The Council of Clermont-Ferrand
Compiled by: Syed Muhammad Bokreta
It would be worth recalling that the whole story of the Crusaders was the result of the rapid triumphant rise of Islam, as within the space of only one generation, Islam had developed into the third of the World’s great monotheistic Faiths, rivalling Christianity and Judaism.
Moreover it has become a very successful military movement soon after the Passing away of the Beloved Prophet of Islam Mohamed (PBUH) and less than a decade being elapsed that his brave Companions conquered Iraq and Syria, and a decade later Egypt and most of Persia had been conquered.
By the end of the seventh century, Islam had conquered the whole of North Africa coast, and Muslim troops went northwards and conquered Spain in 711 and within another two decades, Muslims had overcome all but the mountain fastnesses of the north.
However by the middle of the eight century, the Unity of the early Islamic period started to break down, the replacement of the Umayyad Dynasty by that of the Abbasid in 750 led to the creation of an independent Caliphate in Spain ruled by the descendants of the Umayyads, and from the tenth century the Abbasid Caliphate became increasingly enfeebled, hostage to praetorian troops and in deep financial problems adding to that an unexpected political rivalry in the form of the proclamation of an independent Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt.
In the middle of the 11th century , the Muslim Seljuk Turks originally from the steppes of central Asia , migrated south-westwards , conquered Persia in the 1040s and then Armenia , Iraq and finally Baghdad in 1055 , the Seljuk Turk emergence also dealt a mortal blow to the Byzantine Empire, the chief Christian power in the Mediterranean region.
The Byzantines saw themselves as the heirs of the old Roman empire and Constantinople, their capital as the new Rome and their Emperor was seen as the legitimate successor to the rulers of pagan Rome, but their fellow Christians in the west regarded their belief in the God given status of their empire as unwarranted arrogance, and had therefore ridiculed the claims of the king of the Greeks to be the successor to Roman authority.
At that precise time , some ambitious Christian reformers also wanted to improve the moral tone of lay society, partly by enlisting the support of the laity in church reform , and by encouraging laymen to perform meritorious spiritual exercises such as pilgrimage ,and they have cleverly reached the conclusion to develop the "peace and truce of God" , to limit internecine warfare within Christendom and to join hands against the "Infidels"(Muslims) who have risen from the East ( a very relevant and similar stance to our present days).
The "peace of God" had first been promulgated in France in the last quarter of the tenth century and was an attempt to protect the non-combatants from the violence of the warrior class and at the same time it was intended to prevent fighting on Sundays and the great feast of the church, for much of the 11th century it was a purely French phenomenon.
The first pontiff to promulgate the " truce of God", Urban II was a Frenchman , he did proclaim such issue among the Normans of southern Italy in 1089 and six years later at the council of Clermont on the 27th of November 1095 ( Subject of our diary), and within this council he called for the first crusade (1096-1099) preaching that the knightly class should direct its warlike energies against the infidels and exercise its propensity for violence in a higher cause than warfare against fellow Christians.
Begging his audience to follow his new tenets, he went on: "Let those who have been robbers now be soldiers of Christ, let those who once fought against brothers and relatives now rightfully fight against barbarians" [The chronicles of the crusaders, Elizabeth Hallam, Bramley Books, page 21].
Furthermore in the same Clermont council in southern France, Pope Urban II (1088-1099) made one of the most influential speeches in the Middle Ages, calling on Christian princes in Europe to go on a crusade to rescue the Holy Land from the Muslims he combined the ideas of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with that of waging a holy war against infidels.
Another summary of Urban’s speech is reported by Dr. E.L. Skip Knox which has been recorded differently in various sources:
"The noble race of Franks must come to the aid their fellow Christians in the East. The infidel Turks are advancing into the heart of Eastern Christendom; Christians are being oppressed and attacked; churches and holy places are being defiled. Jerusalem is groaning under the Saracen yoke. The Holy Sepulchre is in Muslim hands and has been turned into a mosque. Pilgrims are harassed and even prevented from access to the Holy Land".
"God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. God wills it!".
"Deus vult! (God wills it) became the battle cry of the Crusader, and the day after Urban's speech, the Council formally granted all the privileges and protections Urban had promised, whilst the red cross was taken as the official sign of the pilgrims, and Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy was chosen as papal legate and the spiritual leader of the expedition."
Dramatically as it may seem, one only wonders how come that such battle cry was fulfilled less than four years by the capture of Al Qods or Jerusalem on the 15th of July 1099 and according to many Historians the first crusade (1096-1099) was the most terrible and horrific period in view of the all out massacre of the Muslim inhabitants of Al Qods, the accounts of these atrocities are shocking, the Historian Raymond of Agiles described the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders led by Godfrey de Bouillon on the 15th of July 1099 , the first ruler of Jerusalem after it was taken from the Muslims: "Some of our men cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins."
Paradoxically to the above inhuman fate of Muslims in that date, and 88 years later when Salah Al Din conquered Jerusalem on the 02nd of October 1187, the opposite behaviour was to be recorded by friends and foes alike, as a common and unanimous verdict, even amongst the heart sick European Historians and Orientalists agreed, that they were examples of magnanimity on the part of the Muslim Victors, it is but the great teachings and the ever sublime high values of Islam that sharply contrast with the attitude of the victorious Crusaders where on that fatidic date of the 15th of July 1099.
Urban II promised complete remission of sins for anyone killed in the Holy Land or even anyone who died on the way to the Holy Land in this righteous crusade, one might argue that it is a sort of an offence to read such terms for those who know the genuine teachings of Prophet Issa or Jesus Christ (PBUH) they will be surely dismayed and would be but shocked at the suggestion of killing anyone in Christ’s name.
Urban's speech and further deeds set in action a deadly chain of events that would continue for several hundred years, the harmful repercussions of which are still felt today, with the present crusade superpower flag bearer initiating the "war on terror" on Crusading background and on Urban’s Clermont tone.
For surely it has simply provided a good pretext to implement long- term policy plans beneficial to its own interests and that of the Zionist state, and which hatched plots have already started with Afghanistan and Iraq and the rest is to follow and undoubtedly the myth of the present superpower’s current survival lies on the profits of its many crimes it has committed wide- world.