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City. Never was that story told to more eager and sympathetic listeners. They forgot their own sorrows in the sorrows of the pilgrims. They thought nothing of their miserable homes, when they heard the desolate condition of the holy places described ; and when the hermit finished his speech, as the red flames died away into smouldering ashes, they raised tumultuous cries to be led, though they were armed with nothing but their pickaxes and spades, against the unbelievers.
And so, for more than a year, Peter the Hermit wandered from castle to church, from church to hamlet, from hamlet to city, everywhere repeating the same story, everywhere invoking vengeance on the infidel oppressor, and everywhere firing the hearts of the people with irrepressible military ardor.
In the month of November, 1095, an immense number of people gathered in the pretty town of Clermont, in Southern France. All ranks and conditions of men were represented in the motley assemblage, - solemn priests in long gowns, valiant knights cased in iron armor, soldiers carrying bows and axes, citizens with full purses, and peasants with no money and but poor garments. Pope Urban II. had called a general council to consider the sufferings of the Christians in Palestine, and to it the people flocked by thousands from all parts of France and Italy. So great was the crowd, that the town could hold but a small portion of them, and they camped out in the fields and on the hillsides around. Hundreds of tents, each with a flag fluttering from its peak, or from a staff near by, showed where the knights and nobles lay. The poorer folk gathered at night around the fires kindled in the open air, and slept with no other covering than the sky. Every day meetings were held in the fields and in the squares, where the priests preached about the sufferings of the Christians in the Holy Land, and where the people wept over those sufferings, and vowed to succor and revenge them.
On the tenth day of the council, the people began to gather, early in the morning, towards the great square of Clermont. From the hills at the base of the Puy de Dôme they poured down in a torrent, and from the plain of the Limagne they swept up in a flood. Great nobles in silken robes heavy with golden ornaments rode at the head of their vassals, their silken banners and flowing plumes waving, and their ornaments of bright gold flashing in the sunlight. Knights who had fought many a battle rode, their strong armor rattling and their long swords clanking, at the head of troops of half-armed warriors, who sang rough songs and uttered rude jests as they went. Cardinals and bishops in vestments of rich material, bright with gold and jewels, rode slowly along on their mules, attended by trains of priests, chanting hymns. Then came the rabble of people, men and women, and not a few children, running, pushing, and crowding each other to get first at the place of meeting. On they came, until the square was wedged with people, - all struggling to get closer to the great platform in the centre, which was hung with cloth of bright colors, and from the corners of which Auttered gay pennons. Heralds, with their tunics embroidered with devices, marshalled the crowd in order as they pressed into the square, and from time to time made proclamation by sound of trumpet as they were directed by the great nobles present. Messengers on swift horses pushed through the throng, and galloped from noble to noble. At last the great multitude filled the square and the streets leading to it, until there was no more room. The bishops and priests, bearing crosses of silver and gold, swinging censers of burning incense, and singing anthems and Latin hymns, passed around to the side of the platform. The nobles sat on their horses directly in front, with their men-at-arms at their back, the spear-heads of the warriors gleaming like a constellation of stars. The people of lower rank and the peasants filled up the space beyond, and pushed to get nearer the front, until driven back by the spears of the soldiers.
On the platform in the middle of the square stood a throne, and on this
sat Pope Urban, the cardinals being seated on stools and benches by his side. When the time for opening the meeting arrived, the heralds blew their trumpets, and commanded silence.
Then, from behind the Pope dressed in robes of silk and velvet, sparkling with gold and jewels, and from behind the cardinals with their furred gowns and broad red hats with hanging tassels, came a small, spare man, wearing a coarse woollen robe, tied around the waist with a woollen rope, from which hung a heavy cross. His head was bare and his feet naked. Slowly he walked to the front of the platform, for he was thin from long fastings and feeble from weary journeyings; but his eyes were keen, and lit with enthusiasm. At sight of that well-known figure a whisper ran through the crowd : " It is Peter of Amiens, — Peter the Hermit.”
Slowly and solemnly he lifted the heavy cross he wore, until it was stretched at the full length of his arms above his head. All those before him, rich and poor, bent their heads. Then his voice rang out, strong and clear: “Behold the cross of Christ, the emblem of our religion! Who here is ashamed of that holy sign? Who would not defend it with his life ?” He paused, and lowered the cross. Slowly and with tremulous voice he commenced the sad story of Christian sufferings in the Holy Land. Every head was stretched forward to listen, and every breath was hushed to catch his words. Then his tones became louder. He pictured the pilgrims, wearied with their journey, by land and sea, of hundreds or thousands of miles, seeking the places where the Saviour had walked, the hill on which he had suffered, the cave where he was buried; and the listening thousands felt as if they too had come, footsore and weary, to seek the tomb of the Lord. In sorrowful words he described the desolation of the holy places, the destruction of the temples, the desecration of the Holy Sepulchre; and every head was bowed in shame. With burning indignation he told of the barbarous indignities inflicted on priest and pilgrim, — the cruel stripes, the gloomy dungeons, the shocking deaths, that awaited the Christian in the land which gave birth to his religion. The knights drew their swords, the soldiers grasped their spears, and the peasants clutched their stout sticks with a firmer gripe.
He suddenly ceased, and turned back to his seat. The cardinals rose to make way for him, and bowed in reverence as the eloquent pilgrim passed. The immense crowd in front of the platform was greatly agitated.
Pope Urban descended from his throne, and came to the front of the platform. His commanding presence, and the splendid robes of his office, formed a striking contrast to the thin and poorly clad hermit who had just spoken. With eager attention the excited multitude awaited his decree and exhortation. They had not long to wait. With fiery eloquence he referred to the story of Christian wrongs repeated by the hermit, and then exhorted them to remedy those wrongs. He told the kings and princes to summon their armies; the knights to grasp their lances and draw their swords; the common people to string their bows and shoulder their pikes; the feeble, the women, and the children to send up their prayers, and all unite for the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the infidel. He concluded with the solemn declaration of Christ, “ He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
He had scarcely spoken the last word, when from every part of the crowd arose one tremendous shout, “ It is the will of God! It is the will of God!”
“It is the will of God,” exclaimed Pope Urban, “and, with that as your rallying cry, you shall march to victory.”
The people became wildly excited. They clamored to be led at once against the infidels. The Pope raised his hands in blessing, and the crowd knelt humbly to receive the blessing. Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, who sat on the platform, knelt before the Pope, and asked leave to join the army on its march to Palestine. The Pope gave permission, and, as a mark of the service to which he had devoted himself, fastened on the Bishop's shoulder two strips of red cloth in the form of a cross. The powerful Count of Toulouse followed the example of the Bishop of Le Puy, and also received the cross. The idea was eagerly adopted by the multitude. Priests and monks went everywhere through the crowd, fastening crosses to the shoulders and breasts of the people, blessing them, and receiving their vows to join the Crusade, or expedition in defence of the cross. Then the meeting broke up in haste, every one eager to go home and prepare for his journey to the Holy Land.
Thus originated the First Crusade.
Its history can only be briefly given here. The knights and warriors set about their preparations for the expedition; but it was a long journey to take, and the organization of so large an army as was necessary for the service was a work of much time. It was not until the summer following that the grand army was ready to march. In the mean time the common people became so excited by the preaching of the monks, that they would not wait for the soldiers. Seizing such weapons as they could procure, some being armed with swords and spears, others with bows and arrows, still others with scythes and axes, and thousands with nothing but clubs, over a hundred thousand men set out from France under the command of Peter the Hermit, a priest named Gottschalk, and a knight known as Walter the Penniless. They were a disorderly crowd, without discipline or proper leaders. Passing through Germany, Hungary, and Bulgaria, quarrelling among themselves and with the people along the way, they at last arrived at Constantinople, and passed over the straits into Asia Minor. There they attacked the Turks ; a desperate fight took place, and only three thousand out of the hundred thousand were left alive. Peter the Hermit was among those who escaped.
Late in the summer, the grand army of the Crusaders set out from France and Italy, numbering over one hundred thousand horsemen and six hundred thousand people on foot, of whom many were women. They reached the neighborhood of Constantinople in the spring of 1097, and were there joined by Peter the Hermit and the remnant of his army. Their march through Asia Minor was a succession of battles; and it was not until June, 1099, that they arrived before Jerusalem, only sixty thousand armed men remaining of the immense multitude that set out on the Crusade. For more than a month the crusaders surrounded Jerusalem, unable to effect an entrance through or over its strong walls. At last one desperate attack was made, the crusaders climbed the walls, sword in hand, shouting, Dieu le veut! or “God wills it”; the Turks were slaughtered on the walls and in the streets, and thus the first crusade ended with the capture of the Holy City.
7. H. A. Bone.
THER 'HERE was once a boy named Giles, who lived with an old aunt in an
out-of-the-way place by the side of a mountain, his father and mother being dead. Every one who knew him used to make a dupe of him because he was artless and credulous, and never had an opinion of his own. Still he was always good-natured and jolly, and, being possessed of quite a jaunty manner, he was nicknamed by his companions Corporal Giles.
One morning a mischievous comrade made him believe that, if the wool was shorn from his sheep, and set to float in the mill-pond near by, the rays of the sun would cause it tổ rise into the air and form clouds; and that myriads of fleeces could frequently be seen suspended under the blue sky, which would descend in due time to the owners, changed into precious pearls. So pleased was Giles with the idea of having the wool of his flock all converted into pearls, that he immediately commenced to cut off the crispy material and cast it into the pond. It happened that the miller was unusually busy grinding that forenoon, so that a large portion of a year's growth of the fleece of the good dame's flock, her chief support, was drawn down under the wheel and lost before the young speculator was detected in his thriftless enterprise.
The next day Giles was called up early by his aunt, and thus addressed : “I give you liberty to go into the world, and seek your fortune. You are no longer of any service to me. My crumbling bones are getting tired of being knocked about with hard work, and I shall soon lie down to rest in the grave. Our kind neighbors will make my dying bed comfortable. Go; God bless you! But take this silver thimble with you, and when you are in trouble put it on the middle finger of your left hand, and rub it in the palm of your right hand, and it will always bring the good fairy Cheer-up to assist you. But do not forget any of the directions, or it will be of no avail.” So saying, she gave him the silver thimble, and, kissing him good by, retired to her bedroom, and prayed that her nephew might meet with good success, and return to her again improved by the experience that Providence might have in store for him.
Taking with him some bread and cheese, and a bottle of beer, our young hero started off to seek his fortune in the great world. Pretty soon he heard a hen clucking to her chickens; but he supposed she said to him, “ Talk, talk, talk, talk !”
“Very well,” said Giles, “I am willing to talk, if any one will tell me what to say.”
Then he skipped along till he came to a group of alder-trees, and, espying one which was slender and straight, he cut it down with his jack-knife to make a cane ; but in doing this he startled a mocking-bird in the vicinity, who sang, as Giles thought, “What a row ! What a row !”
"Perhaps this is what I ought to say,” mused the little traveller, and he began to repeat the language of the mocking-bird. VOL. IV.