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Synopsis

The First Crusade began in 1095 by Pope Urban II in response to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia. An additional goal soon became the principal objectivethe Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Islamic rule. During the crusade, knights and peasants from many nations of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea, first to Constantinople and then on towards Jerusalem, as crusaders; the peasants greatly outnumbered the knights. Once the knights arrived at Jerusalem, they launched an assault on the city, capturing it in July 1099 and establishing the crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa. Because the First Crusade was largely concerned with Jerusalem, a city which had not been under Christian rule for 461 years, and the crusader army refused to return the land to the control of the Byzantine Empire, the status of the First Crusade as defensive or as aggressive in nature remains controversial. This collection of primary source material begins with an account of Pope Urban II at Clermont by Fulcher of Chartres. Ekkehards description of the First Crusade is included, as are two crusader letters, two accounts on Peter the Hermit, and Fulchers account of the capture of Jerusalem.

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