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Medieval Sourcebook:
Albert of Aix:
Historia Hierosolymita


Selections from his Chronicle

Albert of Aix (or Aachen) wrote a history of the Crusades down to c. 1120. He is the most important source for the history of the popular crusade. He wrote in the mid twelfth century and never visited the East. His History is based on eyewitness accounts and written sources.

The whole text, with French translation, is in RHC, OCC IV.

1. Peter the Hermit

2. Folcmar and Gottshalk

3. Emico and the Slaughter of Rhineland Jews

4. The end of the Popular Crusade

5. Godfrey of Bouillon in Constantinople


1. Peter the Hermit

There was a priest, Peter by name, formerly a hermit. He was born in the city of Amiens, which is in the western part of the kingdom of the Franks, and he was appointed preacher in Berri in the aforesaid kingdom. In every admonition and sermon, with all the persuasion of which he was capable, he urged setting out on the journey as soon as possible. In response to his constant admonition and call, bishops, abbots, clerics, and monks set out; next, most noble laymen, and princes of the different kingdoms; then, all the common people, the chaste as well as the sinful, adulterers, homicides, thieves, perjurers, and robbers; indeed, every class of the Christian profession, nay, also, women and those influenced by the spirit of penance -- all joyfully entered upon this expedition. . . .

In the year of the Incarnation of the Lord, 1096, in the fourth Indiction, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Henry IV, third august Emperor of the Romans, and in the forty-third year of the Empire, in the reign of Pope Urban II, formerly Odoard, on the eighth day of March, Walter, surnamed the Penniless, a well-known soldier, set out, as a result of the preaching of Peter the Hermit, with a great company of Frankish foot soldiers and only about eight knights. On the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem he entered into the kingdom of Hungary. When his intention, and the reason for his taking this journey became known to Lord Coloman, most Christian king of Hungary, he was kindly received and was given peaceful transit across the entire realm, with permission to trade. And so without giving offence, and without being attacked, he set out even to Belgrade, a Bulgarian city, passing over to Malevilla, where the realm of the king of Hungary ends. Thence he peacefully crossed the Morava river.

But sixteen of Walter's company remained in Malevilla, that they might purchase arms. Of this Walter was ignorant, for he had crossed long before. Then some of the Hungarians of perverse minds, seeing the absence of Walter and his army, laid bands upon those sixteen and robbed them of arms, garments, gold and silver and so let them depart, naked and empty-handed. Then these distressed pilgrims, deprived of arms and other things, hastened on their way to Belgrade, which has been mentioned before, where Walter with all his band had pitched tents for camp. They reported to him the misfortune which had befallen them, but Walter heard this with equanimity, because it would take too long to return for vengeance.

On the very night when those comrades, naked and empty-handed, were received, Walter sought to buy the necessaries of life from a chief of the Bulgarians and the magistrate of the city; but these men, thinking it a pretense, and regarding them as spies, forbade the sale of any thing to them. Wherefore, Walter and his companions, greatly angered, began forcibly to seize and lead away the herds of cattle and sheep, which were wandering h and there through the fields in search of pasture. As a result serious strife arose between the Bulgarians and the pilgrims who were driving away the flocks, and they came to blows. However, while the strength of the Bulgarians was growing even to one hundred and forty, some of the pilgrim army, cut off from the multitude of their companions, arrived in flight at a chapel. But the Bulgarians, their army growing in number, while the band of Walter was weakening and his entire company scattered, besieged the chapel and burned sixty who were within; on most of the others, who escaped from the enemy and the chapel in defense of their lives, the Bulgarians inflicted grave wounds.

After this calamity and the loss of his people, and after he had passed eight days as a fugitive in the forests of Bulgaria, Walter leaving his men scattered everywhere, withdrew to Nisb, a very wealthy city in the midst of the Bulgarian realm. There be found the duke and prince of the land and reported to him the injury and damage which bad been done him. From the duke he obtained justice for all; nay, more, in reconciliation the duke bestowed upon him arms and money, and the same lord of the land gave him peaceful conduct through the cities of Bulgaria, Sofia, Philippopolis, and Adrianople, and also license to trade.

He went down with all his band, even to the imperial ciity, Constantinople, which is the capital of the entire Greek empire. And when he arrived there, with all possible earnestness and most humble petition be implored from the Lord Emperor himself permission to delay peacefully in his kingdom, with license to buy the necessaries of life, until he should have as his companion Peter the Hermit, upon whose admonition and persuasion he had begun this journey. And he also begged that, when the troops were united, they might cross in ships over the arm of the sea called the Strait of St. George, and thus they would be able to resist more safely the squadrons of the Turks and the Gentiles. The outcome was that the requests made of the Lord Emperor, Alexius by name, were granted.

Not long after these events, Peter and his large army, innumerable as the sands of the sea - an army which he had brought together from the various realms of the nations of the Franks, Swabians, Bavarians, and Lotharingianswere making their way to Jerusalem. Descending on that march into the kingdom of Hungary, he and his army pitched their tents before the gate of Oedenburg. . . .

Peter heard this report and, because the Hungarians and Bulgarians were fellow Christians, absolutely refused to believe so great crime of them, until his men, coming to Malevilla, saw banging from the walls the arms and spoils of the sixteen companions of Walter who had stayed behind a short time before, and whom the Hungarians had treacherously presumed to rob. But when Peter recognized the injury to his brethren, at the sight of their arms and spoils, he urged his companions to avenge their wrongs.

These sounded the trumpet loudly, and with upraised banners they rushed to the walls and attacked the enemy with a hail of arrows. In such quick succession and in such incredible numbers did they burl them in the face of those standing on the walls that the Hungarians, in no wise able to resist the force of the besieging Franks, left the walls, hoping that within the city they might be able to withstand the strength of the Gauls. Godfrey, surnamed Burela native of the city Etampes, master and standard-bearer of two hundred foot soldiers, himself a foot soldier, and a man of great strength - seeing the flight of the Hungarians away from the walls, then quickly crossed over the walls by means of a ladder he chanced to find there. Reinald of Broyes, a distinguished knight, clad in helmet and coat of mail, ascended just after Godfrey; soon all the knights, as well as the footsoldiers, hastened to enter the city. The Hungarians, seeing their own imminent peril, gathered seven thousand strong for defense; and, having passed out through another gate which looked toward the east, they stationed themselves on the summit of a lofty crag, beyond which flowed the Danube, where they were invincibly fortified. A very large part of these were unable to escape quickly through the narrow passage, and they fell before the gate. Some who hoped to find refuge on the top of the mountain were cut down by the pursuing pilgrims; still others, thrown headlong from the summit of the mountain, were buried in the waves of the Danube, but many escaped by boat. About four thousand Hungarians fell there, but only a hundred pilgrims, not counting the wounded, were killed at that same place.

This victory won, Peter remained with all his followers in the same citadel five days, for he found there an abundance of grain flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, a plentiful supply of wine, and infinite number of horses. . . .

When Peter learned of the wrath of the King and his very formidable gathering of troops, he deserted Malevilla with all his followers and planned to cross the Morava with all spoils and flocks and herds of horses. But on the whole bank he found very few boats, only one hundred and fifty, in which the great multitude must pass quickly over and escape, lest the King should overtake them with a great force. Hence many who were unable to cross in boats tried to cross on rafts made by fastening poles together with twigs. But driven hither and thither in these rafts without rudders, and at times separated from their companions, many perished, pierced with arrows from the bows of the Patzinaks, who inhabited Bulgaria. As Peter saw the drowning and destruction which was befalling his men, he commanded the Bavarians, the Alemanni, and the other Teutons, by their promise of obedience to come to the aid of their Frankish brethren. They were earned to that place by seven rafts; then they sank seven small boats of the Patzinaks with their occupants, but took only seven men captive. They led these seven captives into the presence of Peter and killed them by his order.

When he had thus avenged his men, Peter crossed the Morava river and entered the large and spacious forests of the Bulgarians with supplies of food, with every necessary, and with the spoils from Belgrade. And after a delay of eight days in those vast' woods and pastures, he and his followers approached Nish, a city very strongly fortified with walls. After crossing the river before the city by a stone bridge, they occupied the field, pleasing in its verdure and extent, and pitched their tents on the banks of the river. . . .

Peter, obedient to the mandate of the Emperor, advanced from the city of Sofia and withdrew with all his people to the city Philippopolis. When he had related the entire story of his misfortune in the hearing of all the Greek citizens, he received, in the name of Jesus and in fear of God, very many gifts for him. Next, the third day after, he withdrew to Adrianople, cheerful and joyful in the abundance of all necessaries. There he tarried in camp outside the walls of the city only two days, and then withdrew after sunrise on the third day. A second message of the Emperor was urging him to hasten his march to Constantinople, for, on account of the reports about him, the Emperor was burning with desire to see this same Peter. When they had come to Constantinople, the army of Peterwas ordered to encamp at a distance from the city, and license to trade was fully granted. .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 48-52

2. Folcmar and Gottschalk

Not long after the passage of Peter, a certain priest Gottschalk by name, a Teuton in race, an inhabitant of the Rhine country, inflamed by the preaching of Peter with a love and a desire for that same journey to Jerusalem, by his own preachings likewise stirred the hearts of very many peoples of diverse nations to go on that journey. He assembled from the various regions of Lorraine, eastern France, Bavaria, and Alemannia, more than fifteen thousand persons of military station, as well as ordinary foot soldiers, who, having collected an inexpressible amount of money, together with other necessaries, are said to have continued on their way peacefully, even to the kingdom of Hungary.

When they arrived at the gate of Wieselburg and its fortress, they were honorably received by the favor of King Coloman. They were likewise granted permission to buy the necessaries of life, and peace was commanded on both sides by an order of the King, lest any outbreak should arise from so large an army. But as they delayed there for several days, they began to roam about, and the Bavarians and Swabians, spirited peoples, together with other thoughtless persons, drank beyond measure and violated the peace which had been commanded. Little by little they took away from the Hungarians wine, grain, and all other necessaries; finally, they devastated the fields, killing sheep and cattle, and also destroying those who resisted, or who wished to drive them out. Like a rough people, rude in manners, undisciplined and haughty, they committed very many other crimes, all of which we cannot relate. As some who were present say, they transfixed a certain Hungarian youth in the market place with a stake through his body. C plaints of this matter and of other wrongs were brought to ears of the King and their own leaders. . . .

When Gottschalk and the other sensible men heard this, they trusted with pure faith in these words, and also because the Hungarians were of the Christian profession, they counselled the entire assembly to give their arms in satisfaction to the King, according to this command. Thus everything would return to peace and concord. . . .

And yet, when all their arms had been placed under lock and key, the Hungarians proved false regarding all the faith and clemency which they had promised that the King would show to. the people; nay, rather they fell upon them with cruel slaughter, cut down the defenceless and unarmed and inflicted upon them frightful slaughter, to such an extent (as those affirm for a truth' who were Present and barely escaped) that the entire plain of Belgrade was filled by the bodies of the slain and was covered with their blood. Few escaped from that martyrdom.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 52-53

3. Emico and the Slaughter of the Rhineland Jews

At the beginning of summer in the same year in which Peter, and Gottschalk, after collecting an army, had set out, there assembled in like fashion a large and innumerable host of Christians from diverse kingdoms and lands; namely, from the realms of France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine. . . . I know n whether by a judgment of the Lord, or by some error of mind;, they rose in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy, especially in the Kingdom of Lorraine, asserting it to be the beginning of their expedition and their duty against the enemies of the Christian faith. This slaughter of Jews was done first by citizens of Cologne. These suddenly fell upon a small band of Jews and severely wounded and killed many; they destroyed the houses and synagogues of the Jews and divided among themselves a very large, amount of money. When the Jews saw this cruelty, about two hundred in the silence of the night began flight by boat to Neuss. The pilgrims and crusaders discovered them, and after taking away all their possessions, inflicted on them similar slaughter, leaving not even one alive.

Not long after this, they started upon their journey, as they had vowed, and arrived in a great multitude at the city of Mainz. There Count Emico, a nobleman, a very mighty man in this region, was awaiting, with a large band of Teutons, the arrival of the pilgrims who were coming thither from diverse lands by the King's highway.

The Jews of this city, knowing of the slaughter of their brethren, and that they themselves could not escape the hands of so many, fled in hope of safety to Bishop Rothard. They put an infinite treasure in his guard and trust, having much faith in his protection, because he was Bishop of the city. Then that excellent Bishop of the city cautiously set aside the incredible amcunt of money received from them. He placed the Jews in the very spacious hall of his own house, away from the sight of Count Emico and his followers, that they might remain safe and sound in a very secure and strong place.

But Emico and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the hall with arrows and lances. Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children, and that they were sparing no age, likewise fell upon one another, brother, children, wives, and sisters, and thus they perished at each other's hands. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised.

From this cruel slaughter of the Jews a few escaped; and a few because of fear, rather than because of love of the Christian faith, were baptized. With very great spoils taken from these people, Count Emico, Clarebold, Thomas, and all that intolerable company of men and women then continued on their way to Jerusalem, directing their course towards the Kingdom of Hungary, where passage along the royal highway was usually not denied the pilgrims. But on arriving at Wieselburg, the fortress of the King, which the rivers Danube and Leytha protect with marshes, the bridge and gate of the fortress were found closed by command of the King of Hungary, for great fear had entered all the Hungarians because of the slaughter which had happened to their brethren. . . .

But while almost everything had turned out favorably for the Christians, and while they had penetrated the walls with great openings, by some chance or misfortune, I know not what, such great fear entered the whole army that they turned in flight, just as sheep are scattered and alarmed when wolves rush upon them. And seeking a refuge here and there, they forgot thei companions. . . .

Emico and some of his followers continued in their flight along the way by which they had come. Thomas, Clarebold, and several of their men escaped in flight toward Carinthia and Italy. So the hand of the Lord is believed to have been against the pilgrim who had sinned by excessive impurity and fornication, and who had slaughtered the exiled Jews through greed of money, rather than for the sake of God's justice, although the Jews were opposed to Christ. The Lord is a just judge and orders no one unwillingly, or under compulsion, to come under the yoke of the Catholic faith.

There was another detestable crime in this assemblage of wayfaring people, who were foolish and insanely fickle. That the crime was hateful to the Lord and incredible to the faithful is not to be doubted. They asserted that a certain goose was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that a she goat was not less filled by the same Spirit. These they made their guides on this holy journey to Jerusalem; these they worshipped excessively; and most of the people following them, like beasts, believed with their whole minds that this was the true course. May the hearts of the faithful be free from the thought that the Lord Jesus wished the Sepulchre of His most sacred body to be visited by brutish and insensate animals, or that He wished these to become the guides of Christian souls, which by the price of His own blood He deigned to redeem from the filth of idols! . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 54-56

4. The End of the Popular Crusade

The Emperor was moved by compassion on hearing this humble narrative and ordered two hundred gold besants to be given to Peter; of that money which was called tartaron he disbursed one measure for his army. After that, peter retired from the conference and from the palace of the Emperor. Although under the kind protection of the Emperor, he rested only five days in the fields and lands near Constantinople, where Walter the Penniless had likewise pitched his tents. Becoming companions from that very day, thereafter their troops, arms, and all necessary provisions were joined together. Next, after five days, they moved their tents and, with the aid of the Emperor, passed by boat over the Strait of St. George. Entering the confines of Cappadocia, they advanced through mountainous country into Nicomedia. and there passed the night. After this, they pitched camp at the port called Civitote. There merchants were constantly bringing ships laden with supplies of wine, corn, oil, and barley, and with abundance of cheese, selling all to the pilgrims with just measure.

While they were rejoicing in this abundance of necessities and were resting their tired bodies, there came messengers from the most Christian Emperor. Because of the danger of ambushes and attacks from the Turks, thev forbade Peter and his whole army front marching towards the mountainous region of the city of Nicaea, until a greater number of Christians should be added to their number. Peter heard the message, and he with all the Christian people assented to the counsel of the Emperor. They tarried there for the course of two months, feasting in peace and joy, and sleeping secure from all hostile attacks.

And so two months later, having become wanton and unrestrained because of ease and an inestimable abundance of food, heeding not the voice of Peter, but against his will, they entered into the region of the city of Nicaea and the realms of Soliman. They took as plunder cattle, sheep, goats, the herds of the Greek servants of the Turks, and carried them off to their fellows. Peter, seeing this, was sorrowful in heart, knowing that they did it not with impunity. Whereupon he often admonished them not to seize any more booty contrary to the counsel of the Emperor, but in vain did he speak to a foolish and rebellious people. . . .

But the Teutons, seeing that affairs turned out so well for the Romans and the Franks, and that they returned unhindered so many times with their booty, were inflamed with an inordinate desire for plunder. About three thousand footsoldiers were collected and about two hundred knights. . . .

And thus, after all the stronghold had been captured and its inhabitants driven out, they rejoiced in the abundance of food found there. And exulting in that victory, they in turn gave counsel that, by remaining in that fortress, they could easily obtain, through their own valor, the lands and principality of Soliman; that they would gather from all sides booty and food, and thus could easily weaken Soliman, until the promised army of the great leaders should approach. Soliman, the leader and chief of the army of the Turks, having heard of the arrival of the Christians, and of their plunder and booty, assembled from all Romania and the territory of Chorosan fifteen thousand of his Turks, most agile archers, very skilful in the use of bows of horn and bone. . . . Next, it is said, that after sunrise on the third day, Soliman with his followers arrived from Nicaea at the fortress which the Teutons had invaded. . . .

Therefore, the Turks, unable to drive out the Alemanni with this assault and shower of arrows, gathered all kinds of wood at the very gate of the fortress. They set fire to it and burned the gate and very many buildings which were within the citadel. As the heat of the flames became greater, some were burned to death; others, hoping for safety, leaped from the walls. But the Turks who were outside the walls cut down with swords those who were fleeing and took captive about two hundred who were pleasing in appearance and youthful in body; all the others they destroyed with sword and arrow. . . .

In the meantime, the truth was discovered and tumult arose among the people. The footsoldiers came in a body to Reinald of Broyes, Walter the Penniless, to Walter of Breteuil, also, and to Folker of Orleans, who were leaders of Peter's army, to urge them to rise in a body in vindication of their brethren and against audacity of the Turks. But they positively refused to go without the presence and the counsel of Peter. Then Godfrey Burel, master of the footsoldiers, upon hearing their response, asserted that the timid by no means avail so much in war as the bold; and in sharp words he frequently reproached those men who prevented their other companions from pursuing the Turks to avenge their brethren. On the other band, the leaders of the legion, unable to endure his insults and reproaches any longer, or those of their own followers, were deeply moved by wrath and indignation and promised that they would go against the strength and wiles of the Turks, even if it should happen that they died in battle.

Nor was there delay: at dawn on the fourth day, all the knights and foot soldiers throughout the entire camp were ordered to arm themselves, to sound the trumpets, and to assemble for battle. Only the unarmed, the countless sick, and the women remained in camp. But all the armed men, to the number of 25,000 foot soldiers and 500 knights in armor, pressed on their way together toward Nicaea, in order to avenge their brethren by provoking Soliman and the rest of the Turks to engage in battle. And so, divided and arrayed in six battle lines, with standards uplifted in each, they advanced on the right and on the left.

Boasting and shouting with vehement tumult and great clamor, they had scarcely advanced through the aforesaid forest and mountain region three miles from the port of Civitote, their halting place, (Peter being absent and unaware of all this), when lo! Soliman, with all his intolerable following, entered that same forest from the opposite side. He was coming down from the city of Nicaea to fall suddenly u on the Gauls in camp, intending at thepoint of the sword to wipe out and destroy them, unaware and unprepared. Upon hearing the approach and the violent outcry of the Christians, he marvelled greatly what this tumult meant, for all that the Christians had decided was unknown to him. Finding out straightway that they were pilgrims, Soliman addressed his men as follows, "Behold the Franks, against whom we were marching, are at band. Let us withdraw from the forest and the mountains into the open plain, where we may freely engage in battle with them, and they can find no refuge." Accordingly, this was done without delay, at Soliman's command, and in deep silence they withdrew from the forest and the mountains.

But the Franks, unaware of Soliman's approach, advanced from the forest and the mountains with shouting and loud clamor. There they first beheld the battle lines of Soliman in the midst of the field, awaiting them for battle. When they had seen the Turks, they began to encourage one another in the name of the Lord....

There Walter the Penniless fell, pierced by seven arrows which bad penetrated his coat of mail. Reinald of Broyes and Folker of Chartres, men of the greatest renown in their own lands, fell in like martyrdom, destroyed by the enemy, though not without great slaughter of the Turks. But Walter of Breuteuil, son of Waleramnus, and Godfrey Burel, master of the footsoldiers, having slipped away in flight through briars and thickets, turned back along the narrow path where the entire band, withdrawn from battle, had gathered together. When the flight and desertion of these men became known, all turned in flight, hastening their course towards Civitote along the same route by which they had come, but with little defense against the enemy.

And so the Turks, rejoicing in the pleasing success of victory, were destroying the wretched band of pilgrims, whom they followed for a distance of three miles, killing them even at the camp of Peter. And going within the tents, they destroyed with the sword whomever they found, the weak and the feeble, clerics, monks, old women, nursing children, persons of every age. But they led away young girls whose face and form was pleasing in their eyes, and beardless youths of comely countenance. They carried off to Nicaea money, garments, mules, horses, and all valuable things, as well as the tents themselves,

But above the shore of the sea, near the aforesaid Civitote, was an ancient, deserted fortress. Towards that fortress three thousand pilgrims rushed in flight. They entered the ruined fortress in hope of defense. But finding no gates or other obstacles, and anxious and deprived of aid, they piled up their shields for a gate, along with a huge pile of rocks; and with lances, wooden bows, and slingstones, they bravely defended themselves from the enemy. But the Turks, seeing that they were having little success in killing those inside, surrounded the fortress, which was without a roof on all sides. They aimed their arrows high, so that, as they fell from the air in a shower, they would strike the bodies of the enclosed Christians, destroying the poor wretches; and that all the others, at the sight of this, might be compelled to surrender. In this way very many are said to have been wounded and killed there; but the rest, fearing yet more cruel treatment from the impious enemy, could not be compelled to come out either by.' force or by arms.

The Emperor was moved with pity when he bad heard from Peter about the siege and the fall of his men. So he summoned the Turcopoles and all the nations , of his kingdom, and commanded them to go in all haste across the Strait to the aid of the fugitive and besieged Christians, and to drive the assaulting Turks from the siege. But the Turks, having learned of the Emperor's edict moved from the fortress at midnight with their Christian captives and very great spoils, and so the pilgrim soldiers who had been shut up and besieged by the impious (Turks) were freed. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 73-76

5. Godfrey of Bouillon in Constantinople

With his entire band of pilgrims Godfrey withdrew to the city of Constantinople itself. There, after pitching their tents, they lodged, a strong and powerful band, protected by armor and all warlike equipment. And, behold, at the meeting Hugh, Drogo, William Carpenter, and Clarebold, set free by the Emperor, were present, rejoicing because of the arrival of the Duke and of his multitudes, and meeting the embrace of the Duke and of the others with many a kiss. And, likewise, the above mentioned messenger of the Emperor met the Duke, asking him to come to the palace of the Emperor with some of the chiefs of his army, that be might hear the word of the King. The rest of his multitude should remain outside the walls of the city. Scarcely bad the Duke received the message when, behold, some strangers from the land of the Franks appeared by stealth in his camp. The strangers cautioned the Duke very strongly to beware of the wiles and alluring appearance of the Emperor, and by no means to go to the Emperor because of some flattering promise, but to sit outside the walls and listen carefully to all which the Emperor should propose to him. Thereupon, the Duke, so warned by the strangers, and caught by the deception of the Greeks, did not go to the Emperor.

For this reason, the Emperor, moved by a violent indignation towards the Duke and all his army, refused them the privilege of buying and selling. But when Baldwin, brother of the Duke, learned of the wrath of the Emperor and saw the need of the people and their very great lack of necessaries, he pleaded with the Duke and the leaders to plunder again the region and lands of the Greeks, and to collect spoils and food, until the Emperor, compelled by this damage, should again grant the privilege of buying and selling. Therefore, when the Emperor saw devastation and misfortune befalling the lands of his kingdom, he once more gave to all the privilege of buying and selling.

It was the time of the Nativity of the Lord. At that festal time, and in those days of peace and joy, it seemed to all praiseworthy, good, and acceptable before God that peace should be restored on both sides between the household of the Emperor and the Duke and all the mighty ones of the army. And so, when peace had been made, they withheld their hands from all plunder and hurt. Accordingly, during those four holy days they rested in all quiet and happiness before the walls of the city Constantinople.

Four days after, the legation of the Emperor went to the Duke asking, for the sake of the Emperor and his entreaties, that he would move his camp, and with his army lodge in the houses situated on the shore of the Straight, so that their tents might not become wet and worn from wintry cold and snow, which was threatening in that rainy season. Finally, the Duke and all the other leaders yielded to the will of the Emperor, and, after moving their tents, they, with all the Christian army, lodged in the castles and turreted buildings which were along the shore for a distance of thirty miles. From that day on successively they found and bought every abundance of food and necessities by order of the Emperor.

Shortly after, an embassy of the Emperor again appeared before the Duke, urging him to go and learn what the Emperor bad to say. This the Duke absolutely refused to do, having been warned by the strangers of the craftiness of the Emperor. But he sent to him as messengers the distinguished men Conon, Count of Montaigu, Baldwin of Burg, and Godfrey of Ascha, who were to make excuses for him, speaking in this manner: "Duke Godfrey to the Emperor; trust and obedience. Willingly and eagerly would I come before you to look upon the wealth and glory of your household, were it not that many evil rumors, which have come to my ears regarding you, have terrified me. However, I know not whether these reports have been invented and spread about from envy or malice towards you." The Emperor, bearing this, warmly protested his innocence of all these charges, saying that never should the Duke or any of his followers fear any artifice on his part, but that he would serve and honor the Duke as his son, and the Duke's associates as his friends. Then the messengers of the Duke, on their return, reported favorably on all the good and faithful promises which they had heard from the Emperor's lips. But the Duke, still placing little faith in the honeyed promises of the Emperor, again refused him a conference. And so, between these messages back and forth, fifteen days rolled away.

Therefore the Emperor, recognizing the firmness of the Duke and that he could not be lured before him, again took offense and withdrew the privilege of buying barley, and fish, and then bread, so that the Duke, thus coerced, could not refuse to enter the presence of the Emperor. The Emperor, unsuccessful in changing the Duke's mind, one day had five hundred Turcopoles armed with bows and quivers taken in ships across the strait. Early in the morning, they shot the soldiers of the Duke with arrows; some they killed, others they wounded, keeping them all from the shore, so that they could not there buy the usual food.

This cruel report was carried immediately to the chair of the Duke. He thereupon ordered the trumpets to be sounded and all the people to arm themselves and return to the city of Constantinople itself, and there to replace their tents. After the trumpets had been sounded at this command of the Duke, all rushed to arms. They laid waste the buildings and towers in which they had been lodged, setting fire to some, pulling others to pieces, thus causing irreparable damage to Constantinople.

Finally, when the report of this great fire and destruction had reached the palace, the Duke became excessively alarmed, fearing that when the flaming buildings and the noise of a moving army had been noticed, the knights and archers of the Emperor would suddenly seize the bridge over which they had come from the city of Constantinople to the palatial residences. Therefore, without delay he sent Baldwin, his brother, with five hundred armored knights to seize the bridge, lest any force of the Emperor, anticipating him, should destroy it, and thus deny the pilgrims passage back and forth.

Baldwin bad scarcely taken a stand on the middle of the bridge, when, behold, from right and left, Turcopoles (the soldiers of the Emperor brought over on the ships) rushed upon them from all sides with arrows and fiercely attacked them. Baldwin, unable to resist from the bridge, hastened to escape their arrows by going across the bridge. Along the dry shore he swiftly betook himself to the other side of the bridge, (hoping) to hold it and keep watch upon the walls of the lord and master of the city while the entire army passed over that bridge, and the Duke with his men kept guard from the rear. In the meantime, from the gates opposite St. Argenteus an infinite band of Turcopoles and soldiers of every kind, equipped with bows and arms of every description, ran for. ward to attack Baldwin and the whole band of Christian people. But in the appointed place Baldwin, immovable and unconquered, withstood their every attack from early morning even to vespers, until the people were taken across the bridge and lodged in the camps placed before the walls of the city. Baldwin, with his five hundred knights, advanced fiercely upon these same Turcopoles who had come out from the gates and were attacking the people. Both sides having engaged in heavy battle, very many fell on this side and that, and very many horses of the Franks perished by arrows. But Baldwin, conquering at last, forced these harried and fleeing soldiers of the Emperor to go inside the gates. Then the Turcopoles and soldiers of the Emperor, indignant that they had been beaten and put to flight in war, rushed forth again from the gates in larger numbers to harass and attack the army.

Then the Duke arrived and, since it was night, brought an end to the fight, advising his brother to return to camp with all his forces, and to keep his men from fighting during the night. Likewise, the Emperor himself, fearing that the tempest of war would become more and more violent, and that his soldiers would fail and perish in the darkness of evening, commanded peace to be made, rejoicing that the Duke had been willing to withdraw his army from battle.

But after sunrise the next day, the people, surging forth at the command of the Duke, wandered about plundering the lands and kingdom of the Emperor for six days, so that, to say the least, the pride of the Emperor and his men seemed to be humbled. When this became known, the Emperor began to grieve and lament because his lands and kingdom were being thus devastated. Taking counsel immediately, he sent a message to the Duke to the effect that he should prohibit plunder and fire, and that he himself would give satisfaction in every respect to the Duke. The message ran as follows: "Let enmity between you and us cease. Let the Duke, upon receiving hostages as a pledge from me, advance without any doubt that he will come and return unharmed, assured of all the honor and glory which we are able to give him and his people." The Duke graciously agreed, provided hostages were given to whom he could trust his life and safety; then without doubt he would come to the Emperor, freely to speak by word of mouth.

Hardly had the legates of the Emperor departed after this response of the Duke, when, behold, certain other legates, coming to the same Duke from Bohemund, greeted him, speaking thus: "Bohemund, the most wealthy prince of Sicily and Calabria, asks that you by no means enter into peace with the Emperor; but that you withdraw to Adrianople and Philippopolis, cities of the Bulgarians, and pass the winter there. You may be certain that this same Bohemund will come to your aid with all his troops early in the month of March, to attack the Emperor and to invade his kingdom." After he had heard the message of Bohemund, the Duke put off answering it until the next day. Then, upon the counsel of his followers, he replied that neither for gain nor for the destruction of Christians had he left his country and kindred, but, rather, in the name of Christ to pursue the way to Jerusalem. He wished to accomplish this and to fight the designs of the Emperor, provided he could regain and keep his favor and good will. The messengers of Bohemund, upon learning the reply and intention of the Duke, were graciously commended by him and returned to the country of Apulia, reporting all as they had heard it from the lips of the Duke.

Learning of this new embassy and suggestion from Bohemund, the Emperor yet more earnestly urged the Duke and his friends to enter upon an agreement with him; he would give his most beloved son, John, as hostage, on condition that they would make peace, would pass through the country quietly, and would meet him in conference face to face. Furthermore, be would favor Godfrey and his followers with the privilege of buying all necessaries. When the Duke learned that these promises of the Emperor had been made in the form of a decree, he moved his camp from the wall of the city by the advice of his council and again withdrew across the bridge to take lodging in the fortified dwellings on the strait. He admonished all his people to remain at peace, and to purchase whatever was necessary without disturbance.

On the following day, he commanded Conon, Count of Montaigu, and Baldwin of Burg, most noble men and skilled in speaking, to come before him. He then confidently directed them to receive as hostage the Emperor's son, which was done. When, therefore, the Emperor's son had been brought and placed in faithful custody under the power of the Duke and his men, the Duke was carried at once by boat through the Strait to Constantinople. Accompanied by the distinguished men, Werner of Grez, Peter of Dampierre, and the other leaders, he boldly advanced to the Court of the Emperor and stood before him, that he might hear his word and reply to him by word of mouth. Baldwin, however, by no means entered then into the palace of the Emperor, but remained on the shore with the multitude.

Upon seeing the magnificence of the Duke and all his men, honorably clad, as they were, in splendid and rich apparel of purple and gold, bordered with ermine white as snow, with martin, and other kinds of fur, such as the princes of Gaul, especially, wear, the Emperor heartily admired their pomp and splendor. He first graciously received the Duke, then all his chiefs and companions, whom be honored with the kiss of peace. Moreover, the Emperor sat in majesty upon his throne, according to his custom, and did not rise to give the kiss to the Duke, or anyone. But the Duke, together with his men, bowed with bended knees to kiss so glorious and great an Emperor. When at last all had received the kiss, according to their rank, he spoke to the Duke in these words: "I have heard that you are the most mighty knight and prince in your land, a man most prudent and of perfect trust, In the presence of this multitude and more to come, 1, therefore, take you for my adopted son; and all that I possess I place in your power, that through you my empire and lands may be saved and freed."

The Duke, appeased and seduced by these friendly and lofty words of the Emperor, not only recognized himself as his son, according to the custom of the country, but, likewise, giving him his band, declared himself his vassal, together with the princes then present, who followed the Duke in the ceremony. Nor was there delay. Invaluable gifts of all kinds were brought from the treasury of the Emperor, both gold and silver, purples, mules, and horses, and all that he held valuable. So, indeed, the Emperor and the Duke were bound by the indissoluble bond of perfect faith and friendship, from the time of the Nativity of the Lord, when the agreement took place, even to a few days before Pentecost. Every week, four men, bearing gold besants, with ten measures of money called tartaron, were sent from the palace of the Emperor to the Duke to provide sustenance for the soldiers. Wonderful to relate! All that the Duke distributed to his men from the gifts of the Emperor was forthwith returned to the treasury of the Emperor in exchange for food. Nor is this to be wondered at, for none but the Emperor's wares (such as wine, and oil, as well as grain, barley, and every kind of food) were in that whole kingdom. And thus the treasury of the Emperor was always filled with gold and could not be emptied by any extravagance.

After peace and concord between the Emperor and the Duke had been made on the conditions we have named, the Duke, still more certain of the Emperor's faith and friendship, returned to lodge in the buildings on the Strait and sent back with honor the Emperor's son, who had remained a hostage up to this time. On the day following, it was announced through the entire army, by order of the Duke, that peace and honor should be shown to the Emperor and to all in his command, and that justice should be preserved in transactions of buying and selling. Similarly, the Emperor proclaimed in all his realm that no one, under penalty of death, should harm or defraud any one of the army, but that they should sell all things with just weight and measure to the pilgrims, and, indeed, should lessen the price.

After these events, at the beginning of Lent, the Emperor summoned the Duke into his presence and begged him, on his pledge of friendship, to cross the sea and pitch his tents in Cappadocia, on account of the buildings which his incorrigible people were destroying. The Duke graciously assented to this, and, after crossing the river and pitching camp, be and his people tarried on the plains of Cappadocia.

After this, everything was gradually sold more dearly to the pilgrims, but, nevertheless, the gifts of the Emperor to the Duke were not at all diminished, for he feared him greatly. But the Duke, seeing the difficulty of buying necessaries and unable to endure the clamor of his people, went often by ship to the Emperor and complained to him about the high price of food stuffs. Then the Emperor, as though unaware of this, and unwilling to have it occur, again lightened the burden for all the pilgrims.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 80-86


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© Paul Halsall December 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu