In 1095, Emperor Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire called upon the West for help against Muslim forces in the Holy Land. He sent envoys, pleading for mercenary troops from the West to confront these Seljuk Turks.
In November of 1095, Pope Urban II called for a Crusade, for Western Christians to take up arms and recapture the Holy Land, from these Muslims at the Council of Clermont in Southern France.
We had the Pope and Normans, wanting to safeguard pilgrim routes to Jerusalem, saving holy places of interest for the Christian World. Protecting it, against invasion and destruction by these Seljuk Turks. By offering assistance to the Byzantine Empire, they believed they could unite both the Christian Churches of the East and West into one.
Words spoken by Pope Urban II, when he called for a crusade, included:
“Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned.”
Thousand’s answered the call to take up arms. Many were true Christians, who believed it was right to reclaim Jerusalem for the Christian World. Others had committed sin in the past, and believed God might forgive them if they took part. They had been told if they died in battle doing God’s work, they would go to heaven. Others saw it as a way of getting rich, hoping to find treasures.
An early group of Crusader’s consisting of knights and commoners led by Peter the Hermit, known as the “People’s Crusade” left a wake of destruction in their path, as they crossed the Byzantine Empire. They met Turkish forces at Cibotus where they were crushed.
Four armies departed for Byzantium in the August of 1096, led by ; Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond of Taranto.
In 1097 some 10,000 knights, nobles and churchmen gathered at Constantinople for the journey to the Holy Land… to push the Turks out.
The Norman’s were highly enthusiastic supporters of this Holy War. Of the eight leaders, five were Norman or had Norman connections, like Robert, the Duke of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror.
The first target for these crusaders, eager for battle was the fortress city of Nicea, which was taken with ease.
The second target was Antioch, a strongly protected Turkish city, which took seven months to crack. The city of Antioch was developed into a Norman State within the Holy Land.
In the summer of 1099, the campaign to re-take Jerusalem commenced, with its well defended and high walls surrounding the city.
It is believed some 70,000 people died during a massacre of Jews and Muslims after the city had been taken by the Crusader’s. The streets of Jerusalem, were said to run red with blood. The city was ransacked for treasure.
After the success of the Crusader’s regaining the city of Jerusalem, many knights returned home, having achieved their goal, by saving Jerusalem.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was created with Godfrey of Bouillon as its first King. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother; Baldwin of Boulogne in 1100.
Four large settlements; Jerusalem, Edessa, Antioch and Tripoli were established, each guarded by castles, giving the Crusader’s the upper hand in the region. This lasted until the fall of Edessa in 1144.
(Image) The First Crusade: Wikipedia