Adhemar of Le Puy
|Adhemar of Le Puy|
|Bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay|
A mitred Adhémar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade
|Church||Roman Catholic Church|
|See||Diocese of Le Puy-en-Velay|
|Predecessor||Stephan de Polignac|
|Successor||Pons de Tournon|
Valentinois, Kingdom of France
|Died||1 August 1098 (aged 53)
Principality of Antioch
Adhemar (also known as Adémar, Aimar, or Aelarz) de Monteil (died 1 August 1098) was one of the principal figures of the First Crusade and was bishop of Puy-en-Velay from before 1087. He was the chosen representative of Pope Urban II for the expedition to the Holy Land. Remembered for his martial prowess, he led knights and men into battle and fought beside them, particularly at Dorylaeum and Antioch. Adhemar is said to have carried the Holy Lance in the Crusaders’ desperate breakout at Antioch on 28 June 1098, in which superior Islamic forces under the atabeg Kerbogha were routed, securing the city for the Crusaders.
Born around 1045 into the family of the Counts of Valentinois and elected Bishop of Le Puy around 1080, he was an advocate of the Gregorian Reform, and among his supporters were the future Pope Urban II and Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse and the richest, most powerful nobleman in France. He was also said to have gone on pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 1086.
At the Council of Clermont in 1095, Adhemar showed great zeal for the crusade (there is evidence that Urban II had conferred with Adhemar before the council). Adhemar was named apostolic legate and appointed to lead the crusade by Pope Urban II on 27 November 1095. In part, Adhemar was selected to lead because he had already undertaken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1086 and 1087. Departing on 15 August 1096, he accompanied Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, in his army to the east. Whilst Raymond and the other leaders often quarrelled with each other over the leadership of the crusade, Adhemar was always recognized as the spiritual leader of the crusade.
Adhemar negotiated with Alexius I Comnenus at Constantinople, reestablished some discipline among the crusaders at Nicaea, fought a crucial role at the Battle of Dorylaeum and was largely responsible for sustaining morale during the siege of Antioch through various religious rites including fasting and special observances of holy days. After the capture of the city in June 1098 and the subsequent siege led by Kerbogha, Adhemar organized a procession through the streets and had the gates locked so that the Crusaders, many of whom had begun to panic, would be unable to leave the city. He was extremely skeptical of Peter Bartholomew's discovery in Antioch of the Holy Lance, especially because he knew such a relic already existed in Constantinople; however, he was willing to let the Crusader army believe it was real if it raised their morale. Adhemar was protected by a band of Crusaders led by Henry of Esch to preserve the (albeit suspect) relic.
When Kerbogha was defeated, Adhemar organized a council in an attempt to settle the leadership disputes, but he died on 1 August 1098, probably of typhus. The disputes among the higher nobles went unsolved and the march to Jerusalem was delayed for months. However, the lower-class soldiers continued to think of Adhemar as a leader. Some of them claimed to have been visited by his ghost during the siege of Jerusalem and reported that Adhemar instructed them to hold another procession around the walls. This was done and Jerusalem was taken by the Crusaders in 1099.
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