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Towards the end of the 19th century, Eue rope's population was immense. The emigration of the barbarians, like so many torrents, had inundated France, Spain, Italy, and Ger many.--The greatest part of the monasteries were so destitute of funds, that the monks were obliged to work for their living; the people were plunged in horrid disorders; and the ho.
land was in the hands of the infidels. In order to thin the population, enrich the monks, reform the morals, and recover Jerusalem, God sent forth a glorious Hermit, whose name was Peter, who preached the crusade in God's name, and enjoined it on all the faithful, promising in the name of the Pope, a full indulgence of all sins, to any who would aid the sacred undertak ing with their lives or fortunes.
Two such powerful motives could not fail in producing their effect. Upwards of eighty thou. sand croises leave France and Germany, under the care of the Hermit. The van guard, com. manded by Gautier Sans-argent, i. e. Gautier Pennyless, displayed their courage on their route, by massacreing in cool blood full one half the nation of the Bulgars. The general follows his Lieutenant,and on his being refused provisions for his army in Hungary, he takes Mallavilla by storm, and put its citizens to the sword : a severity justly inflicted on that obdu. rate people who refused to co-operate in the holy expedition !
Fifteen thousand Germans, headed by the fa. mous preacher Godeschal, follow the Hermit's army ; but at the approach of the new apostles,
the Hungarians are alarmed, and fearing new disasters, they fall on the preacher and extermi. nate his fifteen thousand men. Two hundred thousand croisés soon follow that handful, put to the sword every Jew they can take, and drive the rest to such stress of despair, that having ripped open their wives and children they putan end to their deplorable existence. Such christian like actions are soon rewarded with the crown of martyrdom, which they share, with three quarters of those who had preceded them, being slaughtered to a man.
The Hermit and Gautier arrive before Constantinople with the rest of their troops ; and to convince the incredulous, that God often makes use of the unworthy, and even of the wicked 10 accomplish his unfathomable purposes, a troop of banditti join themselves to the soldiers of Christ; they plunder together the country near the town, cross the Bosophorus ; every thing gives away before them ; but the devil, jealous of their exploits, awakes the tyrant of Bithinia who routs them entirely.
Seven hundred thousand more croises penetrate into Asia, their chief repairs the Hermit's fortunes ; he takes Nice, Antioche, Edesse, Jerusalem; and makes such massacre of the heathen, that the most obdurate soldiers, in his army, would have beheld the carnage with hor. ror, had it not been made for God's greatest glory.
The glorious news had no sooner reached the European shores than two hundred thousand recruits assemble to prosecute the grand design
of the crusades. Hugh of France returns to Europe, and takes them under his command; part of them are destroyed in Greece, Soliman falling on the rest, cuts them to pieces, and their chief dies abandoned in Asia. So true is it, that insurmountable obstacles are often thrown in the way to frustrate the accomplishinent of a desirable and laudable event!
The European christians weakened by their victories, attenuated by sickness and the cli. mate'; the division of their conquests, the mis. understanding that existed between their chiefs
, and the loss of Edesse, solicit another crusade.
St. Bernard preaches the new undertaking with that enthusiasm which characterises him ; he rends his clothes, works miracles,prophecies
, absolves ; and the apostolic zeal electerises 2gain the imflamable French, and the phlegmatic Germans. The emperor Conradus, fies, plandering as he goes, and finally falls in the snares of the tyrant of Iconia, who annihilates his whole army-Young Louis is beaten at Laodi. cea, and dishonoured by his wife at Antioche: hunger and misery drives what croises survived to Europe. Saladin beats the christians of A. sia at Tyberiad, takes Guy of Lusignas, the true cross, and Jerusalem. All was lost! if (by a wonderful protection froni above) that Sal. adin had not neglected avenging the blood of the infidels, which the christians had not spared on a similar occasion, eighty eight years before.
This disaster plunged Europe in the deepest consternation. Barbarousse, the emperor.
gwears he will avenge christendom.. He sets out for Asia, beats the enemy. twice, takes Ico. nia by storm, and would have accomplished no less than the complete conquest of the holy land, when, horrid to tell ! he is accidentally drowned in the river Cydenus, and leaves only behind him seven or eight thousand men, which his son rallies, to join them to the broken remains of Lusig.Jan's army.
Meanwhile Philip Augustus, and Richard, arrive in Syria : they find themselves at the head of an army of three hundred thousand fighting men. They take Ptolemais, and plan: to push their conquest farther. But the devil, who has an interest in ruining the best under. takings, excited a jealousy between the two princes, and Philip returns to France. Richa ard defeats Saladin at Cesarea ; Saladin. finally ruins Richard's army, this last being obliged to return to England, falls into the hands of the emperor, Henry VIth, his mortal enemy.
The ardor of the crusades was not yet checked, a multitude of new heroes embark at Ve.. nice for Dalmatia ; They take Zara at their land. ing : instead of making for the holy land, Constantinople, which had probably incurred the wrath of Heaven, becomes now the object of their zeal. They escalade, ransack, pillage and burn, that superb city. They blasphsme, rav.. ish and lay waste all they meet, destroy the churches, dash the altars and images to shivers, dance in the Sanctum Sanctorum of St. Sophia, and precipitate the emperor Mirzuflos from the top of a high column. To crown the work
Baudoin of Flanders usurps the crown of the murdered emperor; but the Bulgars having taken the new sovereign, cut off his legs and arms, and exposed his mangled trunk, to the wild beasts.
Asia is not the only stage where the valour of the croises is diplayed. Two large bodies of men are raised against the Albigenses and Moors. One of these armies takes Bezeirs, and exterminates all its inhabitants; ruins those of Carcassona,seizes, on Lavaur, murders eighty knights, together with the lord of that city, drowns the daughter of the last in a well, and burn to death round her remains, three hundred of the citizens, to complete the groupe. The other ransacks the whole country through which they pass; kills one hundred thousand of the Moors in the plains of Tolosa, puts in irons three hundred thousand more of those infidels, and returns home, giving thanks to the almighty for the success of so glorious an expedition.
The pious ardour for the crusades does not abate : even children burn with a desire of signalizing their zeal for the recovery of the holy land; a multitude of school boys set out ander care of some monks their school masters; but the devil tempted their conductors, who sold one half of them to the Turks, apd the rest perished with misery on the route.
Mean while the croises of Asia take Damiet. ta, and become able to push their conquest in Egypt. At this juncture a dominican friar disputes the command of the army with the king of Jerusalem.-God's ambassador makes