, Research Paper
There are many accounts of that day in November, 1095. Some were written by monks, others by bishops, and even a few by warriors themselves. Historians are constantly asking, “What exactly did Pope Urban II say at the council of Clermont to persuade Christians to set forth on such a difficult venture as the Crusades?” One man, an early 12th century cleric named Fulcher of Chartres wrote perhaps the best historical chronicle of the events at Clermont and the speech of Urban II.Fulcher begins his account with a prologue that states how blessed the journeymen of the Crusades were to take up such a conquest. He follows this by speaking on the Council of Clermont. Fulcher describes Pope Urban II and what he heard was happening to the Christians in the east. What comes next in Flucher?s writing is a long speech, allegedly quoted from Urban II himself.In the speech, Urban first lectures his fellow clergymen regarding problems in the church, saying that they should “set [themselves] right before [they] do others”1 Fulcher, 51. Urban II next, as according to Fulcher, declares the doctrine of the church and re-instates the idea of the “Truce”2 McGinty, 52. He also discussed various crimes for which the criminal would be excommunicated from the Church.In Fulcher?s third section, Urban speaks of the “evils” in the east. He says, “there is work to do, you must help your brothers living in the Orient, who need your aid for which they have cried out many times”3 Fulcher, 52. He gives word that these “brothers” (Christians) are being threatened by the Turks who must be pushed back to Persia. Urban will grant remission of sins for their services. In closing, Fulcher tells how Urban II presses on to say, ” Let no delay postpone the journey”4 Fulcher, 53.Fulcher of Chartres? account of what happened at the Council of Clermont is a great piece, full of detail. Fulcher obviously held Pope Urban II in high regard. Throughout his chronicle, he douses him with compliments saying that he is ” a man distinguished in life and character.”5 Fulcher, 49. It might not seem like much now to put the Church?s interests before all others; however, in the Middle Ages people were extremely religious. The better Christian one was, the better man he was.Urban II speaks to his clergy about the problems in the Church and as Fulcher tells the story he seems he seems rightly bestowed with the compliments Fulcher gives him. He appears to be very strict in the teachings of the Church, saying that before the Clergy may teach the acts of God, they must first be pure themselves. In a sense, it is the old saying, “practice what you preach”. Perhaps it is from Urban that this is derived? Urban also comes across in Fulcher?s words as a man with an “iron fist”. He will not tolerate criminality by Christians and anyone who has done great wrongs will be excommunicated. Urban describes the Turkish movement in such a way that is comparable to the communist scare during the Cold War. It is that idea that if one region falls, to in this case Turkish rule, it won?t be long before the Turks are in the Vatican. There is a great fear and an urgency to stop the problem while it is still foreign, just as the United States tried to in Vietnam. The theory holds true once again that “history repeats itself”. Pope Urban II told his clergy that they were responsible for the souls of the people in addition to their own. According to Fulcher, Urban proclaims that if He should find sin among the people, “He will banish [the clergy also], utterly condemned in judgement, from the familiarity of his love”5 Fulcher, 51. By stating later that those who go on the pilgrimage/crusade will receive remission from sins, he is helping the clergy and perhaps unknowingly making their job easier. This might also push the clergy to recruit soldiers in hopes of saving both of their souls. Threats of His judgement are used by Urban as a method to gain what he wants from his people and clergymen. He first states that if the clergy do not help the people, they will be doomed themselves. Later, Urban announces a similar warning to the people by saying: “O how many evils will be imputed to you by the Lord Himself, if you do not help those who, like you, profess Christianity”6 Fulcher, 53. He used the same technique to convince the clergy of his view. Whatever works use it, right?The account of the Council of Clermont and the speeches of Urban by Fulcher of Chartres is one that gives one a unique understanding of the Crusades. Though it may have been a factor, Fulcher?s chronicle allows historians to see that perhaps there was more to the start of such an escapade than just the fear of Muslims. Fulcher is historical proof to the importance of writing, and its role in understanding the past.