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"A Call to Arms: A New Look at the Clermont Address"

By Dr. Audrey DeLong,
Suffolk Community College

(January 2010 Issue / PDF)

In 1906, Dana Carleton Munro published “The Speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont, 1095,”[1] one of the most important studies of this particular event. Munro attempted to reconstruct Urban II’s historic address that encouraged Christians to join the mission to retake the Holy Land from the hands of the Turks. To accomplish this reconstruction, Munro compared the four extant redactions considered credible by scholars: that of Fulchre of Chartres, (c. 1100)[2] ; Robert the Monk (c. 1107); Baldric of Borgueil (1108); and Guibert de Nogent (c. 1108) for similar themes.[3] Munro uses a consensus of his sources to establish what he considers what was ‘actually said’ at Clermont. However, Munro does not address at any length the fact that even the earliest possible date for the earliest of the accounts (that of Fulchre of Chartres) leaves a gap of five years between this miraculous speech and the first known recording of this speech. During this five year span, the journey to the Holy Land had led to the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, one year before Fulchre’s writing.

One must ask why no one apparently bothered to write down this most historic of speeches in 1095—it is a papal document, and many lesser works of Urban II, even relating to this expedition, survive—until well after the event. This time gap leaves scholars with two questions: Why not record the speech in 1095, and why record it in the period in which the four ‘authoritative’ redactors worked, the period after the victory of the First Crusade, and a time when there was little immediate need for crusaders. Not only does a five-year gap create considerable difficulties in the most conscientious of eyewitnesses, it raises questions as to the reliability of Munro’s reconstruction. This paper will attempt to consider the four redactions of the Clermont address from a new angle: that of the audience intended to receive the versions and seek to explain what motivated the Clermont redactors finally to set ink to parchment and record their versions of the seminal event. While Munro was concerned with winnowing out extraneous factors to arrive at his consensus of truth, I will consider those same speeches not in the light of historical veritas, but in terms of how they might appeal to a certain class and style of masculinity desperately needed in the Holy Land at the break of the twelfth century.

In addition to the at-least five year gap in time between Clermont and the first recording of the address casting doubt upon the literal veracity of these accounts, and, by that, of Munro’s reconstruction, other factors hint that the surviving versions of the Clermont address may not accurately reflect the event. Krey hesitates to rely on the accounts of these redactors to be an accurate representation of the Clermont address, primarily because of this gap in time. In an article proving Urban’s desire to unify the Eastern and Western churches, he dismisses the Clermont accounts as possible evidence “since none of these was written at the time and since all, furthermore, were naturally influenced by later events.”[4]

In addition, Walter Porges argues that Urban deliberately drew not upon an exclusively chivalric pool in his first claims, but upon a pervasive “latent pilgrim enthusiasm,” in his early calls for this venture.[5] That is, Urban’s use of the term peregrinus to describe would-be crusaders carried with it no specific military connotation and was meant to appeal to a broad social audience with pious aims.[6] Tyerman agrees that crusaders in the First Crusade did not view themselves as anything significantly different than armed pilgrims, indicating that most of the terms used to specifically designate crusaders, such as crucesignatus, or even the Old French verb croisier, do not appear until around 1187, in conjunction with the Third Crusade.[7] Crusaders of this first venture, then, do not seem to been viewed in other documents as radical breaks from the peregrinati of the past.

Written documents by Pope Urban, in the form of letters to the Vallombrosans and Bolognese at about the same period indicate that indeed, his initial call for support was too broad and not sufficiently restricted to fighting men. In his letter to the Bolognese, for example, Urban requires that clerics get the permission of their bishops, and husbands of their wives.[8] His letter to the Vallombrosans of a month later is even brusquer: “We have heard that some of you want to set out with the knights who are making for Jerusalem…This is the right kind of sacrifice, but it is planned by the wrong kind of person. For we were stimulating the minds of knights to go on this expedition….”[9] The need for such a restriction acknowledges that too many non-combatants were rushing to swell crusader ranks. Marcus Bull points out that the heavy cavalry represented by the eleventh century knight would have required a whole host of people—from laundresses to armorers—to keep him in action.[10] Those “wrong kind of persons” to whom Urban refers in the letter to the Vallombrosans may very well have been precisely the support personnel needed. Either Urban was woefully naïve as to the size of the expedition he’d promoted, which is unlikely since, as Jonathan Riley-Smith argues, Urban came from the noble class himself,[11] or he had indeed not been sufficiently restrictive in the open field outside Clermont. Almost all crusader scholars feel that Urban’s intent was solely to rouse a military class; but with the large amount of support personnel needed to keep one knight in operating conditions in the medieval battlefield, it is perhaps unrealistic to imagine that Urban’s sole focus at Clermont (where his audience was, almost definitely, not solely secular knights) was to stir up the knights as the four authoritative redactions portray.

The Redactors
It is generally agreed that Fulchre, Robert and Baldric were physically present at Clermont.[12] Beyond that, Fulchre is the only one of the redactors who was himself a crusader, the only writer who went along on the expedition and stayed in the Holy Land after the Fall of Jerusalem. Of the other three, Robert the Monk (also known as Robert of Rheims) spent his life in monastic seclusion. Guibert and Baldric were both also monks on the continent: Guibert serving as abbot of Nogent, Baldric eventually rising to the Archbishopric of Dol.[13]

While the last three monastics did not have Fulchre’s direct experience, at least two of them were probably present at Clermont. Fulchre’s account, though part of his larger work, the Historia Iherosolymitana, is characterized by Munro as “very brief;” indeed, it is roughly half the length of the other accounts. Riley-Smith speculates that some of Fulchre’s omissions might have resulted from the fact that the part of the expedition he was on detoured from the road to Jerusalem to conquer Edessa.[14] Thus, some of the material that Fulchre omits, notably that which states Jerusalem itself as the ultimate goal of the venture, might be the result of his agenda: Should Fulchre admit that Jerusalem was the primary goal of the crusade (as opposed to a generalized liberation of the Holy Land), then Fulchre and his companions commit a grievous and materialistic error in their Edessan venture. While Fulchre’s firsthand experience in the expedition may have given him direct access to more material than his fellow, sequestered, writers, he also has considerable inducement to cover motives of greed. Fulchre’s firsthand crusading knowledge might have given him a certain cachet with his readers, but it also casts doubt on the absolute reliability of his account.

Fulchre’s monastic compeers may also have had agendas to disguise, but their motives were not so overtly self-interested. At the very least, each of the redactors will try to create the expedition as a crusade, a movement of unanimous motive and divine will. Ruth Morse states about medieval history in general, “Particularly when ‘events’ came to be thought of as a method of interpreting God’s purpose in guiding human history toward its eschatological conclusion, what the events signified went well beyond what they were.”[15] Certainly no event could be a more clear example of ‘God’s purpose in guiding human history’ than the First Crusade. The monastic redactors were seeking to recreate the event at Clermont from the perspective of a perceived ‘eschatological conclusion.’ Less important, then, to all of these writers is what Urban II actually said; more important is what the speech came to signify and how it signified.

In these speeches, then, we can trace what the First Crusade itself came to mean after the fact. In some ways, this is more illuminating than Munro’s work in attempting to reconstruct the speech, because the past sometimes has its meaning remade in eschatological terms. The redactions of Fulchre and the others can be seen as reflecting the backward-looking interests of a nascent chivalric masculinity in need of support.

Masculine Appeal
One interest reflected in these speeches is the notion of patrimony. Patrimony, both in terms of property and race, bore considerable freight, as both a legacy to oneself and an obligation. The crusade expedition offers a chance at both patrilineal worthiness and patrimonial inheritance.

For example, when Guibert de Nogent compares the crusaders to the Old Testament Maccabees (“If once upon a time the Maccabees received great praise for their piety, because they fought for the sacred rituals and the Temple, then to you, O Christian soldiers, it will be granted that you defend the freedom of your homeland.”)[16] he creates the crusader as a legitimate descendant of the Biblical Maccabee. This descent is legitimated through behavioral resonance—just as the Maccabees did, so can the crusader, creating a link that transcends or at least subsumes bloodline. The Holy Land is figured here as the real “patria,” the father-country of heroes both biblical and medieval, a patrimony to be claimed by proper martial behavior as exemplified by the Maccabees. The patria can also echo the notion of the land of Christian God as Pater, with the Crusaders as his special, chosen sons. Noble descent, noble ancestry, lays upon the descendant a requirement to live up to this heroic behavior.

Robert the Monk literalizes the patrilineal obligation of the crusaders in his version of Urban’s speech by linking their mission to the exploits of Charlemagne, the great Frankish Emperor and literary hero. As the heirs of Charlemagne, Robert’s patrimonial ties are even more direct and racial in form. Robert begs that stories of their ancestors, especially Charlemagne, excite and incite the audience to emulation:

“May the deeds of your predecessors move you and incite your spirits toward virility, the worth and greatness of King Charlemagne and Louis his son, and others of your kings, who destroyed kingdoms of Turks and into them stretched the borders of the Holy Church.”[17]

Not only are they to be stirred to virilitas by these stories, the stories Robert explicitly refers them to are stories of Christian expansionism—Charles and these other unnamed noble predecessors engaged in a similar war against Turks for the enlargement of Christianity. Calling to mind these stories stirs up virilitas (such as the possibly-apocryphal account of William having a version of the Song of Roland recited to his men before Hastings) in general; in this case, it also demonstrates a top-down transmission of an emulatory racial virilitas where kings metonymically represent the masculine virtues of their whole people.

Even more bluntly, perhaps, Robert goes on to address the audience in this way, “O most strong soldiers, and descendants of unconquered parents, do not wish to be degenerate, but recall to yourselves their great virtues.”[18] The burden of patrimonial and racial superiority brings an obligation to live up to one’s forebears, lest one be degenerate (degenerare). This time, Robert calls upon his audience not only to consider their racial superiority (as descendants of Charlemagne) but to recall to themselves perhaps their own patrilineage and attendant obligation.

Such a legacy surely adds a burden of performance upon the crusaders, a sense that they are superior to others, and must utilize their superiority to protect the weak and punish the evil. Fulchre has Urban address his audience as praeco Christi, heralds of Christ, hinting that this bond is superior and divine. Robert of Rheims begins his account of Urban’s speech, “Frankish people, people from beyond the mountains, people, such that in your many deeds it shines out that you are beloved and chosen by God, so distinguished by your lands as in your catholic faith and in the honor of the holy church.”[19]

The Franks are, in short, God’s chosen people. Robert goes further, asking “Therefore, on whom is the labor of revenge, and this rescue, if not on you whom before all others God has granted honor of glory in arms, greatness of spirit, agility of body, and the strength to humble the heads of any who resist you?”[20] Franks, in Robert’s mind, have a duty borne of their divine inheritance, to aid in the mission. Robert breaks down God’s honoring of the Franks into four categories: glory at arms, greatness of spirit, agility of body, and strength/virtue to humble enemies. Through these four qualities, all distinctly the province of martial masculinity, the Franks shine as the superior choice for this venture.

The vicious predations of the Turks is another constant thread in these speeches, as Munro notes.[21] Going further than Munro, who argues merely that this theme must have been, then, actually spoken at Clermont, one can argue that the presentation of Turkish barbarity is used in a certain way—to stir up another obligation of martial masculinity, the need to protect the weak.

Robert includes a lurid account of the pillaging and torture of citizens, the defilement of holy places, the idea that the Turks use torture of their Christian captives as a kind of sport or entertainment.[22] Piggybacking onto this graphic account, he adds, “What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent.”[23] Coming after such a grotesque description, suddenly to claim horrified silence underscores the atrocity of rape. This horror of rape may have as much to do with fears of miscegenation as of the violation of a class of people (women) who are supposed to be protected. Baldric describes the Easterners as being driven from their lands “either subjected in their inherited homes to other masters, or are driven from them, or they come as beggars among us; or, which is far worse, they are flogged and exiled as slaves for sale in their own land.”[24] While Robert underscores the graphic physical suffering of his innocent victims, Baldric, interestingly, concentrates on the suffering as a loss of property rights in the one extreme, and loss of freedom at the other. Nonetheless, Baldric insists that these matters should concern Westerners, for the Eastern Christians were, “Christian blood, redeemed by the blood of Christ…and Christian flesh, akin to the flesh of Christ,…subjected to unspeakable degradation and servitude.”[25] Even Guibert relates the horrors perpetrated on innocent pilgrims:

“They (Turks) not only demanded money of them, which is not an unendurable punishment, but also examined the callouses of their heels, cutting them open and folding back the skin, lest, perchance, they had sewed something there. Their unspeakable cruelty was carried on even to the point of giving them scammony to drink until they vomited, or even burst their bowels, because they thought the wretches had swallowed gold or silver; or, horrible to say, they cut their bowels open with a sword and, spreading out the folds of the intestines, with frightful mutilation disclosed whatever nature held there in secret.”[26]

Guibert’s focus, on the torments visited upon Western pilgrims, connects the crusade venture with people more intimate to potential crusaders—not just foreigners whom the crusader has never met, who after all belong to a quite different church, but to his own kind, on a spiritual venture such as he may himself one day seek. While the blasphemous nature of Turkish actions is mentioned, the redactors choose to focus on actual, physical torment of human bodies. Moreover, the Turks are painted as greedy—they torture not merely for the fun of it, but out of a desire for the gold they believe innocent pilgrims carry. They attack the weak and for motives of mere profit.

Torture of the weak is not to be tolerated, and the natural superiority of the Westerner, particularly the Frank (discussed above) carried with it the obligation to protect. But this protective obligation did not extend merely to people. The Church itself (Ecclesia) is figured as a female in need of rescue. Baldric exhorts, “The Holy Church has reserved a soldiery for herself to help her people, but you debase her wickedly to her hurt.”[27] Robert figures Jerusalem as a woman begging for aid, “She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms.”[28] The dispossessed female, begging for a champion to regain her rightful lands and stature will become a common trope in chivalric literature. Here, the Church, or the Church’s holiest home, Jerusalem, is the woman crying out for a worthy champion to rescue her.

Another form of patrimonial descent is material inheritance—which is money and property, yes, but money and property removed from the taint of greed by being inherited. While the Turks pillage for their own financial gain, crusaders can pursue an inheritance cleanly, provided they prove themselves worthy of it. In short, crusaders earn their gains through their prowess.

This theme appears in several accounts of the Clermont address. Robert, along with Guibert de Nogent and to a lesser degree Baldric, applies the concept of inheritance literally to the Eastern lands themselves. The Holy Land was seen as a special type of land inheritance, set aside by God for his chosen people, here defined as those who would come to his aid.[29] This inheritance theme creates a chain of transferal, from God, to his Son, and down to his special sons, the crusaders themselves, who must prove themselves worthy by this venture. Christian birthright, not just physical safety, then, is in jeopardy.

Guibert sketches the Holy Land directly as inheritance:

“If this land is the inheritance of God and the holy temple, before the Lord walked and appeared there, which is read in holy and prophetic writings, what holiness, what reverence, has been obtained when God by means of his majesty walk, was nourished, and grew up there…?”[30]

The land was sacred to God before the New Testament, and further sanctified by Christ’s incarnation and daily contact there. Baldric promises, “The supplies of the enemy will be yours, for…you will despoil their treasuries,”[31] that the crusaders will gain material treasure as a result of their venture. Robert of Rheims describes the Holy Land as “the navel of the world; the land fruitful above all others, like another paradise of delights.”[32] He promises this land as inheritance to the crusaders: “That land…which ‘floweth with milk and honey,’ was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel.”[33] The Holy Land itself stands, then, as a patrimony to the worthy Franks, a birthright threatened by the incursions of the barbarian Turks.

The rewards promised by this venture went beyond even money and property. Fulchre promises that crusaders will win a “double honor” by exerting themselves in the crusade.[34] Baldric is even more explicit as to the possible outcomes for crusaders: “Either you will return victorious, or empurpled with your blood, having inherited the eternal prize.”[35] Robert is more circumspect, using the idea of reward as an inducement to cut ties which might prevent a potential crusader from joining the expedition. Quoting Matthew 19:29, he hints that the reward of the expedition, the reward for leaving behind family and friend, will be the “hundredfold” reward, and the “life everlasting.” Later he conflates glory with salvation: “Accordingly, undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.”[36] More is at stake than mere material recompense—both honor and spiritual salvation reveal themselves in these accounts as the ‘true’ rewards of the venture.

Thus far, we have seen patrimony, both in terms of innate abilities and material inheritance, used as a lure for crusaders. We have also seen vicious tortures used by the Turks upon the weak and dispossessed as a further inducement, and everlasting honor as a prize. The redactors have thus far created an attractive case for the secular warrior. The crusader would be following familiar patterns of lineage, protection, racial superiority and the promise of physical inheritance that were motives behind the secular wars rife in the eleventh century. However, the redactors were all careful to distance themselves, and those they presume to call, from the commonplace wars in Europe.

Baldric is the most forthright; directly addressing his complaints to his audience:

“Truly, you do not hold the way which leads to health and life, you oppressors of orphans, you robbers of widows, you homicides, you sacrilegious ones, you stealers of the rights of others. You expect for the spilling of the blood of Christ the wages of banditry; and as vultures scent cadavers, thus from distant parts you start out and hunt for wars.”[37]

His audience violates the rules of family and racial inheritance, and wastes their God-given prowess upon something even worse than killing other Christians—they bully widows and orphans, the pauperes of medieval society, those in most need of protection. These warriors do not stop there: they commit sacrilege and homicide. Sharing the same Christian blood, killing is not only a form of sacrilege, but a violation of the family bond—killing their ‘brothers in Christ’. The benefit of these abuses of the weak, despoiling of justice, and Christian-killing is again mere coins, the latrocinantium stipendia, the wages of thieves. Finally, according to Baldric, they lose their status as human beings entirely, devolving into vultures, carrion birds with no higher purpose than to discover and hunt after war. This demotion from human status removes the warrior from any claim to right—the vulture-as-warrior is not concerned with the causus belli, merely the fruits thereof, echoing Guibert’s portrait of the greedy Turks.

Robert invokes an expansionist motif: “this land which you inhabit…is too narrow for your large population…. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, that frequently you perish by mutual wounds.”[38] The current strife in Europe, he hints, is caused by overpopulation, and can, and should be properly channeled abroad.

Fulchre of Chartres has Urban highlight the difference between his warriors (crusaders) and the non-crusader:

“Now you are soldiers, who formerly were brigands. Now you will fight justly against barbarians, where once you contended with brothers and blood-relations. Now you have gained the eternal prize, who formerly for a few scant coins were mercenaries.”[39]

The crusader is contrasted with the raptor, quite possibly his former self. The crusade’s redemptive power has turned the raptor into the miles. The distinction between the two states rests in the choice of enemy and motive: the raptor fights his relations and ‘consanguineos’ (which blood may be the blood of Christ—Christians shedding the blood of other Christian); violating family structure. He also fights for a few coins—a temporal and paltry remuneration. His crusading counterpart, or his redeemed self, fights not family but barbarus, foreigners, barbarians, those outside of the family of the Church; and fights for eternal rewards.

Guibert also deplores the current state of soldiering and proposes a more worthy and honorable alternative:

“You have thus far waged unjust wars, at one time and another; you have brandished mad weapons to your mutual destruction, for no other reason than covetousness and pride, as a result of which you have deserved eternal death and damnation. We now hold out to you wars which contain the glorious reward of martyrdom, which will retain that title of praise now and forever.”[40]

Unlike Baldric, he does not directly accuse the soldiers of sacrilege, though by hinting at certa damnationis he strikes the chord of fear. He promises the crusade as a redemptive venture, which will wipe away all previous transgressions of warfare and win eternal praise, which similarly resonates with Fulcher’s notion of a doubled honor of the secular warrior.

In these snapshots contrasting secular and spiritual warfare, appeals are repeatedly coded along a gendered spectrum. All four directly address the audience in the second person. You, they state, have done wrong. In this accusation, however, is the seed of redemption—though you have done wrong in the past, now you can win a worthier prize for your efforts.

Coded into the remuneration offered by all is a notion of permanence. Those few coins won as the work of thieves or mercenaries, those paucis solidis, will not last long. This new reward, by contrast, is eternal. Additionally, as the secular warrior class would have intuitively known, honor is, partially due to its intangibility, frangible. One may gain honor one day, but lose it the next. Almost no certain way exists to safely and permanently extend honor, save, of course, death in its pursuit. Martyrdom, especially, promises a solidified, concrete form of honor that is everlasting, never needing to be renewed. Martyrdom is a double-valanced term, resonating on both a Christian and masculine frequency, the “duplici honore” of Fulchre’s exhortation. Thus while Guibert’s glorious martyrdom does not seem particularly inviting, through the lens of warrior masculinity, martyrdom promises eternal honor even more than eternal life.

The Situation in the Holy Land
Before we can finally answer the questions posed at the beginning of this essay—“why not then?” and “why now?”—we must take one more detour into the situation in the Holy Land after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. At the time all four recorded their impressions of the Clermont address, between c.1100 and c.1109, the Holy Land was relatively peaceful: Antioch, Edessa and Jerusalem were all in Crusader hands. After the victory of the First Crusade, the newly established Latin Kingdom lacked a pressing religious impetus to draw new crusaders, but still needed to solidify their holdings from constant harryings from the Seljuks, Armenians and even Byzantine forces.[41] With only tactical but not spiritual need for expansion, the supply of fighters was drying up. Jonathan Phillips has noted that after the victory in Jerusalem, many of the crusaders, instead of staying in the Holy Land to carve out new lands and lives, returned home, their vows fulfilled, and leaving the new realm with a pitifully small defensive force.[42] After the dust settled from the fracas of who would be in charge in Jerusalem, Godfrey, the winner, found himself woefully undermanned. When Robert of Flanders and Robert of Normandy set themselves to return to the West, Michael Foss states,

“Despite bad feelings among the leaders, Godfrey begged the outgoing princes to speak well for Jerusalem when they returned to the West and to urge western knights and pilgrims to come and help maintain the Christian grip on Palestine and the Holy City for the Christians were still in danger.”[43]

Godfrey would not have put himself willingly in the position of begging for reinforcements were the need not truly dire. Godfrey was forced later to make a shaky peace with his cousin Baldwin and the fractious Bohemond of Edessa, so that when they left from their ceremonial visit to Jerusalem, he had cajoled them into leaving him with some of their knights. Above all, the crusaders had no sea-power, which they had learned to their dismay during the long siege at Antioch, so Godfrey found himself forced to treat with various factions of Italians—deposing his own Patriarch in favor of the Pisan Daimbert to secure use of the Pisan fleet to help blockade coastal cities.[44] While the Seljuks were scattered to the north and the Fatimids were momentarily neutralized after Askalon, all was still not well in the new lands. Though fractured, Muslim resistance continued. Runciman tells of Godfrey’s involvement in helping Tancred, the adventuring nephew of Bohemond and self-styled Prince of Galilee, against an emir known only as the “Fat Peasant.”[45] The Frankish rulers of Edessa had constant conflict with indigenous Armenian warlords, and the Byzantines were eager to press their claim on cities like Antioch. From all sides, then, the fragile kingdom stood ill-at-ease.

Chronicles bear this out. Fulchre, joining Baldwin of Edessa on his visit to Jerusalem, complains: “Often some were killed by Saracens lying in ambush around the narrow passages, or were abducted by them when they were seeking victuals.”[46] Writing later, William of Tyre will lament, “The entire surrounding country was full of infidel Saracens, who were the cruelest enemies of our people. And these were all the more dangerous because they were so close at hand….”[47] The crusader kingdoms were far from secure; also far from being independent. They held no major seaport for vital resupplies, and as Fulchre’s account indicates, even the allegedly ‘controlled’ roads from Edessa to Jerusalem exposed even an armed force to great peril.

By July of 1100, Godfrey is dead, and another power struggle begins, this time between his brother Baldwin (formerly of Edessa) and Daimbert. Baldwin himself will spend most of his own short reign skirmishing. Antioch lost its own strong military leader when Bohemond was taken prisoner by Danishmend. Meanwhile another, lesser crusade (1101-2) had launched from the West, ostensibly to help the flagging manpower of the East, but got itself handily massacred after the Lombard contingent diverted the expedition to rescue the then-imprisoned Bohemond of Antioch.[48] The Crusade of 1101 (as it is sometimes called) reveals the recognition from the West of a need for reinforcing troops to garrison and hold the Holy Land.

Pope Paschal, Urban’s successor, took official note. In a 1099 letter he exhorts the clergy of Gaul to “urge, therefore, all the soldiers of your region to strive for remission and forgiveness of their sins by hastening to our Mother Church of the East; especially compel those who have assumed the sign of the cross in pledge to hasten thither.”[49] He goes on to single out those who had not fulfilled the letter of their vows for special castigation. Paschal’s exhortation shows that not only was the West aware of needs for knights in the East, it utilized a specifically masculine shame of vow-breaking to push crusaders (such as, most famously, Stephen of Blois) back to the fight.

Through the study of these versions of the Clermont speech, a clear picture of the audience begins to take shape. They are knights who had been fighting continental wars, for monetary gain. They share a code of behavior that the redactors will manipulate to direct them toward the crusade as a masculine enterprise, promising them everlasting glory as well as treasure and proper exercise of their masculine virtu. They need worthy opponents (not orphans or fellow Christians), an obligation toward proper use of prowess (toward defense of the weak, against mere material reward), racial inheritance of powers, and honor.

Written as they were in the wake of the great success of the First Crusade, but in the chop of consolidating a realm while woefully undermanned for the task, the reconstructions of the Clermont address seem less interested in historical accuracy of that November afternoon than in calling forth a new audience, the readers of these histories, to take up the mantle of the First Crusaders, motivated by knightly virtues as much as, if not more than, religious ones. Thus, each redactor addresses a specifically knightly class in the second person, and highlights themes of patrimony, racial inheritance and obligation, and honor. Even when the redactors venture into the territory of sins, the sins they focus on are sins of knights—oppressing orphans, killing other Christians.

At last, we can begin to answer the two questions posed at the beginning of this essay—‘why not?’ in 1095, and ‘why now?’ in 1100 and after. Following Morse’s theory that history needs to have some narrative, overarching, eschatological aim, part of the answer rests on the redactors waiting until ‘what it all meant’ revealed itself. Certainly having the First Crusade end in such success offered some impetus to record Clermont as prophetic. The enterprise was so new, so different for the mainstream knight (though authorization and support for it had been building in the Papacy for some time), that contemporaries might not have known quite what to make of it. And after the tremendous debacle of Peter’s crusade, a conservative monastic might have waited to see if this second expedition received the same unhappy fate.

The evolving history also offers another clue as to the timing of the four ‘canonical’ versions. Marcus Bull states that knighthood as it is popularly understood does not exist prior to the twelfth century[50] --the Clermont redactors find themselves at the very beginning of this surge, bridging the gap between pre-chivalry and the knight of popular imagination. The rise in stature of knighthood, redeemed at least as much by the ideology promoted by the crusade as by technological advances in warcraft, which elevated the heavy cavalry to the prestige class of the military, will soon after blossom into the institution of the Military Orders. The first of these orders, the Templars, will form officially in 1120, creating as near an apotheosis of knighthood as possible, where knighthood becomes synonymous with religious service.

The desperate need for fighters in the East to consolidate the new kingdom is another factor that may have weighed into the reconstructions of the Clermont address. Three of the redactors were western monastics, writing histories intended for public consumption. It is no large stretch, then, to consider that they may have been engaged in a rhetorical recruitment from the very audience most likely to be reached by these histories.

Seen retrospectively, the versions of the Clermont speech interpellate an audience responsive to both secular and religious interests, where military service itself becomes redeemed as a spiritual exercise. The speeches create a logical stepping-stone in the development of crusade ideology from the peregrinus to the crucesignatus, that will bear fruit in the form of the Military Orders. Only in Urban’s later writings does he seem to clarify or hone his address solely to the martial class, implying that his initial speech at Clermont could not have been so narrowly targeted as these redactors make it. Each of the four redactors recreates in the Clermont address the imagined audience of knights awaiting just such a redemptive enterprise and promotes the crusade along lines that secular martial masculinity would clearly have recognized as its own familiar province: inheritance, patrimony, family, and honor. Re-envisioning the past, the Clermont speech also invents an audience combining the best of martial masculinity and the highest ideals of the Church.

[1] Dana Carleton Munro, “The Speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont, 1095,” The American Historical Review, 11 (2): 231-242.

[2] Although Munro feels that Fulchre’s chronicle was started no later than 1100, Edward Peters posits that the text was not begun until 1101 at the earliest. (Peters, p. 47.)

[3] Munro also utilized William of Malmesbury, but later scholars have dismissed his value as an original source of the Clermont address.

[4] A. C. Krey, “Urban’s Crusade—Success or Failure,” The American Historical Review, 53 (2): p. 236.

[5] Walter Porges, “The Clergy, the Poor and the Non-Combatants on the First Crusade,” Speculum, 20 (1946): p.1.

[6] ibid.

[7] Christopher Tyerman, The Invention of the Crusades, (Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1998), p. 27. The first chapter of this book, “Were There Any Crusades in the Twelfth Century?” spells his point out in more depth than I can do justice to here.

[8] In Edward Peters, ed., The First Crusade, 2nd edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), p. 44. This restriction—that husbands must ask their wives for permission—will remain in place until Innocent III lifts it in the thirteenth century.

[9] In Peters, p. 44-5.

[10] Marcus Bull, “Origins,” The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 22.

[11] Jonathan Riley-Smith, “The Crusading Movement and Historians,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, p.1.

[12] in Munro, citing Hagenmeyer, and again in Louise and Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: Idea and Reality 1095-1274, (New York: Edward Arnold, 1981), p.45. Munro argues for Guibert’s presence at Clermont as well, but later scholars have cast this into doubt.

[13] Edward Peters notes in his headnote to the newest edition of his collection of translated documents The First Crusade that, “Baldric depended heavily on the Gesta. His version indicates the theological rewriting and rethinking of the original sermon from a post-conquest perspective.” (p. 29)

[14] Jonathan Riley-Smith. The Crusades: Idea and Reality, p. 41.

[15] Ruth Morse, Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages: Rhetoric, Representation and Reality. (New York: Cambridge University Press), 1991, p. 89.

[16] “Guibertus Novigentus, “Historia qua dicitur Gesta Dei per Francos,” Patrologia Latina, Vol. 156, Col 0700A. “Si machabaies olim at maximam profuit pieties laudem, quia pro caeremoniis et templo pugnarunt, et vobis, o milites Christiani, legitime conceditur ut armorum studio libertatem patriae defendatis.” [This and all following translations mine.]

[17] Robertus Monachus s. Remigii, “Historia Hierosolymitana,” Patrologia Latina, Vol. 155, Col. 0671D. “Moveant vos et incident animos vestros ad virilitatem gesta praedecessorum, probitas et magnitude Caroli Magni Regis, et Ludovici filii eius, aliorumque regum vestrorum, qui regna Turcorum destruxerunt, et in eis fines sanctae Ecclesiae dilataverunt.”

[18] Robertus Monachus s. Remigii, Vol 155, Col. 0671D. “O fortissimi milites, et invictorum propago parentum, nolite degenerare, sed virtutes majorum vestrorum reminiscimini.”

[19] Robertus Monachus s. Remigii, “Historia Iherosolymitana,” Patrologia Latina, Vol. 155, Col 0671B. “Gens Francorum, gens transmontana, gens, sicut in pluribus vestries elucet operibus, a Deo dilecta et electa tam situ terrarium quem fide catholica quam honore sanctae Ecclesiae.”

[20] Robertus Monachus, Col 0671C.

[21] Munro, p. 237.

[22] “When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of their intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow.” (In Peters, p. 27).

[23] Ibid.

[24] In Peters, p. 29.

[25] Ibid.

[26] In Peters, p. 36-7.

[27] In Peters, p. 31.

[28] In Peters, p. 28.

[29] Riley-Smith, The Crusades: Idea and Reality, p. 45.

[30] Guibert de Nogent, “Historia quae dicitur Gesta Dei per Francos.” In Recueil des historiens des croisades, Vol IV. Historiens occidentaux, (Paris, Académe des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1844-96), pp. 138-9. “sic enim haec terra Dei haeredites et templum sanctum antequam ibi obambularet ac paterentur Dominus, in sacris et propheticis paginis legitur, quid sanctitatis, quid reverentiae obtinuisse tunc creditor quum Deus majestatis ibidem incorporatur, nutritur, adolescit?”

[31] Baldricus Dolensis, Archepiscopus, “Historia Jeruslaem,” Patrologia Latina, Vol 166, Col 1068C. “Facultates etiam inimicorum vestrae erutn: quoniam…illorum thesaurus exspoliabitis.”

[32] In Peters, p. 28.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Fulcherus Cartonensis, “Historia Hierosolymitana,” Patrologia Latina, Vol 155, Col 0828B. “Pro honore duplici laborent, qui pro detrimento corporis et animae se fatigabant.”

[35] Baldricus Dolensis, Col 1068C. “vel victoriosi ad propria remeabatis, vel sanguine vestro purpurati, perrene bravium adipiscemini.”

[36] In Peters, p. 28

[37] Baldricus Dolensis, “Historia Jerusalem,” Vol 166, Col 1068A. “Vere non tenetis viam per quam eatis ad salutem et vitam, vos pupillorum oppressores, vos viduarum praedones, vos homicidae, vos sacrilegi, vos aliene juris disruptores; vos pro effundendo sanguine Christiano exspctatis latrocinantium stipendia; et sicut vultures odorantur cadavera, sic longinquarum partium auspicamini et spectamini bella.”

[38] In Peters, p. 28.

[39] Fulcherus Cartonensis, “Historia Hierosolymitana,” Patrologia Latina, Vol 155. Col, 0828B. “Nunc fiat milites qui dudem exstiterunt raptores. Nunc rite contra barbaros pungnent, qui olim contra fraters et consanguineos dimicabant. Nunc aeterna praemia nancsiscantur, qui dudm pro solidis paucis mercenarii fuerunt.”

[40] Translation in Peters, p. 34. Guibertus Novigentus, “Historia quae dicitur Gesta Dei per Francos,” Patrologia Latina, Vol 156, Col 0700A. “Indebita hactenus bella gessistis, in mutuas caedes, vesana aliquotiens tela solius cupiditatis aut superbia causis torsistis; ex, quo perpetuos interitus, et certa damnationis exitia meruistis. Nunc vobis vella proponimus quae in se habent gloriosum martyrii munus, quibus restat prasentis et aeternae laudis titulus.”

[41] Jonathan Phillips, “The Latin East: 1098-1291,” The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, edited by Jonathan Riley-Smith, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 113.

[42] Jonathan Phillips, “The Latin East: 1098-1291,” The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusade, edited by Jonathan Riley-Smith, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 113.

[43] Michael Foss, People of the First Crusade, (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1997), pp. 194-5.

[44] Steven Runciman, History of the Crusades Volume I: The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 308.

[45] Runciman, p. 310.

[46] In Peters, p. 98.

[47] In Foss, p. 199.

[48] Zoe Oldenbourg, The Crusades, (New York: Phoenix Press, 2001), pp. 177-9.

[49] In Peters, p. 297.

[50] Bull, “Origins,” p. 22.