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.
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
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.
The Penniless -->