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A Dialogue of the First Crusade
A Man of the First Crusade, 1095
Departing from Pau, my heart was pounding with supreme excitement and nervousness at the thought of setting off on a perilous mission for God. But soon, the journey became strenuous - myself and my companions were perpetually ravenous, and our muscles ached with exhaustion beyond which we had never felt. Disease prevailed along the journey and I found myself filled with terror and concern as the men around me began to fall ill and die. We buried them along the route but the sickness lingered and more men continued to be afflicted and forced to look Death in the eye. I and my family must thank God that I was not one of the men to fall ill and die.
I have learned from these battles that fear is an emotion that has the potency to conquer nearly any other. Any noble intentions a man might have, or ambitions, or yearning for eternal salvation, can be overpowered in a single instant by his sinful terror. Throughout my journey to the great city of Jeruselem, obstacles were ubiquitous and I had every reason to be fearful, and yet I never did experience the intensified fear that assaulted me at the very moment I set foot onto the battlefield.
The people of the religion of Islam are a selfish, sinful, misled group of individuals. They have no sense of righteousness and refuse to believe the truth about Jesus of Nazareth, and such ignorance must be punished. They have no right to the city of Jerusalem, not when the people of my faith are the true chosen people who have come to love, serve, and fear the Lord our God in his light and in the truth his son has taught us. We deserve Jerusalem. We require the powerful spiritual history that began there. It is a city closer to Christ than any other, and underneath Pope Urban II we have the strength and the unbeatable will to regain it.
I have been promised an admirable estate in Jerusalem, should I battle the Muslims to the extent that I please God with my courage. My family shall have an extraordinary life and future living on the land that we have been assured. Not only am I fighting for salvation and for my endless love toward Jesus Christ our Lord, but also for the prominent family and numerous hard-working children of mine that shall one day reside and thrive on my estate.
A Woman of the Islamic Faith, 1099 A.D.
I heard word of the approaching Christians just a day before they attacked. I held my children close to me and whispered in their small ears that they would be safe, that the shelter of Allah's love would protect them. But my thoughts were with my dear beloved, my husband, whom I married seven years ago, defying the wishes of my family, strictly for the love we share. He was preparing for battle with the Christians who plan to steal our city and our home. How might I keep him safe? How might I prevent him from sacrificing his life for our family, but without allowing the men from the West to wreak absolute destruction upon the Holy City that is our home?
It seemed so fast that the Christians held us under siege. Two machines had been built and we stayed within the defensive walls of Jerusalem, cowering in hushed terror. It was not long before the Crusaders found their way over the walls of my city. When they flooded over the walls like a swarm of deadly bees, I buried my childrens' heads in my chest to shield them from the horrifying scene in front of me. Hidden in the shadows in front of my home, watching the city and longing for so much as a even quick glimpse of the man whose return I awaited, I witnessed brutal murder and torture that would leave any woman scarred. Blood streamed down the once-beautiful streets of the Holy City. And then, when they invaded my home and killed the children I love, I was lucky to escape alive.
Following the battles and the wild rampage of the Crusaders, I was taken by a group of men that dragged me through the city and onto the border of the city. I cried and screamed desperately, mourning the deaths of my children, the disappearance of the man I loved, and yearning for my own death. They forced me to return to the city. They ordered me, with voices as rough as the bark of a tree and as cold as ice, to load a body onto my shoulders. Choking back my tears and my protests, I heaved the dead body of a member of my fellow faith onto my shoulders. However, the weight of the person I held was not nearly as burdensome as the weight of my broken heart.
Recently I have heard reports that 70,000 Muslims were killed in the First Crusade of the Christians I have come to despise. The Dome of the Rock, the haven of the few treasures that remained in my city, was invaded and robbed by the Christians. Nothing is left other than a newfound desire, a raw instinct, to survive.