Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Legacy of Saladin Part II

When we last saw Saladin, he was riding triumphant into the Holy City. He had defeated the Christian armies and liberated most of the cities and strongholds. MOST! Saladin was not a ruthless leader, and it takes a ruthless leader to snuff out an enemy. His compassion got the best of him, and he let thousands of would be prisoners walk free. He made them pinky promise that they wouldn't start anymore wars. The Christian knights were thankful, they made their promises of peace to this hippie, and skipped away to Tyre to join the rest of the Christians who were biding their time. In a sense, Saladin himself created the next stage of the Crusades. What would be worse? Should he have destroyed his enemies like any other leader would have? Or are we thankful to see a man with never before seen compassion towards the rest of his fellow man? It's a lose-lose, unfortunately. Each way leads to bloodshed. And I have a feeling Saladin knew this and was postponing the inevitable.

Saladin knew that his good fortune would have to run out sooner or later. He had done what he set out to do. Jerusalem no longer bowed down to the Christians, and the Muslim realm was more strongly connected than it had ever been before. Once again, a leader who could have threatened his power passed away. German emperor Frederick Barbosa was about to lead another Crusade to take back those lands the Latin Christians lost until he had a heart attack on the trip east. Then, out of the distant land of England, came a man who wanted so badly to be Saladin's match but never quite lived up to his adversary. Richard the Lionheart made his way to the Middle East, and with the help of the Italian fleet and the survivors in Tyre, began to slowly make their voices heard.

The most important city that the Christians were threatening was Acre, and the differences in approaches could not have been more different. Whereas Saladin quickly stormed through his opponents, offering them safe passage along with their possessions, Richard took to a siege of Acre that lasted nearly 2 years. Saladin could have done more to stop the siege and the famine that raged inside, but his heart didn't seem in it. He finally gave up the city. Richard marched in and slayed any man, woman and child who didn't worship the same god he did. He took a big Christian piss on all the generosities Saladin had shown.

With Acre down, Richard had his sights set upon some of the other cities his predecessors had lost. But he lacked the organization and the compelling qualities that drew people to Saladin. What followed was more a battle of the mind between Richard and Saladin. Richard began somewhat courting Saladin's brother, al-Adil. He flattered the brother and suggested meetings with Saladin. He whispered things in al-Adil's ear that might make al-Adil jealous of his brother. Richard wanted to cause a rift. Saladin, on his part, refused to meet with Richard because they were currently in open war. But Sly Saladin had a confidant of his own, the Marquis Conrad, who was a rival of Richard's. He also hit Richard with the biggest of all truths: even if Richard took back some land, the Muslims would wait. They lived here. This was their home. Eventually Richard would want to go home back to England, and when he did, Saladin and his followers would be there to take it all back. Talk about about a buzzkill!

By 1192, the Latin Christians held Jaffa and their old safeguard Tyre. Saladin ruled everything else. He set up his brother in Egypt, far away, just in case Richard did succeed in putting any silly ideas in his head. A new truce was signed. Saladin's words must have gotten to Richard for he went home without much to show for his time on Crusade. He was probably hurrying back to marry Maid Marian and Robin Hood! The next year, the unthinkable happened. Saladin passed away in his favorite city of Damascus, fragile and tired. An expected flurry of fighting broke out, but his brother al-Adil, brought the Egyptian-Syrian empire back together in 1202. Thereafter was another wonderful, brief period of peace. Then, al-Adil died and the sons of Saladin tore apart what their father had built. Most prominent of these sons was al-Kamil.

Al-Kamil ruled in Cairo, his brother al-Mu'azam in Damascus. The death of their uncle not only split up the hard earned territory, but it also emboldened the French. They had taken Damietta just as al-Adil had passed on, and al-Kamil, lacking the same convictions of his father, began bargaining away the lands they held. He offered up Jerusalem a number of times to the French who were extremely suspicious and turned it down. Then, a curious friendship was struck between al-Kamil and the King of Germany, Frederick II. The latter was known for his distaste for the western Christian world. He spoke Arabic, admired the Arabic architecture, and even enjoyed worshiping with the Muslims, though he himself did not seem to lean towards any sort of religion. The two men enjoyed a close friendship, talking about religion, science, and their personal zoos. Then al-Kamil got a great idea. He didn't trust his brother over in Damascus, and he didn't much care for all the hard work his father had put into uniting the Muslim people under one cause. He decided to offer his friend Frederick the Kingdom of Jerusalem as a buffer zone between he and his brother.

I think it is important at this point in the story to stop and marvel at a man like Frederick, who, like Saladin, lived in a way that was bizarre and uncouth compared to the social standards of the day. It is incredibly refreshing to know that then, just as there is today, there existed a group of people who refused to be dictated by religion or cultural and social expectations. When you look back at history, it is easy to lump people into categories, good and bad, right and wrong. But people were complex then. We're complex now. Frederick, surrounded by intolerant zealots, was not afraid to show his appreciation of the Muslim world. Saladin who was raised in violence allowed his softer heart to take control of his actions and spared many lives. It's good to know that good dudes are on both sides.

Al-kamil's plan backfired with the death of his brother, al-Mu'azam. Suddenly, the old empire was there for his taking, and he no longer needed that buffer zone. "But," Frederick complained, "I already told the Pope and everybody I was about to get Jerusalem! Don't make me look like a doofus!" Al-kamil knew that if the empire was to come back together, and he gave away Jerusalem to the Franks, he would be criticized and could perhaps entice civil war. So the two pals decided on a cunning compromise. They faked a battle, one that Frederick had won, and al-Kamil handed over Jerusalem. They thought that they could both save face with this little bit of trickery. So in 1229, the Christians returned to power in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remained in Christian power for about fifteen years. It couldn't have held out for very long, cut off from the other Christian communities way over in the Byzantine and back in Tyre. Unfortunately for al-Kamil, the people saw through his farce and his rival from Damascus, al-Nasir, threatened to overthrow him. Al-Nasir was neutralized but he waited. In 1239, he retook Jerusalem in a surprise raid, and the Christians would never get it back. Not because of an inability or lack of trying. There loomed in the east the violent and unending seed of Ghengis Khan. The Mongols, who had successfully united many of the Turkish tribes, traveled into Syria and Egypt and laid waste to its cities. Jerusalem fell along with the others.

Crusades would continue after the loss of Jerusalem. After the Turks were converted, Muslims were everywhere. The European Christians continued to fight a losing battle. But there was never again a personality quite like Saladin, who in his love of humanity, united the people for a common goal under his selfless guidance. Saladin never cared for riches or power. He was a man who saw a need and knew he could provide that need. His name was called and he responded, not out of any earthly desire, but out of the knowledge that he was the best person. He could unite the Muslims and fight the Christians, and he could do it better than anyone else and with less bloodshed. I don't believe that Saladin ever desired his role but reluctantly accepted it, acknowledging his gifts and putting them at the feet of his God and of his people who shared that common burden of a foreign ruler. He accepted it with a grace that has not been seen since.

The Legacy of Saladin Part I



Can a historian believe in fate? Can we sift through the facts and come to the conclusion that something larger was at work? Surely it is frowned upon, for our job is to understand the truth, and relaying it. Every once and a while, however, a person or a situation seems as though it were ordained to happen. This can be seen in the life of Salad ed-Din Yusuf, or, better known as Saladin.

The greatness and goodness of Saladin is uncontested. His military prowess and his unconditional generosity are recounted by both European and Arabic historians. What is not as well-known are the circumstances that led to his elevation as the leader of the Muslim nation during the thick of the Crusades. How could a man with few connections and even fewer ambitions rise to the level of Sultan among the Arabic warriors be held in such high regard by the Frankish knights who wanted to decimate his empire? 

My first encounter with Saladin was many years ago when my friend Eric Bogan and I became increasingly interested in the Crusades. We learned of his greatness, and we highly respected him But he was only part of the picture in the puzzling saga of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Saladin and I became much more familiar in college during a course entitled “Christian-Muslim Encounters.” In this course, I had the privilege of reading Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades through Arab Eyes.  Just as the title suggests, Maalouf gives a detailed account of all our favorite stories of the Crusades, except without the religious fervor of the Latin Christians. And more importantly, it gives an intimate look at the life of Saladin and how he shaped the Middle East.

Saladin first pops up when he reluctantly follows his uncle to Egypt around 1163. The two came as a relief effort in the name of Nur al-Din, the ruler of Syria, because the King Almaric was obsessed with Egypt, and the French were thirsty for the Nile. The Egyptians did not have the power to stop it. Thus, the beginning of Saladin’s fate was sealed. When the skirmishes were over and the Christians were pushed back into the little pocket of the Middle East, Saladin found himself at the head of the one of the richest countries of the world. His uncle had passed away, and, since the country was rescued in the name of Nur al-Din, the former ruling family seemed inconsequential, though Saladin had grown close to them. 

This special relationship with the Caliphate al-Adid was a growing concern for Nur al-Din. Saladin was supposed to be supporting the latter, and the former Caliphate was a Shi’i Muslim, something that Nur al-Din had no patience for. Plus, the two were reportedly close and who knows what was going on all the way over in Egypt! So Nur al-Din demanded that his vassal condemn the Shi’i belief and the formal royal family. But Saladin had a soft heart and could not bear to hurt al-Adin in such a way. Once again, it seems fate stepped in, and the former Caliphate became very ill and passed away, just as Nur al-Din threatened to come to Egypt himself. Saladin, then ruler of Egypt, passed the formal condemnation of the religious sect without hurting anyone. But Nur al-Din had become a little too suspicious. Saladin had been afraid to face his master since he rose to power in Egypt. But before any confrontation could be arranged, Nur al-Din himself passed away, leaving as the ruler of Syria his 13 year old son. 

Saladin found himself at a crossroads. He could respect his former master and simply rule under his son and be content with his power in Egypt. But the Frankish knights were growing stronger. They still held Jerusalem, a city as religiously important to Muslims as it was to the Christians. Plus, the young boy who now “ruled” in Damascus would open many doors of suitors who craved power, and could very likely cause a large rift in the Muslim world. Saladin knew that their only chance to defeat the Christian knights was to band together. And he saw it as his responsibility to do just that. Under the pretext of tutoring Nur al-Din’s son, Saladin left Egypt and took Damascus but refused to raise a hand against Al Salih, son of his former master, and left Aleppo alone. Suddenly, Saladin was the ruler of an empire that connected Egypt to Syria. As if to further confirm his role in the world, the King of Jerusalem, Almaric, died right around this time. Saladin could only take it is a sign that this was his moment. The only person who could potentially do any damage to his empire was Emperor Manuel who sat alone and abandoned in Constantinople. Not long after Saladin left Egypt, Manuel himself died, leaving Saladin master of his own fate. 

Now Saladin was not simply a charismatic leader. He was a good and a religious person. He seemed to be constantly at odds with himself, wanting to live in peace and yet wanting to gain back the territories taken from the Muslim people. The late Almaric had been obsessed with taking Egypt, only to be thwarted by Saladin and his uncle. Now ruling Jerusalem was King Baldwin IV, a young teenager suffering from leprosy. This weakness did not go unnoticed to Saladin but he did not move. The king’s regent was a man who respected Saladin’s power, Raymond of Tripoli. Raymond’s respect of the Muslim ruler was matched only by Saladin’s benevolence towards the Christians. Neither seemed keen on bloodshed. They agreed on multiple truces and there existed for a brief time a relative peace in the Middle East

After the young Baldwin died of his afflictions, Raymond took over as ruler of Jerusalem. Again, he and Saladin tried to exist peacefully. Until, of course, the dreaded Reynald of Chatillon. These two men represent the different attitudes of the transposed Latin Christians. Raymond, and those who had come along on the first few Crusades, acknowledged the difficulties of living as an outsider surrounded by Muslims. They had come to appreciate the Muslim culture, how advanced it was in medicine and science, and were content with the land and strongholds that they had collected over the years. Reynald, however, represented the newer generation of Crusaders who had a hankerin’ for glory and land, and who thought that Muslims, no matter how scientifically advanced they were, were still infidels and should be eliminated. Again, Saladin kept an eye upon these two factions.

Reynald of Chatillon was a loose cannon. Hell-bent on razing the Muslim empire to the ground, he ignored the truces delicately put in place by Raymond and Saladin. His first offense was attacking a caravan of merchants. Saladin excused this and didn’t retaliate. Reynald was chastised, but not by Raymond. The Latin Christians grew increasingly suspicious of Raymond’s friendship with Saladin and chose instead as the king, Guy of Lusignan, an indecisive and easily persuaded man. It was not long before Reynald did the unthinkable: he attacked the holy city of Mecca. This was the last straw for Saladin. He had tried to live peacefully and had allowed the Christians under his rule pretty much alone. In fact, the most that he and Raymond, during their brief flirt with peace, had abused the opposing religions was to lay upon the believers a tax. But he could not let this go unanswered. They had broken too many promises. He began to tear through the countryside where he would earn the description, “magnanimous.”

His assault on the Christian kingdom is like nothing the world had seen, nor has seen in full since. At every site that fell under his rule, his character as a good and loving human flew much more visibly than his devotion to Islam. He allowed the Christians to walk away, unharmed, with their families and possessions intact. He did not allow the pillaging often associated with the medieval armies of that time. If the Christians did not wish to leave, like many of the Jacobites or Orthodox Christians from the east, which preferred Saladin to their Latin overseers, the mighty Sultan ordered that they be left alone. Even the Jews were safe under the protection of Saladin. He only shed blood when it was necessary. If the knights of a stronghold wouldn’t surrender straightaway, he would lay siege to the stronghold and he would fight his enemy. His prisoners were clothed and fed, much to the annoyance of his treasurers. It was never his goal to stamp out the Christian religion altogether. He wanted to regain what had been there’s before the westerners first showed up all the way back in 1099. He was even content to let them keep certain cities for themselves, a decision that would eventually come back to haunt him.

During these campaigns, Saladin and his old pal Raymond of Tripoli had struck up another agreement. In accordance of their truce, Saladin asked permission to pass through Raymond’s land in order to attack another site. Embarrassed but willing, Raymond said that Saladin could pass through as long as he left his people alone. He warned the citizens living within his boundaries to stay inside and that a Muslim army would be passing by. The Templars and Hospitallers caught wind of this agreement and rode hard to put a stop to it. They engaged Saladin’s force on Raymond’s land and were immediately crushed. But the bond between Raymond and Saladin was broken.

What followed was one of the most ingenious military moves the Crusades had seen. He tip-toed on over to Tiberias where the wife of the ashamed Raymond was living. Saladin set fire to the city but delayed on attacking the citadel where the woman was safely trapped. When the Frankish knights heard, they immediately gathered an army to finally crush Saladin. But they don’t call him Slippery Saladin for nothing! He set the trap cleverly. It was July in the desert and the Franks had many miles to travel. Saladin waited for them, perched on the edge of Lake Tiberias. He first had some of his riders go out and pester the Christian armies with arrows, just to slow them down. It worked! The next day, he sat fire to the orchards that stood before the army. This worked, too! Exhausted and literally dying of thirst, the Christians came to the village of Hittan. From there, they could see Lake Tiberias and all its shimmering glory. Between them, however, was a well-rested and juiced up army. BLAMMO! Reynald of Chatillon was beheaded, along with the majority of the Templars. Guy and many others were let go on their word that they would never take up arms against the Muslims again (they must have had their fingers crossed). 

After this crushing defeat, there was no real army to keep Saladin at bay. He had his eyes on the crown jewel: Jerusalem. Its defender, the noble Balian, had been spared from an earlier encounter with Saladin. He had given the sultan his word that he wouldn’t fight him anymore. And unlike most of the Christian knights, he intended to keep his word. But he couldn’t just give up Jerusalem. He met with Saladin and explained his predicament. Saladin understood and released him from his commitment. However, the siege of Jerusalem did not come to blows. In the end, both sides settled on a payment. A huge sum was paid for the ransom of the peoples of Jerusalem. And those who couldn’t afford to pay? Well, Saladin let them go anyway. That was just his style! The poor, the old, the widows and children, all were free to go without any sort of payment, again, to the chagrin of the treasurers. And on October 2, 1187, Saladin walked victorious through the gates of the Holy City.

But all of those prisoners he let go gathered in a little place called Tyre. And this would be the undoing of Saladin and his Muslim empire.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Do Gooders Get Lucky

It was only a matter of time. You all knew I would stumble down this road. But I promise that I will stick to the facts. We won't go chasing any buried treasure or call up T. Hanx for his opinion (though that would be amazing, huh?). We are going to venture down the dark and murky tale of the Knights Templar.

What is it about the Knights Templar that intrigues people? Why did I buy this book by Piers Paul Read when I was 16 years old and had little interest in the Medieval World? I suppose it is all the fantasy and mystery that surrounds the story. But this isn't about fantasy. I'll get my share of fantasy when I go home and listen to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on audio book! No, here we care about the facts. And, surprisingly, at least to me, the facts are even more intriguing than the myth.

As I read about the Knights of the Temple, I try to keep an open mind and forget the things that Dan Brown and Orlando Bloom tried to teach me. Pop culture wants to emphasis the bad and the mysterious. But the genesis of the Order was founded in a desire to serve, to do good. When the Christian armies finally secured Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, the crusaders figured their jobs were done. They headed home with some pockets full of loot and all of their sins forgiven! Well, those who survived anyway. This left the new Christian kingdoms with a very big problem. As the fighting men emptied from the realm, hundreds and thousands of pilgrims and sight-seers were pouring in. Baldwin and the rulers had no way to protect these people from the Saracens who seemed to be just waiting in the shadows for a chance to pounce on the Christians.

It was Count Hugh who saw the solution. And it was revolutionary. The problem was that pilgrims were being attacked, so Hugh and his chums put their heads together in order to create a police force. But they didn't want an ungodly horde of knights roaming around where Jesus had walked. So they proposed a monastic-knighthood. Up to this there were Christian knights and even military orders with Christian knights in them. But no one had ever tried to impose the classic Benedictine monastic life on military men. The idea was magical. King Baldwin saw this police force as a necessity and backed it wholeheartedly. Hugh and his cronies traveled back to Europe to get some recruits. Not only were the officially recognized by the Pope, but he once again gave his papal stamp of forgiveness to anyone who joined. The monarchs and royalty of western Europe saw the Order of the Knights of the Temple as a wonderful undertaking and gave generously to the order. Plots of land, pockets of money, and young, strapping men were given up to the order, and through the order, to the Lord.

The young men couldn't have asked for a better deal. As the order grew in numbers, it grew in wealth. Men looking for adventure, wealth, glory, or even just a stable job. With all the land endowments, the Knights of the Temple became a better administrative entity than a military force. Previously the best job one could get was within the church, but now, with the order growing, you could get a variety of jobs and work your way up to Master. Sure there were the downsides to monastic life. No sex with women. . .I'm sure there were other downsides, too. But think about it: you're just sitting around at home when some big time knights come recruiting and offer you a gig thousands of miles away. Not only will you get paid (with some possible booty to claim), you get to fight the evil Saracens AND YOU ARE FORGIVEN OF ALL YOUR SINS!! Now, I'm probably beating a dead horse with this papal decree, but you have to appreciate the religious implications of this edict. For the first time since the death of Jesus, the Christian followers had a real and tangible act they could execute that absolved their sins forever. It's baffling. The closest thing they had before the Crusades was communion. Martyrdom was close, but it meant you had to die. That was kind of a bummer. But if you took the cross and joined the order, you were forgiven and cared for. It was a young man's dream (not that kind of dream, though. They were still quasi-monks!).

And so for the first time since the fall of Rome, an organized and disciplined military force was under the direct rule of one entity, with no wavering or faltering allegiances to other barons. United under the cross of Jesus Christ and disciplined in the Benedictine tradition, the Knights Templar were formidable to say the least. And if all this wasn't enough, in 1139 Pope Innocent II let this hammer fall: The Order of the Knights of the Temple answered to no one but the Pope. What?! Do you think Innocent realized what kind of monster he just guaranteed? Policing the holy neighborhoods was one thing. But the order was growing increasingly wealthy with all the gifts the loyal European Christians were handing over. And now they were guaranteed relatively absolute autonomy wherever they went. Innocent basically told the entire world that if the Knights of the Temple get out of hand, that's my problem, not yours. And as we shall see, they became quite a handful for Jerusalem, Europe, and eventually the Pope himself.

What lesson can we learn? You can have too much of a good thing, and if you do, you can probably rule the world! So go do some good, everybody!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Urban II and His Big Blooper

For a long time I have considered Pope Urban II one of the worst villains in history. Oh, sure his repertoire doesn't quite hold a candle up to Stalin, Hitler, or Cheney. And I'd like to think that his intentions were good (they weren't) in instigating the biggest religious bloopers you'll ever see. And by blooper I mean the horrendous, murderous, manipulative, not to mention mysterious on-going holy war known affectionately as The Crusades.

Most of you probably know the basics of the Crusades. Muslims had taken Jerusalem. Christians wanted it back. All hell broke out and many people died. Plus people love to bring them up when discussing religious hypocrisy! But I'll give you a little back story that will hopefully illuminate my hatred for Urban II and his Big Bad Blooper.

Around 1085, the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus was in a pickle. He had watched the glorious eastern empire dwindle down to a very tiny kingdom. Those damn Seljuk Turks had caused some real trouble in the Arabic and Mediterranean world, and it was due to their insatiable thirst for plunder. Alexius couldn't afford to hold off the Turks because the eastern empire didn't have a real army. It was made up of mostly mercenaries (many of these ex-Vikings). But when the Turks took big chunks of Syria, they took away the main food source that fed those mercenaries. So, Alexius turned to the only people he could think of: The Pope, and his Holy Roman Empire.

This was probably a last resort for Alexius. There was some bad blood between the eastern and western Christianities. The westerners were envious of the riches and the glory that had once been theirs but had crossed the Adriatic into the Byzantine Empire. They also thought that the Greek Christianity was influenced too much by the eastern cultures. Plus, what's with all those icons?! What a bunch of weirdos! But they had an army. So Alexius struck the only chord he had in common with the west. He pleaded in the name of Christ, which connected them and should be put above their petty differences of dogma or doctrine. And, he may have played up the danger the Turks posed to the Holy Land in order to get somebody interested.

When Urban II got the message, he mulled it over carefully. To aid their western brothers would be the right thing to do. But why should he? And more importantly, how could he convince the Frankish knights and princes to buy into helping those weird eastern Christians? The second question was the answer to the first question. Since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, the enemies of the Normans and the Franks had either been conquered or retired. The Viking age was at an end. The barbarians had assimilated into western culture. Now Urban had on his hands some restless knights who knew how to fight and kill and little more. They were starting to cause some domestic trouble since they had no other outlet for their violence. And in wondering what to do with the knights, Urban schemed up a scheme so schemious that it both succeeded and backfired.

Here was the plan: Urban was going to answer Alexius's distress call. He would ask his knights and princes to make the perilous journey across land and sea to the Holy Land because God had asked them to protect it from the blasphemous Saracens. As incentives, the Church vowed to protect his land and family, absolve his debts, exempt him from taxes, and one other thing. . .what was it? . . . oh yea! Forgive his sins!! So the Pope, the successor St. Peter, the head of the Church, who in part was trying to busy some of the unruly nobility, took it upon himself to say, "Go on this trip, fight some Muslims, and everything you've done wrong will be forgiven and your spot in heaven will be guaranteed." Well, Urban got his army, but from the wrong group of people. This forgiveness, paired with the promise of alleviated debt, caught fire among the poor, the farmers and tradesmen. Often called the People's Crusade, the pilgrimage was not what Urban had in mind.

The people were duped, to be sure. Urban's manipulative plan that wasn't even meant for them took the lower class by storm. They were baited by the promises of the Church and hooked into a religious zeal that took them on a brutal trek that left many people dead in their wake. To top it off, the pesky Frankish knights that he wanted out of town stayed put. What a tremendous blooper! The poor folks had little choice but to trust in what the Church told them. And they took Jesus's words at face value and dropped everything immediately to take part in the fight against evil. So along the way, they had to pillage and plunder in order to finance the 2,000 mile journey to the Promised Land. The Christians came upon some Jews, who to the uneducated poor Christian, were indistinguishable from the Muslims, and slaughtered whole communities, stealing their food and other goods. Jewish communities all throughout Germany were brutally put to the sword as the Crusaders crossed the empire. Finally, the main force led by Peter the Hermit arrived at Constantinople. They were ordered to wait for the rest of the pilgrims to arrive before meeting the Saracens in battle, but the forces got a little too restless. They were quickly defeated by a Turkish army and the People's Crusade ended on October 21, 1096.

It was this initial bloody blunder of Peter the Hermit and his dingaling followers that seemed to rouse the knights and the armies that Urban had originally tried to put together. Whether out of the same religious zeal or, in the case of the Normans, a taste of adventure and the possibility of land or crown, the men poured into the Byzantine Empire, though Alexius made sure the armies stayed outside of the city walls of Constantinople. He didn't want those unruly Frankish knights doing anything uncouth on his turf! And after a few skirmishes, held together by the papal legate Adhemar of Le Puy, the second wave of Crusaders took Antioch and soon after, Jerusalem. But the Turkish defeat had stirred the Muslim world. And after the plague took Adhemar, the internal competitions and strife began to eat away at the Christian army.

So you see, history fans. Urban II, like many religious figures, convinced his followers to die with a promise of everlasting life. Unlike his contemporaries, though, Urban sparked an international blood bath and took advantage of every god-fearing man, be it Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Whether he intended this or not, we will probably never know. It doesn't even matter. We at History Books give Urban II the biggest thumbs down we can muster.