8.4 Fulcher of Chartres, “Pope Urban II’s Speech at Clermont” As the crusades began, Christians gathered to hear the insightful speech given by Pope Urban II in which he was able take unruly knights and give them a common enemy to fight. The enemies were the Muslims and Turks who were attacking the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Land. Urban II’s speech gave insights to the knightly class who were engaging in warlike tendencies and encouraged them to help people in need. On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II began his influential speech to the church officials and nobles who were in attendance. In the beginning of his speech, Urban II said that he was given permission by God to come and speak to them about what was going on. The situations that were going on in the Christian society included the knightly class fighting each other, raping young women, robbing the churches, and other unseemly activities. Pope Urban II told them that in order to become “friends” with God, they would have to do things that were pleasing to God. These included leaving all matters that revolved around the church to the leaders of the church, and if they [the knights] were to rob the leaders of the church they will be cursed. At this point of his speech Pope Urban II is building up to the main reason for this call to order. Urban II informed his audience that the people of the Byzantine Empire were in need of their help, and it was their duty to help them. He explained to his listeners that the Turks and the Arabs have conquered the Byzantine Empire and taken over the Christian lands.
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Pope Urban II told the people that Christ commands them to help the Byzantine Empire regardless of their social class. “On this account I, or rather the Lord beseech you as Christ’s heralds” (358). Pope Urban II went on to say that whoever was to die in battle or die in any other kind of way, they would receive forgiveness for their sins. This is saying that no matter what they have done in the past, they would be forgiven for it all. Urban II continued to convince the people at his speech to help the Byzantine Empire defeat the Turks and Arabs and win back the Christian territory. This would lead to what is now called the First Crusade. Crusade began in the fall of 1096 in Constantinople where crusaders gathered. The crusaders included the knights and people of Byzantine Empire. The Crusaders began to march through territories controlled by the Turks and Arabs which included Edessa and Antioch. They continued to head to Jerusalem in June 1099. The crusaders then proceeded on a “five-week siege of Jerusalem” which fell in July of 1099. Crusaders then took over cities along the Mediterranean coast and built “fortified castle all over the Holy Land to protect their new territories” (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History). The crusaders defeated the Egyptian relief army in August 1099.
Pope Urban II died on July 29, 1099 and was not able to see the victory of reclaiming Jerusalem. Fulcher of Chartres clearly exemplified that he was bias towards Pope Urban II’s speech. Although he was there to hear the speech, he did not record the speech until years later. This proves that he truly believed in what Pope Urban II was protesting. Not only did Urban II’s speech help to reclaim the Christian lands, it also encouraged the knightly class and others listeners to reconnect with God’s laws and commandments. The First Crusades were not the ending of the battles, there was a second and third crusade. The crusaders failed in the second crusade, and had a dismal failure in the third crusade. These battles show that the Christian warriors had wanted to have what was rightfully Christ’s, and would not stop at any cost until they had it.
Chartres, Fulcher Of, trans. “Pope Urban II’s Speech at Clermont” p. 357-359 Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print. Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters. “The Crusades (1095–1291)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/crus/hd_crus.htm (October 2001)