Pope Urban II's Speech at the Council of Clermont

Version of Robert the Monk November 27, 1095  

Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race chosen and beloved by God . . . We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to your country, what peril threatening you and all the faithful has brought us here.
  From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to us. A race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God . . . has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage, and fire. They have captured the inhabitants and taken them away. They have destroyed them by cruel tortures. . . . They destroy altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and taking out their intestines, they tie them to a stake. Then they flog the victims and make them walk around the stake until their guts spill on the ground and they collapse. Others they tie to a post and shoot arrows into them. Others they cut off their heads with a single blow. What shall I say of the rape of women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent.

Another Witness was Robert the Monk

This land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. [...] God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Robert further reports:

When Pope Urban had said these [...] things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out 'It is the will of God! It is the will of God!'. When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, [he] said: Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.' Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God![


Translation modified on the base of The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and Other Source Materials, edited by Edward Peters (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971) 2-3   Also adapted from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook