Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME

ORB Online Encyclopedia


The First Crusade

Paul Crawford

Neither Alexius nor Urban got exactly what they had had in mind. Large numbers of poorer knights and peasants answered the call immediately and set off without proper preparation. This sort of participation was not what the authorities had had in mind, and no one was prepared to deal with them.

Some of these unsolicited crusaders carried out massacres against German Jews on the way, on the theory that the battle against Christ's enemies ought to begin at home. This activity was not sanctioned by the Church, and the Church was at some pains to suppress it, with varying degrees of success.

When these crusaders arrived in Asia Minor the next year they were quickly massacred by the battle-hardened Turks. This has been called the Peasants' Crusade or, more properly, the Peoples' Crusade.

The Frankish barons, accustomed to war and its necessary preparations, waited until the appointed departure time, in summer 1096, and then set out in several large contingents, by various routes. No kings participated in their crusade, the First Crusade proper; the leadership was made up of several high nobles and a papal legate. The best known of these leaders included Bohemond of Taranto, Raymond of Toulouse, Hugh of Vermandois, Godfrey of Bouillon, Baldwin of Boulogne, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy. The papal legate was the Bishop of Le Puy, Adhmar.

After a long, dangerous and hard journey, the First Crusaders finally reached Jerusalem in the summer of 1099 and took it. The final result of the First Crusade was the establishment of four Latin "states" or "kingdoms" in the Middle East: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Jerusalem exercised a certain vague suzerainty over the other three.

It is a curious fact that the capture of Jerusalem caused little stir in the Muslim world, and is scarcely mentioned in the Muslim chronicles of the time. It was not until later that the Muslims determined to take Jerusalem from the Christians a second time.

  1. Introduction
  2. Military and Political Background
  3. The First Crusade
  4. Crusades and the Counter-Crusades
  5. The Later Crusades
  6. Additional Background
  7. Crusading Vows & Privileges
  8. Legacy

Copyright (C) 1997, Paul Crawford. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME