The People's Crusade and First Crusade
Peter the Hermit and the People's Crusade
Peter the Hermit was eager to reach the Holy Land and started his own Crusade. Peter was a French monk who had previously tried to get to Jerusalem but had turned back because of the problems caused by the Turks. After hearing Pope Urban's speech he began travelling around France and Germany preaching and gathering an army of ordinary people. His army of followers were eager to go to Jerusalem with promises of absolution for their sins and freedom from a life of hunger and deprivation.
The army's journey across land was not without its problems due to the huge number of people travelling at the same time. The army reached Semlin in Hungary but the inhabitants were not prepared for the large number of extra mouths to feed because the harvests had not yet been brought in. The crusaders started stealing food from the surrounding area and some were killed when the Hungarians took up arms against them.
When the army was nearing Byzantine it was attacked by professional soldiers after a dispute and almost a quarter of Peter's men were killed. At Constantinople the Emperor Alexius welcomed the army but soon ordered them to move on due to their lack of discipline and repeated attacks and thefts from surrounding villages. Alexius warned Peter to wait for better trained troops to arrive before attacking the Turks but was ignored.
The army camped at Cibotos where it was decided to wait for the Turks to attack. But a group led by Geoffrey Burel, tired of waiting spurred the army into action and went in search of the Turks instead. The undisciplined army soon fell into an ambush and turned an ran. The Turks had the advantage and chased the Crusaders back to their camp killing many of them. A couple of thousand managed to escape back to a castle near the sea-shore, where after a brief siege they were rescued by Alexius' warships once he had received news of their disaster. Peter's Crusade was over.
The First Crusade
No kings took part in the First Crusade; it was left to the more important barons of Europe and by August of 1096 they had made their plans and began their journeys to the Holy Land.
Several groups of Crusaders left Europe taking different routes to the Holy Land. If they had all taken one route that route would have run out of supplies to feed the armies. Taking several routes meant that there would hopefully be the supplies needed to feed the Crusaders all the way to the Holy Land.
The groups were led by: -
Leaders of the First Crusade
Hugh of Vermandios
Hugh of Vermandios was the son of Henry I, King of France. Hugh was the highest ranking noble to take part in the First Crusade but did not have that much wealth and no reputation for fighting. Taking part in the Crusade may have been a means to improve his wealth and position. Hugh was the first of the nobles to start the Crusade and travelled down Italy to Bari, a coastal town near the heel of the country. His sea crossing to Durres (Albania) ended in disaster when a storm hit the ships and many drowned but Hugh managed to survive. The Greeks kept Hugh virtually a prisoner as he and his surviving Crusaders were escorted to Constantinople.
Godfrey de Bouillon
Godfrey de Bouillon was the second son of Eustace II, the Norman Count of Boulogne. Godfrey was chosen as the ruler of Jerusalem in 1099 after the crusaders of the First Crusade took control of the city. Godfrey refused to wear a golden crown in Jerusalem where his Saviour had only worn a crown of thorns. He wanted to be known as advocate or lay defender of the Holy Sepulchre rather than King. Shortly after the crusaders had taken Jerusalem the separate Muslim armies overcame their differences in order to rid their home of the Christian army. Egypt supplied the largest number of men. The huge Muslim army made its way towards Jeruslem. Godfrey was aware of the threat and managed to put together an army of his own. The two armies met at Ascalon where the Muslim army was defeated by the much smaller Christian force. This was the last battle of the First Crusade. Godfrey died in July 1100 possibly from typhoid. His brother Baldwin became the next King of Jerusalem.
Baldwin of Boulogne
Baldwin of Boulogne was the brother of Godfrey of Bouillon, the first King of Jerusalem. Baldwin took control of the area of Edessa and became the count of Edessa in 1098. When Godfrey died on 18th July 1100 the post of ruler f Jerusalem became vacant. The head of the Church in Jerusalem, Dagobert of Pisa, claimed that the Church itself should rule and as he was its representative he should have the job, but Baldwin disagreed. With a force of a thousand or so men Baldwin travelled to Jerusalem to claim the throne for himself. The people of Jerusalem chose Baldwin as they recognised the need for a strong leader who could defend the city. Baldwin, unlike his brother, was happy to be called King of Jerusalem and to wear a crown.
Bohemund (or Bohemond) of Taranto was a leader of a Norman army from southern Italy and Sicily who joined the First Crusade along with his nephew Tancred. He became Bohemund I, Prince of Antioch in 1099 after Antioch had fallen to the Crusaders. His actions went against an oath he had taken promising to hand over captured lands to Alexius Comnenus of Byzantine. Bohemond was captured by Muslims in 1100 and held for ransom and was freed in 1103 to return to Europe where he married the daughter of Philip I of France.
To be completed....
Event Participants and Locations
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Last Middle Ages
Early Modern Period