The First Crusade began in an effort to retrieve Christian territory that was conquered by Muslims. The aim of the crusaders was to recapture the holy city of Jerusalem in the name of God. The Crusades were catapulted by a speech delivered from Pope Urban II in the city of Clermont. The passionate speech was centered on the Muslims, whose acts of savagery had sent all of Western Europe into a frenzy. The Byzantine emperor Alexius Commenous requested the Pope for aid to cease the Turks from invading. This led to an outcry as thousands of men, women, and children answered the pope’s message. Urban began to arrange his plan, and started a campaign asking others to preach in his favor. Though the ultimate outcome of the crusade was successful, many mistakes were made throughout the course of the war.
The amount of enthusiasm that followed was overwhelming. However, most of this support came from peasants whom were neither skilled nor trained for combat. When preaching, Urban had hoped listening knights would be available for battle. While knights proved to be the most glorious of fighters, they came at a price. Knights developed their true ability to fight as a mounted warrior. Their “warhorses” were extremely expensive and required an ample amount of care. While on tour, Urban tried to prevent certain types of people from joining the effort, but it proved to be difficult. There were more peasants than there were knights. Urban had the support and promises of two influential French leaders, Adhemar and Raymond. Urban also recruited many other famous leaders.
The outcome of peasants only led to more trouble. Peter the Hermit can be viewed as a figurehead of the people’s crusade. Peter can be described as a charismatic man who delivered fiery sermons, persuading others to join the movement. According to Asbridge, Peter’s preaching during The Crusades was most likely not supported by the papacy.
Many believe that Peter led a group of untrained peasants who probably did not even know the location of Jerusalem. These peasants did not comply with Urban’s original plans. As Asbridge states, they “threatened to derail the entire campaign even before it had properly begun” (Asbridge 82). Peter’s army lacked proper military discipline and soon began to pillage the countryside. The army crossed into Asia Minor and ended up being massacred by the Turks. Then, in October of 1097, The People’s Crusade was led into the battle against the Turks in Civetot. This risky situation ended up leading to the downfall of The People’s Crusade. The Turks were more skilled with better supplies and annihilated the army. “The crusaders’ first steps into Islamic territory had ended in utter catastrophe” ( Asbridge 103). This was largely based on Peter’s inexperience with leading The People’s Crusade.
Another mistake came from Bohemond of Taranto, the great warrior, during the seige of Antioch. The city was strong and the idea of conquering it seemed frightening. The...