Incredible elements in the chronicles of the First Crusade

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1971

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When the crusaders journeyed to the Holy Land in 1096, they took along with them, chroniclers who kept diaries of events of the everyday life and the battles of the Christians. These men, obviously impressed by the greatness of their movement, wished to exalt it as well as to make their accounts of the crusade appealing to those capable of reading them. In order to do this, the writers found it necessary to add fanciful and dramatic details as well as fictional episodes, which constitute what I will call incredible elements. By employing these elements, the chroniclers were able to illustrate and give depth of meaning to particular episodes and characterizations. What is more significant, these components provided a way of placing the events of the crusade within a religious setting. Omens, visions, and miracles abound in their books. Battle scenes become more colorful when ritualistic and symbolical materials are added to them. Furthermore, the chroniclers' trust in God is evident throughout their works. They saw the Christian army as part of a grand divine theme. Therefore, all occurrences on the journey, good and bad, were ordained by the will of God and were not to be questioned. Following the chronicles of the First Crusade can be an exciting and a somewhat confusing experience for the modern reader. To fully comprehend and appreciate them, one must understand the unusual happenings and even preposterous statements found in those books. This thesis is an attempt to examine the elements found in the chronicles of the First Crusade, as well as to make them understandable to the general reader. Moreover, a careful study provides an informative insight into the mind of the man of the Middle Ages.

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