The Crusades, Part 3: 60,000 Peasants vs. 1,001 Arabian Knights

Hey all! Another crusades post this week. I know that I used this title for the last post, but it seemed more fitting here. The thing is, last time we were still preparing the setting but we will actually get some fighting today. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Peasants from all around Europe now began to travel, by land or by ship, to the Levant. Some built ships or hired mercenaries to sail them across the Mediterranean, and poorer peasants traveled through eastern Europe and Turkey. Often these peasants would die or settle on the way because the journey was so long. But many got there. And when they did, they realized the trouble they were in.

The first crusade seemed doomed. Thousands of untrained and disorganized peasants who came from all over Europe were somehow expected to take the levant from the massive and well-trained and well-equipped armies of Saladin the conqueror. But, weirdly enough, they got pretty far. And because of something very specific. Or should I say someone very specific. Peter the Hermit.

A monk in France heard about the crusades and decided he wanted to join. So he left his home and, with the permission of some higher-ups, recruited an army. He was apparently very charismatic. so soon many flocked to him to join his army. He presented himself as a very down-to-earth individual which seriously helped his reputation among the commoners. Soon he was at the head of a massive army. He, for some reason, decided not to travel by sea, so instead of taking the quick and easy journey through the Mediterranean, marched his very undersupplied army through Europe.

Along the way he stopped in Germany and committed terrible atrocities against the local Jews in an event which would come to be known as the Rhineland massacres. I will not go into it, but it was really terrible. Anyways, eventually he left Germany to travel through the balkans into Constantinople (modern day Istanbul.) His massive army marched through the city and scared the Byzantines, the rulers of the city, but eventually once they were re-supplied they left. They proceeded to lose several battles to the well-trained and well-equipped Turks, and eventually their entire force was destroyed. Peter went back to France, but he wasn’t done yet. We will get another appearance of him tomorrow when we get into the second crusade!

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