1 July 4, 1099 the army of the crusaders captured Jerusalem, snatching it from the hands of the Gentiles. We, of course, know that the Latin chivalry did not fulfill its promises to our Orthodox Emperor, and later even made the ugly capture of Constantinople. But this will only be in the 4th Crusade, at the end of the heroic era.
In the very first crusade under the leadership of the French duke Gottfried of Bouillon, everything was just beginning. And let’s face it, it was impressive.
A sharp surge of lively religiosity, heroic spirit and incredible passionarity suddenly raised the European knighthood like a whirlwind and threw it to the liberation of the holy city – the Holy Sepulcher. It was not mutual feudal massacres, tournaments and fairs of military pride that moved the crusaders. Rather, all this was, but there was also something else – a higher horizon, when a simple war turns into sacred, when the flesh becomes spirit, and the secular turns into sacred.
The Orthodox did not play an active role in this. The Crusades and, accordingly, the triumphant assault on Jerusalem is a page in the history of Medieval Europe, the Romano-Germanic West. But this does not prevent us from admiring the victory of those who fought under the sign of the Cross and gave their lives for the liberation of the Holy Sepulcher.
Let in reality the crusaders were not the embodiment of pure heroism, courage, loyalty to the highest ideals and holy relics. But the myth of the capture of Jerusalem is beautiful in itself. Only a low nature tries to see something nasty in everything. To explain the high through the low – for example, through the economy or bodily attraction – the property of the rabble. And the intellectual mob shed rivers of ink to relativize the greatness of Christian chivalry. It’s just a ressentiment. It is better not to pay attention to it at all.
Novalis wrote that poets relying on imagination, inspiration, inspiration and lofty horizons describe the events of the era much more accurately than the most thorough, but drowning in everyday details, historians. Therefore, if we want to understand something in the First Crusade, it is better to turn to the great poem by Torquado Tasso – “Jerusalem Liberated”. It was written several centuries after the event itself, but this makes it no less reliable.
This is how it really was. Archangel Gabriel appeared to Gottfried of Bouillon and commanded him to free the great Christian shrine from the hands of the Saracens. So one of the warriors was chosen by heavenly powers to fulfill an exceptional mission. Many resented this, surpassing Gottfried in nobility. However, the priest Peter the Hermit – like Merlin in the case of King Arthur – supports his mission.
This is followed by a series of beautiful battle scenes, where, by the way, the opponents of the crusaders are also described as great heroes and valiant warriors. What would it cost to defeat the cowardly and feeble-minded scoundrels. A true hero needs a worthy enemy. Jerusalem must be liberated in a great battle against a powerful and formidable adversary.
So the capture of Jerusalem becomes a type, or better to say, an earthly reflection of the great battle of Angels and satanic hordes. And here history turns into metahistory, the events of time into the triumph of eternity.
And in our 21st century, under the saturated truth of the poetic authenticity of Torquado Tasso, the question arises: what about Jerusalem? In whose hands is he today? Is it time to get together to free him?
This sublime Middle Ages knocks on our hearts. If Europe, then it is such a crusader, knights, holy wars, beautiful ladies and exquisite poets. Europe of exploits and love, Europe under the sign of the Cross.