Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades by Jonathan Phillips
It seems our fascination with the Crusades, and the temptation to draw parallels with current tensions between Christian and Muslim, and East and West, is as popular as ever with many new books on the subject. Of course we all know that these Crusaders had to travel via Byzantium …
” ‘A grave report has come from the lands around Jerusalem…that a race absolutely alien to God…has invaded the land of the Christians….They have either razed the churches of God to the ground or enslaved them to their own rites….They cut open the navels of those whom they choose to torment…drag them around and flog them before killing them as they lie on the ground with all their entrails out….What can I say of the appalling violation of women? On whom does the task lie of avenging this, if not on you?…Take the road to the Holy Sepulchre, rescue that land and rule over it yourselves, for that land, as scripture says, floweth with milk and honey….Take this road for the remission of your sins, assured of the unfading glory of the kingdom of heaven.’ When Pope Urban had said these things…everyone shouted in unison: ‘Deus vult! Deus vult!,’ ‘God wills it! God wills it!’ “
In this vivid-and hugely exaggerated-language, as reported by Robert of Rheims, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade at Clermont in central France in November 1095. Four years later, having endured a journey of astounding hardship, the self-proclaimed “Knights of Christ” arrived at Jerusalem. On July 15, 1099, the crusaders stormed the walls and put its defenders to the sword to reclaim Christ’s city from Islam.
This excerpt from the Wall Street Journal continues here