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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 6 online

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Produced by David Reed and Dale R. Fredrickson


Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 6 (complete)

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)

Transcriber's Note

This is the sixth volume of the six volumes of Edward Gibbon's History
Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. If you find any errors
please feel free to notify me of them. I want to make this the best
etext edition possible for both scholars and the general public. I
would like to thank those who have helped in making this text better.
Especially Dale R. Fredrickson who has hand entered the Greek characters
in the footnotes and who has suggested retaining the conjoined ae
character in the text. [email protected] and [email protected] are my
email addresses for now. Please feel free to send me your comments and I
hope you enjoy this.

David Reed

Chapter LIX: The Crusades. - Part I.

Preservation Of The Greek Empire. - Numbers, Passage, And
Event, Of The Second And Third Crusades. - St. Bernard. -
Reign Of Saladin In Egypt And Syria. - His Conquest Of
Jerusalem. - Naval Crusades. - Richard The First Of England. -
Pope Innocent The Third; And The Fourth And Fifth Crusades. -
The Emperor Frederic The Second. - Louis The Ninth Of
France; And The Two Last Crusades. - Expulsion Of The Latins
Or Franks By The Mamelukes.

In a style less grave than that of history, I should perhaps compare the
emperor Alexius [1] to the jackal, who is said to follow the steps, and
to devour the leavings, of the lion. Whatever had been his fears and
toils in the passage of the first crusade, they were amply recompensed
by the subsequent benefits which he derived from the exploits of the
Franks. His dexterity and vigilance secured their first conquest of
Nice; and from this threatening station the Turks were compelled to
evacuate the neighborhood of Constantinople. While the crusaders, with
blind valor, advanced into the midland countries of Asia, the crafty
Greek improved the favorable occasion when the emirs of the sea-coast
were recalled to the standard of the sultan. The Turks were driven from
the Isles of Rhodes and Chios: the cities of Ephesus and Smyrna, of
Sardes, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, were restored to the empire, which
Alexius enlarged from the Hellespont to the banks of the Mæander, and
the rocky shores of Pamphylia. The churches resumed their splendor: the
towns were rebuilt and fortified; and the desert country was peopled
with colonies of Christians, who were gently removed from the more
distant and dangerous frontier. In these paternal cares, we may forgive
Alexius, if he forgot the deliverance of the holy sepulchre; but, by
the Latins, he was stigmatized with the foul reproach of treason and
desertion. They had sworn fidelity and obedience to his throne; but _he_
had promised to assist their enterprise in person, or, at least, with
his troops and treasures: his base retreat dissolved their obligations;
and the sword, which had been the instrument of their victory, was the
pledge and title of their just independence. It does not appear that
the emperor attempted to revive his obsolete claims over the kingdom of
Jerusalem; [2] but the borders of Cilicia and Syria were more recent in
his possession, and more accessible to his arms. The great army of the
crusaders was annihilated or dispersed; the principality of Antioch
was left without a head, by the surprise and captivity of Bohemond; his
ransom had oppressed him with a heavy debt; and his Norman followers
were insufficient to repel the hostilities of the Greeks and Turks. In
this distress, Bohemond embraced a magnanimous resolution, of leaving
the defence of Antioch to his kinsman, the faithful Tancred; of arming
the West against the Byzantine empire; and of executing the design which
he inherited from the lessons and example of his father Guiscard.
His embarkation was clandestine: and, if we may credit a tale of the
princess Anne, he passed the hostile sea closely secreted in a coffin.
[3] But his reception in France was dignified by the public applause, and
his marriage with the king's daughter: his return was glorious, since
the bravest spirits of the age enlisted under his veteran command; and
he repassed the Adriatic at the head of five thousand horse and forty
thousand foot, assembled from the most remote climates of Europe. [4] The
strength of Durazzo, and prudence of Alexius, the progress of famine
and approach of winter, eluded his ambitious hopes; and the venal
confederates were seduced from his standard. A treaty of peace [5]
suspended the fears of the Greeks; and they were finally delivered by
the death of an adversary, whom neither oaths could bind, nor dangers
could appal, nor prosperity could satiate. His children succeeded to the
principality of Antioch; but the boundaries were strictly defined, the
homage was clearly stipulated, and the cities of Tarsus and Malmistra
were restored to the Byzantine emperors. Of the coast of Anatolia, they
possessed the entire circuit from Trebizond to the Syrian gates. The
Seljukian dynasty of Roum [6] was separated on all sides from the sea
and their Mussulman brethren; the power of the sultan was shaken by
the victories and even the defeats of the Franks; and after the loss of
Nice, they removed their throne to Cogni or Iconium, an obscure and in
land town above three hundred miles from Constantinople. [7] Instead of
trembling for their capital, the Comnenian princes waged an offensive
war against the Turks, and the first crusade prevented the fall of the
declining empire.

[Footnote 1: Anna Comnena relates her father's conquests in Asia Minor
Alexiad, l. xi. p. 321 - 325, l. xiv. p. 419; his Cilician war against
Tancred and Bohemond, p. 328 - 324; the war of Epirus, with tedious
prolixity, l. xii. xiii. p. 345 - 406; the death of Bohemond, l. xiv. p.

[Footnote 2: The kings of Jerusalem submitted, however, to a nominal
dependence, and in the dates of their inscriptions, (one is still
legible in the church of Bethlem,) they respectfully placed before
their own the name of the reigning emperor, (Ducange, Dissertations sur
Joinville xxvii. p. 319.)]

[Footnote 3: Anna Comnena adds, that, to complete the imitation, he was
shut up with a dead cock; and condescends to wonder how the Barbarian
could endure the confinement and putrefaction. This absurd tale is
unknown to the Latins. * Note: The Greek writers, in general, Zonaras,
p. 2, 303, and Glycas, p. 334 agree in this story with the princess
Anne, except in the absurd addition of the dead cock. Ducange has
already quoted some instances where a similar stratagem had been adopted
by _Norman_ princes. On this authority Wilken inclines to believe the
fact. Appendix to vol. ii. p. 14. - M.]

[Footnote 4: 'Apo QulhV in the Byzantine geography, must mean England;
yet we are more credibly informed, that our Henry I. would not suffer
him to levy any troops in his kingdom, (Ducange, Not. ad Alexiad. p.

[Footnote 5: The copy of the treaty (Alexiad. l. xiii. p. 406 - 416) is
an original and curious piece, which would require, and might afford, a
good map of the principality of Antioch.]

[Footnote 6: See, in the learned work of M. De Guignes, (tom. ii. part
ii.,) the history of the Seljukians of Iconium, Aleppo, and Damascus,
as far as it may be collected from the Greeks, Latins, and Arabians. The
last are ignorant or regardless of the affairs of _Roum_.]

[Footnote 7: Iconium is mentioned as a station by Xenophon, and by
Strabo, with an ambiguous title of KwmopoliV, (Cellarius, tom. ii. p.
121.) Yet St. Paul found in that place a multitude (plhqoV) of Jews
and Gentiles. under the corrupt name of _Kunijah_, it is described as a
great city, with a river and garden, three leagues from the mountains,
and decorated (I know not why) with Plato's tomb, (Abulfeda, tabul.
xvii. p. 303 vers. Reiske; and the Index Geographicus of Schultens from
Ibn Said.)]

In the twelfth century, three great emigrations marched by land from the
West for the relief of Palestine. The soldiers and pilgrims of Lombardy,
France, and Germany were excited by the example and success of the
first crusade. [8] Forty-eight years after the deliverance of the holy
sepulchre, the emperor, and the French king, Conrad the Third and
Louis the Seventh, undertook the second crusade to support the falling
fortunes of the Latins. [9] A grand division of the third crusade was
led by the emperor Frederic Barbarossa, [10] who sympathized with his
brothers of France and England in the common loss of Jerusalem. These
three expeditions may be compared in their resemblance of the greatness
of numbers, their passage through the Greek empire, and the nature
and event of their Turkish warfare, and a brief parallel may save the
repetition of a tedious narrative. However splendid it may seem, a
regular story of the crusades would exhibit the perpetual return of the
same causes and effects; and the frequent attempts for the defence or
recovery of the Holy Land would appear so many faint and unsuccessful
copies of the original.

[Footnote 8: For this supplement to the first crusade, see Anna Comnena,
(Alexias, l. xi. p. 331, &c., and the viiith book of Albert Aquensis.)]

[Footnote 9: For the second crusade, of Conrad III. and Louis VII.,
see William of Tyre, (l. xvi. c. 18 - 19,) Otho of Frisingen, (l. i. c.
34 - 45 59, 60,) Matthew Paris, (Hist. Major. p. 68,) Struvius, (Corpus
Hist Germanicæ, p. 372, 373,) Scriptores Rerum Francicarum à Duchesne
tom. iv.: Nicetas, in Vit. Manuel, l. i. c. 4, 5, 6, p. 41 - 48, Cinnamus
l. ii. p. 41 - 49.]

[Footnote 10: For the third crusade, of Frederic Barbarossa, see Nicetas
in Isaac Angel. l. ii. c. 3 - 8, p. 257 - 266. Struv. (Corpus. Hist. Germ.
p. 414,) and two historians, who probably were spectators, Tagino, (in
Scriptor. Freher. tom. i. p. 406 - 416, edit Struv.,) and the Anonymus de
Expeditione Asiaticâ Fred. I. (in Canisii Antiq. Lection. tom. iii. p.
ii. p. 498 - 526, edit. Basnage.)]

I. Of the swarms that so closely trod in the footsteps of the first
pilgrims, the chiefs were equal in rank, though unequal in fame and
merit, to Godfrey of Bouillon and his fellow-adventurers. At their
head were displayed the banners of the dukes of Burgundy, Bavaria, and
Aquitain; the first a descendant of Hugh Capet, the second, a father
of the Brunswick line: the archbishop of Milan, a temporal prince,
transported, for the benefit of the Turks, the treasures and ornaments
of his church and palace; and the veteran crusaders, Hugh the Great and
Stephen of Chartres, returned to consummate their unfinished vow. The
huge and disorderly bodies of their followers moved forward in two
columns; and if the first consisted of two hundred and sixty thousand
persons, the second might possibly amount to sixty thousand horse and
one hundred thousand foot. [11] [111] The armies of the second crusade might
have claimed the conquest of Asia; the nobles of France and Germany
were animated by the presence of their sovereigns; and both the rank and
personal character of Conrad and Louis gave a dignity to their cause,
and a discipline to their force, which might be vainly expected from the
feudatory chiefs. The cavalry of the emperor, and that of the king,
was each composed of seventy thousand knights, and their immediate
attendants in the field; [12] and if the light-armed troops, the peasant
infantry, the women and children, the priests and monks, be rigorously
excluded, the full account will scarcely be satisfied with four hundred
thousand souls. The West, from Rome to Britain, was called into action;
the kings of Poland and Bohemia obeyed the summons of Conrad; and it is
affirmed by the Greeks and Latins, that, in the passage of a strait
or river, the Byzantine agents, after a tale of nine hundred thousand,
desisted from the endless and formidable computation. [13] In the third
crusade, as the French and English preferred the navigation of the
Mediterranean, the host of Frederic Barbarossa was less numerous.
Fifteen thousand knights, and as many squires, were the flower of the
German chivalry: sixty thousand horse, and one hundred thousand foot,
were mustered by the emperor in the plains of Hungary; and after such
repetitions, we shall no longer be startled at the six hundred thousand
pilgrims, which credulity has ascribed to this last emigration. [14] Such
extravagant reckonings prove only the astonishment of contemporaries;
but their astonishment most strongly bears testimony to the existence
of an enormous, though indefinite, multitude. The Greeks might applaud
their superior knowledge of the arts and stratagems of war, but they
confessed the strength and courage of the French cavalry, and the
infantry of the Germans; [15] and the strangers are described as an iron
race, of gigantic stature, who darted fire from their eyes, and spilt
blood like water on the ground. Under the banners of Conrad, a troop of
females rode in the attitude and armor of men; and the chief of these
Amazons, from her gilt spurs and buskins, obtained the epithet of the
Golden-footed Dame.

[Footnote 11: Anne, who states these later swarms at 40,000 horse and
100,000 foot, calls them Normans, and places at their head two brothers
of Flanders. The Greeks were strangely ignorant of the names, families,
and possessions of the Latin princes.]

[Footnote 111: It was this army of pilgrims, the first body of which was
headed by the archbishop of Milan and Count Albert of Blandras, which
set forth on the wild, yet, with a more disciplined army, not impolitic,
enterprise of striking at the heart of the Mahometan power, by attacking
the sultan in Bagdad. For their adventures and fate, see Wilken, vol.
ii. p. 120, &c., Michaud, book iv. - M.]

[Footnote 12: William of Tyre, and Matthew Paris, reckon 70,000 loricati
in each of the armies.]

[Footnote 13: The imperfect enumeration is mentioned by Cinnamus,
(ennenhkonta muriadeV,) and confirmed by Odo de Diogilo apud Ducange ad
Cinnamum, with the more precise sum of 900,556. Why must therefore the
version and comment suppose the modest and insufficient reckoning of
90,000? Does not Godfrey of Viterbo (Pantheon, p. xix. in Muratori, tom.
vii. p. 462) exclaim?
- - Numerum si poscere quæras,
Millia millena militis agmen erat.]

[Footnote 14: This extravagant account is given by Albert of Stade,
(apud Struvium, p. 414;) my calculation is borrowed from Godfrey of
Viterbo, Arnold of Lubeck, apud eundem, and Bernard Thesaur. (c. 169, p.
804.) The original writers are silent. The Mahometans gave him 200,000,
or 260,000, men, (Bohadin, in Vit. Saladin, p. 110.)]

[Footnote 15: I must observe, that, in the second and third crusades,
the subjects of Conrad and Frederic are styled by the Greeks and
Orientals _Alamanni_. The Lechi and Tzechi of Cinnamus are the Poles
and Bohemians; and it is for the French that he reserves the ancient
appellation of Germans. He likewise names the Brittioi, or Britannoi. *
Note: * He names both - Brittioi te kai Britanoi. - M.]

II. The number and character of the strangers was an object of terror
to the effeminate Greeks, and the sentiment of fear is nearly allied
to that of hatred. This aversion was suspended or softened by the
apprehension of the Turkish power; and the invectives of the Latins will
not bias our more candid belief, that the emperor Alexius dissembled
their insolence, eluded their hostilities, counselled their rashness,
and opened to their ardor the road of pilgrimage and conquest. But
when the Turks had been driven from Nice and the sea-coast, when the
Byzantine princes no longer dreaded the distant sultans of Cogni, they
felt with purer indignation the free and frequent passage of the western
Barbarians, who violated the majesty, and endangered the safety, of the
empire. The second and third crusades were undertaken under the reign
of Manuel Comnenus and Isaac Angelus. Of the former, the passions were
always impetuous, and often malevolent; and the natural union of a
cowardly and a mischievous temper was exemplified in the latter, who,
without merit or mercy, could punish a tyrant, and occupy his throne. It
was secretly, and perhaps tacitly, resolved by the prince and people to
destroy, or at least to discourage, the pilgrims, by every species
of injury and oppression; and their want of prudence and discipline
continually afforded the pretence or the opportunity. The Western
monarchs had stipulated a safe passage and fair market in the country
of their Christian brethren; the treaty had been ratified by oaths and
hostages; and the poorest soldier of Frederic's army was furnished with
three marks of silver to defray his expenses on the road. But every
engagement was violated by treachery and injustice; and the complaints
of the Latins are attested by the honest confession of a Greek
historian, who has dared to prefer truth to his country. [16] Instead
of a hospitable reception, the gates of the cities, both in Europe and
Asia, were closely barred against the crusaders; and the scanty pittance
of food was let down in baskets from the walls. Experience or foresight
might excuse this timid jealousy; but the common duties of humanity
prohibited the mixture of chalk, or other poisonous ingredients, in
the bread; and should Manuel be acquitted of any foul connivance, he
is guilty of coining base money for the purpose of trading with the
pilgrims. In every step of their march they were stopped or misled: the
governors had private orders to fortify the passes and break down the
bridges against them: the stragglers were pillaged and murdered:
the soldiers and horses were pierced in the woods by arrows from an
invisible hand; the sick were burnt in their beds; and the dead bodies
were hung on gibbets along the highways. These injuries exasperated the
champions of the cross, who were not endowed with evangelical patience;
and the Byzantine princes, who had provoked the unequal conflict,
promoted the embarkation and march of these formidable guests. On the
verge of the Turkish frontier Barbarossa spared the guilty Philadelphia,
[17] rewarded the hospitable Laodicea, and deplored the hard necessity
that had stained his sword with any drops of Christian blood. In their
intercourse with the monarchs of Germany and France, the pride of the
Greeks was exposed to an anxious trial. They might boast that on the
first interview the seat of Louis was a low stool, beside the throne
of Manuel; [18] but no sooner had the French king transported his army
beyond the Bosphorus, than he refused the offer of a second conference,
unless his brother would meet him on equal terms, either on the sea or
land. With Conrad and Frederic, the ceremonial was still nicer and more
difficult: like the successors of Constantine, they styled themselves
emperors of the Romans; [19] and firmly maintained the purity of their
title and dignity. The first of these representatives of Charlemagne
would only converse with Manuel on horseback in the open field; the
second, by passing the Hellespont rather than the Bosphorus, declined
the view of Constantinople and its sovereign. An emperor, who had
been crowned at Rome, was reduced in the Greek epistles to the humble
appellation of _Rex_, or prince, of the Alemanni; and the vain and
feeble Angelus affected to be ignorant of the name of one of the
greatest men and monarchs of the age. While they viewed with hatred and
suspicion the Latin pilgrims the Greek emperors maintained a strict,
though secret, alliance with the Turks and Saracens. Isaac Angelus
complained, that by his friendship for the great Saladin he had incurred
the enmity of the Franks; and a mosque was founded at Constantinople for
the public exercise of the religion of Mahomet. [20]

[Footnote 16: Nicetas was a child at the second crusade, but in
the third he commanded against the Franks the important post of
Philippopolis. Cinnamus is infected with national prejudice and pride.]

[Footnote 17: The conduct of the Philadelphians is blamed by Nicetas,
while the anonymous German accuses the rudeness of his countrymen,
(culpâ nostrâ.) History would be pleasant, if we were embarrassed only
by _such_ contradictions. It is likewise from Nicetas, that we learn the
pious and humane sorrow of Frederic.]

[Footnote 18: Cqamalh edra, which Cinnamus translates into Latin by the
word Sellion. Ducange works very hard to save his king and country from
such ignominy, (sur Joinville, dissertat. xxvii. p. 317 - 320.) Louis
afterwards insisted on a meeting in mari ex æquo, not ex equo, according
to the laughable readings of some MSS.]

[Footnote 19: Ego Romanorum imperator sum, ille Romaniorum, (Anonym
Canis. p. 512.) The public and historical style of the Greeks was
Rhx... _princeps_. Yet Cinnamus owns, that 'Imperatwr is synonymous to

[Footnote 20: In the Epistles of Innocent III., (xiii. p. 184,) and the
History of Bohadin, (p. 129, 130,) see the views of a pope and a cadhi
on this _singular_toleration.]

III. The swarms that followed the first crusade were destroyed in
Anatolia by famine, pestilence, and the Turkish arrows; and the princes
only escaped with some squadrons of horse to accomplish their lamentable
pilgrimage. A just opinion may be formed of their knowledge and
humanity; of their knowledge, from the design of subduing Persia and
Chorasan in their way to Jerusalem; [201] of their humanity, from the
massacre of the Christian people, a friendly city, who came out to meet
them with palms and crosses in their hands. The arms of Conrad and Louis
were less cruel and imprudent; but the event of the second crusade was
still more ruinous to Christendom; and the Greek Manuel is accused by
his own subjects of giving seasonable intelligence to the sultan, and
treacherous guides to the Latin princes. Instead of crushing the common
foe, by a double attack at the same time but on different sides,
the Germans were urged by emulation, and the French were retarded by
jealousy. Louis had scarcely passed the Bosphorus when he was met by
the returning emperor, who had lost the greater part of his army in
glorious, but unsuccessful, actions on the banks of the Mæander. The
contrast of the pomp of his rival hastened the retreat of Conrad: [202]
the desertion of his independent vassals reduced him to his hereditary
troops; and he borrowed some Greek vessels to execute by sea the
pilgrimage of Palestine. Without studying the lessons of experience,
or the nature of the war, the king of France advanced through the same
country to a similar fate. The vanguard, which bore the royal banner and
the oriflamme of St. Denys, [21] had doubled their march with rash and
inconsiderate speed; and the rear, which the king commanded in person,
no longer found their companions in the evening camp. In darkness and
disorder, they were encompassed, assaulted, and overwhelmed, by the
innumerable host of Turks, who, in the art of war, were superior to the
Christians of the twelfth century. [211] Louis, who climbed a tree in the
general discomfiture, was saved by his own valor and the ignorance of
his adversaries; and with the dawn of day he escaped alive, but
almost alone, to the camp of the vanguard. But instead of pursuing his
expedition by land, he was rejoiced to shelter the relics of his army
in the friendly seaport of Satalia. From thence he embarked for Antioch;
but so penurious was the supply of Greek vessels, that they could
only afford room for his knights and nobles; and the plebeian crowd of
infantry was left to perish at the foot of the Pamphylian hills. The
emperor and the king embraced and wept at Jerusalem; their martial
trains, the remnant of mighty armies, were joined to the Christian
powers of Syria, and a fruitless siege of Damascus was the final effort
of the second crusade. Conrad and Louis embarked for Europe with the
personal fame of piety and courage; but the Orientals had braved these
potent monarchs of the Franks, with whose names and military forces they
had been so often threatened. [22] Perhaps they had still more to fear
from the veteran genius of Frederic the First, who in his youth had
served in Asia under his uncle Conrad. Forty campaigns in Germany and
Italy had taught Barbarossa to command; and his soldiers, even the
princes of the empire, were accustomed under his reign to obey. As soon
as he lost sight of Philadelphia and Laodicea, the last cities of the
Greek frontier, he plunged into the salt and barren desert, a land (says

Online LibraryEdward GibbonHistory of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 6 → online text (page 1 of 58)