Pilgrims and Crusaders in Western Latin Sources

Pilgrims and Crusaders in Western Latin Sources

By Jonathan Riley-Smith

Byzantines and Crusaders in Non-Greek Sources, 1025-1204: Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 132 (2007)

Introduction: The year 1025 coincided with the recommencement of western pilgrimages to Palestine on a large scale after a hiatus caused by the Fatimid caliphate’s persecution of Christians in Palestine from 1009 and the closing of the route through the Empire by the Greek government  in 1017. In 1026 there was a pilgrimage, said to be of 700 persons, financed by the duke of Normandy and led by Richard, the abbot of St Vanne of Verdun, and his bishop. They were joined on the road by pilgrims from northern France and by a large party, mostly from Angouleme and led by Count William IV Taillefer but also including the magnate Eudes of Deols from near Paris. Thereafter there was hardly a year when we do not have evidence for pilgrims to Jerusalem; and there were certain periodds when the stream became a flood. The year 1033 was believed to be the thousandth anniversary of Christ’s crucifixion and throughout the decade, during which the shrines in Jerusalem were partially restored by the Byzantine emperor, pilgrims from many parts of the west were converging on the city. The next major wave appears to have surged east in the 1050s. Then in 1064 there was a large pilgrimage, recruited in France and Germany and motivated by the belief that Good Friday 1065 fell on exactly the same day of the year as had the crucifixion. The German contingent, led by the bishop of Bamberg, accompanied by the archbishop of Mainz, the bishops of Utrecht and Regensburg, and the empress’s chaplain was estimated – probably grossly overestimated – to contain between 7000 and 12000 persons.

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