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Home >> The Crusades >> The First Crusade >> Peter The Hermit & The People's Crusade


The armies were to assemble in the spring of 1097, but as spring came and went, not one army appeared. The lords were slow to respond and once they did take the cross, they found that there were so many arrangements to make that the summer had slipped away.

But the poor had no elaborate provisions to make, and they responded immediately to the call of the preachers. Peter "The Hermit" Foremost among these preachers was a hermit called Peter, who lived in Flanders. He was a short, swarthy fellow, already rather old in 1095. By all reports, he was a powerful preacher and was utterly convinced that he was chosen by God to liberate the Holy Sepulchre.

Peter took the pope at his word, that rich and poor alike should go. His poverty, his eloquence, even the fact that he was barefoot and filthy and ate only fish and wine, all combined to mark him as someone extraordinary, and the poor flocked to him. He had no papal permission, and at least some of the bishops disapproved of his actions, mainly because all preaching was supposed to have the approval of the local bishop.

He began preaching in Berry in December 1095. He moved eastward into Lorraine, arriving in Cologne a little before Easter, on 12 April 1096. Other preachers were active, too, and a number of these converged on the city in April and May. Peter wanted to wait, to allow time for the Frankish nobility and others to gather as well, but some of his lieutenants grew impatient and left ahead of him.

Walter The Penniless -->

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Rampart of black and yellow shields