Peter the Hermit


Peter the Hermit was a priest in Northern France and a prominent figure during the First Crusade. He led of the five sections of the People's Crusade to their destination, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but their arrival was met with displeasure from the Eastern Roman Emperor, as many of those travelling were hungry and poor. Peter tried to organize the shipment of his followers to the Holy Land, but in the meantime the Emperor could not provide for so many new arrivals, who pilfered food and caused disorder in the camp. At last, the People's Crusade was shipped to an area just outside Turkish rule, with promise of guards and safe passage, but the pilgrims refused to wait and instead went unarmed into enemy territory, where they were robbed and attacked. Peter fled to Constantinople, seeking assistance once more. During his absence, the Turks killed many of the retreating crusaders, and those survivors who completed the return journey to Constantinople fervently awaited armed support.

When help arrived at last, Peter joined them as a member of council, and the remaining troops marched through Asia Minor and into Jerusalem. While his ranks were never again their original size, Peter was able to enlist many injured and bankrupt crusaders sympathetic to their cause. His position, however, was clearly diminished, and he played only a minor role in subsequent battles, until a rousing speech inspired a crushing victory at Antioch. Peter then went on to become treasurer of the alms at the seige of Arqa and the following Battle of Ascalon before sailing westward and disappearing from history until his believed death in 1115.

Many stories surround Peter's preaching of the First Crusade; several historians of that time believed him to be its prime instigator, and tales spread concerning a believed encounter between the hermit and Jesus Christ in the Chruch of the Holy Sepulchre, during which the latter bade him to promote the Cruades in His name.

Key events during the life of Peter the Hermit:

Led 40,000 members of the People's Crusade from Cologne to Constantinople.
  The People's Crusade was shipped to the Asiatic shore but was forced to retreat when Turkish enemies attacked.
Joined the Emperor's ranks as a member of council.
Seige of Antioch.
Served as treasurer of the alms at the seige of Arqa.
  Went to Latakia, and from there sailed for the West.
Died while serving as prior of a church that he had founded in France.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Peter the Hermit  in  The Crusaders  by  Alfred J. Church
Peter the Hermit  in  Old Time Tales  by  Lawton B. Evans
Peter the Hermit  in  Famous Men of the Middle Ages  by  John H. Haaren
First Crusade  in  The Story of the Middle Ages  by  Samuel B. Harding
How Peter Preached of Jerusalem  in  Stories from the Crusades  by  Janet Harvey Kelman
Godfrey, A Knight of the Crusades in  Page, Esquire, and Knight  by  Marion Florence Lansing
Beginning of the Crusades  in  The Story of Europe  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Peter the Hermit  in  Historical Tales: French  by  Charles Morris
Peter the Hermit Leads the First Crusade  in  European Hero Stories  by  Eva March Tappan
Story of Peter the Hermit  in  The Story of the Crusades  by  by E. M. Wilmot-Butxton

Image Links

Peter the Hermit
 in Stories from German History

Peter the Hermit preaching the Crusades
 in The Story of Old France

Peter the Hermit preaching the first crusade
 in Famous Men of the Middle Ages

Peter set off with an unruly band of men
 in Stories from the Crusades

Peter held a lance-head high in the air
 in Stories from the Crusades

Often he was to be seen riding upon an ass
 in The Story of France

Peter the Hermit Preaching
 in European Hero Stories

Short Biography
Tancred Leader of the first Crusade who eventually became regent of Antioch and Galilee.
Conrad III First Hohenstaufen king of Germany. Involved in Guelph/Ghibelline struggle and also second crusade.