The Holy Land (Jerusalem) has been subjected to religious conquest for many years. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have always claimed it.Over the centuriesthe partition of Jerusalem by religious communities did not happen peacefully. Instead, it was accompanied by massacres, shedding of blood, and inhumane brutality. During12th century Muslims were in control of the Holy Land. They controlled the minor Asia and subjected other people to oppression. Many people were killed. Well known victims of Muslim brutality were Christians. Cries of Christians reached the ears of the kings and emperors. It led to the launching of the First Crusade. This essay will focus on how Muslims and Jews perished in hands of Franks (Christians) during three years of the first Crusade.
Due to the miseries that Christians experienced in the hands of Muslims, Pope Urban 11 enlightened the people on the need to take Jerusalem from the hands of non-believers. He reminded Christians that Jerusalem was the holy city. He claimed that suffering of Christians was accompanied by shocking tortures and excruciating pain. Suffering of people, therefore, depicted the idea of hell resembled on Earth Urban had never gone to the Holy Land and whatever he said was more rhetorical than realistic. Because of his preaching and convictions throughout Europe, many Christians were ready to take up the mission and destroy everything that was on their way. Peter the Hebert also went across Europe preaching the gospel of Crusade and persuading people to join the group. It was the time when the Crusade set off on 15th August 1096.
Events in the Cities
Walter the Penniless, a soldier who heard the message of the Crusade joined Peter the Hermit to set off the pilgrims for the Crusade. They first entered cities of Hungary where they were warmly received by King Coloman. They passed through cities of Belgrade to Malevilla until they finally crossed Morava River. Some of Walter’s men were left in Melavilla to purchase arms. It did not end well for the sixteen men because they were attacked by Hungarians in absence of Walter. When the news reached Walter, it was too late to return for vengeance considering the journey that was ahead of them.
The first war started in Bulgarian city when Walter’s group wanted to buy some necessities for their robbed people. They forcefully fought against Bulgarians but they could not besiege them due to their increasing number. Sixty of Walter’s people were killed. Those who survived received serious injuries. Walter’s men, however, scattered in their effort to run for their lives. After the ordeal in Bulgaria, Walter reached the city of Nish, a wealthy city in Bulgarian lands. Because of his explanation of the misery that had befallen him on the way, Walter was well treated by the Duke and the Prince of Nish. They also ensured him a calm reception in the cities of Sofia, Philippopolis, and Adrianople.
Afterwards, Walter travelled with the remaining troop to Constantinople. It was the capital of the Greek empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. He stayed there until he rejoined his companion Peter. Peter, on the other side, had a great army that he gathered from Franks, Swabians, Bavarians, and Lotharingians.
After hearing what Hungarians did to Walter’s men, Peter decided to avenge and, as a result, they attacked the Hungarians. The latter were overwhelmed and were not able to withstand the large number of Franks. Consequently, they hurriedly left the walls where the battle took place. Four thousand Hungarians died in the battle when trying to find refuge in the mountains of Danube. On the other hand, only a hundred of the pilgrims died. Peter planned to leave Malevilla city through Morava River but there were only few boats available. Many perished there due to the attack by Patzinaks who settled in Bulgaria.
Afterwards, Peter went to Nish where he was well received like in the cities of Sofia and Philippopolis. From there he went to Constantinople where he reunited with Walter the Penniless to pursue one course. Five days later they went to Nicomedia through Civitote, where they camped. Byzantine Empire and the Nicaea were dangerous to travel through and, therefore, they were warned not to pass through those cities until they had enough men. The entry of Franks in the land of Byzantine, which was Islamic territory, ended in an utter catastrophe. They killed many Muslim followers and subjected their city to total destruction.
They won this battle and were followed by Turks. In the camps Turks only found the aged, disabled, young ones, and the monks whom they slaughtered with swords. After two months they entered the city of Nicaea. They took with them all the flocks of Greeks and brought them to their fellow people. After that incident, they celebrated their victory over Muslims and beheaded their leaders. They took the head to the king of Constantinople to prove their victory. Solimans planned to attack the pilgrims without them knowing. They went to the battle field to fight Franks. Walter the Penniless, Reinald of Broyes, and Folker of Chartres were killed in that battle. Turks brutally killed the pilgrims. They even followed them to a distance of three miles killing them in the camp of Peter.
Killings in Rhineland
This is where Christians from France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine assembled to conquer Jews before setting their journey to the Holy Land. Jews were slaughtered by the people of Cologne. Pilgrims killed Jewish people and destroyed their property. In the city of Neuss where they sought refuge, Jews were followed and killed. They continued their journey until they reached the city of Mainz. Jews paid Count Emico, a respected and a strong emperor, who had a big army of Teutons. He did not spare those who relented to announce their faith despite receiving money payments from them. Bishop Rothard was also paid to protect them, and he kept them in his land. Emicos army laid their hands on Jews and killed them with arrows and lances. About seven hundred Jews were killed then. They killed women and children regardless of their age and condition. Jewish mothers cut throats of their young children, preferring to kill them with their own hands, rather than being killed by uncircumcised people. Killings lasted for two days. During this genocide, a Jew could burn down the synagogue to save it from defilement before killing himself and his family. Most of the Jews committed suicide to avoid death from swords and nooses of Christians.
Some of the Jews managed to escape this bloody massacre. Others surrendered and agreed to be converted and baptized not because of their belief in Christian faith but because of fear of death. It is after that incident that pilgrims led by Count Emice, Clarebold, and Thomas continued their journey to the Holy Land. Upon arrival at Wieselberg, they found the entry closed by the king of Hungary because of the slaughter that was done to their children previously. Christians, though proceeding on well, scattered here and lost their unity. Some ran to Corinthian and others to Italy. This is believed to have happened because they had gone against the Gods will. It is believed that they killed many people and fornicated on their way to the Promised Land.
The battles of Marra and Damascus mainly brought conversion and death. Muslims who lived there had promised to be converted. However, their prayers were bootless, and after three days, a hundred thousand Muslims were looted and brutally murdered. Their corpses were scattered all over Saracen. One could walk all over the city of Saracen by stepping on the dead bodies of Muslims.
Killings in Jerusalem
It took three years for Franks (Christians) to move from Europe to the Holy Land. They killed a lot of gentiles who were going through the city of Jerusalem. They killed many infants and their mothers. They spared no one as no Muslim was left alive within the walls of the city. Those who sought refuge in the Al-Aqsa Mosque were decapitated and killed. Jews who assembled to pray in the synagogue were burned alive. Last survivors were forced to do hard work. They heaved the bodies of their fellow men and relatives. They could keep the bodies in open places and set them on fire before being killed or sold into slavery.
The First Crusade was meant to capture the Holy Land through violence. For the first time in history violence was defined as a religious act and a source of grace. During the Crusade thousands of Jews and Muslims died from the hand of Christians who were on a mission to capture Jerusalem.