The Crusaders attack Jerusalem

1099jerusalem The Crusaders attack Jerusalem

Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, 1099, from a medieval manuscript.

The attack began the night of July 13, [1099,] and the defenders let loose a hail of stones and rivers of Greek fire…. The battle hung in the balance during the morning hours of July 15. Archers shot blazing firebrands to drive the defenders from the walls, but the siege towers were battered and burned. Toward the end of morning it appeared that the attack was doomed.

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“However, when the hour approached on which Our Lord Jesus Christ deign to suffer on the cross for us,” the Gesta Francorum exults, “our knights began to fight bravely in one of the towers—namely, the party with Duke Godfrey and his brother Count Eustace. One of our knights, named Lethold, clambered up the wall of the city, and no sooner had he ascended than the defenders fled from the walls and through the city.”

Godfrey himself soon followed, and the pick of his army swarmed up scaling ladders and into the city. They opened the Gate of the Column (now excavated beneath the Damascus gate), and the Crusaders’ shock troops streamed through the streets….

Toward evening the leaders of the Crusade, who only a week before had filed barefoot around the seemingly impregnable walls of the city to the jeers of the Moslem defenders, walked in solemn state to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There they gave thanks to God. “It was well worth all our previous labors and hardships to see the devotion of the pilgrims,” wrote Raymond of Aguilers.

Franc Shor, “In the Footsteps of the Crusaders,” in ed. Merle Severy, the Age of Chivalry (n.c.: National Geographic Society, 1969), pp. 264, 268.


Editorial comment: —

Sadly, General George S. Patton, Jr. was not a religious man. Had he been virtuous and pious, he would have been not just a better person, but he would have achieved a superior form of greatness.

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Nevertheless, when General Patton visited Jerusalem during World War II’s Africa campaign, he could not refrain from displaying his enthusiasm. He wanted at all costs to see the large gate that Tancred of Sicily and his troops had stormed through during the Crusaders’ 1099 conquest of the city.

  • Christian fighters should be always compared with the Maccabees from the Old Testament. This was especially apparent during the Crusades, and in the later centuries in the wars with the Turks.
    St. Bernard was the “spiritual leader” of the Second Crusade War (1147 – 1149). The goal of the march was the liberation of Edessa and some other areas in the Middle East, which the muḥammadans had conquered not long before since then.
    To make the example of the Maccabees, st Bernard encouraged the crusaders (De laude novae militiae, cap. IV.):
    “And when it comes to the struggle, then dismissing the former gentleness, as if to say, ‘ Do I not hate them that hate thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee?’ (Ps. 138(139): 21); They attack their enemies; they regard them as sheep; At any rate, though few in number, they are not afraid of wild barbarians or their enormous numbers. They know that they do not dare because of their strength, but by the help of the Lord of the Armies, hope to overcome: which is in that case, very easy, according to the Maccabees saying; ‘to seize the multitude by the hands of the few’; There is no difference in the eyes of God in Heaven, to be liberated with many or with few; Victory in war does not depend on the size of the army, but from the heavens comes strength”.(1 Maccabees 3: 18-19).”