The First Crusade Collapses

John Haywood describes the final battles of the First Crusade in July 1099.

Around midday on July 15th, 1099, two Flemish knights, Litold and Gilbert of Tournai, fought their way from the top of a siege tower onto the walls of Jerusalem. As they cleared the walls of defenders more Crusaders crossed from the tower or clambered up scaling ladders. They quickly seized the Gate of the Column and opened it to the rest of the Crusader army. As the ecstatic Crusaders flooded into the holy city they began to slaughter its panic-stricken Muslim and Jewish population. The killing continued throughout the afternoon and the following night, ending only the next morning with the massacre of a group of Muslims who had taken refuge on the roof of the al-Aqsa mosque. How many died is unknown; many certainly escaped and a lucky few succeeded in ransoming themselves, but it took the Crusaders the best part of a week to clear the city of bodies. With Jerusalem taken, the unity of the Crusaders, always fragile, began to break down and it was an acrimonious meeting that finally elected Godfrey de Bouillon 'Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre' on July 22nd. Jerusalem was to remain in Christian hands for the next eighty eight years.

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