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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 73



The long-looked-for time was now at hand, when the hoary garb of winter being laid aside, the world clad in vernal bloom, invited the pilgrims to the confines of the East. And in the beginning of March, 1097, the masses of European population began to roll. The first band that swept on through Germany into Hungary consisted of twenty thousand footmen, marshalled under Walter the Penniless. Then followed Peter the Hermit, with forty thousand men, women and children. Next a German priest headed fifteen thousand enthusiasts, and another band of two hundred thousand unarmed and disorderly people hurried on by the same path ; and ere these despe-rate adventurers had reached the borders of the Grecian Empire, Europe glittered with mustering hosts of warriors arrayed in all the pomp and splendor of chivalry, and led by the greatest warriors of the age. Few chieftains brought so many soldiers to the standard of the cross as Stephen, Count of Blois and Chartres. But notwithstanding the precipitate zeal of Bobert, and the prompt and politic measures of Adela, the summer was wasted in idle delays ; and it was not till the autumnal equinox that these distinguished nobles joined the forces of Hugh, Count of Vermandois, and crossed the Alps, intend-ing to proceed by sea to the Holy Land. They found Pope Urban at Lucca, and received from him the standard of St. Peter. The autumn was passed in the gaiety and dissipa-tion of Italy, where the earls disposed their troops for win-ter-quarters. Count Stephen returned once more to Blois, already dissatisfied with the prospects of the expedition. In the ensuing spring, one year after the time designated by the pope, with Robert and Hugh, and their united forces, the husband of Adela embarked for Palestine. In the meantime numbers, disaffected by the first encounter-ing of difficulties, returned to claim subsistence from the bounty of the Countess of Blois. " Methinks, my beneficent sister," said Henry, observing her charity towards the miserable wretches, "if thou hadst seen yon beggars sell their flocks and herds for a few shil- 80 HEROINES OF THE CRUSADES.


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