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Jerusalem Seiged
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  Home >> The Crusades >> The First Crusade >> Jerusalem Sieged

The main army moved out on June 6th and camped at Jerusalem on the 7th. The Egyptian commander had made sure the city was well-stocked and had expelled all the Christians from the city. He poisoned the wells around the city and settled in to await rescue from Egypt. The Crusaders numbered about 1500 knights and 12000 foot soldiers, an army that the Egyptians could easily overwhelm if they chose.

The Crusaders invested the city, but without siege engines they were unable to do anything effective. The walls were too strong to take by storm, and there was no one on the inside who might betray the city. A general assault on 12 June failed with heavy losses. They had to have siege engines.

Jerusalem is in the middle of a desert. It was over twenty miles to the nearest forests, but the Crusaders had no choice. Robert of Flanders and Tancred went to Samaria and began the work of cutting timber. The process took weeks. News came in early July that the Egyptians were at last on the move; the army had maybe a month before they arrived.

Acting in accordance with yet another vision, this one of Bishop Adhemar himself, the priests ordered a fast for the whole army. Following the fast, on July 8th, the entire army marched in solemn procession around the walls of Jerusalem. The Muslims watching from the walls mocked the Christians, for they were all dressed as penitents and were singing psalms. After the circuit, the army assembled on the Mount of Olives, where Peter the Hermit preached to them, followed by Raymond of Aguilers, then by Arnulf Malecorne. It was a moving experience for everyone.

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