Friday, July 22, 2022

Today on the Almanac: A Catholic Rules Jerusalem.

*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 22nd of July. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac, brought to you by 1517 at I’m Adam Francisco in for Dan van Voorhis.

Today on Christian History Almanac, we look at that the events that led to the ascension of a catholic nobleman to the position of ruler over Muslim-occupied Jerusalem on July 22, 1099. The man’s name was Godfrey of Bouillion.

Godfrey came from France. He had started his journey to the holy land in 1096. Three years later, he found himself appointed as king. However, he preferred the old Roman title princips or defender of the holy sepulcher, that is, defender of the tomb from which Jesus rose after his crucifixion.

What was a French catholic doing in Jerusalem? How on earth did he become king of a region that had been ruled and populated by Muslims since the great jihads of the 7th century?

You may have guessed it. Godfrey was part of—in fact, a leader of--the first of many crusades in the holy land.

The backstory is quite interesting. Here’s a quick rundown. Christians had been living under Muslim rule in and around the holy land for centuries. In the middle of the 1000s, a group of Turkish Muslims from the Seljuq tribe began a reign of terror there. Reports say that Christians were rounded up and tortured in some rather gruesome ways. One source tells us they particularly enjoyed cutting around a Christian’s belly button and yanking out some of the intestines, tying them to a stick, and then forcing the Christian to run around as his bowels spilled out. Altars were desecrated with the blood collected from forced circumcision, and many ancient churches were destroyed.

By the end of the century, a request for help was sent to Pope Urban II from the eastern church. And at the Council of Clermont in 1095, he announced that Christians in the west had a holy obligation to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in the east. He even promised an indulgence granting complete remission of sins for those who participated. The council responded with a resolute “Deus vult,” God wills it.

The crusades were born. And Godfrey, along with thousands of other European Christians, began their preparations and, under the sign of the cross (crucesignati—the word from which we get crusade), began the long march towards Jerusalem in 1096. It took a long time, and they faced tremendous obstacles along the way, but in early July of 1099, they had arrived at the holy city of Jerusalem. After a long siege and vicious battle, Godfrey, his brother Baldwin, and a number of other noblemen conquered the city, after which they elected Godfrey as the first king of the Latin (and catholic) kingdom of Jerusalem, which would last until 1187 as the gains of that first crusade were rolled back by Muslim forces under the leadership of men like the famous Kurd Salah al-Din as the Ayyubid dynasty rose to prominence in the region.

Now a word from scripture, Exodus 15:

1Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
 for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
 he has hurled into the sea.

2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
 he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
 my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a warrior;
 the Lord is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
 he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
 are drowned in the Red Sea.[b]5 The deep waters have covered them;
 they sank to the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, Lord,
 was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
 shattered the enemy.

7 “In the greatness of your majesty
 you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
 it consumed them like stubble.
8 By the blast of your nostrils
 the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
 the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy boasted,
 ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
 I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
 and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
 and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
 in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
 is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
 majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
 working wonders?

12 “You stretch out your right hand,
 and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
 the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
 to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
 anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
 the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people[c] of Canaan will melt away;
16 terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
 they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, Lord,
 until the people you bought[d] pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
 on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
 the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

18 “The Lord reigns
 for ever and ever.”

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 22nd of July brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie and written by Adam Francisco.

You can catch us here every day. And remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. In the end, everything is going to be ok.

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