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First Crusade: French Crusader’s

Saint-Michel at Le Puy Chapel in France.jpg

Chapel of Saint-Michel

The Romanesque designed chapel of Saint-Michel, located 275 feet above the valley floor at Le Puy in the Auvergne region of France.  Access was by way of a staircase, set amongst a collection of medieval houses, at the foot of the rock.

Le Puy was one of many recruiting centres across Europe, where would be crusaders would step forward, take the cross and make their vows before Bishop Adhemar.  He who had been appointed the spiritual leader of the crusade by Pope Urban II.

The crusade attracted powerful princes from the Christian world:

Hugh, Count of Vermandois, youngest son of Henry I of France, departed for Italy in August 1096 with a small army.

godfrey-of-bouillon

Godfrey of Bouillon

Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, mortgaged his entire estate to the Bishops of Liege and Verdun and with younger brother Baldwin raised a sizeable army.  Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, their other brother joined the crusade at a later date, bringing with him a small army.

Stephen of Blois, married to Adela, daughter of William the Conqueror, joined up with Duke Robert of Normandy, eldest son of William the Conqueror and Count Robert of Flanders.

Crusaders drew up agreements with the church; many mortgaged their estates, for the duration they fought in the Holy Land.  Failure to return saw many estates fall into the hands of the church.

Godfrey of Bouillon, headed towards Jerusalem by passing through Hungary, and King Colman held Baldwin and his family as hostages, on the promise they would pass through without incident.

Robert of Normandy, Robert of Flanders and Stephen of Blois forces marched across France, crossing into Southern Italy.  Pope Urban II met these crusaders at Lucca, giving them his blessing.

Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II

Nicaea with its ancient churches and palaces had been captured by the Turks at the “Battle of Manzikert” in 1071.  French Crusaders caught the Sultan off guard, as he was away putting down another Muslim force.  When the Sultan’s force returned, they were greeted by a besieged city.

Crusader’s crossed the Anatolian plateau and onto Palestine, where the army split into two forces.

By now Crusader’s were considered serious warriors by the Turk’s and Sultan’s.  On the 1st July, Sultan Kilij Arslan and Turks attacked the crusader camp near Dorylaeum.  What had hoped to be a decisive win turned to disaster as the other half of the crusader army, attacked from high up in the mountain ridges, located behind them.

Crusader’s reached Heraclea (Eregli), where upon Turkish forces attacked, but victory was achieved swiftly as crusaders sent the Turks packing.

Baldwin rode one-hundred and fifty miles with eighty knights across the Euphrates River, to the city of Edessa in the east.  Baldwin was received by Prince Thoros, but very quickly Thoros was murdered and Baldwin installed as Count Baldwin of Edessa.

Antioch, Alexandra, Constantinople and Rome, were fabled cities adorned with luxurious palaces and villas.

Antioch; enclosed by an eighteen mile wall with 450 towers stood between the crusaders and victory.  The crusader’s set up camp, waiting for the order to attack.  In 1098, as supplies got low, an English fleet commanded by Edgar Atheling arrived.  With fresh manpower and supplies, two fortresses were constructed, outside the wall, thus tightening the blockade.

On the 2nd June 1098, word was received as a traitor in the city, lowered a rope ladder from the Tower of the Two sisters, allowing sixty crusader’s to reach the ramparts.  Christians assisted the crusaders and the large gates were opened, as the crusader army burst through killing the Turks.  Antioch had finally been captured and restored as a Christian city.

A few days later Kerbogha’s forces arrived to take back the city… those crusaders within were doomed, or were they?

One Peter Bartholomew, a peasant told of his vision to Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, and the hiding place of the Holy Lance, used to pierce Jesus Christ upon the cross.

Peter Bartholomew dug up the Holy Lance from the floor of the Cathedral of St.Peter.

Against overwhelming odds, crusaders withstood famine and siege for eight and a half months, against a mighty Muslim army, only to be saved from death, by barefooted priests carrying the Holy Lance… Kerbogha’s army fled…

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