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Throughout their epic literature, the Franks are invariably described as [cannibals].” Excerpt from “The Franks** Arrive” in The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, by Amin Maalouf “Rumours circulated constantly about the imminent arrival of redoubtable knights. At the end of July there was talk that they were approaching the village of al-Balana, in the far north of Syria. Thousands of cavalry gathered to meet them, but it was a false alarm: there was no sign of the Franks on the horizon. The most optimistic souls wondered whether the invaders had perhaps turned back. Ibn al-Qalanisi echoed that hope in one of those astrological parables of which his contemporaries were so enamoured: that summer a comet appeared in the western sky; it ascended for twenty days, then disappeared without a trace. But these illusions were soon dispelled. The news became increasingly detailed. From mid-September onwards, the advance of the Franks could be followed from village to village.
On 21 October 1097 shouts rang out from the peak of the citadel of Antioch, then Syria’s largest city: “They’re here!” A few lay-abouts hurried to the ramparts to gawk, but they could see nothing more than a vague cloud of dust far in the distance, at the end of the broad plain, near Lake Antioch. The Franks were still a day’s March away, perhaps more, and there was every indication that they would want to stop to rest for a while after their long journey. Nevertheless, prudence demanded that the five heavy city gates be closed immediately.
In the souks the morning clamor was stilled, as merchants and customers alike stood immobile. Women whispered, and some prayed. The city was in the grip of fear.” **Important note: “Franks” is a term used to describe the Europeans in the Arab world. To these people, the wars between 1096 and 1204 were referred not as crusades, but as “the Frankish wars” or “the Frankish invasions.” Source #4: WESTERN EUROPEAN, Fulcher of Chartres, The Siege of Antioch In the year of the Lord 1098, after the region all around Antioch had been wholly devastated by the multitude of our people, the strong as well as the weak were more and more harassed by famine. At that time, the famished ate the shoots of beansweeds growing in the fields and many kids of herbs and unseasoned with salt; also thistles, which being not well cooked because of the deficiency of firewood, pricked the tongues of those eating them; also horses, asses, and camels, and dogs and rats. The poorer ones even ate the skins of the beasts and seeds of grain found in manure.
The endured winter’s cold, summer’s heat, and heavy rains for God. Their tents became old and torn and rotten from the continuation of rains. Because of this, many of them were covered by only the sky. So like gold thrice proved and purified sevenfold by fire, long predestined by God, I believe, and weighed by such a great calamity, they were cleansed of their sins. For even if the assassin’s sword had not failed, many, long agonizing, would have voluntarily completed a martyr’s course. Perhaps they borrowed the grace of such a great example from Saint Job, who, purifying his soul by the torments of his body, ever held God fast in mind. Those who fight with the heathen labor because of God.
...On a certain night, he sent twenty of our men over the wall by means of ladders made of ropes. Without delay, the gate was opened. The Franks, already prepared, entered the city. Forty of our soldiers, who previously entered by ropes, killed sixty Turks found there, guards of the tower. In a loud voice, altogether the Franks shouted, “God wills it! God wills it!” for this was our signal cry, when we were about to press forward on any enterprise.
Source #5: EASTERN EUROPEAN: Nicetas Choniates, Byzantine Historian
The Fourth Crusade was directed at Egypt. There were, however, a series of financial difficulties which enabled the Venetians, who had been hired as transportation providers, to divert the crusade to their own ends. First it attacked the Christian city of Zara, and then Constantinople itself. The result was the establishment of a series of Latin states in Greece and the Agean, and the permanent collapse of communion between Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Byzantine historian Nicetas Choniates here gives an account of the sack of the city.
... How shall I begin to tell of the deeds wrought by these nefarious men! Alas, the images, which ought to have been adored, were trodden under foot! Alas, the relics of the holy martyrs were thrown into unclean places! Then was se en what one shudders to hear, namely, the divine body and blood of Christ was spilled upon the ground or thrown about. They snatched the precious reliquaries, thrust into their bosoms the ornaments which these contained, and used the broken remnants for pans and drinking cups,-precursors of Anti-Christ, authors and heralds of his nefarious deeds which we momentarily expect. Manifestly, indeed, by that race then, just as formerly, Christ was robbed and insulted and His garments were divided by lot; only one thing was lacking, that His side, pierced bv a spear, should pour rivers of divine blood on the ground.
Nor can the violation of the Great Church [note: Hagia Sophia] be listened to with equanimity. For the sacred altar, formed of all kinds of precious materials and admired by the whole world, was broken into bits and distributed among the soldiers, as was all the other sacred wealth of so great and infinite splendor.
When the sacred vases and utensils of unsurpassable art and grace and rare material, and the fine silver, wrought with gold, which encircled the screen of the tribunal and the ambo, of admirable workmanship, and the door and many other ornaments, were to be borne away as booty, mules and saddled horses were led to the very sanctuary of the temple. Some of these which were unable to keep their footing on the splendid and slippery pavement, were stabbed when they fell, so that the sacred pavement was polluted with blood and filth.