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the First Crusade

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Author Topic: the First Crusade  (Read 7020 times)
Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #60 on: March 01, 2009, 08:57:27 pm »

12. Version of Raymond d'Aguiliers

As we have said, when our men were beaten, discouraged, and in narrow straits, divine aid appeared. And the blessed Andrew taught us through the youth who had spoken of the Lance how we ought to conduct ourselves before the battle and in the battle:-

"You have all offended deeply, and you have been deeply bumbled; and you have cried out to the Lord, and the Lord has heard you. And now let each one turn himself to the Lord because of his sins, and let him give five alms because of the five wounds of the Lord. If be cannot do this, let him say the Paternoster five times. When this has been done, begin battle in the name of the Lord by day or by night, as the judgment of the princes deems best, because the hand of God will be with you. If anyone has doubt of victory, let the gates be opened for him, and let him go forth to the Turks, and he will see how their God will save him. Moreover if anyone shall refuse to fight, let him be classed with Jude the betrayer of the Lord, who deserted the apostles and sold his Lord to the Jews. Let them fight in the faith of St. Peter, holding in mind that God promised him that after the third day He would arise and appear to him, and for this reason, also, because this land is justly St. Peter's, and not the pagans'. And let your battle-cry be 'God help us!' and verily God will help you. All your brothers who died since the beginning of the expedition are present with you in this fight; you have only to storm the tenth part of the enemy, because they will assail nine parts in the might and command of God. And do not put off the battle, because (if you do), the Lord will lead as many enemies from the other sides as you have on this side, and He will keep you shut up here until you devour one another. But know certainly that those days are at hand which the Lord promised to the Blessed Mary and to His apostles, saying that He would raise up the kingdom of the Christians, after the ingdom of the pagans had been cast down and ground into dust. But do not turn to their tents in search of gold and silver."

Then the power of God was disclosed, in that He who had commanded the above words to be preached to us through His apostle so comforted the hearts of all that each one in faith and hope seemed to himself already to have triumphed over his enemy. They urged on one another, and in urging regained courage for fighting. The crowd, too, which in the past days seemed to be consume with want and fright, now reproached the princes and complain of the delay of the battle. However, when the day for battle ha been fixed, our princes sent word by Peter the Hermit to Corbara leader of the Turks, to give up the siege of the city, because it was by right the property of St. Peter and the Christians. That proud leader replied that, rightly or wrongly, he was going to rule over the Franks and the city. And be compelled Peter the Hermit, who was unwilling to bow, to kneel to him.

The question was raised at this time as to who should guard the city against those who were in the citadel, while the rest went forth to fight. They built a stone wall and ramparts on our hilt against the enemy; these they fortified with many rocks, finally leaving Count Raymond, who was deathly ill, and about two hundred men there.

The day of the fight had come. In the morning all partook of communion and gave themselves to God, to death, if He willed, or to the glory of the Roman church and the race of the Franks. Moreover, they decided about the battle as follows: that two double lines should be made of the Count's and Bishop's people, so that the foot soldiers went before the knights and halted at the command of the princes; and the knights were to follow them and guard them from the rear. Similar arrangement was made of the people of Bohemund and Tancred; the like of the people of the Count of Normandy and the Franks; likewise, of the people of the Duke and the Burgundians. Moreover, trumpeters went through the city shouting that each man should stay with the princes of his people. It was likewise ordered that Hugh the Great, the Count of Flanders, and the Count of Normandy should advance to the battle first, then the Duke, the Bishop after the Duke, and Bohemund after the Bishop. They assembled, each man to his own standard and kinfolk, within the city before the gate of the bridge.

Oh, how blessed is the people whose Lord is God! Oh, how blessed the people whom God has chosen! Oh, how unaltered His face! How changed the army from sadness to eagerness! Indeed, during the past days princes and nobles went along the. city streets calling upon the aid of God at the churches, the common people (walked) with bare feet, weeping and striking their breasts. They had been so sad that father did not greet son, nor brother brother, upon meeting, nor did they look back. But now you could see them going forth like swift horses, rattling their arms, and brandishing their spears, nor could they bear to refrain from showing their happiness in word and deed. But why do I grieve about many matters? They were given the power to go forth, and what bad been agreed upon by the princes was fulfilled in order.

Meanwhile Corbara, leader of the Turks, was playing at chess within his tent. When he received the message that the Franks were advancing to battle, he was disturbed in mind because this seemed beyond expectation, and he called to him a certain Turk who bad fled from Antioch, Mirdalin by name, a noble known to us for his military prowess. "What is this?" he said. "Didn't you tell me the Franks were few and would not fight with us?" And Mirdalin replied to him, "I did not say that they would not fight, but come, and I will look at them and tell you if you can easily overcome them."

And now the third line of our men was advancing. When he saw how the lines were arrayed, Mirdalin said to Corbara, "These men can be killed; but they cannot be put to flight."

And then Corbara said "Can none of them be driven back all?"

And Mirdalin replied, "They will not yield a footstep, even if all the people of the pagans attack them."

Then, although disturbed in mind, he drew up his many and multiple lines against us. And when at first they could have prevented our exit, they allowed us to go out in peace. Our men, however, now directed their lines toward the mountains, fearing that the Turks might surround them from the rear. However, the mountains were about two long miles from the bridge. We were advancing in open file as the clergy are wont to march in processions. And verily we had a procession! For the priests and many monks, dressed in white robes, went in front of the lines of our knights, chanting and invoking the aid of the Lord and the benediction of the saints. The enemy, on the contrary, rushed against us and shot arrows. Corbara, now ready to do what he had just recently refused, likewise sent word to our princes {proposing) that five or ten Turks should do battle with a like number Franks, and that those whose knights were conquered should peacefully yield to the others. To this our leaders replied , "You were unwilling when we wanted to do this; now that we have advanced to fight, let each fight for his right."

And when we had occupied the whole plain, as we said, a certain portion of the Turks remained behind us and attacked some of our foot soldiers. But those foot soldiers, turning about, sustained the attack of the enemy vigorously. When, indeed, the Turks could in no way drive them out, they set fire around them so that those who did not fear the swords might at all events be terrified by fire. And thus they forced them to give way, for the place had much dry hay.

And when the lines had gone forth, the priests, with bare feet and garbed in their priestly vestments, stood on the walls of the city, calling upon God to defend His people, and through the victory of the Franks in this battle to afford a testimony hallowed by His blood. Moreover, as we were advancing from the bridge up to the mountain, we met with great difficulty because the enemy wanted to surround us. In the midst of this, the lines of the enemy fell upon us who were in the squadron of the Bishop, and though their forces were greater than ours, yet, through the protection of the Holy Lance which was there, they there wounded no one; neither did they hit any of us with arrows. I beheld these things of which I speak and I bore the Lance of the Lord there. If anyone says that Viscount Herachus, the standard-bearer of the Bishop, was wounded in this battle, let him know that he handed over this standard to another and fell behind our line some distance.

When all our fighting men had left the city, five other lines appeared among us. For, as has already been said, our princes had drawn up only eight, and we were thirteen lines outside the city. In the beginning of the march out to battle the Lord sent down upon all His army a divine shower, little but full of blessing. All those touched by this were filled with all grace and fortitude and, despising the enemy, rode forth as if always nourished on the delicacies of kings. This miracle also affected our horses no less. For whose horse failed until the fight was over, even though it had tasted nothing except the bark or leaves of trees for eight days? God so multiplied our army that we, who before seemed fewer than the enemy, were in the battle more numerous than they. And when our men had thus advanced and formed in line, the enemy turned in flight without giving us a chance to engage in battle. Our men pursued them until sunset. There the Lord worked marvelously as well in the horses as in the men; forsooth, the men were not called away from battle by avarice, and those pack horses which their masters had led into battle, after a scant feeding, now very easily followed the sleekest and swiftest horses of the Turks.

But the Lord did not wish us to have this joy only. For the Turks who were guarding the citadel of the city gave up hope upon seeing the headlong flight of their people; some, on the Pledge of their lives alone, surrendered themselves to us, and the rest fled headlong. And though this battle was so terrible and frightful, yet few knights of the enemy fell there; but of their foot soldiers scarcely any escaped. Moreover, all the tents of the enemy were captured, much gold and silver, and the greatest amount of spoils - grain and cattle and camels without measure or number.

And that incident of Samaria about the measures of wheat and barley which were bought for a shekel was renewed for us Moreover, these events occurred on the vigils of St. Peter and Paul through which intercessors was granted this victory to the pilgrim church of the Franks by the Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth God through all ages. Amen.


August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 185-89


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall December 1997
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