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At the end of the 11th century, in France, Germany and throughout Europe there were a lot of unemployed knights, so to speak. The term knight meant mercenary soldier. He was built to kill and if there was no wars then he was unemployed and he had no other skills. The romantic idea of knights built up in the western world by King Arthur’s round table and other such fairy tales are completely devoid to any relationship to reality. These knights were illiterate, evil, brutal people. The pope, who then had temporal power as well as spiritual power was worried about all these knights running around with swords and therefore the Church supported a crusade which meant organizing all these knights in an army and marching them to the land of Israel, Palestine then, in order to take it from the hands of the Moslims and restore it to Christian sovereignty. In 1096 the first Crusade set out. It was led by Godfrey of Bouillon. On the way the Crusaders said why do we have to go all the way to the Middle East to kill infidels when there are infidels living right next to us – the Jews. And therefore, in the spring and summer of 1096 terrible pogroms occurred regarding the Jews who lived in France and in the German Rhineland. The cities of Worms, of Spires and of Mayence were decimated and the Crusaders killed Jews throughout Europe. The Crusades became one of the major tragedies in Jewish history. The Crusaders finally reached the land of Israel, and conquered Jerusalem. There were about 300 Jews in Jerusalem. The Crusaders hurdled them all into a synagogue and set it on fire. They also killed all the Moslims in the community. They were very brutal. Godfrey of Bouillon died. There’s a Jewish legend that he was cursed by Rashi to never come back to Troyes and when he did he would only come back with two horsemen. The legend is that he only came back with three horsemen and crossing the arch into the city one of the horsemen died. That’s a great legend but that isn’t what happened. Godfrey of Bouillon dies in the land of Israel where he is buried. The Crusader period lasts from 1096 to the middle of the 1200’s and it spread throughout the Middle East but it never took root in Israel because the Christian masses of Europe never sought to emigrate to the land of Israel or to live there on a permanent basis. The Crusades is a blot on the history of the Church and on the history of Christian Europe.