The First Contact of Crusaders and Turks
IMPRESSIONS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE COUNTRY IN ANATOLIA
The first day of our departure from the city [Constantinople], we reached a bridge and we stayed there two days. The third day our men rose before dawn and, since it was still night, they did not see well enough to hold to the same route, and they divided into two corps which were separated by two days' march. In the first group were Bohemond, Robert of Normandy, the prudent Tancred and many others; in the second were the count of St. Giles, Duke Godfrey, the bishop of Puy, Hugh the Great, the count of Flanders and many others.
The third day [July 1,1097], the [Seljuk] Turks violently burst upon Bohemond and his companions. At once the Turks began to shriek, scream, and cry out in high voices, repeating some diabolical sound in their own language. The wise Bohemond, seeing the innumer able Turks at a distance, shrieking and crying out in demoniac voices, at once ordered all the knights to dismount and the tents to be pitched quickly. Before the tents were pitched, he said to all the soldiers: "Lords, and valiant soldiers of Christ, here we are confronted on all sides by a difficult battle. Let all the knights advance bravely and let the foot soldiers quickly and care fully pitch the tents."
When all this was done, the Turks had already surrounded us on all sides, fighting, throwing javelins and shooting arrows marvellously far and wide. And we, al though we did not know how to resist them nor to endure the weight of so great an enemy, nevertheless we met that encounter with united spirit. And our women on that day were a great help to us, in bearing drinking water to our fighters and perhaps also in always com forting those fighting and defending. The wise Bohemond sent word forthwith to the others, that is, to the count of St. Giles, to Duke Godfrey, Hugh the Great, the bishop of Puy and all the other knights of Christ, to hasten and come quickly to the battle, saying, "If today they wish to fight, let them come bravely." . . .
Our men wondered greatly whence could have sprung such a great multitude of Turks, Arabs, Saracens, and others too numerous to count, for almost all the mountains and hills and valleys and all the plains, both within and without were covered entirely by that excommunicated race. There was among us a quiet exchange of words, praising God and taking counsel and saying: "Be unanimous in every way in the faith of Christ and the victory of the holy cross, for today, if it pleases God, you will all become rich." . . .
On the approach of our knights, the Turks, Arabs, Saracens, Angulans [unidentifiable], and all the barbarous peoples fled quickly through the passes of the mountains and the plains. The number of the Turks, Persians, Paulicians, Saracens, Angulans, and other pagans was three hundred and sixty thousand, without counting the Arabs, whose number no one knows except God alone. They fled extremely quickly to their tents but were not allowed to remain there long. Again they resumed their flight and we pursued them, killing them during one whole day; and we took much booty, gold, silver, horses, asses, camels, sheep, cows, and many other things which we do not know. If the Lord had not been with us in this battle, if He had not quickly sent us the other division, none of ours would have escaped, because from the third hour up to the ninth hour the battle continued. But God all-powerful, pious and merciful, who did not permit His knights to perish nor to fall into the hands of the enemy, sent aid to us rapidly. But two of our knights died there honourably . . . and other knights and foot soldiers whose names I do not know, found death there.
Who will ever be wise or learned enough to describe the prudence, the military skill, and the fortitude of the Turks? They thought to terrorize the race of the Franks by the threats of their arrows, as they have terrorized the Arabs, Saracens and Armenians, Syrians and Greeks. But, if it pleases God, they will never prevail over such a great people as ours. In truth they say they are of the race of the Franks and that no man, except the Franks and themselves, ought rightly to be called a knight. Let me speak the truth which no one will dare to contest; certainly, if they had always been firm in the faith of Christ and holy Christianity, if they had been willing to confess one Lord in three persons, and the Son of God born of a virgin, who suffered, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven in the sight of His disciples and sent the consolation of the Holy Spirit, and if they had believed in right mind and faith that He reigns in heaven and on earth, no one could have been found more powerful or courageous or gifted in war; and nevertheless, by the grace of God, they were conquered by our men. This battle took place on the first of July....
And we kept going on [JulyAugust, 1097], pursuing the most iniquitous Turks who fled each day be fore us.... And we pursued them through deserts and a land without water or inhabitants from which we scarcely escaped and got out alive. Hunger and thirst pressed us on all sides, and there was almost nothing for us to eat, except the thorns which we pulled and rubbed between our hands; on such food we lived miserably. In that place there died most of our horses, so that many of our knights became foot soldiers; and from lack of horses, cattle took the place of war steeds and in this extreme necessity goats, sheep, and dogs were used by us for carrying. Then we began to enter an excellent region, full of nourishment for the body, of delights and all kinds of good things, and soon we approached Iconium. The in habitants of this country [probably Armenians] persuaded and warned us to carry with us skins full of water, because for the journey one day thence there is a great dearth of water. We did so until we came to a certain river and there we camped for two days....
We . . . penetrated into a diabolic mountain [in the Antitaurus], so high and so narrow that no one dared to, go before another on the path which lay open on the mountain; there the horses plunged down and one pack horse dragged over another. On all sides the knights were in despair; they beat their breasts in sorrow and sadness, wondering what to do with themselves and their arms. They sold their shields and their best coats of mail with helmets for only three or five pennies or for anything at all; those who failed to sell them, threw them away for nothing and proceeded....
Finally [October, 1097] our knights reached the valley in which is situated the royal city of Antioch, which is the capital of all Syria and which the Lord Jesus Christ gave to St. Peter, prince of the apostles, in order that he might recall it to the cult of the holy faith, he who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages. Amen....
AT THE SIEGE OF ANTIOCH
The next day [March 7, 1098], at dawn, some Turks went forth from the city and collected all the fetid corpses of the Turkish dead which they could find on the bank of the river and buried them at the mosque beyond the bridge, before the gate of the city. With the bodies they buried cloaks, bezants [gold coins], pieces of gold, bows, arrows, and many other objects which we cannot name. Our men, hearing that the Turks had buried their dead, all prepared themselves and hastened to the diabolic edifice. They ordered the tombs to be t dug up and broken, and dragged from the burial places. They threw all the corpses into a certain ditch and carried the severed heads to our tents so that the number of them should be known exactly . . . . At this sight the Turks mourned exceedingly and were sad unto death for on that day they did nothing in their sorrow except weep and utter cries
THE TAKING OF MARRA
The Saracens, seeing that our men had sapped the wall, were struck with terror and fled within the city. All this took place on Saturday at the hour of vespers, at sunset, December 11th . Bohemond sent word by an interpreter to the Saracen chiefs that they with their wives and children and other belongings should take refuge in a palace which is above the gate and he himself would protect them from sentence of death.
Then all our men entered the city and whatever of value they found in the houses or hiding places each one took for his own. When day came, wherever they found anyone of the enemy, either man or woman, they killed him. No corner of the city was empty of Saracen corpses, and no one could go through the streets of the city without stepping on these corpses. At length Bohemond seized those whom he had ordered to go to the palace and took from them everything they had, gold, silver, and other ornaments; some he had killed, others he ordered to be led to Antioch to be sold.
Now the stay of the Franks in this city was one month and four days, during which the bishop of Orange died. There were some of our men who did not find there what they needed, both because of the long stay and the pressure of hunger, for outside the city they could find nothing to take. They sawed open the bodies of the dead because in their bellies they found bezants hidden; others cut the flesh in strips and cooked them for eating....
THE SACK OF JERUSALEM
Entering the city [July 15, 1099], our pilgrims pursued and killed Saracens up to the Temple of Solomon, in which they had assembled and where they gave battle to us furiously for the whole day so that their blood flowed throughout the whole temple. Finally, having overcome the pagans, our knights seized a great number of men and women, and they killed whom they wished and whom they wished they let live.... Soon the crusaders ran throughout the city, seizing gold, silver, horses, mules, and houses full of all kinds of goods.
Then rejoicing and weeping from extreme joy our men went to worship at the sepulchre of our Saviour Jesus and thus fulfilled their pledge to Him. .
Then, our knights decided in council that each one should give alms with prayers so that God should elect whom He wished to reign over the others and rule the city. They also ordered that all the Saracen dead should be thrown out of the city because of the extreme stench for the city was almost full of their cadavers. The live Saracens dragged the dead out before the gates and made piles of them, like houses. No one has ever heard of or seen such a slaughter of pagan peoples since pyres were made of them like boundary marks, and no one except God knows their number.