People's Crusade

People's Crusade

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People's Crusade

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Description:
The People's Crusade is part of the First Crusade and lasted roughly six months from April 1096 to October. It is also known as the Peasants' Crusade or the Paupers' Crusade. Led by Walter Sans Avoir and Peter the Hermit, the army was destroyed by the Seljuk forces of Kilij Arslan.

Background

Pope Urban II planned the departure of the crusade for August 15, 1096, but months before this, a number of unexpected bands of peasants and low-ranking knights organized and set off for Jerusalem on their own. The peasant population had been afflicted by drought, famine, and plague for many years before 1096, and some of them seem to have envisioned the crusade as an escape from these hardships. Spurring them on had been a number of meteorological occurrences beginning in 1095 that seemed to be a divine blessing for the movement: a meteor shower, aurorae, a lunar eclipse, and a comet, among other events. An outbreak of ergotism, which usually led to mass pilgrimages anyway, had also occurred just before the Council of Clermont. Millenarianism, the belief that the end of the world was imminent, popular in the early 11th century, experienced a resurgence in popularity. The response was beyond expectations: While Urban might have expected a few thousand knights, he ended up with a migration numbering up to 40,000 Crusaders of mostly unskilled fighters, including women and children.

A charismatic monk and powerful orator named Peter the Hermit of......
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