scum like you into Heaven if you stay in this interdicted dump; So why not come kill The Turks! I Know, It's not like the Ottomans ever did anything to us dumb Europeans, save for provide us with the Astrolabe, and protect all of the master works of mankind, and show religious tolerance in the face of Catholic Oppression, but still... free tickets to Heaven!

So come, follow big Feudal dudes like Pope Urban III, Freddy Barbarossa, King Richie, and Some French Guy in a combined European, mindless arse kicken of some Enlightened Sunni...

God Wills It!

Urban II announced the expedition to Jerusalem at the Council of Clermont in Nov. 1095, and he fixed the date of departure at 15 Aug. 1096. The summons was soon heard by groups far wider than princes and their courts … by Easter 1096 an army led by Peter the Hermit had already arrived in Cologne … within a few months, therefore, and well in advance of the papal deadline, the message had spread to all levels of society over a wide geographical area…” (79)
    Several thousand kilometers, actually, the Word spread - over awful roads, forests full of bandits, mountains teeming with wild animals, with nary an inn or way-station to flop down in, in an almost universally illiterate Europe, plagued by disease, famine and war, at a time when writing on the skin of a flayed sheep was the cutting edge of communications technology. In Colin Morris’ essay, “Propaganda for War : the dissemination of the Crusading ideal in the 12th century” (found pp.79-102 in Church & War. London: Blackwell, 1983), as it happened, there was a concentrated and concerted effort to win over the hearts and minds of the people of ‘civilized’ Christendom before sending them packing outré mere to bring the Franco-Teutonic goodness of holy war to the heathen Middle East.1 In fact the Germans and French wouldn’t be seen working like this again until…well…ever come to think of it.
”As the French Revolution was marked by the Great Fear, so the Crusades were nourished by the Great Rumor. Chroniclers of the time were astonished, for the news had traveled at a speed which seemed unbelievable by routes which they barely knew existed … we have, then the picture of a movement which was spread, not by the clumsy machinery of communication offered by the Church diocese, but by report and rumor, by popular preaching to mass audiences, by the infectious enthusiasm generated by the Badge of the Cross…” (82-3)
    Apparently, one of the most powerful mediums, which generated much Crusading enthusiasm, was the song of the traveling minstrel, who as a figure put in regular appearance at markets, festivals and courts throughout Europe at the time. Of their own accord, and without commission of the Church, they caught the esprits de cours in these times perfectly. Here are three of those songs:
A French Crusaders’ Song:

Chevalier, mult estes guuariz
Knights, now is the time for grace
Quant Deu a vos fait sa clamrir
For God has brought to you a plea
Des Turs de Amoraviz
Against the Turks and Moorish race
Kili unt fait tells deshoenors;
They wronged when
Cher a tort unt cez fienz saisiz.
they seized his fief,
Bien en devums aveir dolur
And we must feel the deepest grief,
Cher la fud Deu primes servi
For there was God first served by men,
E reconnu pur segnurr.
who recognized his Lordship then.
Ki ore irat ad Loovis.
Whoever goes with King Louis now
Ja mar d’enfern avrat pouur
Need never fear the Devil’s horde
Char salme en iert en pareis
His soul will go to Paradise.
Od les angles nostre segnor.
With the Angels of the Lord.1

Conon of Bethune’s Ahi, Amors!

Por limen vois sospirant en Sune
For her, I go with sighs to Syria
car je ne doi faillir mon Creator
For I must not neglect my Lord’s command;
lei il faura a cest besoing d’aie
Whoever in His need will fail Him now
sacies ke Il li faura a grighor
Knows that, in Judgment, he in turn will fail.
E saicent bein li grant e li menor
So let the great and poor all take note
ke la doit on faire chevallene
that they should take the field in chivalry
oh on conquiert paradis et honor
Where Paradise and Honor can be won
et pris et los et l’amor de s’aime.
And reputation, with a lady’s love.

A 13th century anti-war song:

Ire si vis ad sernonem
If you go hear the preachers
Cave, precor, Ciceronem
Do beware of clever teachers
ne per verbirationem
Who can, with style and gloss
Redclat cruscis prisonem
make you captive to the cross
Si me modo vis audire
So give me your attention
Cham rem te volo scire
There is something I would mention
Si tu crucem vis subire
If you want a cross to carry
Atque crusis iter ire
and are not inclined to tarry
Precor, prius hoc inquire
You must check the real position
Quam sunt ille vie dire
Are the roads in good condition?
Modo potens es exire,
or you’ll start with courage burning
Sunt impedimenta dura
and next day be returning.2

1 text incomplete, recorded by David Murow and the Early Music Consort of London, Music of the Crusades (Argo Stereo recordings, catalogue no. ZRG 673)
2text incomplete, from H. Pflaum, ‘A Strange Crusader’s Song’, Speculum, 10 (1935), pp.337-9.

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