François Pierre Guillaume Guizot.

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the assailants and the brilliant personal prowess of their chiefs, of the
Emperor Conrad amongst others, struck surprise and consternation into the
besieged, who, foreseeing the necessity of abandoning their city, laid
across the streets beams, chains, and heaps of stones, to stop the
progress of the conquerors and give themselves time for flying, with
their families and their wealth, by the northern and southern gates. But
personal interest and secret negotiations before long brought into the
Christian camp weakness, together with discord. Many of the barons were
already disputing amongst themselves, at the very elbows of the
sovereigns, for the future government of Damascus; others were not
inaccessible to the rich offers which came to them from the city; and it
is maintained that King Baldwin himself suffered himself to be bribed by
a sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold which were sent to him by
Modjer-Eddyn, Emir of Damascus, and which turned out to be only pieces of
copper, covered with gold leaf. News came that the Emirs of Aleppo and
Mossoul were coming, with considerable forces, to the relief of the
place. Whatever may have been the cause of retreat, the crusader-
sovereigns decided upon it, and, raising the siege, returned to
Jerusalem. The Emperor Conrad, in indignation and confusion, set out
precipitately to return to Germany. King Louis could not make up his
mind thus to quit the Holy Land in disgrace, and without doing anything
for its deliverance. He prolonged his stay there for more than a year
without anything to show for his time and zeal. His barons and his
knights nearly all left him, and, by sea or land, made their way back to
France. But the king still lingered. I am under a bond," he wrote to
Suger, "not to leave the Holy Land, save with glory, and after doing
somewhat for the cause of God and the kingdom of France." At last, after
many fruitless entreaties, Suger wrote to him, "Dear king and lord, I
must cause thee to hear the voice of thy whole kingdom. Why dost thou
fly from us? After having toiled so hard in the East, after having
endured so many almost unendurable evils, by what harshness or what
cruelty comes it that, now when the barons and grandees of the kingdom
have returned, thou persistest in abiding with the barbarians? The
disturbers of the kingdom have entered into it again; and thou, who
shouldst defend it, remainest in exile as if thou wert a prisoner; thou
givest over the lamb to the wolf, thy dominions to the ravishers. We
conjure thy majesty, we invoke thy piety, we adjure thy goodness, we
summon thee in the name of the fealty we owe thee; tarry not at all, or
only a little while, beyond Easter; else thou wilt appear, in the eyes of
God, guilty of a breach of that oath which thou didst take at the same
time as the crown." At length Louis made up his mind and embarked at St.
Jean d'Acre at the commencement of July, 1149; and he disembarked in the
month of October at the port of St. Gilles, at the mouth of the Rhone,
whence he wrote to Suger, "We be hastening unto you safe and sound, and
we command you not to defer paying us a visit, on a given day and before
all our other friends. Many rumors reach us touching our kingdom, and
knowing nought for certain, we be desirous to learn from you how we
should bear ourselves or hold our peace, in every case. And let none but
yourself know what I say to you at this present writing."

This preference and this confidence were no more than Louis VII. owed to
Suger. The Abbot of St. Denis, after having opposed the crusade with a
freedom of spirit and a far-sightedness unique, perhaps, in his times,
had, during the king's absence, borne the weight of government with a
political tact, a firmness, and a disinterestedness rare in any times.
He had upheld the authority of absent royalty, kept down the pretensions
of vassals, and established some degree of order wherever his influence
could reach; he had provided for the king's expenses in Palestine by good
administration of the domains and revenues of the crown; and, lastly, he
had acquired such renown in Europe, that men came from Italy and from
England to view the salutary effects of his government, and that the name
of Solomon of his age was conferred upon him by strangers his
contemporaries. With the exception of great sovereigns, such as
Charlemagne or William the Conqueror, only great bishops or learned
theologians, and that by their influence in the Church or by their
writings, had obtained this European reputation; from the ninth to the
twelfth century, Suger was the first man who attained to it by the sole
merit of his political conduct, and who offered an example of a minister
justly admired, for his ability and wisdom, beyond the circle in which he
lived. When he saw that the king's return drew near, he wrote to him,
saying, "You will, I think, have ground to be satisfied with our conduct.
We have remitted to the knights of the Temple the money we had resolved
to send you. We have, besides, reimbursed the Count of Vermandois the
three thousand livres he had lent us for your service. Your land and
your people are in the enjoyment, for the present, of a happy peace. You
will find your houses and your palaces in good condition through the care
we have taken to have them repaired. Behold me now in the decline of
age: and I dare to say that the occupations in which I have engaged for
the love of God and through attachment to your person have added many to
my years. In respect of the queen, your consort, I am of opinion that
you should conceal the displeasure she causes you, until, restored to
your dominions, you can calmly deliberate upon that and upon other

On once more entering his kingdom, Louis, who, at a distance, had
sometimes lent a credulous ear to the complaints of the discontented or
to the calumnies of Suger's enemies, did him full justice and was the
first to give him the name of Father of the country. The ill success of
the crusade and the remembrance of all that France had risked and lost
for nothing, made a deep impression upon the public; and they honored
Suger for his far-sightedness whilst they blamed St. Bernard for the
infatuation which he had fostered and for the disasters which had
followed it. St. Bernard accepted their reproaches in a pious spirit:
"If," said he, "there must be murmuring against God or against me, I
prefer to see the murmurs of men falling upon me rather than upon the
Lord. To me it is a blessed thing that God should deign to use me as a
buckler to shield Himself. I shrink not from humiliation, provided that
His glory be unassailed." But at the same time St. Bernard himself was
troubled, and he permitted himself to give expression to his troubled
feelings in a singularly free and bold strain of piety. "We be fallen
upon very grievous times," he wrote to Pope Eugenius III.; "the Lord,
provoked by our sins, seemeth in some sort to have determined to judge
the world before the time, and to judge it, doubtless, according to His
equity, but not remembering His mercy. Do not the heathen say, 'Where is
now their God?' And who can wonder? The children of the Church, those
who be called Christian, lie stretched upon the desert, smitten with the
sword or dead of famine. Did we undertake the work rashly? Did we
behave ourselves lightly? How patiently God heareth the sacrilegious
voices and the blasphemies of these Egyptians! Assuredly His judgments
be righteous; who doth not know it? But in the present judgment there is
so profound a depth, that I hesitate not to call him blessed whosoever is
not surprised and offended by it."

The soul of man, no less than the shifting scene of the world, is often a
great subject of surprise. King Louis, on his way back to France, had
staid some days at Rome; and there, in a conversation with the pope, he
had almost promised him a new crusade to repair the disasters of that
from which he had found it so difficult to get out. Suger, when he
became acquainted with this project, opposed it as he had opposed the
former; but, at the same time, as he, in common with all his age,
considered the deliverance of the Holy Land to be the bounden duty of
Christians, he conceived the idea of dedicating the large fortune and
great influence he had acquired to the cause of a new crusade, to be
undertaken by himself and at his own expense, without compromising either
king or state. He unfolded his views to a meeting of bishops assembled
at Chartres; and he went to Tours, and paid a visit to the tomb of St.
Martin to implore his protection. Already more than ten thousand
pilgrims were in arms at his call, and already he had himself chosen a
warrior, of ability and renown, to command them, when he fell ill, and
died at the end of four months, in 1152, aged seventy, and "thanking the
Almighty," says his biographer, "for having taken him to Him, not
suddenly, but little by little, in order to bring him step by step to the
rest needful for the weary man." It is said that, in his last days and
when St. Bernard was exhorting him not to think any more save only of the
heavenly Jerusalem, Suger still expressed to him his regret at dying
without having succored the city which was so dear to them both.

Almost at the very moment when Suger was dying, a French council,
assembled at Beaugency, was annulling on the ground of prohibited
consanguinity, and with the tacit consent of the two persons most
concerned, the marriage of Louis VII. and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Some
months afterwards, at Whitsuntide in the same year, Henry Plantagenet,
Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, espoused Eleanor, thus adding to his
already great possessions Poitou and Aquitaine, and becoming, in France,
a vassal more powerful than the king his suzerain. Twenty months later,
in 1154, at the death of King Stephen, Henry Plantagenet became King of
England; and thus there was a recurrence, in an aggravated form, of the
position which had been filled by William the Conqueror, and which was
the first cause of rivalry between France and England and of the
consequent struggles of considerably more than a century's duration.

Little more than a year after Suger, on the 20th of April, 1153,
St. Bernard died also. The two great men, of whom one had excited and
the other opposed the second crusade, disappeared together from the
theatre of the world. The crusade had completely failed. After a lapse
of scarce forty years, a third crusade began. When a great idea is
firmly fixed in men's minds with the twofold sanction of duty and
feeling, many generations live and die in its service before efforts are
exhausted and the end reached or abandoned.

During this forty years' interval between the end of the second and
beginning of the third crusade, the relative positions of West and East,
Christian Europe and Mussulman Asia, remained the same outwardly and
according to the general aspect of affairs; but in Syria and in Palestine
there was a continuance of the struggle between Christendom and Islamry,
with various fortunes on either side. The Christian kingdom of Jerusalem
still stood; and after Godfrey de Bouillon, from 1100 to 1180, there had
been a succession of eight kings; some energetic and bold, aspiring to
extend their young dominion, others indolent and weak upon a tottering
throne. The rivalries and often the defections and treasons of the petty
Christian princes and lords who were set up at different points in
Palestine and Syria endangered their common cause. Fortunately similar
rivalries, dissensions, and treasons prevailed amongst the Mussulman
emirs, some of them Turks and others Persians or Arabs, and at one time
foes, at another dependants, of the Khalifs of Bagdad or of Egypt.
Anarchy and civil war harassed both races and both religions with almost
equal impartiality. But, beneath this surface of simultaneous agitation
and monotony, great changes were being accomplished or preparing for
accomplishment in the West. The principal sovereigns of the preceding
generation, Louis VII., King of France, Conrad III., Emperor of Germany,
and Henry II., King of England, were dying; and princes more juvenile and
more enterprising, or simply less wearied out, - Philip Augustus,
Frederick Barbarossa, and Richard Coeur de Lion, - were taking their
places. In the East the theatre of policy and events was being enlarged;
Egypt was becoming the goal of ambition with the chiefs, Christian or
Mussulman, of Eastern Asia; and Damietta, the key of Egypt, was the
object of their enterprises, those of Amaury I., the boldest of the kings
of Jerusalem, as well as those of the Sultans of Damascus and Aleppo.
Noureddin and Saladin (Nour-Eddyn and Sala-Eddyn), Turks by origin, had
commenced their fortunes in Syria; but it was in Egypt that they
culminated, and, when Saladin became the most illustrious as well as the
most powerful of Mussulman sovereigns, it was with the title of Sultan of
Egypt and of Syria that he took his place in history.

In the course of the year 1187, Europe suddenly heard tale upon tale
about the repeated disasters of the Christians in Asia. On the 1st of
May, the two religious and warlike orders which had been founded in the
East for the defence of Christendom - the Hospitallers of St. John of
Jerusalem and the Templars - lost, at a brush in Galilee, five hundred of
their bravest knights. On the 3d and 4th of July, near Tiberias, a
Christian army was surrounded by the Saracens, and also, ere long, by the
fire which Saladin had ordered to be set to the dry grass which covered
the plain. The flames made their way and spread beneath the feet of men
and horses. "There," say the Oriental chroniclers, "the sons of Paradise
and the children of fire settled their terrible quarrel. Arrows hurtled
in the air like a noisy flight of sparrows, and the blood of warriors
dripped upon the ground like rain-water." "I saw," adds one of them who
was present at the battle, "hill, plain, and valley covered with their
dead; I saw their banners stained with dust and blood; I saw their heads
laid low, their limbs scattered, their carcasses piled on a heap like
stones." Four days after the battle of Tiberias, on the 8th of July,
1187, Saladin took possession of St. Jean d'Acre, and, on the 4th of
September following, of Ascalon. Finally, on the 18th of September, he
laid siege to Jerusalem, wherein refuge had been sought by a multitude of
Christian families driven from their homes by the ravages of the infidels
throughout Palestine; and the Holy City contained at this time, it is
said, nearly one hundred thousand Christians. On approaching its walls,
Saladin sent for the principal inhabitants, and said to them, "I know as
well as you that Jerusalem is the house of God; and I will not have it
assaulted if I can get it by peace and love. I will give you thirty
thousand byzants of gold if you promise me Jerusalem, and you shall have
liberty to go whither you will and do your tillage, to a distance of five
miles from the city. And I will have you sup-plied with such plenty of
provisions that in no place on earth shall they be so cheap. You shall
have a truce from now to Whitsuntide, and when this time comes, if you
see that you may have aid, then hold on. But if not, you shall give up
the city, and I will have you conveyed in safety to Christian territory,
yourselves and your substance." "We may not yield up to you a city where
died our God," answered the envoys: "and still less may we sell you."
The siege lasted fourteen days. After having repulsed several assaults,
the inhabitants saw that effectual resistance was impossible; and the
commandant of the place, a knight named Dalian d'Ibelin, an old warrior,
who had been at the battle of Tiberias, returned to Saladin, and asked
for the conditions back again which had at first been rejected. Saladin,
pointing to his own banner already planted upon several parts of the
battlements, answered, "It is too late; you surely see that the city is
mine." "Very well, my lord," replied the knight: "we will ourselves
destroy our city, and the mosque of Omar, and the stone of Jacob: and
when it is nothing but a heap of ruins, we will sally forth with sword
and fire in hand, and not one of us will go to Paradise without having
sent ten Mussulmans to hell." Saladin understood enthusiasm, and
respected it; and to have had the destruction of Jerusalem connected with
his name would' have caused him deep displeasure. He therefore consented
to the terms of capitulation demanded of him. The fighting men were
permitted to retreat to Tyre or Tripolis, the last cities of any
importance, besides Antioch, in the power of the Christians; and the
simple inhabitants of Jerusalem had their lives preserved, and permission
given them to purchase their freedom on certain conditions; but, as many
amongst them could not find the means, Malek-Adhel, the sultan's brother,
and Saladin himself paid the ransom of several thousands of captives.
All Christians, however, with the exception of Greeks and Syrians, had
orders to leave Jerusalem within four days. When the day came, all the
gates were closed, except that of David by which the people were to go
forth; and Saladin, seated upon a throne, saw the Christians defile
before him. First came the patriarch, followed by the clergy, carrying
the sacred vessels, and the ornaments of the church of the Holy
Sepulchre. After him came Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem, who had remained
in the city, whilst her husband, Guy de Lusignan, had been a prisoner at
Nablous since the battle of Tiberias. Saladin saluted her respectfully,
and spoke to her kindly. He had too great a soul to take pleasure in the
humiliation of greatness.

[Illustration: The Christians of the Holy City defiling before Saladin. -
- 28]

The news, spreading through Europe, caused amongst all classes there,
high and low, a deep feeling of sorrow, anger, disquietude, and shame.
Jerusalem was a very different thing from Edessa. The fall of the
kingdom of Jerusalem meant the sepulchre of Jesus Christ fallen once more
into the hands of the infidels, and, at the same time, the destruction of
what had been wrought by Christian Europe in the East, the loss of the
only striking and permanent gage of her victories. Christian pride was
as much wounded as Christian piety. A new fact, moreover, was
conspicuous in this series of reverses and in the accounts received of
them; after all its defeats and in the midst of its discord, Islamry had
found a chieftain and a hero. Saladin was one of those strange and
superior beings who, by their qualities and by their very defects, make a
strong impression upon the imaginations of men, whether friends or foes.
His Mussulman fanaticism was quite as impassioned as the Christian
fanaticism of the most ardent crusaders. When he heard that Reginald of
Chatillon, Lord of Karat, on the confines of Palestine and Arabia, had
all but succeeded in an attempt to go and pillage the Caaba and the tomb
of Mahomet, he wrote to his brother Malek-Adhel, at that time governor of
Egypt, "The infidels have violated the home and the cradle of Islamism;
they have profaned our sanctuary. Did we not prevent a like insult
(which God forbid!) we should render ourselves guilty in the eyes of God
and the eyes of men. Purge we, therefore, our land from these men who
dishonor it; purge we the very air from the air they breathe." He
commanded that all the Christians who could possibly be captured on this
occasion should be put to death; and many were taken to Mecca, where the
Mussulman pilgrims immolated them instead of the sheep and lambs they
were accustomed to sacrifice. The expulsion of the Christians from
Palestine was Saladin's great idea and unwavering passion; and he
severely chid the Mussulmans for their soft-heartedness in the struggle.
"Behold these Christians," he wrote to the Khalif of Bagdad, "how they
come crowding in! How emulously they press on! They are continually
receiving fresh re-enforcements more numerous than the waves of the sea,
and to us more bitter than its brackish waters. Where one dies by land,
a thousand come by sea. . . . The crop is more abundant than the
harvest; the tree puts forth more branches than the axe can lop off. It
is true that great numbers have already perished, insomuch that the edge
of our swords is blunted; but our comrades are beginning to grow weary of
so long a war. Haste we, therefore, to implore the help of the Lord."
Nor needed he the excuse of passion in order to be cruel and sanguinary
when he considered it would serve his cause; for human lives and deaths
he had that barbaric indifference which Christianity alone has rooted out
from the communities of men, whilst it has remained familiar to the
Mussulman. When he found himself, either during or after a battle,
confronted by enemies whom he really dreaded, such as the Hospitallers of
St. John of Jerusalem or the Templars, he had them massacred, and
sometimes gave them their death-blow himself, with cool satisfaction.
But, apart from open war and the hatred inspired by passion or cold
calculation, he was moderate and generous, gentle towards the vanquished
and the weak, just and compassionate towards his subjects, faithful to
his engagements, and capable of feeling sympathetic admiration for men,
even his enemies, in whom he recognized superior qualities, courage,
loyalty, and loftiness of mind. For Christian knighthood, its precepts
and the noble character it stamped upon its professors, he felt so much
respect and even inclination that the wish of his heart, it is said, was
to receive the title of knight, and that he did, in fact, receive it with
the approval of Richard Coeur de Lion. By reason of all these facts and
on all these grounds he acquired, even amongst the Christians, that
popularity which attaches itself to greatness justified by personal deeds
and living proofs, in spite of the fear and even the hatred inspired
thereby. Christian Europe saw in him the able and potent chief of
Mussulman Asia, and, whilst detesting, admired him.

After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, the Christians of the East, in
their distress, sent to the West their most eloquent prelate and gravest
historian William, Archbishop of Tyre, who, fifteen years before, in the
reign of Baldwin IV., had been Chancellor of the kingdom of Jerusalem.
He, accompanied by a legate of Pope Gregory VIII., scoured Italy, France,
and Germany, recounting everywhere the miseries of the Holy Land, and
imploring the aid of all Christian princes and peoples, whatever might be
their own position of affairs and their own quarrels in Europe. At a
parliament assembled at Gisors, on the 21st of January, 1188, and at a
diet convoked at Mayence on the 27th of March following, he so powerfully
affected the knighthood of France, England, and Germany, that the three
sovereigns of these three states, Philip Augustus, Richard Coeur de Lion,
and Frederick Barbarossa, engaged with acclamation in a new crusade.
They were princes of very different ages and degrees of merit, but all
three distinguished for their personal qualities as well as their
puissance. Frederick Barbarossa was sixty-seven, and for the last
thirty-six years had been leading, in Germany and Italy, as politician
and soldier, a very active and stormy existence. Richard Cceur de Lion
was thirty-one, and had but just ascended the throne where he was to
shine as the most valiant and adventurous of knights rather than as a
king. Philip Augustus, though only twenty-three, had already shown
signs, beneath the vivacious sallies of youth, of the reflective and
steady ability characteristic of riper age. Of these three sovereigns,
the eldest, Frederick Barbarossa, was first ready to plunge amongst the
perils of the crusade. Starting from Ratisbonne about Christmas, 1189,
with an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men, he traversed the
Greek empire and Asia Minor, defeated the Sultan of Iconium, passed the
first defiles of Taurus, and seemed to be approaching the object of his
voyage, when, on the 10th of June, 1190, having arrived at the borders of
the Selef, a small river which throws itself into the Mediterranean close
to Seleucia, he determined to cross it by fording, was seized with a
chill, and, according to some, drowned before his people's eyes, but,
according to others, carried dying to Seleucia, where he expired. His
young son Conrad, Duke of Suabia, was not equal to taking the command of
such an army; and it broke up.

Online LibraryFrançois Pierre Guillaume GuizotA Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 2 → online text (page 2 of 35)