In March of 1095, Pope Urban II received a delegation led by the Byzantine Emperor’ Alexius Comnenus, appealing for help against the Muslims.
On the 27th November 1095, at The Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II preached about the oppression being inflicted upon Christians in the Middle East by Muslim Seljuks. He called upon knights and warriors to pick up their arms, and fight as one; “Warriors for God.” Wear his cross as your badge, and if you be killed, know your sins will be pardoned.
Peter the Hermit, a French monk upon hearing the speech given by his Pope, believed it be his duty to rally support, for a crusade to the Holy Land and free Christians and preserve the Holy Sepulchre.
Dressed in nothing more than a coarse cloth robe tied at the waist with a rope, with no shoes upon his feet. This humble monk travelled across Italy, France and Germany, preaching in churches and streets, enlisting an army to join with him, on a crusade to the Holy Land.
Thousands of warriors, men, women and children went on the “People’s Crusade” led by “Peter the Hermit.” Each wore the emblem of the cross upon their shoulder. They had no provisions, and intended to live off the land.
When the army of Peter the Hermit, reached Cologne, they called a halt to take advantage of the food supplies on offer.
Walter the Penniless also known as Walter Sans Avoir, chose to take some of the army and continue on their quest. As they passed through Semlin in Hungary, disputes broke out when his warriors stole food. At Belgrade they pillaged the surrounding area for food, as the harvest had not been gathered. The Belgrade garrison attacked Walter’s forces; some 60 who took shelter in a chapel were burnt alive.
Supplies were sent by Alexius Comnenus and an escape to march them into Constantinople.
Peter the Hermit following up behind Walter the Penniless reached Semlin, only to discover spoils taken from Walter’s men were displayed on the city walls.
At Constantinople Peter’s army were welcomed, but lack of supplies for such a large army, led to attacks and thefts from surrounding villages. It had been suggested by Emperor Alexius that Peter’s forces should wait for the fully trained forces of the first crusade before they moved on. However the pressure on feeding the people of Constantinople and Peter’s army forced their departure.
The People’s Crusade moved on to Civetot a former army base, where they attacked surrounding area in search of food. They came under attack, when the base was attacked by Turks, who slaughtered most of the crusaders.
Peter the Hermit joined with the forces of Godfrey of Bouillon. By the time these warriors for God had reached the outer walls of Jerusalem, only 50,000 crusaders remained out of a force of half-a-million. Finally on the 15th July 1099, the Turks surrendered. The Muslim flag was torn down and replaced by a banner flying a single cross.
Godfrey of Bouillon was elected King of Jerusalem.
Peter the Hermit, a French monk from Amiens, preached from the Mount of Olives, and shortly afterwards returned to Europe where upon he founded a monastery in France, and lived out the remainder of life there, until his death in 1131.
(Image) People’s Crusade: Wikipedia