The Holy Land…

The Eastern Roman Empire were the custodians of the Holy Land…

The Roman Emperor Constantine was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity, after witnessing a cross in the sky, along with his entire army.  However, his spiritual growth did not happen overnight.  For it was some years later, in 300 AD that Emperor Constantine became a Christian.  Shortly thereafter he moved his headquarters to the Holy City of Constantinople.

Constantine devoted himself completely to God, and chose to immerse himself in the inspired writings.  He made the priests of God, his closest advisers, for he believed it was his duty to pay homage to the God who had appeared to him, in his vision of the cross.

In the year 614AD, the Holy Land was lost to the Persians, and in 636AD Mohammed the Arab, claimed a new religion under his Islamic banner, as he captured Jerusalem.

In Norman times the Turks originally from present day Kazakhstan over ran Persia, converted to Islam, and expanded eastwards to rule the Holy Land and Egypt and to threaten Anatolia, to the east of the Bosporus.  The Byzantine Emperor Romanus set forth from Constantinople to annihilate the Islamic Turks but instead at the land-mark battle of Manzikert (1071) the Christian East Roman armies were routed by the mounted archers of the Turks.  This battle proved to the Muslims that they could beat a crack Christian army, and for the next five hundred years the Islamic Turks steadily advanced westwards, conquering all of Europe east of Hungary except Austria, until they captured the Christian city of Constantinople.  After Manzikert, the Emperor of Constantinople asked the Pope in Rome for military support. 

Unfortunately, Pope Urban II saw the request as an opportunity not only to push the Muslims out of Anatolia but also to recapture Jerusalem for Rome, thus pulling a fast one over his Christian theological rivals in Constantinople.

Had the two Christian groups worked together the outcome might have been different and today’s problem’s in modern day Jerusalem non-existent.  However, the same could be said for the Muslims who were then as now split between the Sunni and Shia factions.

Generally speaking, the Crusades were a failure.  The first actually recovered Jerusalem and Antioch but the Turks were too powerful and the Christians were expelled.  English King Richard I was involved in the 3rd Crusade but his main achievement was taking Cyprus from the Christian Byzantium’s and neglecting his subjects back home.  The 4th Crusade during the reign of England’s King John coincides when England lost most of its possessions in France.  This Crusade is remembered for the Crusaders diverting from their intended target of Jerusalem, to the headquarters of their allies in Constantinople, with the intention of looting the city, which they did having been invited through the city gates by those who thought they be friends.

There were eight crusades in all.  The first during the reign of King William II and the last in the reign of King Henry III.  Plantagenet King Richard I was the most famous crusader from the line of English Kings but was so involved that his English subjects hardly ever saw him, and his French lands were neglected.

Knights Templar: Richard the Lionheart

King Richard I

King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart

St.Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux had preached in France and Germany, calling for a third crusade upon the request of his Pope.

Wiliam the Archbishop of Tyre, spoke to the English and French, describing to those who would listen, the miserable conditions that existed in Palestine.  He would go on to paint in vivid colours, the horrors which were being committed in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

The result being, English and French Monarchs, would lay aside their animosities and fight under the same flag.

King Richard avenged himself on Isaac Comnenus, ruler of Cyprus for insulting his bride to be: Berengaria Princess of Navarre. English troops stormed the town of Limassol, and in 1190 upon their arrival at Acre, sold it to the Templars.

Richard I married Berengaria, daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre on the 12thMay 1191 at Limassol in Cyprus.

In the second year of the third crusade and the siege of Acre.  Philip August and Richard Coeur de Lion led their royal fleets into the Bay of Acre.

With the arrival of King Richard I of England, the Templars let it be known, they had lost their Grand Master and Brother; Robert de Sable, he who had led part of the English fleet.

Proud and valiant knights were eager to pick up their sword, in the name of their God, and fight under the Knights Templar flag. Secular knights took their position, fighting side by side with military friars, and wore the red cross, emblazoned on their breasts.

The Templars performed acts of valour as their reputation and fame spread, undertaking acts of bravery for their God.  Saints would recount their battles as triumphs over Christ’s enemies.  Knights, Dukes and Princes are known to have cast off their worldly shackles, renounce vanities of life and lust, and join the crusade and follow Christ.

On the 12thJuly 1191 some six weeks after the British fleet arrived, the English and French Kings, Christian chieftains and Turks assembled at the Knights Templar Grand Masters tent for the signing of the treaty, marking the surrender of Acre.

King Richard I, the fiery monarch of England tore down the Duke of Austria’s banner and thrust it into the muddy ditch.  It was left up to the Templar’s to interpose between Germans and Britons, to preserve peace within the Christian army.

King Richard I captured Palestine and defeated Saladin at Arsuuf.

Richard Coeur de Lion and his troops marched from Acre to Ascalon.  Templars led the Christian army with the Hospitalliers bringing up the rear. Saladin forces opposed their progress, on the great plains around Jaffa and Ramleh.  It is said, as far as the eye could see, nothing could be seen but a forest of spears, in the hands of wild Bedouins.  They made rapid movement and assaults upon Christian warriors, but victory was to be the crusaders and Templar Knights led into battle by King Richard I of England.

The Templar’s whilst foraging local areas became surrounded by a force of four-thousand Moslem’s on horse-back. The Earl of Leicester went to their assistance on the orders of Coeur de Lion, but were quickly overpowered and in danger of being cut down, when King Richard I hurried to the scene.

It was nothing short of valour, when the lion-hearted King retook the city of Gaza, the ancient fortress of the order, repaired its fortifications, as the Knights Templar were garrisoned here.

Saladin’s forces retreated to Jerusalem as Crusaders and Templars bore down upon it.

When the Christian forces entered winter quarters, the Templars set themselves at “Gaza” and King Richard at Ascalon.  An arrangement was made between Templars, King Richard and Guy de Lusignan; “here stood a King without a Kingdom.

When winter rains all but subsided, Christian forces consisting of Templars and Hospitalliers advised Coeur de Lion, not to march on Jerusalem.  The English monarchs declared they be guided upon advice from Templars and Hospitalliers, they who knew the country well.

The mighty force headed for the Holy City of Jerusalem, and when they be one day’s journey from their target.  A council would be created consisting of five knights, Hospitalliers, Eastern Christians and Western Crusaders.  It was here, it was decided to abandon their expedition.

Templars attacked the great Egyptian convoy and captured 4070 camels, 500 horses, gold, silver and provisions and then retreated to Acre.

Saladin was hot on their tail as they retraced their steps to the safety of Acre, and opted to lay siege against Jaffa.  The Templars marched by land, with Coeur de Lion travelling by sea.  The town was relieved as the campaign was concluded by the 1192 treaty; Christians were granted access to Jerusalem as pilgrims.

With the treaty concluded, King Richard I left for England on the 25thOctober accompanied by four trusted Templar Knights and attendants.

On route back to England, bad weather forced them to take shelter in Austria.  King Leopold V of Austria, with whom he had fiercely argued with in the Holy Land, took the English King prisoner.  He saw his chance for revenge and handed him over to the Holy Roman Emperor; Henry VI of Germany.

Questions were asked, where is King Richard I, and it wasn’t long before England received the news, he was being held at Trifels Castle in Germany.  The ransom for his release was 100,000 marks, equal to three tons of silver.

On the 20thMarch 1194, King Richard I of England landed at Sandwich, and on the 23rdMarch rode through the streets of London, on route to St.Paul’s Cathedral, lined by many of his subjects who had given generously to free their King.

On the 26thMarch 1199, King Richard I died in battle at Chalus in France, from a crossbow arrow, and was buried at Fontevrault Abbey in France.

Baltic Crusades: In the Beginning


In 1146, following an announcement by the then Pope, that there would be a Second Crusade to the Holy Land.  St.Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux was preaching in Germany, calling for nobles and warriors to join this crusade.  France and Southern Germany heard his call to arms as 25,000 crusaders signed up for the Second Crusade.

St.Bernard discovered that the Germans had the manpower, but they did not have the necessary will power to undertake such a venture.

Aristocrats, Saxons and men of God, like Bishop Anselm of Havelberg, believed that a crusade closer to home was called for, and put forward his arguments.  It was their belief, going to fight in the Holy Land would leave their home open to attacks, from the pagan Wends from east of the Elbe.

St.Bernard was faced by two evil battle fronts; The Baltic Crusade and the Crusade in the Holy Land.

The Crusade in the Holy Land had to take precedent, saying that the enemies of Christ, these Pagan Wends of Elbe had to be converted to Christianity or eliminated.

A delegation went to the Pope, and among those who attended was Bishop Anselm.  On the 11thApril 1147 a “Divini Dispensation” Bull was issued by the Pope.

According to St.Bernard, the crusaders were to meet on the 29thJune 1147 in Madgeburg.  In late July two crusader armies from Saxony, one from Poland and one from Denmark target the Wends.  Also, a Polish and Orthodox force attacked Pagan Prussians, and as the Pope spoke of other Pagan’s to the north, this campaign would qualify as the First Crusade against the Prussians.


The northern Saxon army led by Archbishop Adalbero of Bremen, Conrad of Zahringen and Henry the Lion were the first to move against Niklot’s Abodrites, laying siege to his stronghold at Dobin, joined by Danes arriving by sea.  Saxons disregarded the papal bull as they made peace not war, in return Wendish forces promised to convert.

Southern forces under Bishop Anselm and Albert the Bear, moved towards Pomerania in cooperation with the Poles.  Their army was split in two; one-part laid siege upon Demmin on the River Peene, whilst the other part laid siege upon Stettin.  They rebuked the Crusaders, who wanted nothing more than to conqueror this land, but this land demonstrated they were of Christian faith.

Even though the Crusade against the Wends achieved little success, the long 12thcentury crusade slowly made its mark upon its people during the 1160’s.  Wends of the Baltic coast between Oder and Elbe came under Saxon or Danish rule, culminating in the conquest of the temple-fortress of Arkona by the Danes.

Baltic Crusades: Latvia

Catholic Preachers of Baltic Crusades

In the year 1180, Catholic preachers arrived in Latvia with German merchants by way of old Viking trading routes along the Daugava River.  Upon arrival, they established communities, built churches, went forth preaching and performing baptisms among the Livonian people.

These “Holy” men were welcomed by the pagan tribes of this land.  However, things changed, when Livonian’s refused to convert to the new religion, only then did the Catholic preachers show their true colours, by calling upon armed forces to aid them in their goal.

In the early years of the 14th century, after countless and bloodied battles, that the lands of Latvia and Estonia were eventually captured by German forces, and converted to Catholicism.

The new religion; Christianity saw the people of Latvia and Estonia baptized by force.  As many parts of this new religion was not forced upon the Baltic tribes, thousand’s of its people continued to practice their pagan customs and beliefs.

Wikipedia Image

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, 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…

Wikipedia Images

The St.Clairs of Roslin


St.Clair Shield

The St.Clairs, later the Sinclair family name, dates back to the Viking Age.

Hrolf also known as Rollo (860-932), the son of Rognvald, the Earl of More, the Viking warrior who plundered Europe’s coastlines, and went on to create the French Dukedom of Normandy, at the mouth of the River Seine.  Rollo was converted to Christianity and baptised by the Archbishop of Rouen in 911AD.

Rollo was the great-great-great grandfather of William I of England (William the Conqueror) who fought for the English crown, at the “Battle of Hastings” in 1066 and won.

Freemasonry was founded in Scotland by Robert the Bruce and William Sinclair, following the “Battle of Bannockburn.”  It was their way of protecting the secrets of the Knights Templar, the so called guardians of the Holy Grail.

The legacy of the Knights Templar and the Masons, is incorporated in the secret symbols and puzzles adorning the walls of Rosslyn Chapel.

Buried vaults, once accessible, below the chapel house the remains of ten Barons of Roslin in full armour, along with their treasures.

Rosslyn Chapel Gargoyle - Holy Grail

Rosslyn Chapel Gargoyle

Legend has it, the Holy Grail, which is believed to have been brought back from Jerusalem, lies with them, they being its protector…  One has to wonder if there is any truth in the legend?

In 1066 William the Conqueror invades England, resulting in the Norman conquest of England’s Saxons, taking the English throne, and aided by the St.Clair knights.

In 1096 Henry St.Clair joins Godfrey de Bouillon on the 1st Crusade to the Holy Land.  King Malcolm III of Scotland grants Rosslyn to Henry.

In 1156 Henry St.Clair is appointed as Ambassador to England by King David I.

The name Sinclair of Norman descent originated from “Saint-Clair-sur-Elle” was established in Scotland in 1162 when Henry St.Clair was granted lands in Lothian.

William St.Clair the son of Henry is born in 1260.

In 1280 Sir William Sinclair becomes guardian to the heir of Alexander III and gains the Barony of Rosslyn.

In 1296, Sir William Sinclair was taken prisoner at the “Battle of Dunbar” and died in the Tower of London.

In 1297 a Scottish army under the command of William Wallace captures Stirling Castle from King Edward I at the “Battle of Stirling Bridge.”  Sir William Sinclair serves as one of Wallace’s commanders.

In 1303, Scottish forces under the leadership of Henry Sinclair and the Comyn Clan, defeated the English at the “Battle of Roslin.”

In 1307 Robert the Bruce and Henry Sinclair’s forces defeated the English at the “Battle of Loudon Hill.”

In 1314 Sir Henry St.Clair fights alongside Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”  They defeated the English, gaining Scotland’s Independence.

In 1320 The Declaration of Arbroath was drawn up to get the Pope to recognise Scotland’s right of Independence, which had not been accepted by the English.  Sir Henry St.Clair was one of the signatories upon the document, which received approval from the Pope.

In 1330 Sir William St.Clair along with John Sinclair, his brother and Scottish knights carried the heart of Robert the Bruce to the Holy Land.  They died in battle in the Holy Land, and their bodies were returned to Scotland.

In 1345 Prince Henry Sinclair is born at Rosslyn Castle.

In 1358 Sir William Sinclair, Prince Henry’s father dies in battle fighting Lithuanians in Prussia.

In 1366 Prince Henry is knighted.

In 1379 Prince Henry Sinclair is installed as the Earl of Orkney and Lord of the Shetland’s.  The Orkney Earldom is obtained from King Haco VI of Norway.

In 1390 Prince Henry meets Nicolo Zeno. Prince Henry goes to the aid of shipwrecked sailors, and discovers these mariners are Venetians.  Their commander; Nicolo Zeno brother of Carlo Zeno famous admiral of the seas, appoints him as commander of his fleet.

In 1398 Prince Henry Sinclair sets sail for the New World, with a fleet of thirteen ships.

In 1399 after wintering in Nova Scotia Prince Henry’s fleet make land at Massachusetts.

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

In 1446 William Sinclair builds Rosslyn Chapel, and dedicates it to the Knights Templar.

In 1455 William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney is granted the Earldom of Caithness.

In 1470 the Earl of Orkney and Caithness was compelled to resign Orkney over to James III in exchange for Castle of Ravenscraig in Fife.  For the King was jealous of the semi-royal chief of the Earldom of Orkney, which had been inherited by the Sinclairs from the Norse Sea-Kings.

In 1513, William Sinclair the 2nd Earl of Caithness lost his life at the “Battle of Flodden,” fighting for James IV of Scotland, who also died in the battle.

In 1568, Henry the 3rd Lord Sinclair was one of those who played his part, assisting Mary, Queen of Scots to escape from Lochleven Castle.

William Sinclair of Mey, was knighted by King James VI of Scotland on the 11th December 1592.

In 1651 while fighting in the army of King Charles II of Scotland against the forces of Oliver Cromwell, John Sinclair is taken prisoner.  He is sent to America as a prisoner of war.

In 1658, John Sinclair now a free man, becomes John Sinkler, and settles in Exeter, New Hampshire, America, where he becomes a landowner.

In 1680, the “Battle of Altimarlech” took place between the Sinclairs and Campbells, over internal land disputes.

The Sinclairs supported the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, by 1745 had changed sides, supporting the British Hanoverian government.

Sir James Sinclair commanded the Royal Scots regiment for the British Hanoverians at the “Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Images: Wikipedia

Origin of the Crusades

Ten Commandments a

The Ten Commandments

To understand the history of the Knights Templar and the Crusades in the Holy Land, we have to go back in time some 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus.

King Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem

King Solomon’s Temple

In the year 993 BC, King David conquered Jerusalem and between 958-951 BC, David’s son Solomon built a temple to his God;  “King Solomon’s Temple.”  In the temple’s inner sanctum, known as the “Holy of Holies” was housed the “Ark of the Covenant.”  A wooden casket designed to hold the stone tablets, upon which were carved the laws of the land; “The Ten Commandments,” which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.

For the Jewish nation, Jerusalem is significant, for it is where Abraham would prove himself to God, by sacrificing his own son; Isaac.  God stepped in, and sent a Ram for sacrificial purposes.

Sacrifice of Isaac - Tiepolo

Sacrifice of Isaac

Genesis Chapter 32 v 12-13
He said “Do not lay hands on the lad or do anything to him; for now that I know you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, from me.”  Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Crucifixion - Giotto


Jerusalem was also the city where the son of a carpenter; Jesus was condemned to death by crucifixion, upon the order’s of Pontius Pilate, and rose from the dead.  Overnight, Jerusalem became a place of Christian pilgrimage.

According to history, Solomon’s Temple is said to have been twice the size of the Tabernacle and the centre piece in Jerusalem.  It was built by Phoenician craftsmen over a seven year period.  The inner walls were lined in gold, with marble blocks and fine emeralds adorning the temple.

Upon the death of King Solomon, he was succeeded by his son; Rehoboam who became King of Israel.  In the fifth year of his reign, Shishak the King of Egypt, ransacked Solomon’s Temple and for the next 367 years it lay in decline, for its wealth, splendour and importance was gone.

In the year 586 BC, the Babylonians led by King Nebuchadnezzar totally destroyed Solomon’s Temple.

The construction of the Second Temple started in 535 BC and was completed in 515 BC.

Persian rule of the area, gave way to Greek rulers, followed later by the Romans.

Herod the Great remained ruler under Roman rule from 47-04BC.  He was responsible for enlarging the Second Temple with courts and walls.  The work was started in 20 BC and took eighty-three years to complete.

In 70 AD, the Jews rose up and revolted against their Roman Rulers, and Titus their Roman General, later known as Caesar replied by besieging the city, which led to the destruction of the Second Temple by fire.

In 326 AD, Hadrian’s Temple had been built by the Roman’s to their God; Venus built on Calvary and was torn down by order of Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.

Temple Mount - Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock

In 691 a shrine was built upon the site and called “Dome of the Rock” with the Al-Aqsa mosque built alongside by 715.  Some two earthquakes later, it had been destroyed.

In 1035 a new Al-Aqsa mosque was built upon the former site.  Around 1118, part of the site became the headquarters in the Holy Land for the Knights Templar.

By 1056 the Muslims refused Christian pilgrim’s access to Jerusalem, yet they still kept coming.  In 1064 the pilgrim situation had worsened, which led to the slaughter of hundreds of Christian pilgrims, as they neared Jerusalem.

By 1071, Seljuks a Turkish tribe had captured the Holy Land, and many sacred places were desecrated or even destroyed.

In 1074, the Byzantine Emperor; Michael VII pleaded with Pope Gregory VII, for help… he who had expected mercenaries would come to his rescue, was disappointed when his call went unanswered.

In 1095 the Byzantine Emperor; Alexius I appealed to the Council of Piacenza for help against the Seldjuk Turks.

Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II

On the 27th November 1095, at The Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II preached about the oppression being inflicted upon Christians in the Middle East by Muslim Seljuks.  He called upon knights and warriors to pick up their arms, and fight as one; “Warriors for God.”  Wear his cross as your badge, and if you be killed, know your sins will be pardoned.

Peter the Hermit, a French monk upon hearing the speech given by his Pope, believed it be his duty to rally support, for a crusade to the Holy Land and free Christians and preserve the Holy Sepulchre.

Dressed in nothing more than a coarse cloth robe tied at the waist with a rope, with no shoes upon his feet.  This humble monk travelled across Italy, France and Germany, preaching in churches and streets, enlisting an army to join with him, on a crusade to the Holy Land.

Peasants Crusade

Peoples Crusade

Thousands of warriors, men, women and children went on the “People’s Crusade” led by “Peter the Hermit,” in April 1096.  Each wore the emblem of the cross upon their shoulder.  They had no provisions, and intended to live off the land.

When the army of Peter the Hermit, reached Cologne, they called a halt to take advantage of the food supplies on offer.

The first known holocaust of the Crusades, would take place against German Jews, by bands of followers, claiming to be followers of Peter the Hermit, against Rhineland towns of Mainz, Cologne, Spier, Trier, Worms and Metz.

The Jewish communities came face to face with forced baptisms into the Christian faith, and refusal led to death.

Massacre of Jews

Massacre of Jews

These communities were unlucky, for they lay in the path of Crusader’s on route to Jerusalem.  Many were murdered, homes and synagogues destroyed, and money shared among unscrupulous Crusader’s.

The Jews of Mainz, upon hearing of the slaughter in other towns, feared for their lives against an army out of control.  They sought shelter with Bishop Ruothard, placing their treasures and life, firmly in his hands.

Count Emich, an enemy of the Jews; showed no mercy towards the old and young women, and slew their young men.

On the 27th May 1096, Emich and his follower’s attacked the Bishop’s Palace with death in their hearts.

Emich’s forces fought these men of Israel at the gatehouse, and overwhelmed them, they had chance against battle hardened warriors.  As they moved into the courtyard, the Bishop’s men had fled leaving the Jews at the mercy of Emich; they were slaughtered.

Those located within the Palace, knew they faced a horrific death.  “There is none like God and we can do nothing better than to sacrifice our life to him,” was shouted out… The men and women slaughtered their off-spring, then each other, rather than be butchered.

Walter the Penniless also known as Walter Sans Avoir, chose to take some of the army and continue on their quest.  As they passed through Semlin in Hungary, disputes broke out when his warriors stole food.  At Belgrade they pillaged the surrounding area for food, as the harvest had not been gathered.  The Belgrade garrison attacked Walter’s forces; some 60 who took shelter in a chapel were burnt alive.

Supplies were sent by Alexius Comnenus and an escape to march them into Constantinople.

Peter the Hermit following up behind Walter the Penniless reached Semlin, only to discover spoils taken from Walter’s men were displayed on the city walls.

At Constantinople Peter’s army were welcomed, but lack of supplies for such a large army, led to attacks and thefts from surrounding villages.  It had been suggested by Emperor Alexius that Peter’s forces should wait for the fully trained forces of the first crusade before they moved on.  However the pressure on feeding the people of Constantinople and Peter’s army forced their departure.

The People’s Crusade moved on to Civetot a former army base, where they attacked surrounding area in search of food.  They came under attack, when the base was attacked by Turks, who slaughtered most of the crusaders.

Peter the Hermit joined with the forces of Godfrey of Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade.  Whose armies had departed for Byzantium in the August of 1096, led by; Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond of Taranto.

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.

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.

Finally on the 15th July 1099, the Turks surrendered.  The Muslim flag was torn down and replaced by a banner flying a single cross.

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.

Peter the Hermit, a French monk from Amiens, preached from the Mount of Olives, and shortly afterwards returned to Europe where upon he founded a monastery in France, and lived out the remainder of life there, until his death in 1131.

(Images) King Solomon’s Temple – Sacrifice of Isaac – Pope Urban II: Wikipedia
(Images) Massacre of Jews – Peoples Crusade: Wikipedia
(Image) Sacrifice of Isaac: Tiepolo   Crucifixion: Giotto
(Image) Solomon’s Temple: ishareimage

The Ninth Crusade

king edward I

Prince Edward I soon to be King

Prince Edward (Edward I) heir to the English throne arrived at Tunis with his forces, only to find the attack upon the city had been called off, and a diplomatic agreement brought the eighth crusade to an end.

Edward and his forces continued on to Acre, the last crusader outpost in Syria, thus starting what would be the Ninth and Final Crusade.

He succeeded in capturing Nazareth, and obtained an agreement with the Sultan of Egypt to agree a favourable treaty for Christians and pilgrims.

In 1272, Edward returned home to England, and was crowned King Edward I of England at his coronation on the 19th August 1274.

A fleet of warships from Venice and Aragon arrived to defend remaining crusader states in 1290.

Acre Castle - Palestine

Acre Castle

The Crusader flame was slowly being extinguished, as al-Ashraf Khali attacked Acre, the final place under crusader control, which fell within seven weeks, and the crusaders were driven out of the Holy Land.

The Crusades in the Holy Land had come to a sticky end…

The Crusades were wars of unprovoked aggression against countries, who fought battles within the Holy Land, who until we arrived, believed in their own faith. A holy war was started by Rome.  Its aim to spread Christianity across the land.

(Images) Edward I & Acre Castle: Wikipedia

The Children’s Crusade

Childrens Crusade

The Children’s Crusade

In the year 1212, tens of thousands children, put down their ploughs, carts, the flocks they tended, claiming it be God’s will, and joined the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land.

In May of 1212, a shepherd boy named Stephen of Cloyes, believed he had been chosen by Jesus Christ to lead a crusade of children in the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre.

By June, thousands of children under twelve flocked to the Vendome rendezvous point.  Upon receiving blessings, the crusade begun.  By the time they reached Marseilles, the 30,000 who started out had dropped to 7,000 for many died of hunger on route, others wandered off, heading for home.

Stephen’s promise that the sea would divide, and they could walk across, never happened.  Some felt betrayed and headed home…  Thousands sailed from the port, on merchant ships, who offered free passage.  In fact they were taken to Alexandria and sold as slaves.

In the same year, 1212, Nicholas of Germany also led a children’s crusade of 50,000 over the Alps and into Italy, hoping to board ships to Palestine.  Thousands died on route, and only a few thousands boarded ships.

Their fate was to be sold into a life of slavery.

In the spring of 1213, some made it back to Germany and told of their adventure, and how thousands died on route of hunger and cold.  Parents of those who had lost their young ones, turned on the father of Nicholas.  He was arrested and hanged.

Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) groaned with anguish how these children had suffered and died.  He raised a memorial at the island of San Pietro, where two ships had floundered and all aboard had drowned.

A church was built, and the children’s bodies exhumed and buried within.  It was called the “Church of the New Innocents” supported by twelve monks, offering prayers at the church.

For three hundred years the shrine existed, until the monks left.

In 1737 Christian captives escaping Africa landed at the island; deserted except for a ruined church.

The Children’s Crusade marked a dark history, and led to the decline of Crusades to the Holy Land.

(Image) Children’s Crusade: Wikipedia

The First Holocaust

Massacre of Jews

Massacre of Jews in the Rhineland

The first known holocaust of the Crusades, would take place against German Jews, by Peter the Hermit’s rabble of followers, against Rhineland towns of Mainz, Cologne and Metz.

The Jewish communities came face to face with forced baptisms into the Christian faith, and refusal led to death.

These communities were unlucky, for they lay in the path of Crusader’s on route to Jerusalem.  Many were murdered, homes and synagogues destroyed, and money shared among unscrupulous Crusader’s.

The Jews of Mainz, upon hearing of the slaughter in other towns, feared for their lives against an army out of control.  They sought shelter with Bishop Ruothard, placing their treasures and life, firmly in his hands.

Count Emich, an enemy of the Jews; showed no mercy towards the old and young women, and slew their young men.

On the 27th May 1096, Emich and his follower’s attacked the Bishop’s Palace with death in their hearts.

Emich’s forces fought these men of Israel at the gatehouse, and overwhelmed them, they had chance against battle hardened warriors.  As they moved into the courtyard, the Bishop’s men had fled leaving the Jews at the mercy of Emich; they were slaughtered.

Those located within the Palace, knew they faced a horrific death.  “There is none like God and we can do nothing better than to sacrifice our life to him,” was shouted out… The men and women slaughtered their off-spring, then each other, rather than be butchered.

(Image) Massacre of the Jews in the Rhineland: Wikipedia