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PETER THE HERMIT.
tians of Jerusalem, must have witnessed with delight their gratitude and their joy. The believers of the holy city, mingled among the crowd of the crusaders, seemed to seek, to see, only that generous cenobite, who had visited them in their afflictions, and all whose promises had just been fulfilled. They thronged around the venerable hermit: it was to him that they addressed their hymns; it was he whom they proclaimed their deliverer; they related to him the miseries which they had suffered during his absence; they could scarcely believe what was passing before their eyes, and, in their enthusiasm, they were astonished that God should have made use of a single man to rouse so many nations and to work such wonders.
"At the sight of their brethren whom they had delivered, the pilgrims no doubt recollected that they had come to worship at the tomb of Christ. The pious Godfrey, who had abstained from carnage after the victory, left his companions, and, followed by three attendants, went without arms and barefoot into the church of the Holy Sepulchre. The tidings of this act of devotion soon spread throughout the Christian army; all fury, all animosities, immediately subsided; the crusaders stripped off their blood-stained garments, and headed by the clergy, walked together barefoot and, bareheaded to the church of the Resurrection.
"When the Christian army was thus assembled on Calvary, night began to fall. Silence reigned in the public places and around the ramparts; nought was heard in the holy city save penitential hymns and these words of Isaiah: Ye who love Jerusalem, rejoice with
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her.' The crusaders then manifested a devotion so warm and so tender, that, according to the remark of a modern historian, you would have said that these men, who had just taken a city by storm and made a horrid carnage, were but then come from a long seclusion and a profound meditation of our mysteries. These unaccountable contrasts are frequently to be observed in the history of the Crusades. Some writers have made them a pretext for accusing the Christian religion; others, not less blind and not less prejudiced, have endeavoured to excuse the deplorable excesses of fanaticism: impartial. history merely records them, and deplores in silence the frailties of human nature.
"The pious fervour of the Christians only suspended the scenes of slaughter. Policy might persuade some of the chiefs that it was necessary to strike great terror into the Saracens; they might think too that, if they set at liberty those who had defended Jerusalem, they should have to fight them again; and that they could not, in a distant country, keep without danger prisoners whose number exceeded that of their own soldiers. The approach of the Egyptian army was moreover announced, and the dread of a new danger closed their hearts against pity. In their council, sentence of death was pronounced upon all the Mussulmans who were left in the city.
"Fanaticism seconded but too cheerfully this barbarous policy. All the enemies whom humanity or weariness of slaughter had at first spared, and all those who had been saved in the hope of a rich ransom, were put to death. The Saracens were forced to fling themselves from the tops of towers and of houses; they were
SLAUGHTER OF THE SARACENS.
burned alive; they were dragged from the recesses of cellars into the public places, where they were sacrificed upon piles of carcases. Neither the tears of the women, nor the cries of the young children, nor the sight of the spot where Jesus forgave his tormentors-nothing, in short, could soothe the exasperated conquerors. So great was the carnage that, according to Albert of Aix, heaps of dead were to be seen not only in the palaces, in the temples, in the streets, but also in the most retired and solitary places. Such was the fury of vengeance and fanaticism, that not an eye was shocked by these scenes. The contemporary historians relate without seeking to excuse them; and in their narratives, full of revolting details, they never betray any feeling of horror or pity.
"Such of the crusaders whose hearts were not closed against generous sentiments, could not bridle the fury of an army, which, hurried away by the passions of war, deemed that it was avenging the wrongs of religion. Three hundred Saracens, who had sought refuge on the platform of the mosque of Omar, were slaughtered there on the day of the conquest, in spite of the intreaties of Tancred, who had sent them his banner for a safeguard, and was indignant at this violation of the laws of honour and chivalry. The Saracens who retired to the fortress of David were almost the only individuals exempted from the slaughter. Raymond accepted their capitulation he had the good fortune and the glory to enforce its execution; and to most of the crusaders this act of humanity appeared so strange, that they were less disposed to praise the generosity of the Count de St. Gilles, than to find fault with his avarice.
SLAUGHTER OF THE SARACENS.
"It was a week before the butchery ceased. Those Saracens who, during this interval, had contrived to evade the pursuit of the Christians, were reserved for the service of the army. The eastern historians, agreeing with the Latins, estimate the number of the Mussulmans slain in Jerusalem at more than seventy thousand. The Jews were no more spared than the Saracens : the synagogue, in which they had taken refuge, was set on fire, and all perished in the flames.
"Meanwhile the heaps of dead bodies in the public places, the blood spilt in the streets and in the mosques, were liable to generate pestilential diseases. The chiefs issued orders for cleansing the city and for removing a sight which, no doubt, became odious to them, in proportion as fury and vengeance subsided in the hearts of the Christian soldiers. The Mussulman prisoners, who had escaped the sword of the conqueror merely to endure the horrors of slavery, were employed in burying the mangled bodies of their friends and brethren. They wept, says Robert the monk, and they carried the bodies out of Jerusalem. In this painful occupation they were assisted by the soldiers of Raymond, who, being the last that entered the city, and having had but little share of the booty, sought to pick up something among the dead.
"The city of Jerusalem soon presented a new aspect. In the space of a few days it had changed inhabitants, laws, and religion. Before the last assault it had been agreed, according to the custom of the crusaders in their conquests, that every warrior should remain master and owner of the house or edifice which he should be the first to enter. A cross, a shield, or any other token affixed to
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the door, was the title of possession for each of the conquerors. This right of property was respected by the soldiers eager after plunder; and all at once the utmost order prevailed in a city which had been so recently consigned to all the horrors of war. Part of the treasures taken from the infidels was employed in relieving the poor and the orphans, and in decorating the altars of Christ that were re-erected in the holy city. The lamps, the candelabra of gold and silver, and the rich ornaments in the mosque of Omar, fell to the share of Tancred. A chronicle of the time relates that these valuable trophies were sufficient to fill six waggons, and that it took two days to clear and carry them away from the mosque. Tancred divided this rich booty with the duke of Bouillon, whom he had adopted for his liege lord.
"But the crusaders soon turned their eyes from the treasures promised to their valour, in order to admire a more precious conquest: this was the true cross, carried off by Chosroes, and brought back to Jerusalem by Heraclius. The Christians shut up in the city had secreted it from the Mussulmans during the siege. The sight of it produced the most vehement transports among the pilgrims. At which thing,' says an old chronicler, the Christians were as full of joy as if they had seen the body of Jesus Christ hanging thereupon.' It was carried in triumph through the streets of Jerusalem, and then replaced in the church of the Resurrection.
"Ten days after their victory, the crusaders began to think of re-establishing the throne of David and Solomon, and of seating upon it a chief capable of preserving and maintaining a conquest won by the Christians at the