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has been and remains a sacred city for three
world religions. In Christian history, Jerusalem
has been the destination of pilgrimage on
earth as well as a symbolic city that is
the destination of the pilgrimage of life.
Consider the meanings Jerusalem holds for
some of the following real or fictional characters.
Make a comparison between one or more of
these and the Jerusalem of Pope
Urban II and the crusaders in
the First Crusade.
- Chaucer's pilgrims, especially the Wife of Bath (see her portrait
[NAEL 8, 1.256] and Prologue [NAEL 8, 1.256–75, lines 501–08])
and the Parson (NAEL 8, 1.313-15)
- William Langland and/or the Dreamer in Passus 18 of Piers Plowman (NAEL
- Margery Kempe (NAEL 8, 1.384–97)
- Spenser's Redcrosse Knight (NAEL 8, 1.830–33, stanzas 46–58)
- John Bunyan and/or Christian in Pilgrim's Progress (NAEL
- John Dryden in Absalom and Achitophel (NAEL 8, 1.2087–2111)
- William Blake in And did those feet (NAEL 8, 2.123–24)
- In Book 1
of Spenser's Faerie Queene, the
shield of the Redcrosse Knight identifies
him as a crusader, and three of his enemies
are the Sarazen knights — Sans foi,
Sans joi, and Sans loy. How has Spenser exploited
and adapted the theme of the crusade in Book
1 to allegorize the religious conflicts of
Reformation, as well as the battles every
Christian must fight?
- The Crusades
exposed Western European culture to the exotic
cultures of the East. Explore Western views
of the East and Eastern views of the West
in some of the following texts:
- Chaucer's portrait of the Knight
(NAEL 8, 1.219–20, lines 43–78)
- Anna Comnena, The
- Piers Plowman Shows the Way to Saint
Truth (NAEL 8, 1.340–41, lines 510–536)
- The Jerusalem
History of Robert the Monk
- The Perfect
History of Ibn al-Athir
- History of
Deeds Done beyond the Sea of
William of Tyre
To what extent did these cultures misunderstand
each other during the Middle Ages? Do these
misunderstandings still persist in the
- The Crusades
continued for centuries after Pope
Urban's speech to the Franks in 1095.
How did the aims and ideals of the crusaders
change over time? Explore some of the many
texts offered by the Internet
Medieval Sourcebook to build up a picture
of the history of the Crusades in the centuries
after Pope Urban's initial call to the
Franks. Among other texts, you may want to
Hostile View of the Second Crusade, Roger
of Hoveden's account of The
Fall of Jerusalem, Geoffrey de Villehardouin's Chronicle
of the Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of
Constantinople, and the tragic account
Urban's speech at the Council of
Clermont is a classic of political rhetoric.
Read the speech closely, with particular
attention to how the Pope goes about winning
the support of his audience.
- What arguments, themes, and references does the Pope employ to win
the support of the Franks? Which of these seem most central to his case,
and which seem most effective? Can you think of examples of modern political
rhetoric which uses similar methods?
- Compare the language and imagery the Pope employs to demonize the "accursed
race" which occupies the Holy Land with Rabbi
Eliezer bar Nathan's description of the atrocities committed
by the crusaders.
- Pope Urban
was the first of several popes to summon
the Christian West to the Crusades. Compare
Urban's words with the later calls by Eugene
III (1154) and Innocent
III (1215). How have the rhetoric of
the popes, the image of the situation, and
the incentives they offer to crusaders changed
- How might
Chaucer and his audience have responded to
the Knight's crusading past had the accounts
of Rabbi Eliezer bar
Nathan and Ibn
Al-Athir been available to them? What
images and ideas have you associated with
the Crusades, and how has reading these accounts
- The assault
on the Jewish communities of the Rhineland
were the consequence of a long tradition
of anti-Semitism in the Christian West based
on the belief, perpetuated in literature
and in art, that the Jews were the killers
- Compare the words which Rabbi Eliezer bar Nathan attributes
to the crusaders with Faith's denunciation of the Jews in Passus
18 of Piers Plowman (NAEL 8, 1.359, lines 92–109). Does Passus
18 seem to justify the actions of the crusaders? If not, why not?
- Chaucer's "Prioress's
Tale" is in many ways typical of late-medieval anti-Semitic
narrative. To what extent does this tale appear to represent the attitudes
of Chaucer and his contemporaries? To what extent does it shed light
on the character of the Prioress?
- Compare the
rhetorical style of Anna Comnena's The
Alexiad with that of the authors of the
Legendary Histories of Britain (NAEL 8, 1.117–27).
Whether or not the events and characters
they describe are historical, how do these
writers make them appear convincing and authentic
to their audiences?
- Compare Ibn
Al-Athir's view of the crusaders
with the comments of a later Muslim witness,
Usmah Ibn Munqidh (1095–1188) on The
Franks, European Piracy, and Muslim
and Christian Piety. How has the relationship
between Muslims and crusaders changed between
the time of Ibn Al-Athir and Usmah Ibn
Munqidh? What aspects of the latter account
do you find most intriguing or surprising?
of Tyre's account of the taking of
Jerusalem is marked by sudden shifts
from exultation in the Christian victory
to horror at the slaughter of the inhabitants.
- How does William attempt to reconcile these two responses? Is he successful?
Does the text give an indication of William's and/or his sources' true
feelings about the manner in which Jerusalem was taken, and if so, how
can you tell?
- Make a close comparison between this account and that of the flight
crew on the Enola Gay,
which dropped the atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in 1945. Pay particular
attention to the alternation of triumph and horror.
- How does
the reality of warfare in the Crusades compare
to the ideals of chivalry propounded in the
literature of estates and popularized in
Arthurian romance? Compare Urban's speech
at the Council of Clermont to the speeches
at Arthur's council in Wace (NAEL 8, 1.120–24).