1251 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL FRANCE.
and his northern warriors. A peace was accordingly made, on terms altogether favorable
to the Duke of Friesland. Robert stipulated
that the young king should accept in marriage
his daughter Bertha. For she was that Bertha
who has already been mentioned as the first
wife of Philip.
It was already the daybreak of the Crusades. The reader will readily recall that
part of the narrative in the Second Book
of the present Volume wherein an account
is given of the more friendly relations which
were gradually established between the Christians and Mohammedans in the East. Nor
is it likely that the old flames of animosity
would have burst out anew if the mild mannered Saracens of the East had remained in possession of the Holy Sepulcher.
It was needed that the prejudice of race
should be added to the prejudice of religion before the ancient fires could be rekindled.
But this missing condition necessary to
wrap all Europe in a conflagration was
presently supplied in the conquest of Palestine by the Seljukian Turks. In the latter
part of the eleventh century these fierce
barbarians, themselves the followers of the
Prophet, but a very different people from
the refined and philosophical Arabs who
controlled the destinies of Islam in the South
and the West, gained possession of the city
of Jerusalem, and began a career of violence
and persecution which was almost as repugnant to the Saracens as to the Christians
themselves. What should be said of the
despicable wretches who, without compunction or fear, converted the churches of the
city of David and Christ into cow houses and stables?
The news of what was done in Palestine
created the greatest indignation and rage.
The Christian pilgrims, who escaped from the
atrocities of the Infidels in Asia, returning,
spread the story of the sacrilegious crimes done
by Turks on the followers of Christ. It will
be remembered that at this juncture of affairs
the Empire of Constantinople trembled to its
base. The menacing Turks were even then
at the threshold. The Emperor Michael VII,
distrusting his own ability to save the Greek
Empire from destruction, sent a hurried embassy to Pope Gregory VII, imploring his
aid against the common enemy. The Holy Father thereupon dispatched letters to the various Christian states of Europe, calling loudly
upon them to rally to the standard of the imperiled Cross. Meanwhile a certain Peter,
a devout monk of Picardy, had made a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There he had
been maltreated and abused according to
the manner of the conscienceless Turks.
The monk saw with indignation and shame
his countrymen and brethren insulted and
spit upon in the same manner as himself.
Going to the Christian patriarch of Jerusalem,
he laid before him the story of his wrongs.
But the patriarch was unable to redress
his grievances. He told Peter, moreover,
that the Greek Emperor was as impotent
as himself to protect the pilgrims from the
fury of the malignant Turks. The monk
thereupon returned to Italy and flung himself
before the successor of St. Peter, beseeching him to rally all Christendom against the
defilers of the tomb of Christ.
Meanwhile the Church of the West was
rent with a violent schism. In 1088 Gregory
VII. was succeeded on the papal throne by a
Benedictine monk named Otho de Lagny,
who took the title of Urban II. But Henry, Emperor of Germany, refused to recognize him, and put up Clement III as anti-pope. The latter was presently expelled by
the Romans, and he and Henry were excommunicated by Urban. In 1091 the Emperor
marched an army to Rome, restored the anti-pope, and obliged the Pope to fly into Apulia.
Two years later, however, Urban regained the
papal crown, and in 1095 called a great council at Piacenza. There were present at the
assembly two hundred bishops, three thousand
of the inferior clergy, and thirty thousand laymen.
While this great convocation was busy
with the affairs of the Church, ambassadors
arrived from Alexius Comnenus, Emperor of
the East, who joined his voice with that of
Peter of Picardy in imploring the aid of Western Europe against the Turks. Urban lent a
willing ear to the appeal, and called upon the
Christian princes to draw their swords against
the Infidels. The agitation spread everywhere.
The council of Pacenza adjourned, and the
bishops returned to their several countries,
fired with the rising spirit of crusaders. Before the end of the same year-namely, in
November of 1095-Pope Urban II called