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Книга Famous Men of The Middle Ages. Страница 22

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But at last William turned their lines and threw them into confusion. As the sun went down Harold was killed and his men gave up the fight.

From Hastings William marched toward London . On the way he received the surrender of some towns and burned others that would not surrender. London submitted and some of the nobles and citizens came forth and offered the English crown to the Norman duke. On the 25th of December, 1066 , the "Conqueror, " as he is always called, was crowned in Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Ealdred. Both English and Norman people were present. When the question was asked by the Archbishop, "Will you have William, Duke of Normandy, for your king?" all present answered, "We will."


At first William ruled England with moderation. The laws and customs were not changed, and in a few months after the battle of Hastings the kingdom was so peaceful that William left it in charge of his brother and went to Normandy for a visit.

While he was gone many of the English nobles rebelled against him, and on his return he made very severe laws and did some very harsh things. He laid waste an extensive territory, destroying all the houses upon it and causing thousands of persons to die from lack of food and shelter, because the people there had not sworn allegiance to him.

He made a law that all lights should be put out and fires covered with ashes at eight o'clock every evening, so that the people would have to go to bed then. A bell was rung in all cities and towns throughout England to warn the people of the hour. The bell was called the "curfew, " from the French words "couvre feu, " meaning "to cover fire."

To find out about the lands of England and their owners, so that everybody might be made to pay taxes, he appointed officers in all the towns to report what estates there were, who owned them, and what they were worth. The reports were copied into two volumes, called the "Domesday Book." This book showed that England at that time had a population of a little more than a million.

William made war on Scotland , and conquered it. During a war with the king of France the city of Mantes ( mont ) was burned by William's soldiers. As William rode over the ruins his horse stumbled and the king was thrown to the ground and injured. He was borne to Rouen , where he lay ill for six weeks. His sons and even his attendants abandoned him in his last hours. It is said that in his death struggle he fell from his bed to the floor, where his body was found by his servants.

Peter the Hermit About 1050-1115


During the Middle Ages the Christians of Europe used to go to the Holy Land for the purpose of visiting the tomb of Christ and other sacred places. Those who made such a journey were called "pilgrims."

Every year thousands of pilgrims — kings, nobles and people of humbler rank — went to the Holy Land .

While Jerusalem was in the hands of the Arabian caliphs who reigned at Bagdad , the Christian pilgrims were generally well treated. After about 1070, when the Turks took possession of the city, outrages became so frequent that it seemed as if it would not be safe for Christians to visit the Savior's tomb at all.

About the year 1095 there lived at Amiens (a-me-an') France, a monk named Peter the Hermit.

Peter was present at a council of clergy and people held at Clermont in France when his Holiness, Pope Urban II, made a stirring speech. He begged the people to rescue the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred sites from the Mohammedans.

The council was so roused by his words that they broke forth into loud cries, "God wills it! God wills it!"

"It is, indeed, His will, " said the Pope, "and let these words be your war-cry when you meet the enemy."

Peter listened with deep attention. Immediately after the council he began to preach in favor of a war against the Turks. With head and feet bare, and clothed in a long, coarse robe tied at the waist with a rope, he went through Italy from city to city, riding on a donkey. He preached in churches, on the streets — wherever he could secure an audience.

When Peter had gone over Italy he crossed the Alps and preached to the people of France , Germany , and neighboring countries. Everywhere he kindled the zeal of the people, and multitudes enlisted as champions of the cross.

Thus began the first of seven wars known as the "Crusades" or "Wars of the Cross, " waged to rescue the Holy Land from the Mohammedans.

It is said that more than 100, 000 men, women and children went on the first Crusade. Each wore on the right shoulder the emblem of the cross.

Peter was in command of one portion of this great multitude. His followers began their journey with shouts of joy and praise.

But they had no proper supply of provisions. So when passing through Hungary they plundered the towns and compelled the inhabitants to support them. This roused the anger of the Hungarians. They attacked the Crusaders and killed a great many of them.

After long delays about seven thousand of those who had started on the Crusade reached Constantinople . They were still enthusiastic and sounded their war-cry, "God wills it!" with as much fervor as when they first joined Peter's standard.

Leaving Constantinople , they went eastward into the land of the Turks. A powerful army led by the sultan met them. The Crusaders fought heroically all day long but at length were badly beaten. Only a few escaped and found their way back to Constantinople .

Peter the Hermit had left the Crusaders before the battle and returned to Constantinople . He afterwards joined the army of Godfrey of Bouillon.

Godfrey's army was composed of six divisions, each commanded by a soldier of high rank and distinction. It was a well organized and disciplined force and numbered about half a million men.

It started only a few weeks after the irregular multitude which followed Peter the Hermit, and was really the first Crusading army, for Peter's undisciplined throng could hardly be called an army.

After a long march Godfrey reached Antioch and laid siege to it.

It was believed that this Moslem stronghold could be taken in a short time; but the city resisted the attacks of the Christians for seven months. Then it surrendered.

And now something happened that none of the Crusaders had dreamed of. An army of two hundred thousand Persians arrived to help the Moslems. They laid siege to Antioch and shut up the Crusaders within its walls for weeks. However, after a number of engagements in which there was great loss of life, the Turks and Persians were at last driven away.

The way was now opened to Jerusalem . But out of the half million Crusaders who had marched from Europe less than fifty thousand were left. They had won their way at a fearful cost.


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