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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe

II: Crusade Propaganda,   pp. 39-97 PDF (23.6 MB)

Page 43

sponsible. Self-inebriation explains the broken marriages, shattered families,
and desertions from monastic vows that he and Guibert describe. The joy with
which the deserted wives and parents saw their happiness broken is a gauge
of hysteria; so are the mass movements — so moving to posterity —
of children asking, "Is this Jerusalem?"; so are the general pictures of
men of different origins and speech congregating and set in motion like a
disturbed ants' nest." Albert of Aachen likewise speaks of the deserted towns
and castles, the empty fields and husbandless homes. 
 We need not ask if these accounts are exaggerated; hysterical accounts and
accounts of hysteria alike need explanation. It is not clear how far the
pope was responsible. Nor can we blame Peter the Hermit, whose story Albert
of Aachen particularly emphasizes without explaining it, and who, as reported,
seems to be a figure of myth.'2 His complex history of pilgrimages and visions,
his appearance as a type of the conventional ascetic, his part in the eastward
movement of rogues, fanatics, and adventurers who made up the proto-crusades
— all this declines finally into his fictional appearance in the Antioche
and Jerusalem poems, ribald, cunning, unscrupulously ambitious, idealistic,
a sort of apotheosis of the common man. The great lords, their motives equally
confused, are nevertheless more easily intelligible.'3 
 The effect of propaganda which we do not know at first hand can be judged
only from the recollections of those who went on the great pilgrimage. Of
these the simplest and most sympathetic to the modern taste are certainly
those of the author of the Gesta Francorum. His opening words speak of a
movement of evangelical simplicity: the Lord calls on men to take up the
cross — and this is conceived in terms of the gospel instruction, not
of later crusading technicalities — and there isi"powerful movement"
(motio valida) across France. The pope, the hierarchy, and priests start
to preach subtiliter that those who want to save their souls must undertake
the pilgrimage; soon the Gauls have left their homes and set off for the
east.'4 This last remark was an understatement, if the other accounts which
we have mentioned were 
 11. Guibert of Nogent, Gesta Del, II, 6 (RHC, 0cc., Iv, 142); Baidric of
Dol, Historia Jerosolimitana, I, 6 (RHC, 0cc., IV, 16). 
12. Historia Hierosolymitana, I, 2 (RHC, 0cc., IV, 272). 
 13. Richard le Pèlerin, La Chanson dMntioche, ed. Paulin Paris (Paris,
1848); and ed. Suzanne Duparc-Quioc, 2 vols. (Paris, 1976, 1978); La Conquête
de Jerusalem, ed. Célestin Hippeau (Paris, 1868); La Chanson des chétifs
(extracts) in La Chanson du Chevalier au Cygne, ed. Hippeau (Paris, 1874—1877);
Anouar Hatem, LesPoèmesepiquesdes crolsades (Paris, 1932). 
14. Gesta Francorum, ed. Louis Bréhier as Histoire anonyme de la premiere
croisade (Paris, 
1924), PP. 2—5. 

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