This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #224, titled, “The First Crusade, Part 2.”
When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our Scripture for today is 1 Corinthians 12:12 which reads: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Philip Schaff. He said: “The history of the Church is the rise and progress of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The First Crusade, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
Bishop Adhemar, the appointed leader of the Crusade, had died of fever during the siege, and the army was headless. After much bickering and delay, Godfrey of Bouillon emerged as the new leader, and the army finally caught its first glimpse of the Holy City on June 7, 1099.
Those defending Jerusalem were not Turks, but Fatimite Arabs from Egypt—so named because they claimed descent from Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter. Indeed, the reason why the crusaders had achieved their measure of success was that the Muslims were not united—much as earlier the Arabs had been able to conquer vast territories because their enemies were similarly divided. Those whom the crusaders had fought in Nicea and Antioch were Turks, who had become Sunni, while the Fatimites who held Jerusalem were Shiites. Furthermore, according to Arab chronicler Ibn Al-Athir the crusaders had come to Syria at the behest of the Fatimites, who feared the growing power of the Turks.
The garrison in Jerusalem was ready for a long siege. The surrounding land had been razed, and the wells poisoned, to deny supplies to the besiegers. The crusaders also expected a long siege. But in early July they received news of a large Fatimite army approaching, and came to the conclusion that they had to take the city or withdraw. Since theirs was a religious enterprise, they begged God for support, marching around the city barefooted and singing penitential hymns. A few days later, they attacked the walls. Resistance was strong. But finally a single knight was able to climb to the top of the wall, and there to hold a space where others could follow him. As the breach grew, resistance melted. The defenders fled from the walls, and the crusaders swept into the city that was the goal of their long campaign. It was July 15, 1099.
Although some scholars today tend to think that there is a measure of exaggeration in them, contemporary reports declare that all the defenders were killed, as well as many civilians. Women were raped, and infants thrown against walls. Many of the city’s Jews had taken refuge in the synagogue, and the crusaders set fire to the building with them inside. At the Porch of Solomon horses waded in blood.
Then the Crusaders set out to organize the conquered lands in the fashion of Western Europe. Godfrey of Bouillon was made “Protector of the Holy Sepulcher,” but his brother Baldwin, who succeeded him in 1100, took the title of King of Jerusalem. The main vassals of this kingdom were Bohemond, Prince of Antioch, Baldwin, Count of Edessa, and Raymond of Toulouse, Count of Tripoli.
Next time, we will begin looking at “Later History of the Crusades.”
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.