Deus lo vult

Deus vult: God wills it —rallying cry of the First Crusade.

(“God wills it”, “vulgar” form of Latin Deus vult;[1] variants Deus le volt, Dieux el volt; Deus id vult, Deus hoc vult, etc.[2]) is a Christian motto associated with the Crusades, more specifically with the Princes’ Crusade of 1096–1099. The phrase appears in the Vulgate translation of the Christian Bible.[3]

The battle cry of the First Crusade is reported in the Gesta Francorum, written by an anonymous author associated with Bohemond I of Antioch shortly after the successful campaign, in 1100 or 1101. According to this description, as the Princes Crusade gathered in Amalfi in the late summer of 1096, there assembled a large number of crusaders, armed and bearing the sign of the cross on their right shoulders or on their backs, crying “Deus le volt, Deus le volt, Deus le volt” as with one voice.[4] The Historia belli sacri, written somewhat later, c. 1131, also cites the battle cry.

The battle cry is again mentioned in the context of the capture of Antioch on 3 June 1098. The anonymous author of the Gesta was himself among the soldiers capturing the wall towers, and recounts that “seeing that they were already in the towers, they began to shout Deus le volt with glad voices; so indeed did we shout”.[5]

Robert the Monk in c. 1120 re-wrote the Gesta Francorum because it was considered too “rustic”. He added an account of the speech of Urban II at the Council of Clermont, of which he was an eye-witness. The speech climaxes in Urban’s call for orthodoxy, reform and submission to the Church. Robert records that the pope asked western Christians, poor and rich, to come to the aid of the Greeks in the east:

“When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, ‘It is the will of God! It is the will of God!’ When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said: Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.’ Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!”[6]

Latin expressions containing the phrase Deus vult […] (“God wills […]”) include Deus vult omnes homines salvos fieri (“God wants all men to be saved”, a paraphrase of 1 Timothy 2:3–4), [8] and Quos deus vult perdere dementat prius (“Those whom a god wishes to destroy, he strikes with madness first”).

Deus lo vult is the motto of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Roman Catholic order of chivalry (restored 1824).[9]


The Crusades were a series of religious and political wars fought between 1096 and 1291 for control of the Holy Land. Pope Urban II initiated the First Crusade(1096–1102) in order to aid the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was under attack by Muslim Seljuk Turks.

The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, from 1095 to 1291. The initial spark came from Pope Urban II, who urged Christians to recapture the Holy Land (and especially the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) from Muslim rule. Like the promise of eternal life given to Muslim martyrs, Crusaders were promised absolution from sin and eternal glory.

Militarily, the Crusades were at first successful, capturing Jerusalem in 1099, but eventually a disaster; Jersualem fell in 1187. Successive Crusades set far more modest goals, but eventually failed to achieve even them. The last Crusader-ruled city in the Holy Land, Acre, fell in 1291.


Saracen was a term widely used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages. The term’s meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the Common Era, Greek and Latin writings used this term to refer to the people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and who were specifically distinguished from others as a people known as Arabs.

By the 12th century, “Saracen” had become synonymous with “Muslim” in Medieval Latin literature.

The term Saraceni may be derived from the Semitic triliteral rootsrq “to steal, rob, plunder”, and perhaps more specifically from the noun sāriq (Arabic: سارق‎), pl. sariqīn (سارقين), which means “thief, marauder, plunderer”.[7] Other possible Semitic roots are šrq “east” and šrkt “tribe, confederation”.

Beginning no later than the early fifth century, Christian writers began to equate Saracens with Arabs. Saracens were associated with Ishmaelites (descendants of Abraham‘s older son Ishmael) in some strands of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic genealogical thinking.

The writings of Jerome (d. 420) are the earliest known version of the claim that Ishmaelites chose to be called Saracens in order to identify with Abraham’s “free” wife Sarah, rather than as Hagarenes, which would have highlighted their association with Abraham’s “slave woman” Hagar.[12]

These Saracens, located in the northern Hejaz, were described as people with a certain military ability who were opponents of the Roman Empire and who were classified by the Romans as barbarians.[2]


The Book of Genesis and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the Patriarch and his mother Hagar are buried next to the Kaaba in MeccaIshmael,[a] a figure in the Tanakh and the Quran, was Abraham‘s first son according to JewsChristians and Muslims. Ishmael was born to Abraham and Sarah‘s handmaiden Hagar (Hājar) (Genesis 16:3). According to the Genesisaccount, he died at the age of 137 Genesis 25:17

Genesis 16 – Hagar and Ishmael

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward[b] all his brothers.”

Of the names of the sons of Ishmael the names “Nabat, Kedar, Abdeel, Dumah, Massa, and Teman” were mentioned in the Assyrian royal inscriptions as tribes of the Ishmaelites. Jesur was mentioned in Greek inscriptions in the First Century BC.[10]

Mecca founded by the Ishmaelites

Genesis 17:20 states, “But as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve rulers shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” The Samaritan book Asaṭīr says in chapter VIII: “1. And after the death of Abraham, Ishmael reigned twenty-seven years; 2. And all the children of Nebaot ruled for one year in the lifetime of Ishmael; 3. And for thirty years after his death from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates; and they built Mecca.;