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THE CRUSADERS BEFORE JERUSALEM. The seventh of June, 1099, was a memorable day. On that morning a huge host, which at the bidding of a hermit hitherto unknown and obscure, had assembled from every corner of the western world, and which numbered among its chiefs some of the bravest spirits and noblest blood of chivalry, a host, which after toiling through the wastes of Hungary and Bulgaria; after baffling the wiles of Alexius, the subtle emperor of the East; after unparalleled sufferings and slaughters on the plains of Asia, and before the walls of the Sultan's capital; after wasting away by the scimitar, by hunger, by thirst, by pestilence; after the storm of Nice and Antioch, the strongest cities of the east; after spreading dismay and terror among the professors of that faith which had as yet received no check; after leaving the bones of more than five hundred thousand men to whiten on the plains of Europe and of Asia ;-this host, after toils, and dangers, and sufferings innumerable, first beheld
1000 the walls of that Holy City, which was the goal of their anexampled pilgrimage.
A strange and motley host it was of either sex, of every age and land, and rank in life. To view it from afar, the eye would be attracted by the bright glancing of the sun on the gold or gilded shields, and on the bright rings of the coats of mail, and the thousand banners and ensigns of the barons floating from the ends of the slender lances, and glittering with jewels and with purple. The very sight of that resplendent host had already turned the Turks to flight without a blow. The gallant bearing of the knights, the proud pawing of the horses, and the glitter and the splendour of the whole, formed indeed a scene not soon to be forgotten.
But on a nearer view, other objects would be discerned. There was the tottering pilgrim, who could already boast of one journey to Jerusalem, and who had now come to lay his bones within the walls of the sacred city. Then the younger and lustier palmer, striving-vain hope to efface by penance the excesses of his youth. Women, for many such we are assured survived the perils of the march, the “sturdy daughters of the plough” from the Teutonic plains; the serf too, with his badge of servitude ; "the burgher or elderman of some Flemish
guild, the staunch opposer of feudal privilege; and camp followers innumerable, of every imaginable condition. Nor must the churchman be forgotten, the sleek and comely dignitary, his appearance rather impaired by the hardships of the march; and near him the hollow-eyed and emaciated brother, cowled and rope-girt, bearing the marks of fast and vigil imprinted on bis sallow cheek.
Such was the pilgrim crowd; nor must we forget to notice the sturdy host of those who came to fight. Of the greater feudatories of western Europe were a few hereafter to be described ; and besides these, a thousand lesser barons, each almost sovereign lord of some half dozen towns; then the knights on horseback, clad from head to foot in suits of closefitting ring armour, (for plate armour did not come into use till some three centuries later). The kite-shaped shield, the conical helmet, the huge two-handed sword, the dirk, the long and slender ashen spear with its head of steel, the battle axe, the ponderous mace, the spurs, and the leathern jerkin-these completed the knight's equipment. These were followed by their squires, aspirants to the same honors.
Then came the men at arms, mostly with defences of leather only, and armed with swords, axes, clubs, bows, and the treacherous cross-bow. Even the crusading chiefs themselves wondered at some of their strange recruits. One of them (Guibertus) mentions the fierce Scots, with their bare legs, their coarse rough tartans, and their long and uncut nails. Other tribes, whose tongue was a mystery to the more polished nations of the south of Europe, from the bogs of Ireland or the fiords of Norway, contrasted strangely with the Norman archer, or the Flemish man at arms.
But however much they otherwise might differ, in one point they were all alike. Every one of that vast host bore on his shoulder a conspicuous red cross of silk or cloth sewed upon the garments--or of gold; and sometimes, by the more zealous, branded in the skin as well. This was the sign of his pro fession, to remind him of his vow to free the sepulchre fron the hands of the Moslems.
Those who had survived the perils of the way are variously computed at from forty to sixty thousand, of whom abou
twenty thousand were on foot; fifteen hundred were horsemen, and the remainder consisted of the unwarlike crowd of pilgrims and camp followers, and those so reduced by sickness as to be incapable of bearing arms.
On came this motley crowd. They had toiled the day before through narrow mountain gorges, and the rocky roads near Emmaus. At midnight, jaded and wearied with the march, they had encamped. About daybreak, some horsemen who had been sent on to reconnoitre, brought the tidings that Jerusalem was just in sight, and that they had pursued some Saracens to its very walls. At the name of Jerusalem, shedding tears of joy, and forgetful of their former weariness, they hastily renewed their march. At length the mighty host climbed the last intervening hill, the heights of Beni Malik, and the gorgeous splendour of the sacred city, the city “beautiful for situation, on the sides of the north, the joy of the whole earth,” with its thousand gilded minarets and domes, and with its white mosques and churches and its massive walls, burst upon their view. The hopes and toils of years were now near their consummation. As they climbed the hill and caught the first glimpse of the towered city, moved by one impulse, they fell upon their knees, they kissed and kissed again the soil, hallowed by the footsteps of their Lord and Master, and with voices half choked by tears, they thanked him who had preserved them through the perils of their way, and the psalm of praise was wafted to the ears of the wondering Saracens who crowded the walls before them.
Leaving on their right the upper pool of Gihon, the host took up its position on the northern and western sides of the city, where alone it was open to assault. From St. Stephen's gate the line of attack extended round by the Damascus gate and Hippicus, to the Zion gate, comprehending about half the circuit of the walls. The remaining part of the ramparts was protected from attack by the precipitous sides of the ravine, at the bottom of which the winter torrent Kedron flows. This was nearly the same position as that assumed by Titus.
The several leaders took up independent positions. Opposite the church of the Holy Sepulchre floated the standard of Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, (Bologne.) Godfrey was descended from
Charlemagne, and was not unworthy of his blood. He was the commander in chief of the whole expedition, a situation to which he had been deservedly raised by his military qualities. Valour without rashness, piety without fanaticism, and his qualities of heart and head, distinguished him from the rest. In the field and in the council chamber his superiority was alike acknowledged. Under his banner were his brother Eustace, and many other of the most distinguished of the French nobility.
To the left of Godfrey were Count Robert of Flanders, a most daring soldier, and Robert of Normandy, the brother of William Rufus, whose easy indolence and love of pleasurable inactivity had excluded him from the throne of England. Robert of Normandy was posted far to the north-east, near St. Stephen's gate.
On the right of Godfrey, near the tower of Hippicus was Tancred, the perfection and pattern of all the virtues of chivalry. A courteous knight-a brave and daring soldier-he has been selected by Tasso as the centre point of the romantic portion of his poem. Tancred was a cousin of Bohemand, the leader of those Norman adventurers, who, under Robert Guiscard, had establised, by their valour, a kingdom in the south of Italy.
Raymond, Count of Thulouse, was the Nestor of the camp. He was the only one of the adventurers abundantly supplied with money, and he drew a large body of followers from Languedoc, the Pyrenees, north of Spain, Burgundy, and Northern Italy. These were the most noted of the leaders who sat down before Jerusalem; but a host of lesser predatories ranged themselves under the banner of one or other of these chiefs—barons from France, Italy, Spain, Burgundy, Flanders, Germany, England, and even half-barbarous Scotland.
Five days the crusaders rested after their long and toilsome march. This rest they needed much, for the iron coverings of the northern warriors were but ill adapted to resist the fervors of a Syrian sun in June.
The fifth day all prepared for a general assault. The Asiatics were stupified at the impetuosity with which the champions of the West rushed on to attack the walls. By their force, with
their maces and mattocks, the Christians demolished the outer wall, or barbican as it is called, and compelled the besieged to take refuge behind the defences within. They then rushed to the attack of the inner wall. They imagined vainly indeed, that the sinewy arms and athletic forms which at Antioch and Dorylæum had paved their paths with corpses, could now avail against the Cylopean masonry before them-against the huge stones quarried by Solomon or by Herod. One scaling ladder, which they had dragged from Antioch, they planted against the inner wall, and up this, regardless of almost certain death, the Crusaders climbed and exchanged sword and lance thrusts with those above. If the assailants had now been provided with the requisites for conducting a mediæval siege, Jerusalem had probably been taken before the Moslems had recovered from their first panic; but after fighting from sunrise, till past mid-day, the crusaders found that their maces and mattocks must be exchanged for more effective methods of assault.
Sounding a retreat, they called a council and resolved on the immediate construction of the necessary machines. These were moveable wooden towers, a little exceeding the walls of the besieged city in height, built of beams compactly jointed together, which they moved close to the walls of the town, in order to effect an entrance from above. They decided on the construction of two of these towers, the erection of one of which was confided to Godfrey—that of the other to Raimund. Besides these, battering rams, and machines for hurling large stones, and others for casting spears and darts, were to be constructed. But here they were met by the same difficulty which had before impeded Titus. These machines, the towers especially, would require a great number of beams of a very large size, and the country round Jerusalem is bare and almost entirely destitute of timber. At length, some Christians of the neighbouring village showed them a number of beams in a valley amidst some mountains towards Arabia, about eight miles distant; whence, with immense difficulty, they were brought by camels.
Now the carpenters and artificers of all kinds were set to work, and a busy scene presented itself—some hauling up the heavy beams with ropes, others reducing them to the required shape