Fulcher of Chartres: History of the Expedition to Jerusalem
Martha E. McGinty, Fulcher of Chartres: Chronicle of the First
Crusade, (London: Oxford University Press; Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1941)
Frances R. Ryan, and H.S. Fink, Fulcher of Chartres: A History
of the Expedition to Jerusalem, 1095-1127, (Knoxville: University
of Tennessee Press, 1969)
1. Urban II's Speech at Clermont
Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission
of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come
into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to
you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and
as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be.
But if there is in you any deformity or crookedness contrary to
God's law, with divine help I will do my best to remove it. For
God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it.
Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship.
You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings.
But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands.
Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed
to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf
carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward
laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged
with remorse for your faults-, you will be fiercely overwhelmed
in hell, the abode of death. For according to the gospel you are
the salt of the earth [Matt. 5:13]. But if you fall short in your
duty, how, it may be asked, can it be salted? O how great the
need of salting! It is indeed necessary for you to correct with
the salt of wisdom this foolish people which is so devoted to
the pleasures of this -world, lest the Lord, when He may wish
to speak to them, find them putrefied by their sins unsalted and
stinking. For if He, shall find worms, that is, sins, In them,
because you have been negligent in your duty, He will command
them as worthless to be thrown into the abyss of unclean things.
And because you cannot restore to Him His great loss, He will
surely condemn you and drive you from His loving presence. But
the man who applies this salt should be prudent, provident, modest,
learned, peaceable, watchful, pious, just, equitable, and pure.
For how can the ignorant teach others? How can the licentious
make others modest? And how can the impure make others pure? If
anyone hates peace, how can he make others peaceable ? Or if anyone
has soiled his hands with baseness, how can he cleanse the impurities
of another? We read also that if the blind lead the blind, both
will fall into the ditch [Matt. 15:14]. But first correct yourselves,
in order that, free from blame , you may be able to correct those
who are subject to you. If you wish to be the friends of God,
gladly do the things which you know will please Him. You must
especially let all matters that pertain to the church be controlled
by the law of the church. And be careful that simony does not
take root among you, lest both those who buy and those who sell
[church offices] be beaten with the scourges of the Lord through
narrow streets and driven into the place of destruction and confusion.
Keep the church and the clergy in all its grades entirely free
from the secular power. See that the tithes that belong to God
are faithfully paid from all the produce of the land; let them
not be sold or withheld. If anyone seizes a bishop let him be
treated as an outlaw. If anyone seizes or robs monks, or clergymen,
or nuns, or their servants, or pilgrims, or merchants, let him
be anathema [that is, cursed]. Let robbers and incendiaries and
all their accomplices be expelled from the church and anthematized.
If a man who does not give a part of his goods as alms is punished
with the damnation of hell, how should he be punished who robs
another of his goods? For thus it happened to the rich man in
the gospel [Luke 16:19]; he was not punished because he had stolen
the goods of another, but because he had not used well the things
which were his.
"You have seen for a long time the great disorder in the
world caused by these crimes. It is so bad in some of your provinces,
I am told, and you are so weak in the administration of justice,
that one can hardly go along the road by day or night without
being attacked by robbers; and whether at home or abroad one is
in danger of being despoiled either by force or fraud. Therefore
it is necessary to reenact the truce, as it is commonly called,
which was proclaimed a long time ago by our holy fathers. I exhort
and demand that you, each, try hard to have the truce kept in
your diocese. And if anyone shall be led by his cupidity or arrogance
to break this truce, by the authority of God and with the sanction
of this council he shall be anathematized."
After these and various other matters had been attended to, all
who were present, clergy and people, gave thanks to God and agreed
to the pope's proposition. They all faithfully promised to keep
the decrees. Then the pope said that in another part of the world
Christianity was suffering from a state of affairs that was worse
than the one just mentioned. He continued:
"Although, O sons of God, you have promised more firmly than
ever to keep the peace among yourselves and to preserve the rights
of the church, there remains still an important work for you to
do. Freshly quickened by the divine correction, you must apply
the strength of your righteousness to another matter which concerns
you as well as God. For your brethren who live in the east are
in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them
the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of
you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have
conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west
as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is
called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more
of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven
battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed
the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to
continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will
be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather
the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere
and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and
knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians
and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I
say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who
are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.
"All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in
battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins.
This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested.
O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships
demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent
God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches
will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us,
profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed
unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against
the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been
begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers,
now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their
brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians.
Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now
obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves
out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold!
on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich;
on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let
those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and
collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over
and spring comes, let hem eagerly set out on the way with God
as their guide."
Bongars, Gesta Dei per Francos, 1, pp. 382 f., trans in
Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source
Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), 513-17
2. The Capture of Jerusalem
The final act of the First Crusade was Christian attack on
Jerusalem, which was captured on July 15, 1099. Fulk of Chartres,
the author of this account, participated in the storming of the
city and in the bloody massacre which followed.
Chapter 27: The Siege of the City of Jerusalem
On the seventh of June the Franks besieged Jerusalem. The city
is located in a mountainous region, which is lacking in rivers,
woods, and springs, except the Fountain of Siloam, where there
is plenty of water, but it empties forth only at certain intervals.
This fountain empties into the valley, at the foot of Mount Zion,
and flows into the course of the brook of Kedron, which, during
the winter, flows through the valley of Jehosaphat. There are
many cisterns, which furnish abundant water within the city. When
filled by the winter rains and well cared for, they offer both
men and beasts an unfailing supply at all times. Moreover, the
city is laid out most beautifully, and cannot be criticized. for
too great length or as being disproportionately narrow. On the
west is the. tower of David,. which is flanked on both sides by
the broad wall of the city. The lower half of the wall is solid
masonry, of square stones and mortar, sealed with molten lead.
So strong is this wall that, if fifteen or twenty men should be
well supplied with provisions, they would never be taken by any
army. . . .
When the Franks saw how difficult it would be to take the city,
the leaders ordered scaling ladders to be made, hoping that by
a brave assault it might be possible to surmount the walls by
means 'of ladders and thus take the city, God helping. So the
ladders were made, and on the day following the seventh, in the
early morning, the leaders ordered the attack, and, with the trumpets
sounding, a splendid assault was made on the city from all sides.
The attack lasted till the sixth hour, but it was discovered that
the city could not be entered by the use of ladders, which were
few in number, and sadly we ceased the attack.
Then a council was held, and it was ordered that siege machines
should be constructed by the artisans, so that by moving them
close to the wall we might accomplish our purpose, with the aid
of God. This was done.......
. . .When the tower had been put together and bad been covered
with hides, it was moved nearer to the wall. Then knights, few
in number, but brave, at the sound of the trumpet, took their
places in the tower and began to shoot stones and arrows. The
Saracens defended themselves vigorously, and, with slings, very
skilfully hurled back burning firebrands, which had been dipped
in oil and fresh fat. Many on both sides, fighting in this manner,
often found themselves in the presence of death.
. . . On the following day the work again began at the sound of
the trumpet, and to such purpose that the rams, by continual pounding,
made a hole through one part of the wall. The Saracens suspended
two beams before the opening, supporting them by ropes, so that
by piling stones behind them they would make an obstacle to the
rams. However, what they did for their own protection became,
through the providence of God, the cause of their own destruction.
For, when the tower was moved nearer to the wall, the ropes that
supported the beams were cut; from these same beams the Franks
constructed a bridge, which they cleverly extended from the tower
to the wall. About this time one of the towers in the stone wall
began to burn, for the men who worked our machines had been hurling
firebrands upon it until the wooden beams within it caught fire.
The flames and smoke soon became so bad that none of the defenders
of this part of the wall were able to remain near this place.
At the noon hour on Friday, with trumpets sounding, amid great
commotion and shouting "God help us," the Franks entered
the city. When the pagans saw one standard planted on the wall,
they were completely demoralized, and all their former boldness
vanished, and they turned to flee through the narrow streets of
the city. Those who were already in rapid flight began to flee
Count Raymond and his men, who were attacking the wall on the
other side, did not yet know of all this, until they saw the Saracens
leap from the wall in front of them. Forthwith, they joyfully
rushed into the city to pursue and kill the nefarious enemies,
as their comrades were already doing. Some Saracens, Arabs, and
Ethiopians took refuge in the tower of David, others fled to the
temples of the Lord and of Solomon. A great fight took place in
the court and porch of the temples, where they were unable to
escape from our gladiators. Many fled to the roof of the temple
of Solomon, and were shot with arrows, so that they fell to the
ground dead. In this temple almost ten thousand were killed. Indeed,
if you had been there you would have seen our feet colored to
our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I
relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children
Chapter 28: The Spoils Taken By the Christians
This may seem strange to you. Our squires and poorer footmen discovered
a trick of the Saracens, for they learned that they could find
byzants [note: a gold coin] in the stomachs and intestines
of the dead Saracens, who had swallowed them. Thus, after several
days they burned a great heap of dead bodies, that they might
more easily get the precious metal from the ashes. Moreover, Tancred
broke into the temple of the Lord and most wrongfully stole much
gold and silver, also precious stones, but later, repenting of
his action, after everything had been accounted for, be restored
all to its former place of sanctity.
The carnage over, the crusaders entered the houses and took whatever
they found in them. However, this was all done in such a sensible
manner that whoever entered a house first received no injury from
any one else, whether he was rich or poor. Even though the house
was a palace, whatever he found there was his property. Thus many
poor men became rich.
Afterward, all, clergy and laymen, went to the Sepulcher of the
Lord and His glorious temple, singing the ninth chant. With fitting
humility, they repeated prayers and made their offering at the
holy places that they had long desired to visit. . . .
It was the eleven hundredth year of our Lord, if you subtract
one, when the people of Gaul took the city. It was the 15th day
of July when the Franks in their might captured the city. It was
the eleven hundredth year minus one after the birth of our Lord,
the 15th day of July in the two hundred and eighty-fifth year
after the death of Charles the Great and the twelfth year after
the death of William I of England.
Fulk (or Fulcher) of Chartres, Gesta Francorum Jerusalem Expugnantium [The Deeds of the Franks Who Attacked Jerusalem], in Frederick
Duncan and August C. Krey, eds., Parallel Source Problems in
Medieval History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1912), pp.
109-115. [Chapter headings added for the etext version to
match the more modern translation - Fulk of Chartres, A History
of the Expedition to Jerusalem, trans. Frances Rita Ryan,
(Nashville: University of Tennesee Press, 1969)]
3. The Latins in the Levant [From
Consider, I pray, and reflect bow in our time God has transferred
the West into the East, For we who were Occidentals now have been
made Orientals. He who was a Roman or a Frank is now a Galilaean,
or an inhabitant of Palestine. One who was a citizen of Rheims
or of Chartres now has been made a citizen of Tyre or of Antioch.
We have already forgotten the places of our birth; already they
have become unknown to many of us, or, at least, are unmentioned.
Some already possess here homes and servants which they have received
through inheritance. Some have taken wives not merely of their
own people, but Syrians, or Armenians, or even Saracens who have
received the grace of baptism. Some have with them father-in-law,
or daughter-in-law, or son-in-law, or stepson, or step-father.
There are here, too, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One
cultivates vines, another the fields. The one and the other use
mutually the speech and the idioms of the different languages.
Different languages, now made common, become known to both races,
and faith unites those whose forefathers were strangers. As it
is written, "The lion and the ox shall eat straw together."
Those who were strangers are now natives; and he who was a sojourner
now has become a resident, Our parents and relatives from day
to day come to join us, abandoning, even though reluctantly, all
that they possess. For those who were poor there, here God makes
rich. Those who had few coins, here possess countless besants;
and those who had not had a villa, here, by the gift of God, already
possess a city. Therefore why should one who has found the East
so favorable return to the West? God does not wish those to suffer
want who, carrying their crosses, have vowed to follow Him, nay
even unto the end. You see, therefore, that this is a great miracle,
and one which must greatly astonish the whole world. Who has ever
heard anything like it? Therefore, God wishes to enrich us all
and to draw us to Himself as His most dear friends. And because
He wishes it, we also freely desire the same; and what is pleasing
to Him we do with a loving and submissive heart, that with Him
we may reign happily throughout eternity.
August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses
and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 280-81
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© Paul Halsall December 1997