The French Crusaders’ Victories Came From Their High Admiration of Honor and Bravery

February 11, 2021

The military customs and manners of the Franks who were then engaged in Palestine, present an object worthy of fixing the attention of the historian and the philosopher, and may serve to explain the rapid rise and the following decline of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The spirit of honor which animated the warriors, and permitted them not to fly, even in an unequal fight, was the most active principle of their bravery, and with them took the place of discipline. To abandon a companion in danger, or to retire before an enemy, was an action infamous in the sight of God or man. In battle, their close ranks, their lofty stature, their war-horses, like themselves covered with steel, overturned, dispersed, or bore down the numerous battalions of the Saracens.

In spite of the weight of their armor, nothing could exceed the rapidity with which they passed to places the most distant. They were to be seen fighting almost at the same time in Egypt, on the Euphrates, and on the Orontes; and only left these their customary theaters of victory to threaten the principality of Damascus, or some city of Arabia. In the midst of their exploits they recognized no other law but victory, abandoned and rejoined at pleasure the standards which led them to the enemy, and required nothing of their chief but the example of bravery.

Joseph François Michaud, History of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (London: George Routledge and Co., 1852), 1:308–9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 764

 

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