Great Battles: The First Crusade

Great Battles: The First Crusade

Lecture by Jessica Goldberg

Given on January 16, 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

From 1096 to 1101, over 100,000 people from all over Western Europe set off towards Jerusalem. These men and women, these warriors and pilgrims, priests and nuns, lords and laborers, didn’t have a name for what they were doing—no one would use the word Crusade to describe an armed pilgrimage, or holy military expedition, until more than another century had passed. Yet the battle that preceded their march, a battle along the way to Jerusalem, and still another after that city was conquered by a tiny remnant of the original force, combined to permanently reshape the nature (both spiritual and physical) of Catholic Europe. Dr. Jessica Goldberg, Assistant Professor, Medieval History, University of Pennsylvania, speaks at this “Great Battles: Moments in Time that Changed History” series lecture program.

Excerpt: Let’s begin inside the great walls of the Antioch. They don’t know exactly what the great walls of Antioch looked like. They were built by Justinian because Antioch was one of the great cities of the eastern military Christian world and the home of one of the four Patriarchs of the Christian church. But at this point inside the great walls, some fifteen thousand pilgrims from western Europe huddled, staved and terrified, awaiting their doom. In fact they we’re not waiting anymore, even though their leaders padlocked all the gates of the city. Still they fled they fled down storm and sewer drains. Even some of the notable the nobles and religious leadership of the crusade had tried to flee. Indeed the brother of the king of France Stephen of Blois had deserted the army the week before, exactly one day after the desperate group had finally come together and elected him he sole military leader of the expedition. It really seemed like the final bitter and wretched end to an endlessly long and brutal march and an endless horrific siege.

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