National Geographic : 1963 Dec
HS EKTACHROMEBY THOMAS NEBBIA © N.G.S. Candles glow in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem, taken on June 7, 1099, by "100 of the truest soldiers." Parts of the sanctuary added by the Crusaders still remain. abandoning the siege... to return home by whatever means they could." The bickering among the leaders mounted with the summer heat. Tancred insisted on his claims to Bethlehem, which he had liber ated. The question of who should rule Jeru salem, when and if it should be conquered, brought other quarrels. To deepen the despair in the Christian camp, news came in early July that an Egyp tian army of overwhelming size was on its way to relieve Iftikhar's beleaguered troops. The princes of the Crusade knew that their army could never stand against such a force. Jerusalem must be taken at once, or the First Crusade would die at the foot of Jerusalem's revered walls. 852 And then, when all seemed lost, another Crusader presented himself before the leaders with the story of a miraculous vision. On the morning of July 6, one Peter Desiderius testi fied to a nocturnal visitation from the much mourned Adhemar of Le Puy. The instruc tions which Adhemar had bade him pass on to the Crusaders, Raymond of Aguilers quotes Peter Desiderius as saying, were these: "You who have come from distant lands to worship God and the Lord of hosts, purge yourselves of your uncleanliness, and let each one turn from his evil ways. Then with bare feet march around Jerusalem invoking God, and you must also fast. If you do this, and then make a great attack on the city on the ninth day, it will be captured. If you do not, all the evils that you have suffered will be multiplied by the Lord." Vision Inspires an Awesome March A fast was immediately proclaimed. On Friday, July 8, the Moslem defenders watch ing from Jerusalem's walls must have been astounded by the scene before them. The bishops and the lesser clergy led the procession, bearing on high their crosses and sacred relics. Then came the knights and the able-bodied men, marching to the call of trumpets and bearing their standards and their arms. Barefoot, they made the circuit of the walls (page 844). On the ramparts above them the defenders moved with them, shout ing their ridicule. "When we reached the spot on the Mount of Olives whence the Lord had ascended into heaven..." said Raymond, "the following exhortation was made to the people: "'Now that we are on the very spot from which the Lord made His ascension and we can do nothing more to purify ourselves, let each one of us forgive his brother whom he has injured, that the Lord may forgive us.' "What more?" asks Raymond. "All were reconciled to each other, and with generous offerings we besought the mercy of God, that He should not now desert His people, whom He had led so gloriously and miraculously to this goal." The next two days were spent in feverish labor on the siege towers. They were covered with hides as protection from the Greek fire which the defenders showered from the walls. Smaller siege machines, including catapults, were rushed to completion. "Duke Godfrey made a wooden tower and other siege devices, and Count Raymond did the same," records the Gesta Francorum.