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Medieval Sourcebook:
Peter the Hermit and the Popular Crusade:
Collected Accounts

March-October 1096

Peter the Hermit

Folcmar and Gottschalk

Emico

The End of the Popular Crusade


Peter the Hermit

1. Version of Guibert of Nogent

Guibert's account of Peter is probably more accurate than the much later inflated accounts which prevailed from the time of William of Tyre until the mid-19th century

Therefore, while the princes, who felt the need of many expenses and great services from their attendants, made their preparations slowly and carefully; the common people who had little property, but were very numerous, joined a certain Peter the Hermit, and obeyed him as a master while these affairs were going on among us.

He was, if I am not mistaken, from the city of Amiens, and have we learned that he had lived as a hermit, dressed as a monk somewhere in Upper Gaul. After he had departed from there - I do not know with what intention - we saw him going through the cities and towns under a pretense of preaching. He was surrounded by so great throngs of people, he received such enormous gifts, his holiness was lauded so highly, that no one within my memory has been held in such honor.

He was very liberal in the distribution to the poor of what he had received. He restored prostitutes to their husbands with gifts. By his wonderful authority he restored everywhere peace and concord, in place of discord. For in whatever he did or said it seemed as if there was something divine, especially when the hairs were snatched from his mule for relies. We do not report this as true but for the common people who love novelties. He wore a wool shirt, and over it a mantle reaching to his ankles; his arms and feet were bare. He lived on wine and fish; he hardly ever, never, ate bread.

Source:

Dana C. Munro, "Urban and the Crusaders", Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 20

2. Version of William of Tyre

William of Tyre was born in the Holy Land, born in the Holy Land and was, after a French education, appointed Archbishop of Tyre and Chancellor of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He wrote at the end of the twelfth century. Although William is an excellent historian, his account of Peter the Hermit, written almost a century later, shows how Peter became a mythic figure. Research by Hegenmeyer in the mid 19th century showed that Peter did not incite Urban to preach, did not speak at Clermont, and preached for only a few months.

A certain priest named Peter, from the kingdom of the Franks and the bishopric of Amiens, a hermit both in deed and name, I by the same ardor, arrived at Jerusalem. He was small in stature and his external appearance contemptible, but greater valor ruled in his slight frame. For be was sharp witted, his glance was bright and captivating, and be spoke with ease and eloquence. Having paid the tax which was exacted from all Christians who wished to enter, he went into the city and was entertained by a trusty man who was also a confessor of Christ. He diligently questioned his host, as he was a zealous man, and learned more fully from him not only the existing perils, but also the persecutions which their ancestors had suffered long before. And if in what he heard any details were lacking, he completed the account from the witness of his own eyes. For remaining in the city and visiting the churches he learned more fully the truth of what had been told to him by others.

Hearing also that the Patriarch of the city was a devout and God-fearing man, he wished to confer with him and to learn more fully from him the truth concerning some matters. Accordingly lie went to him, and having been presented by a trustworthy man, both be and the Patriarch mutually enjoyed their conferences.

The name of the Patriarch was Simeon. As he learned from Peter's conversation that the latter was prudent, able and eloquent, and a man of great experience, be began to disclose to him more confidentially all the evils which the people of God bad suffered while dwelling in Jerusalem.

To whom Peter replied: "You may be assured, holy father, that if the Roman church and the princes of the West should learn from a zealous and a reliable witness the calamities which you suffer, there is not the slightest doubt that they would hasten to remedy the evil, both by words and deeds. Write them zealously both to the lord Pope and the Roman church and to the kings and princes of the West, and confirm your letter by the authority Of your seal. I, truly, for the sake of the salvation of my soul, do not hesitate to undertake this task. And I aim prepared under God's guidance to visit them all, to exhort them all, zealously to inform them of the greatness of your sufferings and to urge them to hasten to your relief."

Of a truth, Thou art great, 0 Lord our God, and to thy mercy there is no end! Of a truth, blessed Jesus, those who trust in Thee shall not be brought to confusion! How did this poor pilgrim, destitute of all resources and far from his native land, have so great confidence that he dared to undertake an enterprise so much beyond his strength and to hope to accomplish his vow, unless it was that he turned all his thoughts to Thee, his protector, and filled with charity, pitying the misfortunes of his brethren, loving, his neighbor as himself, he was content to fulfill the law? Strength', is a vain thing, but charity overcometh. What his brethren prescribed might appear difficult and even impossible, but the love of God and of his neighbor rendered it easy for him, for love is strong as death. Faith which worketh by love availeth with Thee, and the good deeds near Thee do not remain without fruit. Accordingly Thou didst not permit Thy servant long to remain in doubt. Thou didst manifest Thyself to him. Thou didst fortify, him by Thy revelation that he might not hesitate, and breathing into him Thy hidden spirit, Thou madest him arise with greater strength to accomplish the work of charity.

Therefore, after performing the usual prayers, taking leave of the lord Patriarch and receiving his blessing, he went to the seacoast. There he found a vessel belonging to some merchants who were preparing to cross to Apulia. He went on board, and after a successful journey arrived at Bari. Thence he proceeded to Rome, and found the lord Pope Urban in the vicinity. He presented the letters of the Patriarch and of the Christians who dwelt at Jerusalem, and showed their misery and the abominations which the unclean races wrought in the holy places. Thus faithfully and prudently he performed the commission entrusted to him.

Source:

Dana C. Munro, "Urban and the Crusaders", Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 20

3. Version of Albert of Aix

Albert of Aix (or Aachen) wrote a history of the Crusades down to c. 1120. He wrote in the mid twelfth century and never visited the East. His Chronicle is based on eyewitness accounts and written sources.

There was a priest, Peter by name, formerly a hermit. He was born in the city of Amiens, which is in the western part of the kingdom of the Franks, and he was appointed preacher in Berri in the aforesaid kingdom. In every admonition and sermon, with all the persuasion of which he was capable, he urged setting out on the journey as soon as possible. In response to his constant admonition and call, bishops, abbots, clerics, and monks set out; next, most noble laymen, and princes of the different kingdoms; then, all the common people, the chaste as well as the sinful, adulterers, homicides, thieves, perjurers, and robbers; indeed, every class of the Christian profession, nay, also, women and those influenced by the spirit of penance -- all joyfully entered upon this expedition. . . .

In the year of the Incarnation of the Lord, 1096, in the fourth Indiction, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Henry IV, third august Emperor of the Romans, and in the forty-third year of the Empire, in the reign of Pope Urban II, formerly Odoard, on the eighth day of March, Walter, surnamed the Penniless, a well-known soldier, set out, as a result of the preaching of Peter the Hermit, with a great company of Frankish foot soldiers and only about eight knights. On the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem he entered into the kingdom of Hungary. When his intention, and the reason for his taking this journey became known to Lord Coloman, most Christian king of Hungary, he was kindly received and was given peaceful transit across the entire realm, with permission to trade. And so without giving offence, and without being attacked, he set out even to Belgrade, a Bulgarian city, passing over to Malevilla, where the realm of the king of Hungary ends. Thence he peacefully crossed the Morava river.

But sixteen of Walter's company remained in Malevilla, that they might purchase arms. Of this Walter was ignorant, for he had crossed long before. Then some of the Hungarians of perverse minds, seeing the absence of Walter and his army, laid bands upon those sixteen and robbed them of arms, garments, gold and silver and so let them depart, naked and empty-handed. Then these distressed pilgrims, deprived of arms and other things, hastened on their way to Belgrade, which has been mentioned before, where Walter with all his band had pitched tents for camp. They reported to him the misfortune which had befallen them, but Walter heard this with equanimity, because it would take too long to return for vengeance.

On the very night when those comrades, naked and empty-handed, were received, Walter sought to buy the necessaries of life from a chief of the Bulgarians and the magistrate of the city; but these men, thinking it a pretense, and regarding them as spies, forbade the sale of any thing to them. Wherefore, Walter and his companions, greatly angered, began forcibly to seize and lead away the herds of cattle and sheep, which were wandering h and there through the fields in search of pasture. As a result serious strife arose between the Bulgarians and the pilgrims who were driving away the flocks, and they came to blows. However, while the strength of the Bulgarians was growing even to one hundred and forty, some of the pilgrim army, cut off from the multitude of their companions, arrived in flight at a chapel. But the Bulgarians, their army growing in number, while the band of Walter was weakening and his entire company scattered, besieged the chapel and burned sixty who were within; on most of the others, who escaped from the enemy and the chapel in defense of their lives, the Bulgarians inflicted grave wounds.

After this calamity and the loss of his people, and after he had passed eight days as a fugitive in the forests of Bulgaria, Walter leaving his men scattered everywhere, withdrew to Nisb, a very wealthy city in the midst of the Bulgarian realm. There be found the duke and prince of the land and reported to him the injury and damage which bad been done him. From the duke he obtained justice for all; nay, more, in reconciliation the duke bestowed upon him arms and money, and the same lord of the land gave him peaceful conduct through the cities of Bulgaria, Sofia, Philippopolis, and Adrianople, and also license to trade.

He went down with all his band, even to the imperial ciity, Constantinople, which is the capital of the entire Greek empire. And when he arrived there, with all possible earnestness and most humble petition be implored from the Lord Emperor himself permission to delay peacefully in his kingdom, with license to buy the necessaries of life, until he should have as his companion Peter the Hermit, upon whose admonition and persuasion he had begun this journey. And he also begged that, when the troops were united, they might cross in ships over the arm of the sea called the Strait of St. George, and thus they would be able to resist more safely the squadrons of the Turks and the Gentiles. The outcome was that the requests made of the Lord Emperor, Alexius by name, were granted.

Not long after these events, Peter and his large army, innumerable as the sands of the sea - an army which he had brought together from the various realms of the nations of the Franks, Swabians, Bavarians, and Lotharingianswere making their way to Jerusalem. Descending on that march into the kingdom of Hungary, he and his army pitched their tents before the gate of Oedenburg. . . .

Peter heard this report and, because the Hungarians and Bulgarians were fellow Christians, absolutely refused to believe so great crime of them, until his men, coming to Malevilla, saw banging from the walls the arms and spoils of the sixteen companions of Walter who had stayed behind a short time before, and whom the Hungarians had treacherously presumed to rob. But when Peter recognized the injury to his brethren, at the sight of their arms and spoils, he urged his companions to avenge their wrongs.

These sounded the trumpet loudly, and with upraised banners they rushed to the walls and attacked the enemy with a hail of arrows. In such quick succession and in such incredible numbers did they burl them in the face of those standing on the walls that the Hungarians, in no wise able to resist the force of the besieging Franks, left the walls, hoping that within the city they might be able to withstand the strength of the Gauls. Godfrey, surnamed Burela native of the city Etampes, master and standard-bearer of two hundred foot soldiers, himself a foot soldier, and a man of great strength - seeing the flight of the Hungarians away from the walls, then quickly crossed over the walls by means of a ladder he chanced to find there. Reinald of Broyes, a distinguished knight, clad in helmet and coat of mail, ascended just after Godfrey; soon all the knights, as well as the footsoldiers, hastened to enter the city. The Hungarians, seeing their own imminent peril, gathered seven thousand strong for defense; and, having passed out through another gate which looked toward the east, they stationed themselves on the summit of a lofty crag, beyond which flowed the Danube, where they were invincibly fortified. A very large part of these were unable to escape quickly through the narrow passage, and they fell before the gate. Some who hoped to find refuge on the top of the mountain were cut down by the pursuing pilgrims; still others, thrown headlong from the summit of the mountain, were buried in the waves of the Danube, but many escaped by boat. About four thousand Hungarians fell there, but only a hundred pilgrims, not counting the wounded, were killed at that same place.

This victory won, Peter remained with all his followers in the same citadel five days, for he found there an abundance of grain flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, a plentiful supply of wine, and infinite number of horses. . . .

When Peter learned of the wrath of the King and his very formidable gathering of troops, he deserted Malevilla with all his followers and planned to cross the Morava with all spoils and flocks and herds of horses. But on the whole bank he found very few boats, only one hundred and fifty, in which the great multitude must pass quickly over and escape, lest the King should overtake them with a great force. Hence many who were unable to cross in boats tried to cross on rafts made by fastening poles together with twigs. But driven hither and thither in these rafts without rudders, and at times separated from their companions, many perished, pierced with arrows from the bows of the Patzinaks, who inhabited Bulgaria. As Peter saw the drowning and destruction which was befalling his men, he commanded the Bavarians, the Alemanni, and the other Teutons, by their promise of obedience to come to the aid of their Frankish brethren. They were earned to that place by seven rafts; then they sank seven small boats of the Patzinaks with their occupants, but took only seven men captive. They led these seven captives into the presence of Peter and killed them by his order.

When he had thus avenged his men, Peter crossed the Morava river and entered the large and spacious forests of the Bulgarians with supplies of food, with every necessary, and with the spoils from Belgrade. And after a delay of eight days in those vast' woods and pastures, he and his followers approached Nish, a city very strongly fortified with walls. After crossing the river before the city by a stone bridge, they occupied the field, pleasing in its verdure and extent, and pitched their tents on the banks of the river. . . .

Peter, obedient to the mandate of the Emperor, advanced from the city of Sofia and withdrew with all his people to the city Philippopolis. When he had related the entire story of his misfortune in the hearing of all the Greek citizens, he received, in the name of Jesus and in fear of God, very many gifts for him. Next, the third day after, he withdrew to Adrianople, cheerful and joyful in the abundance of all necessaries. There he tarried in camp outside the walls of the city only two days, and then withdrew after sunrise on the third day. A second message of the Emperor was urging him to hasten his march to Constantinople, for, on account of the reports about him, the Emperor was burning with desire to see this same Peter. When they had come to Constantinople, the army of Peterwas ordered to encamp at a distance from the city, and license to trade was fully granted. .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 48-52

Folcmar and Gottschalk

4. The Version of Albert of Aix

Not long after the passage of Peter, a certain priest Gottschalk by name, a Teuton in race, an inhabitant of the Rhine country, inflamed by the preaching of Peter with a love and a desire for that same journey to Jerusalem, by his own preachings likewise stirred the hearts of very many peoples of diverse nations to go on that journey. He assembled from the various regions of Lorraine, eastern France, Bavaria, and Alemannia, more than fifteen thousand persons of military station, as well as ordinary foot soldiers, who, having collected an inexpressible amount of money, together with other necessaries, are said to have continued on their way peacefully, even to the kingdom of Hungary.

When they arrived at the gate of Wieselburg and its fortress, they were honorably received by the favor of King Coloman. They were likewise granted permission to buy the necessaries of life, and peace was commanded on both sides by an order of the King, lest any outbreak should arise from so large an army. But as they delayed there for several days, they began to roam about, and the Bavarians and Swabians, spirited peoples, together with other thoughtless persons, drank beyond measure and violated the peace which had been commanded. Little by little they took away from the Hungarians wine, grain, and all other necessaries; finally, they devastated the fields, killing sheep and cattle, and also destroying those who resisted, or who wished to drive them out. Like a rough people, rude in manners, undisciplined and haughty, they committed very many other crimes, all of which we cannot relate. As some who were present say, they transfixed a certain Hungarian youth in the market place with a stake through his body. C plaints of this matter and of other wrongs were brought to ears of the King and their own leaders. . . .

When Gottschalk and the other sensible men heard this, they trusted with pure faith in these words, and also because the Hungarians were of the Christian profession, they counselled the entire assembly to give their arms in satisfaction to the King, according to this command. Thus everything would return to peace and concord. . . .

And yet, when all their arms had been placed under lock and key, the Hungarians proved false regarding all the faith and clemency which they had promised that the King would show to. the people; nay, rather they fell upon them with cruel slaughter, cut down the defenceless and unarmed and inflicted upon them frightful slaughter, to such an extent (as those affirm for a truth' who were Present and barely escaped) that the entire plain of Belgrade was filled by the bodies of the slain and was covered with their blood. Few escaped from that martyrdom.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 52-53

5. The Version of Ekkehard of Aura

Now, as has been said, a band followed Folcmar through Bohemia. At the city of Neitra, in Pannonia, an uprising took place, in which a part were killed, and a part were taken prisoners, while the very few survivors are wont to testify that the sign of the cross, appearing in the heavens above them, delivered them from imminent death.

Then Gottschalk, not a true, but a false servant of God, entered Hungary with his followers, and that not without injury to East Noricum. Next, under an astonishing glamour of false piety, he fortified a certain town situated on a height and placed a garrison there and began, with the rest of his company, to ravage Pannonia round about. This town, forsooth, was captured by the natives without delay, and great numbers of the band having been killed or taken prisoners, the rest were dispersed, and he himself, a hireling, not the shepherd of the flock, was driven away from there in disgrace.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 53


Emico

6. Version of Ekkehard of Aura

Just at that time, there appeared a certain soldier, Emico, Count of the lands around the Rhine, a man long of very ill repute on account of his tyrannical mode of life. Called by divine revelation, like another Saul, as he maintained, to the practice of religion of this kind, he usurped to himself the command of almost twelve thousand cross bearers. As they were led through the cities of the Rhine and the Main and also the Danube, they either utterly destroyed the execrable race of the Jews wherever they found them (being even in this matter zealously devoted to the Christian religion) or forced them into the bosom of the Church. When their forces, already increased by a. great number of men and women, reached the boundary of Pannonia, they were prevented by well fortified garrisons from entering that kingdom, which is surrounded partly by swamps and partly by woods. For rumor had reached and forewarned the ears of King Coloman; a rumor that, to the minds of the Teutons, there was no difference between killing pagans and Hungarians. And so, for six weeks they besieged the fortress Wieselburg and suffered many hardships there; yet, during this very time, they were in the throes of a most foolish civil quarrel over which one of them should be King of Pannonia. Moreover, while engaged in the final assault, although the walls had already been broken through, and the citizens were fleeing, and the army of the besieged were setting fire to their own town, yet, through the wonderful providence of Almighty God, the army of pilgrims, though victorious, fled. And they left behind them all their equipment, for no one carried away any reward except his wretched life.

And thus the men of our race, zealous, doubtless, for God, though not according to the knowledge of God, began to persecute other Christians while yet upon the expedition which Christ had provided for freeing Christians. They were kept from fraternal bloodshed only by divine mercy; and the Hungarians, also were freed. This is the reason why some of the more guileless brethren, ignorant of the matter, and too hasty in their judgement were scandalized and concluded that the whole expedition was vain and foolish.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 53-54

7. The Version of Albert of Aix

At the beginning of summer in the same year in which Peter, and Gottschalk, after collecting an army, had set out, there assembled in like fashion a large and innumerable host of Christians from diverse kingdoms and lands; namely, from the realms of France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine. . . . I know n whether by a judgment of the Lord, or by some error of mind;, they rose in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy, especially in the Kingdom of Lorraine, asserting it to be the beginning of their expedition and their duty against the enemies of the Christian faith. This slaughter of Jews was done first by citizens of Cologne. These suddenly fell upon a small band of Jews and severely wounded and killed many; they destroyed the houses and synagogues of the Jews and divided among themselves a very large, amount of money. When the Jews saw this cruelty, about two hundred in the silence of the night began flight by boat to Neuss. The pilgrims and crusaders discovered them, and after taking away all their possessions, inflicted on them similar slaughter, leaving not even one alive.

Not long after this, they started upon their journey, as they had vowed, and arrived in a great multitude at the city of Mainz. There Count Emico, a nobleman, a very mighty man in this region, was awaiting, with a large band of Teutons, the arrival of the pilgrims who were coming thither from diverse lands by the King's highway.

The Jews of this city, knowing of the slaughter of their brethren, and that they themselves could not escape the hands of so many, fled in hope of safety to Bishop Rothard. They put an infinite treasure in his guard and trust, having much faith in his protection, because he was Bishop of the city. Then that excellent Bishop of the city cautiously set aside the incredible amcunt of money received from them. He placed the Jews in the very spacious hall of his own house, away from the sight of Count Emico and his followers, that they might remain safe and sound in a very secure and strong place.

But Emico and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the hall with arrows and lances. Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children, and that they were sparing no age, likewise fell upon one another, brother, children, wives, and sisters, and thus they perished at each other's hands. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised.

From this cruel slaughter of the Jews a few escaped; and a few because of fear, rather than because of love of the Christian faith, were baptized. With very great spoils taken from these people, Count Emico, Clarebold, Thomas, and all that intolerable company of men and women then continued on their way to Jerusalem, directing their course towards the Kingdom of Hungary, where passage along the royal highway was usually not denied the pilgrims. But on arriving at Wieselburg, the fortress of the King, which the rivers Danube and Leytha protect with marshes, the bridge and gate of the fortress were found closed by command of the King of Hungary, for great fear had entered all the Hungarians because of the slaughter which had happened to their brethren. . . .

But while almost everything had turned out favorably for the Christians, and while they had penetrated the walls with great openings, by some chance or misfortune, I know not what, such great fear entered the whole army that they turned in flight, just as sheep are scattered and alarmed when wolves rush upon them. And seeking a refuge here and there, they forgot thei companions. . . .

Emico and some of his followers continued in their flight along the way by which they had come. Thomas, Clarebold, and several of their men escaped in flight toward Carinthia and Italy. So the hand of the Lord is believed to have been against the pilgrim who had sinned by excessive impurity and fornication, and who had slaughtered the exiled Jews through greed of money, rather than for the sake of God's justice, although the Jews were opposed to Christ. The Lord is a just judge and orders no one unwillingly, or under compulsion, to come under the yoke of the Catholic faith.

There was another detestable crime in this assemblage of wayfaring people, who were foolish and insanely fickle. That the crime was hateful to the Lord and incredible to the faithful is not to be doubted. They asserted that a certain goose was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that a she goat was not less filled by the same Spirit. These they made their guides on this holy journey to Jerusalem; these they worshipped excessively; and most of the people following them, like beasts, believed with their whole minds that this was the true course. May the hearts of the faithful be free from the thought that the Lord Jesus wished the Sepulchre of His most sacred body to be visited by brutish and insensate animals, or that He wished these to become the guides of Christian souls, which by the price of His own blood He deigned to redeem from the filth of idols! . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 54-56

The End of the Popular Crusade:

8. Version of Anna Comnena

[Alexiad 10:5]

. . . Moreover, Alexius was not yet, or very slightly, rested from his labors when he heard rumors of the arrival of innumerable Frankish armies. He feared the incursions of these people, for he had already experienced the savage fury of their attack, their fickleness of mind, and their readiness to approach anything with violence....

And finally, he kept ever in mind this information, which was often repeated and most true that they were known to be always immoderately covetous of anything they strove after and to break very easily, for any reason whatsoever, treaties which they had made. Accordingly, he did not indulge in any rest, but made ready his forces in every way, so that when occasion should demand he would be ready for battle. For it was a matter greater and more terrible than famine which was then reported. Forsooth, the whole West, and as much of the land of barbarian peoples as lies beyond the Adriatic Sea up to the Pillars of Herculesall this, changing its seat, was bursting forth into Asia in a solid mass, with all its belongings, taking its march through the intervening portion of Europe.

A certain Gaul, Peter by name, surnamed KukuPeter, bad set out from his home to adore the Holy Sepulchre. After suffering many dangers and wrongs from the Turks and Saracens, who were devastating all Asia, be returned to his own country most sorrowfully. He could not bear to see himself thus cut off from his proposed pilgrimage and intended to undertake the expedition a second time. . . .

After Peter had promoted the expedition, he, with 80,000 foot soldiers and 100,000 knights, was the first of all to cross the Lombard strait. Then passing through the territory of Hungary, he arrived at the queenly city. For, as anyone may conjecture from the outcome, the race of the Gauls is not only very passionate and impetuous in other ways, but, also, when urged on by an impulse, cannot thereafter be checked. Our Emperor, aware of what Peter had suffered from the Turks before, urged him to await the arrival of the other counts.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 70-71

9. The Gesta Version

But the abovementioned Peter was the first to reach Constantinople, on the Kalends of August, and with him was a very large host of Alemanni. There he found assembled Lombards, and Longobards, and many others. The Emperor had ordered such a market as was in the city to be given to these people. And he said to them, "Do not cross the Strait until the chief host of the Chritians has come, for you are not so strong that you can do battle with the Turks." The Christians conducted themselves badly, inasmuch as they tore down and burned buildings of the city and carried off the lead with which the churches were constructed sold it to the Greeks. The Emperor was enraged thereat and ordered them to cross the Strait. After they bad crossed, they did not cease doing all manner of evil, burning and plundering houses and churches. At length they reached Nicomedia, where the Lombards and Longobards and Alemanni separated from the Franks because the Franks were constantly swelled with arrogance.

The Lombards and Longobards chose a leader over themselves whose name was Reinald. The Alemanni did likewise. They entered Romania and proceeded for four days beyond the city of Nicaea. They found a certain fortress, Xerogord by name, which was empty of people, and they seized it. In it they found an ample supply of grain, wine, and meat, and an abundance of all goods. The Turks, accordingly, bearing that the Christians were in the fortress, came to besiege it. Before the gate of the fortress was a cistern, and at the foot of the fortress was a fountain of running water, near which Reinald went out to trap the Turks. But the Turks, who came on the day of the Dedication of St. Michael, found Reinald and those who were with him and killed many of them. Those who remained alive fled to the fortress, which the Turks straightway besieged, thus depriving them of water. Our people were in such distress from thirst that they bled their horses and asses and drank the blood; others let their r girdles and handkerchiefs down into the cistern and squeezed out the water from them into their mouths; some urinated into one another's hollowed hands and drank; and others dug up the moist ground and lay down on their backs and spread the earth over their breasts to relieve the excessive dryness of thirst. The bishops and priests, indeed, continued to comfort our people, and to admonish them not to yield, saying, "Be everywhere strong in the faith of Christ, and do not fear those who persecute you, just as the Lord saith, 'Be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."' This distress lasted for eight days. Then the lord of the Alemanni made an agreement with the Turks to surrender his companions to them; and, feigning to go out to fight, he fled to them, and many with him. Those, however, who were unwilling to deny the Lord received the sentence of death; some, whom they took alive, they divided among themselves, like sheep; some they placed as a target and shot with arrows; others they sold and gave away, like animals. Some they took captive to their own home, some to Chorosan, some to Antioch, others to Aleppo, or wherever they themselves lived. These were the first to receive a happy martyrdom in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Next, the Turks, hearing that Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless were in Civitote, which is located above the city of Nicaea, went there with great joy to kill them and those who were with them. And when they had come, they encountered Walter with his men (all of) whom the Turks soon killed. But Peter the Hermit had gone to Constantinople a short while before because he was unable to restrain that varied host, which was not willing to listen either to him or to his words. The Turks, indeed, rushed upon these people and killed many of them. Some they found sleeping, some lying down, others naked - all of whom they killed. With these people they found a certain priest celebrating mass, whom they straightway martyred upon the altar. Those who could escape fled to Civitote; others hurled themselves headlong into the sea, while some hid in the forests and mountains. But the Turks, pursuing them to the fortress, collected wood to bum them with the fort. The Christians who were in the fort, therefore, set fire to the wood that had been collected, and the fire, turning in the direction of the Turks, cremated some of them; but from the fire the Lord delivered our people at that time. Nevertheless, the Turks took them alive and divided them, just as they had done the others, and scattered them through all these regions, some to Chorosan, and others to Persia. This all happened in the month of October. The Emperor, upon hearing that the Turks had so scattered our people, was exceedingly glad and sent for them (the Turks) had them cross the Strait.. After they were across, he purchased all their arms.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 71-72

10. The Version of Albert of Aix

The Emperor was moved by compassion on hearing this humble narrative and ordered two hundred gold besants to be given to Peter; of that money which was called tartaron he disbursed one measure for his army. After that, peter retired from the conference and from the palace of the Emperor. Although under the kind protection of the Emperor, he rested only five days in the fields and lands near Constantinople, where Walter the Penniless had likewise pitched his tents. Becoming companions from that very day, thereafter their troops, arms, and all necessary provisions were joined together. Next, after five days, they moved their tents and, with the aid of the Emperor, passed by boat over the Strait of St. George. Entering the confines of Cappadocia, they advanced through mountainous country into Nicomedia. and there passed the night. After this, they pitched camp at the port called Civitote. There merchants were constantly bringing ships laden with supplies of wine, corn, oil, and barley, and with abundance of cheese, selling all to the pilgrims with just measure.

While they were rejoicing in this abundance of necessities and were resting their tired bodies, there came messengers from the most Christian Emperor. Because of the danger of ambushes and attacks from the Turks, thev forbade Peter and his whole army front marching towards the mountainous region of the city of Nicaea, until a greater number of Christians should be added to their number. Peter heard the message, and he with all the Christian people assented to the counsel of the Emperor. They tarried there for the course of two months, feasting in peace and joy, and sleeping secure from all hostile attacks.

And so two months later, having become wanton and unrestrained because of ease and an inestimable abundance of food, heeding not the voice of Peter, but against his will, they entered into the region of the city of Nicaea and the realms of Soliman. They took as plunder cattle, sheep, goats, the herds of the Greek servants of the Turks, and carried them off to their fellows. Peter, seeing this, was sorrowful in heart, knowing that they did it not with impunity. Whereupon he often admonished them not to seize any more booty contrary to the counsel of the Emperor, but in vain did he speak to a foolish and rebellious people. . . .

But the Teutons, seeing that affairs turned out so well for the Romans and the Franks, and that they returned unhindered so many times with their booty, were inflamed with an inordinate desire for plunder. About three thousand footsoldiers were collected and about two hundred knights. . . .

And thus, after all the stronghold had been captured and its inhabitants driven out, they rejoiced in the abundance of food found there. And exulting in that victory, they in turn gave counsel that, by remaining in that fortress, they could easily obtain, through their own valor, the lands and principality of Soliman; that they would gather from all sides booty and food, and thus could easily weaken Soliman, until the promised army of the great leaders should approach. Soliman, the leader and chief of the army of the Turks, having heard of the arrival of the Christians, and of their plunder and booty, assembled from all Romania and the territory of Chorosan fifteen thousand of his Turks, most agile archers, very skilful in the use of bows of horn and bone. . . . Next, it is said, that after sunrise on the third day, Soliman with his followers arrived from Nicaea at the fortress which the Teutons had invaded. . . .

Therefore, the Turks, unable to drive out the Alemanni with this assault and shower of arrows, gathered all kinds of wood at the very gate of the fortress. They set fire to it and burned the gate and very many buildings which were within the citadel. As the heat of the flames became greater, some were burned to death; others, hoping for safety, leaped from the walls. But the Turks who were outside the walls cut down with swords those who were fleeing and took captive about two hundred who were pleasing in appearance and youthful in body; all the others they destroyed with sword and arrow. . . .

In the meantime, the truth was discovered and tumult arose among the people. The footsoldiers came in a body to Reinald of Broyes, Walter the Penniless, to Walter of Breteuil, also, and to Folker of Orleans, who were leaders of Peter's army, to urge them to rise in a body in vindication of their brethren and against audacity of the Turks. But they positively refused to go without the presence and the counsel of Peter. Then Godfrey Burel, master of the footsoldiers, upon hearing their response, asserted that the timid by no means avail so much in war as the bold; and in sharp words he frequently reproached those men who prevented their other companions from pursuing the Turks to avenge their brethren. On the other band, the leaders of the legion, unable to endure his insults and reproaches any longer, or those of their own followers, were deeply moved by wrath and indignation and promised that they would go against the strength and wiles of the Turks, even if it should happen that they died in battle.

Nor was there delay: at dawn on the fourth day, all the knights and footsoldiers throughout the entire camp were ordered to arm themselves, to sound the trumpets, and to assemble for battle. Only the unarmed, the countless sick, and the women remained in camp. But all the armed men, to the number of 25,000 footsoldiers and 500 knights in armor, pressed on their way together toward Nicaea, in order to avenge their brethren by provoking Soliman and the rest of the Turks to engage in battle. And so, divided and arrayed in six battle lines, with standards uplifted in each, they advanced on the right and on the left.

Boasting and shouting with vehement tumult and great clamor, they had scarcely advanced through the aforesaid forest and mountain region three miles from the port of Civitote, their halting place, (Peter being absent and unaware of all this), when lo! Soliman, with all his intolerable following, entered that same forest from the opposite side. He was coming down from the city of Nicaea to fall suddenly u on the Gauls in camp, intending at thepoint of the sword to wipe out and destroy them, unaware and unprepared. Upon hearing the approach and the violent outcry of the Christians, he marvelled greatly what this tumult meant, for all that the Christians had decided was unknown to him. Finding out straightway that they were pilgrims, Soliman addressed his men as follows, "Behold the Franks, against whom we were marching, are at band. Let us withdraw from the forest and the mountains into the open plain, where we may freely engage in battle with them, and they can find no refuge." Accordingly, this was done without delay, at Soliman's command, and in deep silence they withdrew from the forest and the mountains.

But the Franks, unaware of Soliman's approach, advanced from the forest and the mountains with shouting and loud clamor. There they first beheld the battle lines of Soliman in the midst of the field, awaiting them for battle. When they had seen the Turks, they began to encourage one another in the name of the Lord....

There Walter the Penniless fell, pierced by seven arrows which bad penetrated his coat of mail. Reinald of Broyes and Folker of Chartres, men of the greatest renown in their own lands, fell in like martyrdom, destroyed by the enemy, though not without great slaughter of the Turks. But Walter of Breuteuil, son of Waleramnus, and Godfrey Burel, master of the footsoldiers, having slipped away in flight through briars and thickets, turned back along the narrow path where the entire band, withdrawn from battle, had gathered together. When the flight and desertion of these men became known, all turned in flight, hastening their course towards Civitote along the same route by which they had come, but with little defense against the enemy.

And so the Turks, rejoicing in the pleasing success of victory, were destroying the wretched band of pilgrims, whom they followed for a distance of three miles, killing them even at the camp of Peter. And going within the tents, they destroyed with the sword whomever they found, the weak and the feeble, clerics, monks, old women, nursing children, persons of every age. But they led away young girls whose face and form was pleasing in their eyes, and beardless youths of comely countenance. They carried off to Nicaea money, garments, mules, horses, and all valuable things, as well as the tents themselves,

But above the shore of the sea, near the aforesaid Civitote, was an ancient, deserted fortress. Towards that fortress three thousand pilgrims rushed in flight. They entered the ruined fortress in hope of defense. But finding no gates or other obstacles, and anxious and deprived of aid, they piled up their shields for a gate, along with a huge pile of rocks; and with lances, wooden bows, and slingstones, they bravely defended themselves from the enemy. But the Turks, seeing that they were having little success in killing those inside, surrounded the fortress, which was without a roof on all sides. They aimed their arrows high, so that, as they fell from the air in a shower, they would strike the bodies of the enclosed Christians, destroying the poor wretches; and that all the others, at the sight of this, might be compelled to surrender. In this way very many are said to have been wounded and killed there; but the rest, fearing yet more cruel treatment from the impious enemy, could not be compelled to come out either by.' force or by arms.

The Emperor was moved with pity when he bad heard from Peter about the siege and the fall of his men. So he summoned the Turcopoles and all the nations , of his kingdom, and commanded them to go in all haste across the Strait to the aid of the fugitive and besieged Christians, and to drive the assaulting Turks from the siege. But the Turks, having learned of the Emperor's edict moved from the fortress at midnight with their Christian captives and very great spoils, and so the pilgrim soldiers who had been shut up and besieged by the impious (Turks) were freed. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 73-76

11. Anna Comnena: The Byzantines Save Peter

[Alexiad 10:6]

But relying on the multitude of those who followed him, Peter did not heed the warning and, after crossing the strait, pitched camp at a little town called Helenopolis.

But since there were also Normans in his army, estimated at about ten thousand men, these, separating themselves from the rest of the body, devastated the region lying around the city of Nicaea, rioting most cruelly in every way. For they tore some of the children apart, limb from limb and, piercing others through with wooden stakes, roasted them in fire; likewise, upon those advanced in years they inflicted every kind of torture. When those in the city saw this being done, they opened the gates and went out against them. As a result, a fierce battle took place, in which, since the Normans fought ferociously, the citizens were hurled back into the fortress. The Normans, after gathering up all the plunder, again returned to Helenopolis. There a quarrel arose between themselves and the other pilgrims who had not gone off with them, a thing which usually happens in an affair of this kind, envy inflaming the wrath of those left behind, and a riotous fight followed the quarrel. The fierce Normans again separated (from the others) and captured Xerogord on their way at the first attack. When this was learned, the Sultan sent Elchanes against them with a suitable number of troops. When he reached them, he recaptured Xerogord, killed some of the Normans with the sword, and carried off the rest as captives, planning at the same time, also, an attack upon those who bad remained with KukuPeter. And he set ambushes at opportune places into which, when they left for Nicaea, they would unexpectedly fall and be killed. But knowing also of the avarice of the Gauls, he had summoned two men of bold spirit and ordered them to go to the camp of KukuPeter to announce that the Normans had captured Nicaea and were now sacking it to the utmost. This report, brought to the camp of Peter, excited all violently; for when the mention of plunder and riches was heard, they straightway set out in tumult on the road which leads to Nicaea, forgetful of their military training and of observing discipline in going out to battle. For the Latins are not only most fond of riches, as we said above, but when they give themselves to raiding any region for plunder, are also no longer obedient to reason, or any other check. Accordingly, since they were neither keeping order nor forming into lines, they fell into the ambush of the Turks around Draco and were wretchedly cut to pieces. Indeed, so great a multitude of Gauls and Normans were cut down by the Ishmaelite sword that when the dead bodies of the killed, which were lying all about in the place, were brought together, they made a very great mound , or hill, or lookout place, lofty as a mountain, and occupying a space very conspicuous for its width and depth. So high did that mound of bones tower, that some barbarians of the same race as the killed later used the bones of the slain instead of stones in constructing a wall, thus making that fortress a sort of sepulchre for them. It stands to this day, an enclosure of walls built with mixed rocks and bones.

And thus, after all had been wiped out in the slaughter, Peter returned with only a few to Helenopolis. The Turks, in their desire to get him into their power, again beset him with an ambush. But when the Emperor heard of the whole affair and learned how great was the slaughter of men, he held it very wrong that Peter should also be e taken. Immediately, therefore, he summoned Catacalon Constantine Euphorbenus, of whom mention has often been made in this t history, and sent him with suitable forces on war vessels across t the sea as a succour to Peter. When the Turks saw him approach, they fled. . . .

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 76-78


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© Paul Halsall December 1997
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