It was on this day in 1095 that Pope Urban II, while on a speaking tour in Crusade to recapture from the Turks. There was no imminent threat. Muslims had occupied for hundreds of years. But Urban II had noticed that was becoming an increasingly violent place, with low-level knights killing each other over their land rights, and he thought that he could bring peace to the Christian world by directing all that violence against an outside enemy. So he made up stories of how Turks in were torturing and killing Christians, and anyone who was willing to join the fight against them would go to heaven., called for the first
About 100,000 men from France, Germany, andanswered the call, formed into several large groups, and marched across Asia Minor to the . Nearly half of them died from exhaustion and sickness before they ever reached their destination. They began sacking cities along the way, and they fought among each other for the spoils of each battle. When they reached the trading city of Antioch, they killed almost everyone, including the Christians who lived there. By the time they got to , it had recently fallen into the hands of Egyptians, who were friendly with the . But the crusaders attacked anyway, killing every Muslim they could find. The Jews in the city gathered in the temple, and the crusaders set it on fire.
Pope Urban II died two weeks later, never hearing the news. But the crusading would go on for the next 200 years. In the fourth and last Crusade, in 1202, the crusaders never even made it to, but got sidetracked and wound up destroying Constantinople, which was at the time the last great city left over from the Roman Empire.
-The Writer's Almanac, 11-27-07