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The Catholic Historical Review VOL.LXXXIVJANUARY, 1998No. 1 CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND THE "LIBERATION" OF THE HOLY LAND BY Penny J. Cole* But after the creation ofthe world, with the exception ofthe mystery ofthe cross ofsalvation, what greater miracle has been enacted than what has occurred in our own day, namely, thejourney of ourJerusalemites?1 With this intimation of the uncommon nature of his subject, Robert the Monk, the Benedictine prior of Senuc, begins his account of the achievements of the great expeditionary force which is now called the First Crusade. The army, which was of unprecedented size, is reckoned to have numbered between 50,000 and 60,000 armed combatants.2 In 1096 the main body left points in western Europe and remustered at Constantinople in the spring of 1097. At this point, those who had survived the march had covered a distance of approximately 2400 kilometers .3 From Constantinople, they advanced in a path of bloody destruction through Anatolia, northern Syria, and Palestine, and in June, 1099, drew up before the walls of Jerusalem occupied now by the *Dr. Cole lectures in medieval ecclesiastical history and is a research associate in the University ofToronto. This article is a revised version of a paper she read at the 109th annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago on January 7, 1995. 'Robert the Monk,Historia Iherosolimitana,Recueil des historiens des croisades.Historiens occidentaux, éd. Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (5 vols.; Paris, 1844-1895 [hereafter RHC, Occ.]), Ill, 723:"Sed post creationem mundi quid mirabilius factum est praeter salutiferae crucis mysterium, quam quod modernis temporibus actum est in hoc itinere nostrorum IherosoLimitanorum?" John France, Victory in the East.A Military History ofthe First Crusade (Cambridge, 1994), p. 2. 3TbId., p. 3 1 I CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, AND THE "LIBERATION" OF THE HOLY LAND Egyptian Fatimids. The soldiers of Christ, the milites Christi, as the crusaders were called, had reached their destination, but of the original combatants, only 13,000 had survived to savor the success.4 Their siege of the holy city was hard-fought, but on July 15 they scaled the rampart and the Egyptian defense collapsed. The crusaders' capture of Christ's holy city ofJerusalem was a victory of unprecedented magnitude, and it quickly became the subject of historical narratives written between 1099 and 1108 both by those who had campaigned, such as Fulcher of Chartres,5 Raymond of Aguilers,6 Peter Tudebode,7 and an anonymous Norman from south Italy,8 and by those such as Robert the Monk,9 Baudri of DoI,10 and Guibert of Nogent " who had not. While these historians evince a lively diversity in style and sophistication of historical understanding,12 they share the crucially important views that the crusaders' capture of Jerusalem vindicated Christianity over paganism, and that the city's capture had been a reUgious liberation achieved through acts of meritorious brutality. In his account, Robert the Monk boasts that for Godfrey of Bouillon and a certain Guicherius, the capture of Jerusalem afforded an unprecedented and welcome opportunity for killing. "They clove countless human bodies from head to toe," Robert says, and "pierced them through both their sides."13 At the same time, however, he is careful to indicate that the indiscriminate killing of Jerusalem's inhabitants was not the prerogative simply of these two heroes. "Not one of our men," Robert says approvingly, "was lethargic, not one was squeamish."14 'Ibid. France has based his estimate upon the evidence of Raymond of Aguilers (see below, n. 6). 'Fulcher of Chartres, Historia Hierosolymitana, ed. Heinrich Hagenmeyer (Heidelberg , 1913). 'Raymond ofAguilers, Le 'Liber'de Raymond d'Aguilers, ed.John H. Hill and Laurita L. Hill ("Documents relatifs à l'histoire des croisades,"Vol. 9 [Paris, 19691). 7Peter Tudebode, Historia de Hierosolymitano itinere, éd. John H. Hill and Laurita L. Hill ("Documents relatifs à l'histoire des croisades,"Vol. 12 [Paris, 1977]). "Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolimitanorum, éd. and trans. Rosalind Hill ("Oxford Medieval Texts" [Oxford, 1962]). 'Robert the Monk, Historia Iherosolimitana, RHC, Occ, III, 721-882. '"Baudri of DoI, Historiaferosolimitana, RHC, Occ, TV, 5- 1 1 1 . "Guibert of Nogent, Historia quae dicitur Gesta Dei per Francos, RHC, Occ, TV, 117...


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