The Crusades

Welcome to the Dark Ages

The Crusades changed everything about the Western Worl, from the way we dressed to the things we eat, from the methods of banking to our bedroom behavior. Let’s start with an understanding what gave rise to an event; where hundreds of thousands suddenly embarked on a 3000-kilometer trek, to save the tomb of Hesus Christ. Why the wild and suicidal assault on trained armies, by peasant, women, and children; when their life was not at risk? Why the Crusades?

The world was filled with strange sounds and sights. The people were dirty and smelly, and their breath like sewer gas. Clothing was ragged and shabby, and their body odor unmasked. Living conditions appalling, and live in a castle was not much different. Hidden behind a moat, the timber gates protected by ‘portcullis’ and the rooms cold, dark and filled with grime.

The inhabitants are woefully ignorant; there are no books- no one can read anyway. They know nothing about philosophy, art or science. People look old, even so, they are only in their twenties. Women, 17 years old having 3 kids and most adults died when they reach 28.

Speaking of Sex, people mate like dogs. They don’t kiss, hug, nor engage in sweet talk. The act is performed in full view of everyone living together in the same hut. The Lord of a Manor claimed sometimes the ‘ius primae noctis’ or right of the first night.

The feudal system made sure, that the people worked the fields to produce crops and food for the overlords and were treated worse than animals. They could not hunt nor fishing. Every time when a war broke out, men had to take up arms and fight for their owner. Church and faith was their only hope for a better life after they died.

1050  –  Dawn of the Renaissance 

More or less overnight, everything changes. Traveler, coming from Egypt and what is called today ‘the Middle East’ – are bringing knowledge, wisdom and an agrarian revolution. Monasteries are built and that new knowledge is set into practice. The one item which changed Europe forever was the plow. Actually, there were three items, but they belonged together.

The wooden Plow did not last long and broke often. The shoe went to deep into the soil and had to be retrieved every now and then. The oxen choked with the rope around their neck, and horses hooves got stuck in the soil.

First relief in the bone breaking labor on the fields, was the metal Plow with an attached wheel.

The next invention adopted was to get rid of the collar around the neck of animals, who pulled the Plow. The new device, the neck strap combined with the breast band; this did not choke them anymore.

The Beginning of the End 

27th November 1095   Pope Urban II. (ex Prior from Cluny) is calling for the first crusade. By doing that he picks up the idea from the former Pope Sylvester II. (ex Gerbert of Aurillac. The 16-year-old Hugues de Payens (Champagne) participate as noble Squire on that crusade.

1104   Hugues de Payens travels again to the  Holy Land and stays there a few years. On his return, he contacts the future abbot of Citeaux Stephen Harding; who immediately changes the purpose of his monastery and from now on devotes himself to a conscientious study of holy Hebrew texts.

1140   again he travels to Jerusalem and on his return, he gives the Cistercian Stephan Harding a piece of land and forest, to found an abbey in Bar-sur-Aube.

1056 the excommunicated Bishop of Constantinople, Michael I. Cerularius ask the Pope in Rome for help and promised the Pope in Rome that he will acknowledge Rom as superior. The Byzantine Empire Alexis II. under attack by the Ottomans,  offered a tremendous payment, to European Knights; when the will come and defeat the Turks.

August 1096 the (first?) crusade of failures begins….