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Normandy. The frank, open, remiss temper of Robert was ill fitted to withstand the interested, rapacious character of William, who, supported by greater power, was still encroaching on his brother's possessions, and instigating his turbulent barons to rebellion against him. The king, having gone over to Normandy to support his partisans, ordered an army of twenty thousand men to be levied in England, and to be conducted to the seacoast, as if they were instantly to be embarked. Here Ralph Flambard, the king's minister, and the chief instrument of his extortions, exacted ten shillings apiece from them, in lieu of their service, and then dismissed them into their several counties. This money was so skilfully employed by William that it rendered him better service than he could have expected from the army. He engaged the French king by new presents to depart from the protection of Robert; and he daily bribed the Norman barons to desert his service; but was prevented from pushing his advantages by an incursion of the Welsh, which obliged him to return to England. He found no difficulty in repelling the enemy; but was not able to make any considerable impression on a country guarded by its mountainous situation. A conspiracy of his own barons, which was detected at this time, appeared a more serious concern, and engrossed all his attention. Robert Moubray, earl of Northumberland, was at the head of this combination; and he engaged in it the count d'Eu, Richard de Tunbridge, Roger de Lacy, and many others. The purpose of the conspirators was to dethrone the king, and to advance in his stead Stephen, count of Aumale, nephew to the Conqueror. William's despatch prevented the design from taking effect, and disconcerted the conspirators. Moubray made some resistance; but being taken prisoner, was attainted and thrown into confinement, where he died about thirty years after. The count d'Eu denied his concurrence in the plot; and to justify himself, "fought, in the presence of the court at Windsor, a duel with Geoffrey Bainard, who accused him. But being worsted in the combat, he was con
demned to be castrated, and to have his eyes put out. William de Alderi, another conspirator, was supposed to be treated with more rigour when he was sentenced to be hanged.
But the noise of these petty wars and commotions was quite sunk in the tumult of the crusades, which now engrossed the attention of Europe, and have ever since engaged the curiosity of mankind, as the most signal and most durable monument of human folly that has yet appeared in any age or nation. After Mahomet had, by means of his pretended revelations, united the dispersed Arabians under one head, they issued forth from their deserts in great multitudes; and being animated with zeal for their new religion, and supported by the vigour of their new government, they made deep impression on the eastern empire, which was far in the decline with regard both to military discipline and to civil policy. Jerusalem, by its situation, became one of their most early conquests; and the christians had the mortification to see the holy sepulchre, and the other places consecrated by the presence of their religious founder, fallen into the possession of infidels. But the Arabians or Saracens were so employed in military enterprises, by which they spread their empire, in a few years, from the banks of the Ganges to the straits of Gibraltar, that they had no leisure for theological controversy: and though the Alcoran, the original monument of their faith, seems to contain some violent precepts, they were much less infected with the spirit of bigotry and persecution than the indolent and speculative Greeks, who were continually refining on the several articles of their religious system. They gave little disturbance to those zealous pilgrims who daily flocked to Jerusalem; and they allowed every man, after paying a moderate tribute, to visit the holy sepulchre, to perform his religious duties, and to return in peace. But the Turcomans or Turks, a tribe of Tartars, who had embraced mahometanism, having wrested Syria from the Saracens, and having in the year 1965 made themselves masters of Jerusalem, rendered the pil
grimage much more difficult and dangerous to the christians. The barbarity of their manners, and the confusions attending their unsettled government, exposed the pilgrims to many insults, robberies, and extortions; and these zealots, returning from their meritorious fatigues and sufferings, filled all christendom with indignation against the infidels, who profaned the holy city by their presence, and derided the sacred mysteries in the very place of their completion. Gregory the seventh, among the other vast ideas which he entertained, had formed the design of uniting all the western christians against the mahometans; but the egregious and violent invasions of that pontiff on the civil power of princes had created him so many enemies, and had rendered his schemes so suspicious, that he was not able to make great progress in this' undertaking. The work was reserved for a meaner instrument, whose low condition in life exposed him to no jealousy, and whose folly was well calculated to coincide with the prevailing principles of the times.
Peter, commonly called the Hermit, a native of Amiens in Picardy, had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Being deeply affected with the dangers to which that act of piety now exposed the pilgrims, as well as with the instances of oppression under which the eastern christians laboured, he entertained the bold, and, in all appearance, impracticable project of leading into Asia, from the farthest extremities of the west, armies sufficient to subdue those potent and warlike nations which now held the holy city in subjection". He proposed his views to Martin the second, who filled the papal chair, and who, though sensible of the advantages which the head of the christian religion must reap from a religious war, and though he esteemed the blind zeal of Peter a proper means for effecting the purpose', resolved not to interpose his authority till he saw a greater probability of success. He summoned a council at Placentia, which consisted of four thousand ecclesiastics and thirty thousand seculars; and which was so numerous that no hall Gul. Tyrius, lib.i. cap. 11. M. Paris, p. 17. Gul. Tyrius, lib. i. cap. 13.
could contain the multitude, and it was necessary to hold the assembly in a plain. The harangues of the pope, and of Peter himself, representing the dismal situation of their brethren in the east, and the indignity suffered by the christian name, in allowing the holy city to remain in the hands of infidels, here found the minds of men so well prepared, that the whole multitude suddenly and violently declared for the war, and solemnly devoted themselves to perform this service, so meritorious, as they believed it, to God and religion.
But though Italy seemed thus to have zealously embraced the enterprise, Martin knew that, in order to ensure success, it was necessary to enlist the greater and more warlike nations in the same engagement; and having previously exhorted Peter to visit the chief cities and sovereigns of christendom, he summoned another council at Clermont in Auvergne. The fame of this great and pious design being now universally diffused, procured the attendance of the greatest prelates, nobles, and princes; and when the pope and the hermit renewed their pathetic exhortations, the whole assembly, as if impelled by an immediate inspiration, not moved by their preceding impressions, exclaimed with one voice, " It is the will of God, It is the will of God:" words deemed so memorable, and so much the result of a divine influence, that they were employed as the signal of rendezvous and battle in all the future exploits of those adventurers'. Men of all ranks flew to arms with the utmost ardour; and an exterior symbol too, a circumstance of chief moment, was here chosen by the devoted combatants. The sign of the cross, which had been hitherto so much revered among christians, and which, the more it was an object of reproach among the pagan world, was the more passionately cherished by them, became the badge of union, and was affixed to their right shoulder by all who enlisted themselves in this sacred warfare".
* Concil. tom. x. Concil. Clarom. M. Paris, p. 16. M. West. p. 233. Historia Bell. Sacri, tom. i. Musæi Ital.
Hist. Bell. Sacri, tom. i. Mus. Ital. Order. Vitalis, p.
Europe was at this time sunk into profound ignorance and superstition: the ecclesiastics had acquired the greatest ascendant over the human mind: the people, who, being little restrained by honour, and less by law, abandoned themselves to the worst crimes and disorders, knew of no other expiation than the observances imposed on them by their spiritual pastors: and it was easy to represent the holy war as an equivalent for all penances", and an atonement for every violation of justice and humanity. But amidst the abject superstition which now prevailed, the military spirit also had universally diffused itself; and though not supported by art or discipline, was become the general passion of the nations governed by the feudal law. All the great lords possessed the right of peace and war: they were engaged in perpetual hostilities with each other: the open country was become a scene of outrage and disorder: the cities, still mean and poor, were neither guarded by walls nor protected by privileges, and were exposed to every insult: individuals were obliged to depend for safety on their own force or their private alliances and valour was the only excellence which was held in esteem, or gave one man the pre-eminence above another. When all the particular superstitions, therefore, were here united in one great object, the ardour for military enterprises took the same direction; and Europe, impelled by its two ruling passions, was loosened, as it were, from its foundations, and seemed to precipitate itself in one united body upon the east.
All orders of men, deeming the crusades the only road to heaven, enlisted themselves under these sacred banners, and were impatient to open the way with their sword to the holy city. Nobles, artisans, peasants, even priests, enrolled their names; and to decline this meritorious service was branded with the reproach of impiety, or, what perhaps was esteemed still more disgraceful, of cowardice and pusillanimity P. The infirm and aged contributed to the expedition by presents and money; and many of them, not satisfied with the merit of this atonement, atOrder. Vitalis, p. 720. P W. Malms. p. 133.