Conditions in Palestine prior to the First Crusade
William of Tyre:
Inter has tam periculosi temporis insidias accedebat tam Graecorum quam Latinorum gratia devotionis ad loca venerabilia multitudo nonnula, quibus per mille mortis genera, perque hostium regions, ad urbem accedentibus negabatur introitus, nisi in porta aureus, qui pro tributo constitutus erat, janitoribus daretur. Sed qui in itinere cuncta perdiderant, et vix cum incolumitate membrorum ad loca pervenerant optata, unde tributum solverent, non habebant. Sic enim fiebat, ut ante urbem ex talibus mille vel plures collecti, et expectantes introeundi licentiam, fame et nuditate consumti deficerent. Guil. Tyr. hist. bell.sacr. l.1. c.10.
Through such treacheries of a dangerous time, considerable throngs of as many Greeks as Latins came to holy sites for the sake of devotion. As they arrived to the city past thousands of modes of death through enemy lands, entry was forbidden to them unless they paid the doorkeepers at the Golden gate which was assigned for tolls. But those who had lost everything during their journey and came to the desired place barely alive did not have anything they could offer as payment. And so it was that in view of the city a thousand or more of such people were dying of hunger and cold while awaiting permission to enter (Guil. Tyr. Hist. Bell. Sacr. 1 I.C.10)
The First Crusade
Anno autem nonagesimo quinto Urbanus II. metu Henrici IV. Imperatoris, cujus ingratiis Romanam sedem tenebat, ex Italia in Gallia transgressus, ad Clarum montem, Alverniae civitatem, regnante in Francia Philippo I. Concilium egit, multorum Principum, Episcoporum et Abbatum praesentia decoratum, quibus prolixa oratione suscipiendam in Palaestinam expeditionem persuasit, cumulatam noxarum omnium expiationem pro longinquae militiae aerumnis, cunctis, qui illi nomen darent pollicitus. Quare universus Occidens, Italia excepta, quam Pontifex periculoso hoc itinere non imprudenter exemerat, numerosissimos brevia ad bellum exercitus fudit, anno sequenti diversa via, sub auspiciis praesertim Gothofredi Bullionae Lotharingiae Ducis, (qui Paulo Aemilio teste, ad expianda peccata, signatis cruce militibus hisce se aggregavit) atque Petri Eremitae, per varios casus et multa rerum discrimina in Palaestinam ductos.
And in the year 1095, during the reign of Philippe I in France, Urban II, in fear of Henry IV, the Emperor, against whose will he held the throne in Rome, crossed over from Italy to Gaul, to the Clermont monastery, in the city of Auvergne. He assembled a council, adorned with the presence of many princes, bishops and abbots, persuading them in a long speech to undertake an expedition to Palestine and promising complete remission of sins for the hardships of this long campaign to those who would enroll in his army. Because of this, the entire West, with the exception of Italy, which was not unwisely excluded by the Pontific from this dangerous expedition, in short time provided numerous troops for this campaign. The next year, under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine (who, according to Paolo Emilio, joined these knights bearing the sign of the cross in order for his sins to be absolved) and Peter the Hermit, they were led by different routes to Palestine enduring difficulties of various sorts and many critical situations.
Situation in the Holy Land after the First Crusade.
Equidem Hierosolymae anno memorati seculi supra nonagesimum nono fuere occupatae, et Gothofredus Rex constitutus: verum et Saraceni, Turcae, Aegyptiique postea saepius in regnum irruerunt, et latrones continuis incursibus vias maxime infestarunt, ut qui ad sancta miserandae telluris loca contenderent, tot fere se, quot antea, periculis exponerent. Atque hanc ob rem nonnullorum animos subiit religio, qua sese ad sacri sepulchri custodiam, et viatorum illud visitaturorum a grassatoribus defensionem addstrinxerunt.
And so, Jerusalem was occupied in the memorable 99th year of that century, and Godfrey was made its king, but even afterwards Saracens, Turks and Egyptians frequently invaded the kingdom, and robbers greatly disturbed the roads with continuing assaults. As a result, those who traveled to the holy sites of this sorrowful Earth exposed themselves to practically the same dangers as before. Therefore, a devotion originated in the souls of some people, according to which they committed themselves to guarding the Holy Sepulcher and protecting travelers who were coming to visit it.
Founders of the Templar Order according to William of Tyre
Id primi fecere Equites novem, viri Illustres, Latini omnes primaeque in Palaestinam expeditionis socii, et inter eos referente Tyrio l. 12. c.7. Hugo de Paganis (de Payens) et Ganfredus de Sancto Aldemaro, quem Matthaeus Paris in Henrico I. Godefridum de S. Audemaro, Volaterranus autem l.21. et ex eo Polydorus Vergilius de invent. Rer. l.7. c.5. Ganfredum de S. Alexandro appellant.
Prima autem eorum professio, quodque eis a D. Patriarcha et reliquis Episcopis in remissionem peccatorum injunctum est, ut vias et itinera, maxime ad salutem peregrinorum contra latronum et incursantium insidias pro viribus conservarent, verba sunt laudati porroque laudandi saepius Tyrii, l.c. quae fere Matthaeus Paris exscripsit. Iidem viri Deo devoti, religiosi et timentes Deum, in manu D. Patriarchae, Christi mancipantes se servitio, more Canonicorum regularium in castitate et obedientia, et sine proprio velle perpetuo vivere professi sunt.
Nine knights and famous men, members of the first expedition to Jerusalem, all of Latin faith, were the first ones to do so. Among them, according to William of Tyre (12 c.7), were Hugo de Paganis (de Payens) and Ganfred de Sancto-Aldemaro , whom Matthew Paris while discussing Henry I calls Godefrey de S. Audemaro, but Volateran (1.21) and from him Polydor Vergil in “Discoverers of things” (1.7.c.5) call him Ganfred de S. Alexandro.
Their first duty, and also the one that was imputed by the Patriarch and other bishops to the remission of their sins, was to maintain, as much as possible, the roads and passages for the well-being of pilgrims, against the ambushes of robbers and assailants. Such are the words of the praised and yet deserving more praise William of Tyre (l.c), which were practically copied by Matthew Paris. These men, devoted to God, religious and God-fearing, submitting to the service of Christ in the presence of the Patriarch, vowed to always live according to canonical rules in chastity and obedience without wishing anything for themselves.