A Comparison of the Chronicles of the Battles of Jerusalem and Ascalon During the First Crusade

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A Comparison of the Chronicles of the Battles of Jerusalem and Ascalon during the First Crusade In 1095, Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont made a plea to those present that the French, “to whom God has given above other nations outstanding glory in arms, greatness of spirit, fitness of body and the strength to humiliate the hairy scalp of those who resist you” should “set out on the road to the Holy Sepulchre, deliver that land from a wicked race and take it yourselves”. This was the beginning of the First Crusade. In this paper I will compare the accounts of the fall of Jerusalem and the battle of Ascalon in the early chronicle texts of Robert of Reims’ History of the First Crusade (Historia Iherosolimitana) with that of Ibn al-Athir. Robert, known as Robert the Monk, was likely a Benedictine Monk from the influential French city of Reims. According to his writing, Robert personally attended the Council of Clermont and was asked by his abbot to chronicle the history of the First Crusade. Although it is unclear whether Robert was an eyewitness to the other events included in his History of the First Crusade, Robert’s chronicle became one of the most popular versions of the First Crusade in Europe during the Middle Ages. By contrast Ibn al-Athir was an Arab historian that was born sixty years after the First Crusade. However al-Athir, as an Historian, compiled an important work detailing the history of the world (to that time) from a Muslim perspective and undoubtedly read and studied eyewitness accounts of the First Crusade. “Jerusalem is the navel of the Earth. It is a land more fruitful than any other, almost another Earthly Paradise.”, writes Robert. Thus, Robert provides a glimpse of his writing style and his gift of hyperbole. On the other hand, this description of Jerusalem is apt given that the primary goal of Pope Urban’s call for the crusade was to free Jerusalem from the rule of the “Saracens”. Because Robert was a monk, his chronicle is...
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