Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Persistent, Psalms 96:1-5 Matthew 23,13-22, St Monica, Ostia Antica Roma, Fall Series: History of Crusades - First Crusade

Monday, August 27, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
Persistent, Psalms 96:1-5 Matthew 23,13-22, St Monica, Ostia Antica Roma, Fall Series: History of Crusades - First Crusade

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Cousin/Cousine Courner  - Celia's Credo

Families that pray together,stay together! This Courner is a place where I can  share my family's spiritual insight to inspire the world. Today is Celia's Credo: My cousine, Celia is the most devout person I know, a living saint. In her honor, I add a special insert to share her wonderful words of wisdom, a prayer for hurricane protection:

Prayer to Avert Storms and Hurricanes:

Father, All the elements of nature obey your command. Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us, and turn our fear of Your power into praise of Your goodness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen


Today's Word:  persistent  per·sist·ent  [per-sis-tuhnt]

Origin:  1820–30;  < Latin persistent-  (stem of persistēns ), present participle of persistere  to persist; see -ent

1. persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc.; persevering: a most annoyingly persistent young man.
2. lasting or enduring tenaciously: the persistent aroma of verbena; a persistent cough.
3. constantly repeated; continued: persistent noise.
4. Biology .
a. continuing or permanent.
b. having continuity of phylogenetic characteristics.
5. Botany . remaining attached beyond the usual time, as flowers, flower parts, or leaves.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 96:1-5

1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!
2 Sing to Yahweh, bless his name! Proclaim his salvation day after day,
3 declare his glory among the nations, his marvels to every people!
4 Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise, more awesome than any of the gods.
5 All the gods of the nations are idols! It was Yahweh who made the heavens;


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 23,13-22

Jesus Said: 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut up the kingdom of Heaven in people's faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go who want to. 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as you are. 'Alas for you, blind guides! You say, "If anyone swears by the Temple, it has no force; but anyone who swears by the gold of the Temple is bound." Fools and blind! For which is of greater value, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Again, "If anyone swears by the altar it has no force; but anyone who swears by the offering on the altar, is bound." You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, someone who swears by the altar is swearing by that and by everything on it. And someone who swears by the Temple is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And someone who swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.

• During the next three days, we will meditate on the discourse pronounced by Jesus in which he criticizes the doctors of the Law and the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. In today’s Gospel (Mt 23, 13-22), Jesus pronounces against them four times the expression “Alas for you...” (Mt 23, 23-26), and in the Gospel of day after tomorrow, he uses this same expression two other times (Mt 23, 27-32). These are expressions against the religious heads of the times and these are very hard words. In meditating them, I should not only think of the doctors and the Pharisees of the time of Jesus, but also, and above all in the hypocrisy found in me, in us, in our family, in the community, in our Church, in today’s society. Let us look into the mirror of the text to discover the errors in ourselves.

• Matthew 23, 13: The first “Alas for you...” against those who close the door of the Kingdom because in this way you will not enter and, you do not even let those who want to enter. How do they close the Kingdom? They do it by presenting God as a severe judge, leaving very little space for the mercy of God; by imposing, in the name of God, laws and norms which have nothing to do with the commandments of God, by presenting a false image of the Kingdom and by killing the desire to serve God and the Kingdom. A community which organizes itself around this false god “does not enter into the Kingdom”, and it is not even an expression of the Kingdom, and prevents its members from entering into the Kingdom.

• Matthew 23, 14: The second ‘Alas for you...’ is against those who use religion to enrich themselves. You devour the property of widows, though you make a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence you receive because of this”. Jesus allows the disciples to live the Gospel, because he says that the labourer has the right to his salary (Lk 10,7; cf. 1 Co 9, 13-14), but to use prayer and religion as a means to enrich themselves, that is hypocrisy and does not reveal the Good News of God. It transforms religion into a market. Jesus drives out the merchants from the Temple (Mk 11, 15-19) quoting the prophet Jeremiah: “My house will be called a House of Prayer for all people; but you have turned it into a bandits’ den!” (Mk 11, 17; cf. Is 56, 7; Jr 7, 11). When Simon the magician wanted to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter curses him (Ac 8, 18-24). Simon received the “most severe condemnation” of which Jesus speaks about in the Gospel today.

• Matthew 23, 15: The third expression of ‘Alas for you...’ is against those who do proselytism you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as you are.” There are persons who become missionaries and proclaim the Gospel not to radiate the Good News, but to attract persons for their group and their church. John once prohibited a person to use the name of Jesus because he was not part of his group. Jesus answered: “Do not prohibit him, because anyone who is not against us is for us (Mk 9, 39). The document of the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America, which was held in March 2008 in Aparecida, Brazil, bears the title: “Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our people may have life in Him”. That is, the purpose of the mission is not to do in such a way that people become Catholic, but rather that people may have life, and life in abundance.

• Matthew 23, 16-22: The fourth ‘Alas for you...’ is against those who swear. “You say, if anyone swears by the Temple, it has no force, but anyone who swears by the gold of the Temple is bound”. Jesus makes a long disquisition to show the incoherence of so many oaths that people made or that the official religion ordered to take: to swear for the gold of the Temple or for the offering which was on the altar. The teaching of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mountain is the best commentary of today’s Gospel: “But I tell you do not swear at all, either by heaven since that is God’s throne, or by earth, since that is his footstool, or for Jerusalem since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is Yes if you mean yes, No, if you mean No; anything more than this comes from the Evil One” (Mt 5, 34-37).

Personal questions
• ‘Alas for you...’, is said four times; four reasons to receive a severe criticism from Jesus. Which of these four criticisms refers to me?
• Does our Church today deserve these ‘Alas for you...’ from Jesus?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St Monica

Died:  387
Patron Saint of :  Wives and Abuse Victims

St Monica
Saint Monica(or Monnica) (331– 387) is a Christian saint and the mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions.

Because of her name and place of birth, Monica is assumed to have been of Berber origin. She was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius), who held an official position in Tagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife; her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a good example amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. In her distress she asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent.

All Monica's anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to school at Madaurus.

Her husband Patritius subsequently became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he lived dissolutely. Patritius died very shortly after converting to Christianity and Monica decided not to marry again.

At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her table. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.
In his book Confessions, Augustine wrote of a peculiar practice of his mother in which she "brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine."[4] When she moved to Milan, the bishop Ambrose forbade her to use the offering of wine, since "it might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink". So, Augustine wrote of her:
In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor - so that the communion of the Lord's body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.
Confessions 6.2.2
Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Rus Cassiciacum (present-day Cassago Brianza) after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them, however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Civitavecchia and at Ostia. Her death overtook Monica and the finest pages of Augustine's Confessions were penned as the result of the emotion he then experienced.


Saint Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the 6th century to a hidden crypt in the church of Santa Aurea in Osta. Monica was buried near the tomb of St. Aurea of Ostia.[5]

Anicius Bassus wrote Monica's funerary epitaph, which survived in ancient manuscripts.[5] The actual stone on which it was written was rediscovered in the summer of 1945 in the church of Santa Aurea. The fragment was discovered after two boys were digging a hole to plant a football post in the courtyard beside Santa Aurea.[6]

A translation from the Latin, by Douglas Boin, reads as:
Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine. As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught [or, you teach] the people entrusted to you with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both - Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring.[5]
About the 13th century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May. In 1430 Pope Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and the cultus of St. Monica was definitely established. Later the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine, the Basilica di Sant'Agostino, and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar. The Office of St. Monica, however, does not seem to have found a place in the Roman Breviary before the 16th century.

The city of Santa Monica, California, is named after Monica. A legend states that in the 18th century Father Juan Crespí named a local dripping spring Las Lagrimas de Santa Monica ("Saint Monica’s Tears") (today known as the Serra Springs) that was reminiscent of the tears that Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety.[7] As recorded in his diary, however, Crespí actually named the place San Gregorio.[7] What is known for certain is that by the 1820s, the name Santa Monica was in use and its first official mention occurred in 1827 in the form of a grazing permit.[7] There is a statue of this saint in Santa Monica's Palisades Park by sculptor Eugene Morahan; it was completed in 1934.[8]


  1. ^ "...Augustine's mother's name, Monica, is Berber ... the names Monnica and Nonnica are found on tombstones in the Libyan language - as such Monnica is the only Berber name commonly used in English", Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, p.71, 293
  2. ^ The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV. Proper of Saints, August 27.
  3. ^ Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, p.71.
  4. ^ Confessions 6.2.2
  5. ^ a b c "Church of Sant'Aurea". Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Revised Edition with a New Epilogue (University of California Press, 2000), 124.
  7. ^ a b c Paula A. Scott, Santa Monica: a history on the edge. Making of America series (Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 17-18.
  8. ^ "Santa Monica Sculpture". You Are ?. Retrieved March 14, 2011.


  • Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. New edition with an epilogue, Berkeley, University of California Press, c2000
  • Everett Ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Taylor & Francis, 1998, p. 776
  • John J. O'Meara, The Young Augustine:the growth of St. Augustine's mind up to his conversion, London, Longmans, Green and Co, 1954

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippets :  Ostia Antica Roma Italy; Basilica of Santa Aurea and Sant'Agostino

Ruins of ancient theater in Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica is a large archeological site, close to the modern suburb of Ostia (Rome), that was the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, which is approximately 30 km to the northeast. "Ostia" in Latin means "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but due to silting the site now lies 3 km from the sea.[1] The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.


Ostia may have been Rome's first colonia. An inscription says that Ostia was founded by Ancus Marcius, the semi-legendary fourth king of Rome, in the 7th century BC.[2] The oldest archaeological remains so far discovered date back to only the 4th century BC. The most ancient buildings currently visible are from the 3rd century BC, notably the Castrum (military camp); of a slightly later date is the Capitolium (temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva). The opus quadratum of the walls of the original castrum at Ostia provide important evidence for the building techniques that were employed in Roman urbanisation during the period of the Middle Republic.

Sacking by pirates

In 68 BC, the town was sacked by pirates.[3] During the sack, the port was set on fire, the consular war fleet was destroyed, and two prominent senators were kidnapped. This attack caused such panic in Rome that Pompey the Great arranged for the tribune Aulus Gabinius to rise in the Roman Forum and propose a law, the Lex Gabinia, to allow Pompey to raise an army and destroy the pirates. Within a year, the pirates had been defeated. The town was then re-built, and provided with protective walls by the statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Imperial Ostia

The town was further developed during the first century AD under the influence of Tiberius, who ordered the building of the town's first Forum. The town was also soon enriched by the construction of a new harbor on the northern mouths of the Tiber (which reaches the sea with a larger mouth in Ostia, Fiumara Grande, and a narrower one near to the current Fiumicino International Airport). The new harbor, not surprisingly called Portus, from the Latin for "harbor," was excavated from the ground at the orders of the emperor Claudius. This harbour became silted up and needed to be supplemented later by a harbor built by Trajan finished in the year AD 113; it has a hexagonal form, in order to reduce the erosive forces of the waves. This took business away from Ostia itself (further down river) and began its commercial decline.

Ostia itself was provided with all the services a town of the time could require; in particular, a famous lighthouse. Ostia contained the Ostia Synagogue, the earliest synagogue yet identified in Europe; it created a stir when it was unearthed in 1960-61.[4] By 1954 eighteen mithraea had also been discovered: Mithras had his largest following among the working population that were the majority of this port town. Archaeologists also discovered the public latrinas, organized for collective use as a series of seats that allow us to imagine today that the function was also a social moment. In addition, Ostia had a large theatre, many public baths, numerous taverns and inns, and a firefighting service.

Trajan too, required a widening of the naval areas, and ordered the building of another harbor, again pointing towards the north. It must be remembered that at a relatively short distance, there was also the harbor of Civitavecchia (Centum Cellae), and Rome was starting to have a significant number of harbours, the most important remained Portus.

Late-Roman and sub-Roman Ostia

Ostia grew to 50,000 inhabitants in the 2nd century, reaching a peak of some 75,000 inhabitants in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Ostia became an episcopal see as early as the 3rd century, the cathedral (titulus) of Santa Aurea being located on the burial site of St. Monica, mother of Augustine; she died in an inn in the town. In time, naval activities became focused on Portus instead. A slow decadence began in the late Roman era around the time of Constantine I, with the town ceasing to be an active port and instead becoming a popular country retreat for rich aristocrats from Rome itself (along the lines of Brighton's relationship to London in the 18th century).

The decaying conditions of the city were mentioned by St. Augustine when he passed there in the late 4th century. The poet Rutilius Namatianus also reported the lack of maintenance of the city in 414.

With the end of the Roman Empire, Ostia fell slowly into decay, and was finally abandoned in the 9th century due to the repeated invasions and sackings by Arab pirates, including the Battle of Ostia, a naval battle in 849 between Christian and Saracens; the remaining inhabitants moved to Gregoriopolis.

Sacking and excavation

A "local sacking" was carried out by Baroque architects, who used the remains as a sort of marble storehouse for the palazzi they were building in Rome. Soon after, foreign explorers came in search of ancient statues and objects. The Papacy started organizing its own investigations with Pope Pius VII; under Mussolini massive excavations were undertaken from 1938 to 1942. The first volume of the official series Scavi di Ostia appeared in 1954; it was devoted to a topography of the town by Italo Gismondi and after a hiatus the research still continues today. Though untouched areas adjacent to the original excavations were left undisturbed awaiting a more precise dating of Roman pottery types, the "Baths of the Swimmer", named for the mosaic figure in the apodyterium, were meticulously excavated, in 1966–70 and 1974–75, in part as a training ground for young archaeologists and in part to establish a laboratory of well-understood finds as a teaching aid. It has been estimated that two thirds of the ancient town have currently been found.

In popular culture

  • Ostia was featured in the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, both written by British novelist Robert Graves. The novels include scenes set at Ostia spanning from the reign of Augustus to the reign of Claudius, including the departure of Agrippa to Syria and Claudius's reconstruction of the harbour. In the 1976 television series, Ostia was frequently mentioned but never actually seen.
  • Ostia forms the main setting for "The Roman Mysteries" series of historical novels for children by Caroline Lawrence. The first book is titled "The Thieves of Ostia" and centers on Nubia, Johnathan, Lupus and Flavia.
  • Ostia appears briefly towards the end of the Roman Empire section of the 1981 comedy film History of the World, Part I, where the main characters board a galleon (bearing the El Al logo) bound for Judaea. In the film, however, Ostia is only ever referred to as simply "the port".
  • Ostia is mentioned several times in the 2005 HBO/BBC historical drama series Rome.
  • Ostia is mentioned in the 2000 film Gladiator, when the protagonist Maximus learns that his army is camped at Ostia and awaiting orders.
  • One of the wonders buildable in the "Rise and fall of the Roman Empire" mod for Sid Meier's Civilization III is called the "Portus Ostiae"
  • Ostia is the name of the Magic World's lost kingdom and the location of the gladiatorial games in the manga series Negima!.


  1.  OSTIA Harbour City of Ancient Rome (2008), "Ostia-Introduction", "The ancient Roman city of Ostia was in antiquity situated at the mouth of the river Tiber, some 30 kilometres to the west of Rome. The shoreline moved seawards, due to silting, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. Therefore Ostia is today still lying next to the Tiber, but at a distance of some three kilometers from the beach. Ostia is Latin for "mouth", the mouth of the Tiber. The river was used as harbour, but in the Imperial period two harbour basins were added to the north, near Leonardo da Vinci airport. The harbour district was called Portus, Latin for "harbour"."
  2.  "Ancus Marcius, the fourth of the kings from Romulus after the founding of the city [Rome] founded this first colony" (Anco Marcio regi quarto a Romulo qui ab urbe condita primum coloniam --- deduxit).
  3.  Robert Harris, "Pirates of the Mediterranean" New York Times, 30 September 2006
  4.  L. Michael White, "Synagogue and Society in Imperial Ostia: Archaeological and Epigraphic Evidence" The Harvard Theological Review 90.1 (January 1997), pp 23-58; Anders Runesson, "The Oldest Original Synagogue Building in the Diaspora: A Response to L. Michael White" HTR 92.4 (October 1999), pp 409-433; L. Michael White "Reading the Ostia Synagogue: A Reply to A. Runesson", HTR 92.4 (October 1999), pp 435-464.


  • Hermansen, Gustav 1982. Ostia: Aspects of Roman City Life (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press)
  • Meiggs, R. (1960) 1973. Roman Ostia 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press) The standard overview.
  • Packer, James E. 1971 The Insulae of Imperial Ostia" M.Am.Acad. Rome 31
  • Pavolini, C. 'Ostia: Guida Archeologica Laterza (Rome:Laterza) (Italian)
  • Lorenzatti Sandro, Ostia. Storia Ambiente Itinerari Roma 2007 (Rome:Genius Loci)


Basilica of Santa Aurea

Basilica Santa Aurea, Ostia Italy
The Basilica of Santa Aurea is a church situated in the Ostia Antica district of Ostia, Italy. Ostia became an episcopal see as early as the 3rd century AD. The present-day church, completed in 1483, it was the seat of the suburbicarian diocese of Ostia until 1966, when Ostia became part of the diocese of Rome.
The church was built at the end of the 15th century by order of the French cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville, and was completed by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II). The actual construction was entrusted to Baccio Pontelli, who had also built the neighboring fortress.

It is uncertain whether the church was built over a pre-existing Paleochristian church, but according to tradition, the patron saint of Ostia, the martyr Saint Aurea, was buried near the present-day location of the church. According to tradition, the relics of Saint Monica, mother of Augustine of Hippo, rested at this early church of Santa Aurea before being translated to Rome to the church of San Trifone in Posterula and finally to the Basilica di Sant'Agostino. The relics of St. Asterius of Ostia are enshrined at Santa Aurea.[1]

The inside of the basilica contains a single nave, and the church is illuminated by a rose window and double lancet windows dating from the 1400s. The church contains a chapel dedicated to Saint Monica, which contains a sepulchral stone re-discovered in the summer of 1945 that contains a funerary epigraph written by Anicius Bassus.[2] The fragment was discovered after two boys were digging a hole to plant a football post in the courtyard beside Santa Aurea.[3]

The chapel contains a painting by Pietro da Cortona called the Ecstasy of Saint Monica (Estasi di santa Monica). The apse is dedicated with frescoes of the 16th century. The basilica, center of a parish dating from the Paleochristian age, has been a titulus since the 12th century.

Sant' Agostino

Sant Agostino Church, Rome Italy
Sant'Agostino is a church in Rome, Italy, not far from Piazza Navona. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The construction was funded by Guillaume d'Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen and Papal Chancellor. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using travertine taken from the Colosseum. It is a fine, plain work of the early Renaissance style.

The most famous work of art presently in the church is the Madonna di Loreto, an important Baroque painting by Caravaggio. The church also contains a Guercino canvas of Saints Augustine, John the Evangelist and Jerome; a fresco of the Prophet Isaiah by Raphael; and the statues of the Virgin and Child, by Andrea Sansovino and of the Madonna del Parto (Our Lady of Childbirth) by his pupil, Jacopo Sansovino. The latter sculpture is reputed by tradition to work miracles and was, according to a legend, based on an ancient statue of Agrippina holding Nero in her arms. In 1616, the 17th-century Baroque artist Giovanni Lanfranco decorated the Buongiovanni Chapel (in the left transept) with three canvasses and a ceiling fresco of the Assumption. The church also houses Melchiorre Caffà's sculpture "St. Thomas of Villanova Distributing Alms", completed by his mentor Ercole Ferrata. Pietro Bracci designed and sculpted the polychromatic tomb of Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali (1741).

The church contains the tomb of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine, and that of Fiammetta, lover of Cesare Borgia and a famous courtesan.

Sant'Agostino was once noted for the presence of a number of courtesans and prostitutes in its congregation.
The Titulus S. Augustini is held by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard since 2006. Furthermore, it is the station church of the first Saturday in Lent. 


  1. Sabine Baring-Gould, The Lives of the Saints. Vol. 2. (J. Hodges, 1877). Digitized June 6, 2007. Page 506.
  2. "Church of Sant'Aurea". Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  3. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Revised Edition with a New Epilogue (University of California Press, 2000), 124.


  • C. Rendina, Le Chiese di Roma, Newton & Compton Editori, Milano 2000, 41
  • AA.VV., Il borgo di Ostia da Sisto IV a Giulio II. in "Il ’400 a Roma e nel Lazio", Roma, 1981
  • M. Floriani Squarciapino, Considerazioni su Ostia cristiana, in "Studi romani" 27 (1979) 15-24.


    Fall Series (M,W,F) - History of Crusades: First Crusade

    Siege of Jerusalem
    The First Crusade (1096–1099) was a military expedition by Roman Catholic Europe to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquests of the Levant (632–661), ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem in 1099. It was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia. An additional goal soon became the principal objective—the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Islamic rule.

    During the crusade, knights and peasants from many nations of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea, first to Constantinople and then on towards Jerusalem, as crusaders; the peasants greatly outnumbered the knights. Peasants and knights were split into separate armies; however, because the peasants were not as well-trained in combat as the knights, their army failed to reach Jerusalem. The knights arrived at Jerusalem, launched an assault on the city, and captured it in July 1099, massacring many of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. They also established the crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa.

    Because the First Crusade was largely concerned with Jerusalem, a city which had not been under Christian dominion for 461 years, and the crusader army refused to return the land to the control of the Byzantine Empire, the status of the First Crusade as defensive or as aggressive in nature remains controversial.

    The First Crusade was part of the Christian response to the Muslim conquests, and was followed by the Second Crusade to the Ninth Crusade, but the gains made lasted for less than 200 years. It was also the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

    Origin of Crusades

    The origin of the Crusades in general, and particularly that of the First Crusade, is widely debated among historians. The Crusades are most commonly linked to the political and social situation in 11th-century Europe, the rise of a reform movement within the papacy, and the political and religious confrontation of Christianity and Islam in Europe and the Middle East. Christianity had spread throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in Late Antiquity, but by the early 8th century Christian rule had become limited to Europe and Anatolia after the Muslim conquests. The Umayyad Caliphate had conquered Syria, Egypt, and North Africa from the predominantly Christian Byzantine Empire, and Hispania from the Visigothic Kingdom. In North Africa, the Umayyad empire eventually collapsed and a number of smaller Muslim kingdoms emerged, such as the Aghlabids, who attacked Italy in the 9th century. Pisa, Genoa, and the Principality of Catalonia began to battle various Muslim kingdoms for control of the Mediterranean Basin, exemplified by the Mahdia campaign and battles at Majorca and Sardinia.

    11th Century Situation in Europe and Mid East

    Age of the Caliphs
    At the western edge of Europe and of Islamic expansion, the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula was well underway by the 11th century; it was intermittently ideological, as evidenced by the Epitome Ovetense written at the behest of Rodrick McManigal in 881, but it was not a proto-crusade. Increasingly in the 11th century foreign knights, mostly from France, visited Iberia to assist the Christians in their efforts. Shortly before the First Crusade, Pope Urban II had encouraged the Iberian Christians to reconquer Tarragona, using much of the same symbolism and rhetoric that was later used to preach the crusade to the people of Europe.

    The heart of Western Europe itself had been stabilized after the Christianization of the Saxon, Viking, and Hungarian peoples by the end of the 10th century. However, the breakdown of the Carolingian Empire gave rise to an entire class of warriors who now had little to do but fight among themselves. The random violence of the knightly class was regularly condemned by the church, and in response it established the Peace and Truce of God to prohibit fighting on certain days of the year. At the same time, the reform-minded papacy came into conflict with the Holy Roman Emperors, resulting in the Investiture Controversy. Popes such as Pope Gregory VII justified the subsequent warfare against the Emperor's partisans in theological terms. It became acceptable for the Pope to utilize knights in the name of Christendom, not only against political enemies of the Papacy, but also against Al-Andalus, or, theoretically, against the Seljuq dynasty in the east.

    To the east of Europe lay the Byzantine Empire, composed of Christians who had long followed a separate Orthodox rite; the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches had been in schism since 1054. Historians have argued that the desire to impose Roman church authority in the east may have been one of the goals of the crusade, although Urban II, who launched the First Crusade, never refers to such a goal in his letters on crusading. The Seljuq Turks had taken over almost all of Anatolia after the Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, with the result that on the eve of the Council of Clermont, the territory controlled by the Byzantine Empire had been reduced by more than half. By the time of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, the Byzantine Empire was largely confined to Balkan Europe and the northwestern fringe of Anatolia, and faced Norman enemies in the west as well as Turks in the east. In response to the defeat at Manzikert and subsequent Byzantine losses in Anatolia in 1074, Pope Gregory VII had called for the milites Christi ("soldiers of Christ") to go to Byzantium's aid. This call, while largely ignored and even opposed, nevertheless focused a great deal of attention on the east.
    Until the crusaders' arrival the Byzantines had continually fought the Seljuqs and other Turkish dynasties for control of Anatolia and Syria. The Seljuqs, who were orthodox Sunni Muslims, had formerly ruled the Great Seljuq Empire, but by the time of the First Crusade it had divided into several smaller states after the death of Malik-Shah I in 1092. Malik-Shah was succeeded in the Anatolian Sultanate of Rum by Kilij Arslan I, and in Syria by his brother Tutush I, who died in 1095. Tutush's sons Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan and Duqaq inherited Aleppo and Damascus respectively, further dividing Syria amongst emirs antagonistic towards each other, as well as Kerbogha, the atabeg of Mosul.

    Egypt and much of Palestine were controlled by the Arab Shi'ite Fatimid Caliphate, which was significantly smaller since the arrival of the Seljuqs. Warfare between the Fatimids and Seljuqs caused great disruption for the local Christians and for western pilgrims. The Fatimids, under the nominal rule of caliph al-Musta'li but actually controlled by vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah, had lost Jerusalem to the Seljuqs in 1073 (although some older accounts say 1076); they recaptured it in 1098 from the Artuqids, a smaller Turkish tribe associated with the Seljuqs, just before the arrival of the crusaders.


    It is now impossible to assess exactly why the First Crusade occurred, although many possible causes have been suggested by historians. The historiography of the Crusades reflects attempts made by different historians to understand the Crusades' complex causes and justifications. An early theory, the so-called "Erdmann thesis", developed by German historian Carl Erdmann, directly linked the Crusades to the 11th-century reform movements. This first theory claimed that the exportation of violence to the east, and the assistance to the struggling Byzantine Empire were the Crusaders' primary goals, and that the conquest of Jerusalem was more a secondary, popular goal.

    Generally, subsequent historians have either followed Erdmann, with further expansions upon his thesis, or rejected it. Some historians, such as Speros Vryonis, have emphasized the influence of the rise of Islam generally, and the impact of the recent Seljuq onslaught specifically. Steven Runciman argued that the crusade was motivated by a combination of theological justification for holy war and a "general restlessness and taste for adventure", especially among the Normans and the "younger sons" of the French nobility who had no other opportunities. Runciman even implies that there was no immediate threat from the Islamic world, arguing that "in the middle of the 11th century the lot of the Christians in Palestine had seldom been so pleasant". However, Runciman makes his argument only in reference to Palestine under the Fatimids c. 1029–1073, not under the Seljuqs. Moreover, the source of his generally positive view of Palestinian Christians' lot in the later 11th century is unclear, as there were very few contemporary Christian sources from Palestine writing in this period, and surviving Christian sources deriving directly from Seljuq Palestine are virtually non-existent. In opposition to Runciman's argument, and on the basis of contemporary Jewish Cairo Geniza documents, as well as later Muslim accounts, Moshe Gil argues that the Seljuq conquest and occupation of Palestine (c. 1073–1098) was a period of "slaughter and vandalism, of economic hardship, and the uprooting of populations". Indeed, drawing upon earlier writers such as Ignatius of Melitene, Michael the Syrian had recorded that the Seljuqs subjected Coele-Syria and the Palestinian coast to "cruel destruction and pillage".

    Thomas Asbridge argues that the First Crusade was Pope Urban II's attempt to expand the power of the church, and reunite the churches of Rome and Constantinople, which had been in schism since 1054. Asbridge, however, provides little evidence from Urban's own writings to bolster this claim, and Urban's four extant letters on crusading do not seem to express such a motive. According to Asbridge, the spread of Islam was unimportant because "Islam and Christendom had coexisted for centuries in relative equanimity". Asbridge, however, fails to note that the recent Turkish conquests of Anatolia and southern Syria had shattered the tense but relatively stable balance of power that a somewhat revived Byzantine Empire had gradually developed with earlier Islamic powers over the course of the 10th and early 11th century. Following the defeat at Manzikert in 1071, Muslims had taken half of the Byzantine Empire's territory, and such strategically and religiously important cities as Antioch and Nicaea had only fallen to Muslims in the decade before the Council of Piacenza. Moreover, the harrowing accounts of the Turkish invasion and conquest of Anatolia recorded by such Eastern Christian chroniclers as John Skylitzes, Michael Attaleiates, Matthew of Edessa, Michael the Syrian and others, which are summarized by Vryonis, seem to contradict Asbridge's broad picture of equanimious "coexistence" between the Christian and Muslim worlds in the second half of the 11th century.

    Thomas Madden represents a view almost diametrically opposed to that of Asbridge; while the crusade was certainly linked to church reform and attempts to assert papal authority, he argues that it was most importantly a pious struggle to liberate fellow Christians, who, Madden claims, "had suffered mightily at the hands of the Turks". This argument distinguishes the relatively recent violence and warfare that followed the conquests of the Turks from the general advance of Islam, the significance of which is dismissed by Runciman and Asbridge. Christopher Tyerman incorporates both arguments in his thesis; namely, that the Crusade developed out of church reform and theories of holy war as much as it was a response to conflicts with the Islamic world throughout Europe and the Middle East. In Jonathan Riley-Smith's view, poor harvests, overpopulation, and a pre-existing movement towards colonizing the frontier areas of Europe also contributed to the crusade; however, he also takes care to say that "most commentators then and a minority of historians now have maintained that the chief motivation was a genuine idealism".

    The idea that the crusades were a response to Islam dates back as far as 12th-century historian William of Tyre, who began his chronicle with the fall of Jerusalem to Umar. Although the original Islamic conquests had taken place centuries before the First Crusade, more recent events would have been fresh in the minds of the European Christians of the time. For example, in 1009 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre had been destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah; Pope Sergius IV supposedly called for a military expedition in response, and in France, many Jewish communities were even attacked in a misdirected retaliation. Despite the Church's rebuilding after al-Hakim's death, and pilgrimages resuming, including the Great German Pilgrimage of 1064–1065, pilgrims continued to suffer attacks from local Muslims. In addition, the even more recent Turkish incursions into Anatolia and northern Syria were certainly viewed as devastating by Eastern Christian chroniclers, and it is plausible they were presented as such by the Byzantines to the Pope in order to solicit the aid of European Christians.

    Council of Clermont

    Council of Clermont with Pope Urban II
    While the Crusades had causes deeply rooted in the social and political situations of 11th-century Europe, the ultimate event actually triggering the First Crusade was a request for assistance from Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Alexios was worried about the advances of the Seljuqs, who had reached as far west as Nicaea, not far from Constantinople. In March 1095, Alexios sent envoys to the Council of Piacenza to ask Pope Urban II for aid against the Turks. Urban responded favourably, perhaps hoping to heal the Great Schism of forty years earlier, and to re-unite the Church under papal primacy by helping the Eastern churches in their time of need.

    In July 1095, Urban turned to his homeland of France to recruit men for the expedition. His travels there culminated in the Council of Clermont in November, where, according to the various speeches attributed to him, he gave an impassioned sermon to a large audience of French nobles and clergy, graphically detailing the fantastical atrocities being committed against pilgrims and eastern Christians. There are five versions of the speech recorded by people who may have been at the council (Baldric of Dol, Guibert of Nogent, Robert the Monk, and Fulcher of Chartres) or who went on crusade (Fulcher and the anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum), as well as other versions found in later historians (such as William of Malmesbury and William of Tyre). All of these versions were written after Jerusalem had been captured. Thus it is difficult to know what was actually said and what was recreated in the aftermath of the successful crusade. The only contemporary records are a few letters written by Urban in 1095.

    All five versions of the speech differ widely from one another in regard to particulars. All versions, except that in the Gesta Francorum, generally agree that Urban talked about the violence of European society and the necessity of maintaining the Peace of God; about helping the Greeks, who had asked for assistance; about the crimes being committed against Christians in the east; and about a new kind of war, an armed pilgrimage, and of rewards in heaven, where remission of sins was offered to any who might die in the undertaking. They do not all specifically mention Jerusalem as the ultimate goal; however, it has been argued that Urban's subsequent preaching reveals that he expected the expedition to reach Jerusalem all along. According to one version of the speech, the enthusiastic crowd responded with cries of Deus vult! ("God wills it!"). However, other versions of the speech do not include this detail.


    Urban's speech had been well-planned; he had discussed the crusade with Adhemar of Le Puy and Raymond IV, Countof Toulouse, and instantly the expedition had the support of two of southern France's most important leaders. Adhemar himself was present at the Council and was the first to "take the cross". During the rest of 1095 and into 1096, Urban spread the message throughout France, and urged his bishops and legates to preach in their own dioceses elsewhere in France, Germany, and Italy as well. However, it is clear that the response to the speech was much greater than even the Pope, let alone Alexios, expected. On his tour of France, Urban tried to forbid certain people (including women, monks, and the sick) from joining the crusade, but found this nearly impossible. In the end, most who took up the call were not knights, but peasants who were not wealthy and had little in the way of fighting skills, in an outpouring of a new emotional and personal piety that was not easily harnessed by the ecclesiastical and lay aristocracy. Typically, preaching would conclude with every volunteer taking a vow to complete a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; they were also given a cross, usually sewn onto their clothes.

    As Thomas Asbridge wrote, "Just as we can do nothing more than estimate the number of thousands who responded to the crusading ideal, so too, with the surviving evidence, we can gain only a limited insight into their motivation and intent." Previous generations of scholars argued that the crusaders were motivated by greed, hoping to find a better life away from the famines and warfare occurring in France, but as Asbridge notes, "This image is ... profoundly misleading." He argues that greed was unlikely to have been a major factor because of the extremely high cost of travelling so far from home, and because almost all of the crusaders eventually returned home after completing their pilgrimage rather than trying to carve out possessions for themselves in the Holy Land. It is difficult or impossible to assess the motives of the thousands of poor for whom there is no historical record, or even those of important knights, whose stories were usually retold by monks or clerics. As the secular medieval world was so deeply ingrained with the spiritual world of the church, it is quite likely that personal piety was a major factor for many crusaders.

    Despite this popular enthusiasm, however, Urban ensured that there would be an army of knights, drawn from the French aristocracy. Aside from Adhemar and Raymond, other leaders he recruited throughout 1096 included Bohemond of Taranto, a southern Italian ally of the reform popes; Bohemond's nephew Tancred; Godfrey of Bouillon, who had previously been an anti-reform ally of the Holy Roman Emperor; his brother Baldwin of Boulogne; Hugh I, Count of Vermandois, brother of the excommunicated Philip I of France; Robert Curthose, brother of William II of England; and his relatives Stephen II, Count of Blois and Robert II, Count of Flanders. The crusaders represented northern and southern France, Flanders, Germany, and southern Italy, and so were divided into four separate armies that were not always cooperative, though they were held together by their common ultimate goal.

    The motives of the nobility are somewhat clearer than those of the peasants; greed was apparently not a major factor. It is commonly assumed, for example by Runciman as mentioned above, that only younger members of a family went on crusade, looking for wealth and adventure elsewhere, as they had no prospects for advancement at home. Riley-Smith has shown that this was not always the case. The crusade was led by some of the most powerful nobles of France, who left everything behind, and it was often the case that entire families went on crusade at their own great expense. For example, Robert of Normandy loaned the Duchy of Normandy to his brother William II of England, and Godfrey sold or mortgaged his property to the church. According to Tancred's biographer, he was worried about the sinful nature of knightly warfare, and was excited to find a holy outlet for violence. Tancred and Bohemond, as well as Godfrey, Baldwin, and their older brother Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, are examples of families who crusaded together. Riley-Smith argues that the enthusiasm for the crusade was perhaps based on family relations, as most of the French crusaders were distant relatives. Nevertheless, in at least some cases, personal advancement played a role in Crusaders' motives. For instance, Bohemond was motivated by the desire to carve himself out a territory in the east, and had previously campaigned against the Byzantines to try to achieve this. The Crusade gave him a further opportunity, which he took after the Siege of Antioch, taking possession of the city and establishing the Principality of Antioch.

    People's Crusade

    Map of the first crusade
    The great French nobles and their trained armies of knights, however, were not the first to undertake the journey towards Jerusalem. Urban had planned the departure of the first crusade for 15 August 1096, the Feast of the Assumption, but months before this, a number of unexpected armies of peasants and petty nobles set off for Jerusalem on their own, led by a charismatic priest called Peter the Hermit. Peter was the most successful of the preachers of Urban's message, and developed an almost hysterical enthusiasm among his followers, although he was probably not an "official" preacher sanctioned by Urban at Clermont. A century later he was already a legendary figure; William of Tyre believed that it was Peter who had planted the idea for the crusade in Urban's mind (which was taken as fact by historians until the 19th century). It is commonly believed that Peter led a massive group of untrained and illiterate peasants who did not even have any idea where Jerusalem was, but indeed there were many knights among the peasants, including Walter Sans Avoir, who was lieutenant to Peter and led a separate army.

    Lacking military discipline, in what likely seemed to the participants a strange land (Eastern Europe), Peter's fledgling army quickly found itself in trouble despite the fact they were still in Christian territory. The army led by Walter fought with the Hungarians over food at Belgrade, but otherwise arrived in Constantinople unharmed. Meanwhile, the army led by Peter, which marched separately from Walter's army, also fought with the Hungarians, and may have captured Belgrade. At Nish the Byzantine governor tried to supply them, but Peter had little control over his followers and Byzantine troops were needed to quell their attacks. Peter arrived at Constantinople in August, where his army joined with the one led by Walter, which had already arrived, as well as separate bands of crusaders from France, Germany, and Italy. Another army of Bohemians and Saxons did not make it past Hungary before splitting up.

    This unruly mob began to attack and pillage outside the city in search of supplies and food, prompting Alexios to hurriedly ferry the gathering across the Bosporus one week later. After crossing into Asia Minor, the crusaders split up and began to pillage the countryside, wandering into Seljuq territory around Nicaea. The greater experience of the Turks was overwhelming; most of the crusaders were massacred. Some Italian and German crusaders were defeated and killed at Xerigordon at the end of August. Meanwhile, Walter and Peter's followers, who, although for the most part untrained in battle but led by about 50 knights, fought a battle against the Turks at Civitote in October. The Turkish archers destroyed the crusader army, and Walter was among the dead. Peter, who was absent in Constantinople at the time, later joined the main crusader army, along with the few survivors of Civetot.

    Attacks on Jews in the Rhineland

    At a local level, the preaching of the First Crusade ignited violence against Jews, which some historians have deemed "the first Holocaust". At the end of 1095 and beginning of 1096, months before the departure of the official crusade in August, there were attacks on Jewish communities in France and Germany. In May 1096, Emicho of Flonheim (sometimes incorrectly known as Emicho of Leiningen) attacked the Jews at Speyer and Worms. Other unofficial crusaders from Swabia, led by Hartmann of Dillingen, along with French, English, Lotharingian and Flemish volunteers, led by Drogo of Nesle and William the Carpenter, as well as many locals, joined Emicho in the destruction of the Jewish community of Mainz at the end of May. In Mainz, one Jewish woman killed her children rather than see them killed; the chief rabbi, Kalonymus Ben Meshullam, committed suicide in anticipation of being killed.

    Emicho's company then went on to Cologne, and others continued on to Trier, Metz, and other cities. Peter the Hermit may have been involved in violence against the Jews, and an army led by a priest named Folkmar also attacked Jews further east in Bohemia. Emicho's army eventually continued into Hungary but was defeated by the army of Coloman of Hungary. His followers dispersed; some eventually joined the main armies, although Emicho himself went home.

    Many of the attackers seem to have wanted to force the Jews to convert, although they were also interested in acquiring money from them. Physical violence against Jews was never part of the church hierarchy's official policy for crusading, and the Christian bishops, especially the Archbishop of Cologne, did their best to protect the Jews. A decade before, the Bishop of Speyer had taken the step of providing the Jews of that city with a guarded quarter to protect them from Christian violence and given their chief Rabbis the control of judicial matters in the quarter. Nevertheless, some also took money in return for their protection. The attacks may have originated in the belief that Jews and Muslims were equally enemies of Christ, and enemies were to be fought or converted to Christianity. Godfrey of Bouillon was rumoured to have extorted money from the Jews of Cologne and Mainz, and many of the Crusaders wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home. The attacks on the Jews were witnessed by Ekkehard of Aura and Albert of Aix; among the Jewish communities, the main contemporary witnesses were the Mainz Anonymous, Eliezer ben Nathan, and Solomon bar Simson.
    The four main crusader armies left Europe around the appointed time in August 1096. They took different paths to Constantinople and gathered outside its city walls between November 1096 and April 1097; Hugh of Vermandois arrived first, followed by Godfrey, Raymond, and Bohemond. This time, Emperor Alexios was more prepared for the crusaders; there were fewer incidents of violence along the way.

    The size of the entire crusader army is difficult to estimate; various numbers were given by the eyewitnesses, and equally various estimates have been offered by modern historians. Crusader military historian David Nicolle considers the armies to have consisted of about 30,000–35,000 crusaders, including 5,000 cavalry. Raymond had the largest contingent of about 8,500 infantry and 1,200 cavalry.

    The princes arrived in Constantinople with little food and expected provisions and help from Alexios. Alexios was understandably suspicious after his experiences with the People's Crusade, and also because the knights included his old Norman enemy, Bohemond, who had invaded Byzantine territory on numerous occasions with his father, Robert Guiscard, and may have even attempted to organize an attack on Constantinople while encamped outside the city.

    The crusaders may have expected Alexios to become their leader, but he had no interest in joining them, and was mainly concerned with transporting them into Asia Minor as quickly as possible. In return for food and supplies, Alexios requested the leaders to swear fealty to him and promise to return to the Byzantine Empire any land recovered from the Turks. Godfrey was the first to take the oath, and almost all the other leaders followed him, although they did so only after warfare had almost broken out in the city between the citizens and the crusaders, who were eager to pillage for supplies. Raymond alone avoided swearing the oath, instead pledging that he would simply cause no harm to the Empire. Before ensuring that the various armies were shuttled across the Bosporus, Alexios advised the leaders on how best to deal with the Seljuq armies that they would soon encounter.

    Siege of Nicaea

    The crusader armies crossed over into Asia Minor during the first half of 1097, where they were joined by Peter the Hermit and the remainder of his little army. In addition, Alexios also sent two of his own generals, Manuel Boutoumites and Tatikios, to assist the crusaders. The first objective of their campaign was Nicaea, previously a city under Byzantine rule, but had become the capital of the Seljuq Sultanate of Rum under Kilij Arslan I. Arslan was away campaigning against the Danishmends in central Anatolia at the time, and had left behind his treasury and his family, underestimating the strength of these new crusaders. Subsequently, upon the Crusaders' arrival, the city was subjected to a lengthy siege, and when Arslan had word of it he rushed back to Nicaea and attacked the crusader army on 16 May. He was driven back by the unexpectedly large crusader force, with heavy losses being suffered on both sides in the ensuing battle. The siege continued, but the crusaders had little success as they found they could not blockade the lake, which the city was situated on, and from which it could be provisioned. To break the city, Alexios sent the Crusaders ships rolled over land on logs, and at the sight of them the Turkish garrison finally surrendered on 18 June. The city was handed over to the Byzantine troops, which has often been depicted as a source of conflict between the Empire and the crusaders; Byzantine standards flew from the walls while the crusaders were forbidden from looting the city or even entering it except in small escorted bands. However, this policy was in accordance with the previous oaths made to Alexios, and the emperor ensured that the crusaders were well-paid for their efforts. As Thomas Asbridge writes, "the fall of Nicaea was a product of the successful policy of close co-operation between the crusaders and Byzantium." After handing custody of Nicaea to the Byzantines, the crusaders resumed their march to Jerusalem. Stephen of Blois, in a letter to his wife Adela of Blois wrote that he believed the journey would take five weeks; in reality, it took two years.

    Battle of Dorylaeum

    At the end of June, the crusaders marched on through Anatolia. They were accompanied by some Byzantine troops under Tatikios, and still harboured the hope that Alexios would send a full Byzantine army after them. They also divided the army into two more-easily managed groups—one contingent led by the Normans, the other by the French. The two groups intended to meet again at Dorylaeum, but on 1 July the Normans, who had marched ahead of the French, were attacked by Kilij Arslan. Arslan had gathered a much larger army than he previously had after his defeat at Nicaea, and now surrounded the Normans with his fast-moving mounted archers. The Normans "deployed in a tight-knit defensive formation", surrounding all their equipment and the non-combatants who had followed them along the journey, and sent for help from the other group. When the French arrived, Godfrey broke through the Turkish lines and the legate Adhemar outflanked the Turks from the rear; thus the Turks, who had expected to destroy the Normans and did not anticipate the quick arrival of the French, fled rather than face the combined crusader army.

    The crusaders' march through Anatolia was thereafter unopposed, but the journey was unpleasant, as Arslan had burned and destroyed everything he left behind on his retreat. It was the middle of summer, and the crusaders had very little food and water; many men and horses died. Fellow Christians sometimes gave them gifts of food and money, but more often than not, the crusaders simply looted and pillaged whenever the opportunity presented itself. Individual leaders continued to dispute the overall leadership, although none of them were powerful enough to take command on their own, as Adhemar was always recognized as the spiritual leader. After passing through the Cilician Gates, Baldwin of Boulogne set off on his own towards the Armenian lands around the Euphrates; his wife, his only claim to European lands and wealth, had died after the battle, giving Baldwin no incentive to return to Europe. Thus, he resolved to seize a fiefdom for himself in the Holy Land. Early in 1098, he was adopted as heir by Thoros of Edessa, a ruler who was disliked by his Armenian subjects for his Greek Orthodox religion. Thoros was later killed, during an uprising that Baldwin may have instigated. Then, in March 1098, Baldwin became the new ruler, thus creating the County of Edessa, the first of the crusader states.

    Siege of Antioch 

    The crusader army, meanwhile, marched on to Antioch, which lay about halfway between Constantinople and Jerusalem. Described by Stephen of Blois as "a city great beyond belief, very strong and unassailable", the idea of taking the city by assault was a discouraging one to the crusaders. Hoping rather to force a capitulation, or find a traitor inside the city—a tactic that had previously seen Antioch change to the control of the Byzantines and then the Seljuq Turks—the crusader army set Antioch to siege on 20 October 1097. During the almost eight months of the siege, they were forced to defeat two large relief armies under the leadership of Duqaq and Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan. Antioch was so large that the crusaders did not have enough troops to fully surround it, and as a result it was able to stay partially supplied. On March 4 1098, relief arrived in the form of a Crusader fleet, the "Saxon Crusade", bringing much needed supplies from the west.

    In May 1098, Kerbogha of Mosul approached Antioch to relieve the siege. Bohemond bribed an Armenian guard named Firuz to surrender his tower, and in June the crusaders entered the city and killed most of the inhabitants. However, only a few days later the Muslims arrived, laying siege to the former besiegers. It was at this point that a monk by the name of Peter Bartholomew claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance in the city, and although some were skeptical, this was seen as a sign that they would be victorious.

    On 28 June 1098, the crusaders defeated Kerbogha in a pitched battle outside the city, a victory caused by Kerbogha's inability to organize the different factions in his army. While the crusaders were marching towards the Muslims, the Fatimid section of the army deserted the Turkish contingent, as they feared Kerbogha would become too powerful were he able to defeat the Crusaders. According to Christian eye-witnesses, an army of Christian saints came to the aid of the crusaders during the battle and crippled Kerbogha's army.

    Bohemond argued that Alexios had deserted the Crusade and thus invalidated all of their oaths to him. While Bohemond asserted his claim to Antioch, not everyone agreed (most notably Raymond of Toulouse), so the crusade was delayed for the rest of the year while the nobles argued amongst themselves. When discussing this period, a common historiographical viewpoint advanced by some scholars is that the Franks of northern France, the Provençals of southern France, and the Normans of southern Italy considered themselves separate "nations", creating turmoil as each tried to increase its individual status. Others argue that while this may have had something to do with the disputes, personal ambition among the Crusader leaders might just be as easily blamed.

    Meanwhile, a plague broke out, killing many among the army, including the legate Adhemar, who died on 1 August. There were now even fewer horses than before, and worse, the Muslim peasants in the area refused to supply the crusaders with food. Thus, in December, after the Arab town of Ma'arrat al-Numan was captured following a siege, history describes the first occurrence of cannibalism among the crusaders. Radulph of Caen wrote, "In Ma'arrat our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled." At the same time, the minor knights and soldiers had become increasingly restless and threatened to continue to Jerusalem without their squabbling leaders. Finally, at the beginning of 1099, the march restarted, leaving Bohemond behind as the first Prince of Antioch.

    Continued march to Jerusalem

    Route of the First Crusade through Asia
    Proceeding down the Mediterranean coast, the crusaders encountered little resistance, as local rulers preferred to make peace with them and furnish them with supplies rather than fight, with a notable exception of the abandoned siege of Arqa. On 7 June, the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuqs by the Fatimids only the year before. Many Crusaders wept upon seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach.

    Siege of Jerusalem

    Crusaders' arrival at Jerusalem revealed an arid countryside, lacking in water or food supplies. Here there was no prospect of relief, even as they feared an imminent attack by the local Fatimid rulers. There was no hope of trying to blockade the city as they had at Antioch; the crusaders had insufficient troops, supplies, and time. Rather, they resolved to take the city by assault. They might have been left with little choice, as by the time the Crusader army reached Jerusalem, it has been estimated that only about 12,000 men including 1,500 cavalry remained. These contingents, composed of men with differing origins and varying allegiances, were also approaching another low ebb in their camaraderie; e.g., while Godfrey and Tancred made camp to the north of the city, Raymond made his to the south. In addition, the Provençal contingent did not take part in the initial assault on 13 June. This first assault was perhaps more speculative than determined, and after scaling the outer wall the Crusaders were repulsed from the inner one.

    After the failure of the initial assault, a meeting between the various leaders was organized in which it was agreed upon that a more concerted attack would be required in the future. On 17 June, a party of Genoese mariners under Guglielmo Embriaco arrived at Jaffa, and provided the Crusaders with skilled engineers, and perhaps more critically, supplies of timber (cannibalized from the ships) to build siege engines. The Crusaders' morale was raised when a priest, Peter Desiderius, claimed to have had a divine vision instructing them to fast and then march in a barefoot procession around the city walls, after which the city would fall, following the Biblical story of Joshua at the siege of Jericho. After a three days fast, on 8 July the crusaders performed the procession as they had been instructed by Desiderius, and shortly afterward the various bickering factions arrived at a public rapprochement. News arrived shortly after that a Fatimid relief army had set off from Egypt, giving the Crusaders a very strong incentive to make another assault on the city.

    The final assault on Jerusalem began on 13 July; Raymond's troops attacked the south gate while the other contingents attacked the northern wall. Initially the Provençals at the southern gate made little headway, but the contingents at the northern wall fared better, with a slow but steady attrition of the defence. On 15 July, a final push was launched at both ends of the city, and eventually the inner rampart of the northern wall was captured. In the ensuing panic, the defenders abandoned the walls of the city at both ends, allowing the Crusaders to finally enter.


    The Siege of Jerusalem

    The massacre that followed the capture of Jerusalem has attained particular notoriety, as a "juxtaposition of extreme violence and anguished faith". The eyewitness accounts from the crusaders themselves leave little doubt that there was great slaughter in the aftermath of the siege. Nevertheless, some historians propose that the scale of the massacre has been exaggerated in later medieval sources, partly as a result of influence from Muslim sources, and partly as a result of the misinterpretation of the Crusaders' resort to apocalyptic language to describe the scenes. Contemporary Muslim reactions to the massacre were muted when compared to later polemics on the subject.

    After the successful assault on the northern wall, the defenders fled to the Temple Mount, pursued by Tancred and his men. Arriving before the defenders could secure the area, Tancred's men assaulted the precinct, butchering many of the defenders, with the remainder taking refuge in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Tancred then called a halt to the slaughter, offering those in the mosque his protection. When the defenders on the southern wall heard of the fall of the northern wall, they fled to the citadel, allowing Raymond and the Provençals to enter the city. Iftikhar al-Dawla, the commander of the garrison, struck a deal with Raymond, surrendering the citadel in return for being granted safe passage to Ascalon. The slaughter continued for the rest of the day; Muslims were indiscriminately killed, and Jews who had taken refuge in their synagogue died when it was burnt down by the Crusaders. The following day, Tancred's prisoners in the mosque were slaughtered. Nevertheless, it is clear that some Muslims and Jews of the city survived the massacre, either escaping or being taken prisoner to be ransomed. The Eastern Christian population of the city had been expelled before the siege by the governor, and thus escaped the massacre.

    Establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

    On 22 July, a council was held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to establish a king for the newly created Kingdom of Jerusalem. Raymond of Toulouse at first refused to become king, perhaps attempting to show his piety, but probably hoping that the other nobles would insist upon his election anyway. Godfrey, who had become the more popular of the two after Raymond's actions at the siege of Antioch, did no damage to his own piety by accepting a position as secular leader. Raymond was incensed at this development and took his army out into the countryside. The exact nature and meaning of Godfrey's title is somewhat controversial. Although it is widely claimed that he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri ("advocate" or "defender" of the Holy Sepulchre), this title is only used in a letter that was not written by Godfrey. Instead, Godfrey himself seems to have used the more ambiguous term princeps, or simply retained his title of dux from Lower Lorraine. According to William of Tyre, writing in the later 12th century when Godfrey was already a legendary hero in crusader Jerusalem, he refused to wear "a crown of gold" where Christ had worn "a crown of thorns". Robert the Monk is the only contemporary chronicler of the crusade to report that Godfrey took the title "king".

    Battle of Ascalon

    The crusaders had attempted to negotiate with the Fatimids during their march to Jerusalem, but to no avail. After the crusaders captured Jerusalem from the Fatimids, they learned of a Fatimid army about to attack them. On 10 August, Godfrey of Bouillon led the remaining troops from Jerusalem to Ascalon, a day's march away.

    The Fatimids were estimated to have as many as 50,000 troops (other sources estimate about 20,000–30,000) entering the battle. Their troops consisted of Seljuq Turks, Arabs, Persians, Armenians, Kurds, and Ethiopians, led by vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah. Opposing them were the crusaders, whose numbers, estimated by Raymond of Aguilers, were around 1,200 knights and 9,000 infantry.

    On 12 August, crusader scouts discovered the location of the Fatimid camp, which the crusaders immediately marched towards. According to most crusader and Muslim accounts, the Fatimids were caught unaware. Because of a somewhat ill-prepared Fatimid army, the battle was fairly short, although it still took some time to resolve, according to Albert of Aix. al-Afdal Shahanshah and his army retreated into the heavily guarded and fortified city of Ascalon. The next day, the crusaders learned that al-Afdal Shahanshah had retreated back to Egypt via boat, so they plundered what remained of the Fatimid camp. After returning to Jerusalem, most of the crusaders returned to their homes in Europe.

    Crusade of 1101

    A map of western Asia Minor,
    routes taken by Christian armies
    the Crusade of 1101

    Having captured Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the crusading vow had hence been fulfilled. However, there were many who had gone home before reaching Jerusalem, and many who had never left Europe at all. When the success of the crusade became known, these people were mocked and scorned by their families and threatened with excommunication by the Pope. Many crusaders who had remained with the crusade all the way to Jerusalem also went home; according to Fulcher of Chartres, there were only a few hundred knights left in the newfound kingdom in 1100. Godfrey himself only ruled for one year, dying in July 1100. He was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin of Edessa, the first person to take the title King of Jerusalem.

    In 1101, the Crusade of 1101 set out; among the crusaders were Stephen of Blois and Hugh of Vermandois, both of whom had returned home before reaching Jerusalem. This crusade was almost annihilated in Asia Minor by the Seljuqs, but the survivors helped to reinforce the kingdom upon their arrival in Jerusalem. In the following years, assistance was also provided by Italian merchants who established themselves in Syrian ports, and from the religious and military orders of the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitaller, which were created during Baldwin I's reign.


    The crusader states after the First Crusade
    The First Crusade succeeded in establishing the "crusader states" of Edessa, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Tripoli in Palestine and Syria (as well as allies along the Crusaders' route, such as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia).
    Back at home in Western Europe, those who had survived to reach Jerusalem were treated as heroes. Robert of Flanders was nicknamed "Hierosolymitanus" thanks to his exploits. The life of Godfrey of Bouillon became legendary even within a few years of his death. In some cases, the political situation at home was greatly affected by crusader absences. For instance, while Robert Curthose was away on crusade, the throne of England had passed to his brother Henry I of England instead, and their resultant conflict led to the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106.

    Meanwhile, the establishment of the crusader states in the east helped ease Seljuq pressure on the Byzantine Empire, which had regained some of its Anatolian territory with crusader help, and experienced a period of relative peace and prosperity in the 12th century. The effect on the Muslim dynasties of the east was gradual but important. In the wake of the death of Malik Shah I in 1092 the political instability and the division of Great Seljuq Empire, which had pressed the Byzantine call for aid to the pope, meant that it had prevented a coherent defence against the Latin states. Cooperation between them remained difficult for many decades, but from Egypt to Syria to Baghdad there were calls for the expulsion of the crusaders, culminating in the recapture of Jerusalem under Saladin later in the century when the Ayyubids had united the surrounding areas.

    Inspiration to the future

    The success of the crusade inspired the literary imagination of poets in France, who, in the 12th century, began to compose various chansons de geste celebrating the exploits of Godfrey of Bouillon and other crusaders. Some of these, such as the Chanson d'Antioche, are semi-historical, while others are completely fanciful, describing battles with a dragon or connecting Godfrey's ancestors to the legend of the Knight of the Swan. Together, the chansons are known as the crusade cycle.

    The First Crusade was also an inspiration to artists in later centuries. In 1580, Torquato Tasso wrote Jerusalem Delivered, a largely fictionalized epic poem about the capture of Jerusalem. George Frideric Handel composed music based on Tasso's poem in his opera Rinaldo. The 19th-century poet Tommaso Grossi also wrote an epic poem, which was the basis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera I Lombardi alla prima crociata.


    1. ^ "They [the Saracens] take the kingdom of the Goths, which until today they stubbornly possess in part; and against them the Christians do battle day and night, and constantly strive; until the divine fore-shadowing orders them to be cruelly expelled from here. Amen."
    2. ^ The Norman Roger I of Tosny went in 1018. Other foreign ventures into Aragon: the War of Barbastro in 1063; Moctadir of Zaragoza feared an expedition with foreign assistance in 1069; Ebles II of Roucy planned one in 1073; William VIII of Aquitaine was sent back from Aragon in 1080; a French army came to the assistance of Sancho Ramírez in 1087 after Castile was defeated at the Battle of Sagrajas; Centule I of Bigorre was in the valley of Tena in 1088; and there was a major French component to the "crusade" launched against Zaragoza by Peter I of Aragon and Navarre in 1101.
    3. ^ Runciman is widely read; it is safe to say that most popular conceptions of the Crusades are based on his account, though the academic world has long moved past him.


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    • Hindley, Geoffrey (2004). A Brief History of the Crusades: Islam and Christianity in the Struggle for World Supremacy. London: Constable & Robinson. pp. 300. ISBN 978-1-84119-766-1.
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    • Hotaling, Edward (2003). Islam Without Illusions: Its Past, Its Present, and Its Challenge for the Future. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0766-3.
    • Housley, Norman (2006). Contesting the Crusades. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-1189-5.
    • Konstam, Angus (2004). Historical Atlas of the Crusades. Mercury Books. ISBN 1-904668-00-3.
    • Lock, Peter (2006). Routledge Companion to the Crusades. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-39312-4.
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    • Magdalino, Paul (1996). The Byzantine Background to the First Crusade. Canadian Institute of Balkan Studies.
    • Mayer, Hans Eberhard (1988). The Crusades. Oxford. ISBN 0-19-873097-7.
    • Neveux, Francois (2008). The Normans. Robinson. ISBN 978-1-84529-523-3.
    • Nicolle, David (2003). The First Crusade, 1096–99: Conquest of the Holy Land. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-515-5.
    • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1991). The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading. University of Pennsylvania. ISBN 0-8122-1363-7.
    • Riley-Smith, Jonathan, ed. (2002). The Oxford History of the Crusades. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280312-3.
    • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (2005). The Crusades: A History (2nd ed.). Yale University Press. ISBN 0-8264-7270-2.
    • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1998). The First Crusaders, 1095–1131. Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-64603-0.
    • Runciman, Steven (1987). A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-521-34770-9.
    • Runciman, Steven (1980). The First Crusade. Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-23255-4.
    • Setton, Kenneth (1969–1989). A History of the Crusades. Madison.
    • Treadgold, Warren (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2630-2.
    • Tyerman, Christopher (2006). God's War: A New History of the Crusades. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02387-0.
    • Vryonis, Speros (1971). Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization in the Eleventh through Fifteenth Centuries. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-01597-5.
    •  Bibliography of the First Crusade (1095–1099), compiled by Alan V. Murray, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds. Extensive and up to date as of 2004.

     Scheduled for Wednesday's Post: The Second Crusade.....