First Crusade

From 1095 to 1101. For centuries, thousands of pious Christians had been making pilgrimages to Jerusalem where the Holy Sepulcher, the most venerable of relics, was preserved. In 1070 the city was captured by the Seljukian Turks, the Greek emperor Diogenes was defeated in 1091, and Asia Minor and all Syria became the prey of the heathens. The idea of sending an army to rescue the Holy Sepulcher, first conceived by Pope Saint Gregory VII, was taken up by Pope Blessed Urban II who commissioned Peter the Hermit, a recluse of Picardy, to preach the crusade. Urban convoked a council at Clermont-Ferrand in France in November 1095, and a vast and enthusiastic throng of clergy, knights, and laymen pledged themselves by vow to depart for the Holy Land, crying “God wills it.” Several disorganized and undisciplined bands set out, one led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless, but were scattered or slain before ever reaching Palestine. The regular crusade, however, was well organized, and contained four principal armies, under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois, brother of King Philip I of France; Raymond of Saint-Gilles, and Tancred. After enduring many misfortunes, they finally captured and plundered Jerusalem, 15 July 1099, and crowned Godfrey of Bouillon as king of the new conquest, and “Defender of the Holy Sepulcher.” During the first half of the 12th century, four Christian States were completely organized, Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, and Edessa.