History | 1950 | Sound | Colour
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During the last years of the 11th century, fanatical Moslems got control of the Holy Land and began to threaten Eastern Europe. The Christian world rose to liberate the Holy Land in wars known as the Crusades."
This is a reconstruction of how the Crusades affected one French nobleman's family. We begin at Montbref Castle in the Year of our Lord 1095 AD. Made in the 1950's
A procession leads down from the castle. Monks and members of the nobleman's family carry a large wooden cross, it is St. Bartholomew's Day. A messenger wearing chain mail and medieval garb rides a horse towards the castle. Good mid shot of the messenger attempting to handing a rolled up piece of parchment to the lord of the manor. The master passes him by and continues with the procession; they all do the sign of the cross. The lord eventually receives his message, he has been summoned to listen to the Pope speak. Map of the 11th century Christian lands of Europe divided into the Latin/Roman church to the west of Rome and Greek/Eastern church to the east. The Pope holds a council with his bishops and abbots. The Byzantine Empire has called for help against the invading Turks. In the garden of Sir William Montbref's castle, he and his sons say goodbye to the womenfolk (!) before riding off to hear the Pope. Outside the castle walls they meet colleagues and ride off, waving goodbye to their family. The knights gather before the Pope as he gives his speech. Good head shots of the crowd including knights in chain mail, women with plaits, peasants and merchants. The Pope makes a motivating speech to fight as Knights of Christ in defence of the Eastern church. The crowd go wild. Great shots of women sewing the red cross onto the garments of laymen and monks in the town square, including a close up of a woman hand sewing a cross onto a man's tunic when he is still wearing it. Beating the red cross into the shield of a knight. Itinerant preachers spread the world, including Peter the Hermit with his entourage. He goes to Montbref Castle and a crowd gathers before him to hear him preach. Men and women join him in his travels. Leading noblemen of France gather to organise the fighting force. Philip and Stephen, Sir William's sons leave with their foot soldiers to fight in the East. Money is collected from merchants to fund the fighting. The first crusaders were the peasants who were massacred by the Turks in Asia Minor (explained on a map). The Western Knights sight Constantinople (archive footage of a flat town with a castle in the background!). Three knights are received in a garden by the Emperor Alexis. They ask him for ships, he refuses. They strike a deal. Swirling waves; the knights get their ships if they return liberated Byzantine land to the Emperor. Shots of the family in the castle awaiting news from their sons and husbands. A messenger is sent from the castle to speak with any new arrivals from the East. Interior of castle; women looking at silk, clothes, bracelets, pottery, jewels from the Eastern lands. Interior of a medieval soldier's tent, two knights, one, Philip of Montbref, writing a letter on parchment by candle light and fire light to his wife. A map indicates the route of the crusaders through Nicaea. Live footage of soldiers walking through rocky desert landscape. Map follows route onto Edessa through to Antioch, Syria. This is intercut with paintings. Arabs in the desert on camels (same footage as in film no 009377, The Middle East!). Medieval knights on the battlements of a castle. An Arab on a running camel. Excavation of the lance which pierced Jesus according to a vision of Peter Bartholomew's. Digging into the ground and finding the lance. High shot of soldiers running across a bridge over a moat to attack the Turks. General medieval battle scenes. This has been Philip of Montbref's letter. He signs his scroll and rolls it up. Soldiers walk through a desert scape with no horses. Marching through ruins. Crusaders with a flock of sheep approach the Holy Land. The knights had forced a shepherd and his flock to join them to provide the troops with food. An olive grove overlooking Jerusalem, Israel, the Middle East (or Near East) or Jerusalem, Palestine, the Middle East as it was then. The wall of the city of Jerusalem protected by soldiers in an aerial shot. The crusaders set up camp. Pouring water into a crusader's helmet for him to drink. A group of crusaders and Peter the Hermit pray. A March of Penitence around the walls of Jerusalem. More scenes of the soldier's camp. Building weapons for attacking the walls of the city. Archers at the top of the turreted walls aim their arrows. Crusaders place ladders to scale the wall. Archers fire arrows. Sword fights. Good close up of an archer firing an arrow at the crusaders from the battlements. More sword fighting. One knight has a jousting stick. A soldier gets hit in the neck by an arrow and falls to the ground. Egyptian soldiers within the walls of Jerusalem pour boiling water and throw stones off the battlements onto the crusaders. More general medieval battle scenes. Killing civilians including a woman. A dead soldier. More fighting by the city walls and in the streets. Wounded crusaders are brought back to the camp. A stretcher made of shields. Philip of Montbref has been wounded! Interior of the tent where he lays, hurt and bleeding. His brother, Stephen is off pillaging etc etc. Philip is given water by a priest. He returns to France. Interior of Montbref Castle. He is greeted by his wife and the daughter he has never seen. Stephen's betrothed awaits news of him, looking blankly tragic. Philip has gifts of jewels for her and the news that she must join her husband to be. Stephen remained in Palestine (general landscape shots) as a Baron of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Interior of his new feudal manor where he is receiving visitors and offering exotic food. His son is ill and a Moslem doctor attends him indicating how the two religions cooperate with one another. Interior of a bedchamber. Moslem revenge against Christian settlers in Jerusalem occurred fifty years after the first crusade. Map indicates battle front. Jerusalem became Moslem again after the failure of the Second Crusade. In the Third Crusade, Richard of England, Frederick of Germany and Phillipe-Augustus of France set sail for Jerusalem. Frederick drowned. Richard quarreled with his men. Only pilgrimage rights were secured from Saladine. This is all shown by rostrum of paintings from the time, not re-enactment. Fourth Crusade was called by Pope Innocent but only got as far as Constantinople. By the end of the 13th century the last Christian fortress fell. Building new towers on Montbref Castle. Two workers pass a brick between them. Windmill. New goods from the East in the market place including fabrics and spices (two women taste spices and purchase them from the Italian trader using florins from Florence). Close up of hand holding coins such as florins and ducats from Venice.
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