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Council of Clermont

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Carolina Brewer
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« on: November 18, 2007, 03:28:39 am »

The Council of Clermont was a mixed synod of ecclesiastics and laymen of the Catholic Church, which was held in November 1095 at Clermont, France and triggered the First Crusade.



Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont, given a late Gothic setting in this illumination from the Livre des Passages d'Outre-mer, of c 1490 (Bibliothèque National)
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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2007, 03:29:16 am »

In 1095 Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus sent envoys to the west requesting military assistance against the Seljuk Turks. The message was received by Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza; later that year, in November, Urban called the Council of Clermont to discuss the matter further. In convoking the council, Urban urged the bishops and abbots whom he addressed directly, to bring with them the prominent lords in their provinces.

The Council lasted from November 18 to November 28, and was attended by about 300 clerics from throughout France. Urban discussed Cluniac reforms of the Church, and also extended the excommunication of Philip I of France for his adulterous remarriage to Bertrade of Montfort. On November 27, Urban spoke for the first time about the problems in the east, as he declared bellum sacrum against the Muslims who had occupied the Holy Land and were attacking the Eastern Roman Empire.

There are six main sources of information about this portion of the council: the anonymous Gesta Francorum ("The Deeds of the Franks") influencing others: Fulcher of Chartres, Robert the Monk, Baldric, archbishop of Dol, and Guibert de Nogent, who were apparently present at the council; also a letter survives that was written by Urban himself in December of 1095.

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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2007, 03:30:15 am »

According to Fulcher of Chartres who wrote a version of the speech in Gesta Francorum Jerusalem Expugnantium, Urban addressed various abuses of the church such as simony and the lack of adherence to the Peace of God:

Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor.

In Gesta Dei per Francos by Robert the Monk, writing about twenty years after the council, an extended version of the speech presents the call to the "race of the Franks" as a peroration climaxing Urban's call for orthodoxy, reform and submission to the Church. Robert records that the pope asked western Christians, poor and rich, to come to the aid of the Greeks in the east, because "Deus vult," ("God wills it"), the rousing cry with which Urban ended his final address. Robert records that Urban promised remission of sins for those who went to the east, although he probably did not mean what later came to be called indulgences. Robert recorded that Urban's emphasis was on reconquering the Holy Land rather than aiding the Greeks; the intervening decades and the events of the First Crusade had certainly shifted the emphasis. According to Robert, Urban listed various gruesome offenses of the Muslims:

They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font.
and more alleged atrocities expressed in inflammatory images that were derived from hagiography, but did not mention indulgences. Perhaps with the wisdom of hindsight, Robert makes Urban advise that none but knights should go, not the old and feeble, nor priests without the permission of their bishops, "for such are more of a hindrance than aid, more of a burden than advantage... nor ought women to set out at all, without their husbands or brothers or legal guardians."

About the same time, Baldrick, archbishop of Dol, also basing his account generally on Gesta Francorum, focused on the offenses of the Muslims and the reconquest of the Holy Land in terms likely to appeal to chivalry. Like Fulcher he also recorded that Urban deplored the violence of the Christian knights of Gaul. "It is less wicked to brandish your sword against Saracens," Baldrick's Urban cries, comparing them to the Amalekites. The violence of knights he wanted to see ennobled in the service of Christ, defending the churches of the East as if defending a mother. Baldrick asserts that Urban, there on the spot, appointed the bishop of Puy to lead the crusade.

Guibert, abbot of Nogent, was an eye witness; he also recorded that Urban's emphasis was reconquest of the Holy Land, but not necessarily to help the Greeks or other Christians there; Urban's speech, in Nogent's version, emphasized the sanctity of the Holy Land, which must be in Christian possession so that prophecies about the end of the world could be fulfilled.

On the last day of the council, a general call was sent out to the knights and nobles of France. Urban apparently knew in advance of the day that Raymond IV of Toulouse, exemplary for courage and piety, was fully prepared to take up arms. Urban himself spent a few months preaching the Crusade in France, while papal legates spread the word in the south of Italy, during which time the focus presumably turned from helping Alexius to taking Jerusalem; the general population, upon hearing about the Council, probably understood this to be the point of the Crusade in the first place.

Urban's own letter, addressed to the faithful "waiting in Flanders," does not mention Jerusalem at all; he only calls for help for the Eastern Churches, and appoints Adhemar of Le Puy to lead the Crusade, to set out on the day of the Assumption of Mary, August 15.

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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2007, 03:31:39 am »



Pope Urbans Edict

On November 26, 1095 Pope Urban II issued his edict to take back Jerusalem from the infidel. This edict was given in southern France in a town called Clermont. The journey out of Italy was the first in fifty years of any pope and was designed to affirm Urbans legitimacy as the new pope. His sermon on the 26 of November had to be moved outside by the number of people that showed up to hear it that day in southern France. Around four-hundred people heard his historic sermon that day. With his edict Pope Urban started the first crusade that departed in 1096. The people the departed in 1096 were from all over Europe. More people joined the cause as it moved eastwards through Europe. With his speech he launched the peoples crusade or the peasant crusade.The peoples crusade was led by Peter the hermit. Along the way towards Hungary the peoples crusade killed many people of non-Christian faiths mostly people of the Jewish faith. This event had become known as the first holocaust and is very little known of. November 26, 1095 and the first crusade was caused by many reasons. First the church separated into two branches in 1095. Pope Urban thought this could be a way towards bringing the two branches back together. Jerusalem fell under Muslim rule in 638 AD and according to Urban it was necessary to bring the holy city back under Christian rule. The Byzytine emperor Alexius I took this opportunity to exploit this massive army to gain land for his own empire.

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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 03:32:55 am »



The Peoples Crusade

The peoples crusade consisted of peasants and people of lower classes. The Edict given at Clermont swept these people into a fervor to go and take back the holy land. These people were indirectly led by Peter the hermit. Peter had a gift of speech and was very well known before the Pope Urban gave his edict. Where ever Peter went he gathered people on the path towards the crusade. There were 15,000 people that went on the peoples crusade. As this crusade moved east trough Europe their anti-Semitism grew. There were anti-Semitic acts of violence in Trier, Regensburg, and Cologne. These violent outbreaks followed the peoples crusade through Eastern Europe. The peoples crusade finally ended when these people weren't allowed to pass through Hungary.
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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2007, 03:34:13 am »

Council of Piacenza

The Council of Piacenza was a mixed synod of ecclesiastics and laymen of the Roman Catholic Church, which took place from March 1 to March 5, 1095, at Piacenza.

The Council was held at the end of Pope Urban II's tour of Italy and France, which he made to reassert his authority after the investiture controversy with the Holy Roman Empire. Two hundred bishops attended, as well as 4000 other church officials, and 30,000 laymen; there were so many people that the council had to be held outside of the city. The massive number of attendees reflects the increased authority of the church in the wake of Pope Gregory VII.

Among the lay attendees were Bertha, countess of Maurine, the wife of emperor Henry IV, who came to complain about her husband's affairs. Also in attendance were ambassadors from Philip I of France, who came to appeal Philip's recent excommunication over his illegal divorce and remarriage to Bertrade de Montfort: Philip was given until Pentecost to rectify his situation. The rest of the business of the council expressed fairly typical church concerns: there were at least 15 canons published during the council, including a condemnation of the Berengerian heresy; a condemnation of the Nicolaitan heresy; an affirmation of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist; denunciations of the Antipope Clement III and his supporters; and a prohibition of payment to priests for baptisms, burials, or confirmations.

In hindsight, the most important attendees were the ambassadors sent by Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Alexius had been excommunicated by Gregory VII, and been through a series of reinstatements in the Church, but Urban had ultimately lifted the excommunication when he became pope in 1088, and relations between the east and west were at least temporarily friendly. The Byzantine Empire had lost much of its territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks in the aftermath of the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and Alexius hoped western knights could help him restore it.

The ambassadors probably exaggerated the immediate danger to the empire, which was not so great, now that the Seljuks were fighting amongst themselves; Alexius also told them to remind them that Jerusalem was also held by Muslims, knowing that western Christians, too, attached a special significance to the city at the centre of the world.

Alexius' request was taken far more seriously than he had hoped. Urban may already have been thinking about a crusade to the east, and the request was interpreted as a sign of weakness in both the Eastern empire and the Orthodox church. If Urban sent help, perhaps he could also reunite the churches under his authority. News of the threat to the empire and the supposed threat to Jerusalem spread throughout France after the council ended; in November of 1095, Urban called an even bigger council, the Council of Clermont, where the organization of the First Crusade was formally announced.

Most of the information about the Council of Piacenza comes from the chronicler Bernold of Constance, who was probably there himself, as well as Ekkehard of Aura and Guibert of Nogent, who were at Clermont if not at Piacenza. No contemporary Byzantine sources felt the ambassadors were important enough to mention, but the council is mentioned by the 13th century chronicler Theodore Scutariotes, who quotes now-lost contemporary works.
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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2007, 03:38:03 am »




An angel blows a trumpet into Guibert's ear, declaring moral truths. Book cover by Jay Rubenstein containing a picture from the Tropologiae in prophetis, BN lat. 2502, f. 101r


Guibert of Nogent (1053–1124) was a Benedictine historian, theologian and author of autobiographical memoirs. Guibert was relatively unknown in his own time, going virtually unmentioned by his contemporaries. He has only recently caught the attention of scholars who have been more interested in his extensive autobiographical memoirs and personality which provide insight into medieval life.

Guibert was born of noble parents at Clermont-en-Beauvaisis. According to his memoirs the labour nearly cost him and his mother their lives. His father was violent, unfaithful and prone to excess and died within a year of his birth. His mother was domineering, of great beauty and intelligence, and of aggressive puritanical bent. She assumed control of his education, isolating him from his peers and put with a private tutor, from the ages of six to twelve. Guibert remembers the tutor as brutally exacting, and incompetent. Around the age of twelve his mother retired to an abbey near St. Germer de Fly (or Flay), and Guibert soon followed: entering the Order at St. Germer, he studied with great zeal, devoting himself at first to the secular poets Ovid and Virgil—an experience which left its imprint on his works—later changing to theology, through the influence of Anselm of Bec, afterwards of Canterbury.

In 1104, he was chosen abbot of the poor and tiny abbey of Nogent-sous-Coucy (founded 1059) and henceforth took a more prominent part in ecclesiastical affairs, where he came into contact with bishops and court society. More importantly it gave him time to engage in his passion for writing. His first major work of this period is his history of the First Crusade called Dei gesta per Francos ("God's deeds performed by the Franks"), finished in 1108 and touched up in 1121. The history is largely a paraphrase, in ornate style, of the Gesta Francorum of an anonymous Norman author; Crusade historians have traditionally not been forthcoming with favourable reviews; the fact that he stays so close to Gesta Francorum, and the difficulty of his Latin, make it seem superfluous. Recent editors and translators, however, have called attention to his excellent writing and original material. More importantly, Dei gesta provides invaluable information about the reception of the crusade in France, both for the general public and Guibert's own personal reactions. Guibert personally knew crusaders, had grown up with crusaders, and had talked with them about their memories and experiences on their return.

For the modern reader his autobiography (De vita sua sive monodiarum suarum libri tres), or Memoirs, written in 1115, is the most interesting of Guibert's works. Written towards the close of his life on the model of the Confessions of Saint Augustine, tracing his life from his childhood through life's difficulties, he gives many picturesque glimpses of his time and the customs of his country. The description of the short-lived commune of Laon is an historical document of the first order. He provides invaluable information on daily life in castle and monastery, on educational methods then in vogue, and insights into some of the major and minor personalities of his time. His work is coloured by his personal passions and prejudices, and these add to the value of the work for they provide a window into one person's perspective on the medieval world.

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Carolina Brewer
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2007, 03:40:19 am »

Deus vult (Latin, God wills it) was the cry of the people at the declaration of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095[1]. The phrase appears variously as deus vult, (Classical Latin) dieu le veut, (French) deus lo vult (medieval Vulgar Latin), etc.

Deus lo vult is the motto of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Catholic order of chivalry.

Deus Vult is also the name of the expansion pack for the Paradox Interactive game Crusader Kings.
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