web counter








When the pope announced his plan for a holy war against the Moslems in the east for the recovery of the Holy Sepulcher, he directed his appeal to fighting men. Plenary indulgence and other inducements seem to have been intended for those who would fight their way through to Jerusalem or die in the attempt. To men who regarded fighting as an honorable profession, what  be better, as a troubadour saw it, than to escape hell by doing deeds of honor? But crowds of lesser folk, noncombatant pilgrims, became enthusiastic about making the trip to the holy places in the wake of armed forces; and Urban, when he realized that such folk would be a hindrance to the expedition, made some effort to prevent them from going. Thus, in his letter to the people of Bologna, he definitely excluded old people, those unfit to fight, women without husbands or guardians, clerics without consent of their superiors, or laymen without clerical blessing. Robert reports that Urban had said that the benefits of the journey were not for the members of the clergy who went without the consent of their bishops. But the urge to go became too strong to be re­strained by such regulations. Much more effective, as the story of the march to Constantinople reveals, was the necessity of having the means to meet the expenses of the journey.

The chroniclers tell how the news of this new way to salvation, “constituted by God”, literally flew about the world. Robert the Monk, for whom modern wireless would have been no surprise, says that it was known everywhere on the very day that it was announced at Clermont. But Urban instructed the churchmen to go home from the council and preach the crusade. As Baldric relates, “And turning to the bishops, he said, You, brothers and fellow bishops; you, fellow priests and sharers with us in Christ, make the same announcement through the churches committed to you and with your whole soul vigorously preach the journey to Jerusalem”. The importance of the clergy as publicists of the pope’s undertaking is made clearer by Ekkehard, who believed that the “eastern Franks” had remained in ignorance of the movement until crusaders came trooping through their country because the schism had prevented any of their clergy from going to Clermont and bringing back the news. Southern Italy also seems to have learned about the crusade late, if we can believe the author of the Gesta, who says that Bohemond did not know about this “new way of penance” until crusaders came into Italy from France. It seems likely that Norman Italy thus did not have members of the clergy returning from Clermont. Also, we know a little about the pope’s use of churchmen. Gerento, abbot of St. Bénigne, was delegated to promote the crusade in Normandy and England, and two bishops were sent to rouse the citizens of the maritime republic of Genoa. Robert of Arbrissel, and possibly Peter the Hermit, received papal encouragement to preach the crusade. It was, of course, an exciting idea, and once made public by the clergy, it spread rapidly among the people.

The chroniclers give ridiculously exaggerated estimates of the numbers of those who responded to the call. Fulcher mentions a “countless multitude, speaking many languages”; while Guibert says that the movement took in “the whole of Christendom capable of bearing arms”. If it was God’s work, as contemporaries believed, the numbers given had to be sufficient to justify such inspiration, and there was no need to ask about contributory mundane conditions or causes. Ekkehard was exceptional in noting that the eastern Franks were more easily persuaded to leave their homes because they had been afflicted for some time by civil strife, famine, and pestilence. Guibert also took note of economic conditions in saying that the French had suffered much from famines. Some modern historians have been intrigued by this eleventh-century suggestion, and have labored the notion that recruiting for the crusade was facilitated by unfavorable economic conditions, especially famines, in the west.

Such statistical evidence as may be obtained by counting up references to famines does not prove that conditions were more unfavorable at this time and many of the famines reported were local. But it is now quite generally believed that the last half of the eleventh century was a period of rising prosperity, marked by reviving trade, industry, town life, and expansion of agriculture. Money was beginning to circulate more widely, and there is evidence to indicate that pilgrims and crusaders obtained money by mortgaging or selling their property. Ready cash was necessary for the journey, as large numbers of people could not get very far on the way toward the Holy Sepulcher by depending upon foraging or charity. Guibert says that when the “cry of crusade” came, “the famine disappeared and was followed by abundance ... each one hastened to convert into money everything that he did not need for the journey. What cost most were goods needed for the journey, others sold for nothing”. As cartularies indicate, the church did a good business in mortgaging and buying the property of crusaders who needed money for the long journey.

Alexius, it may be assumed, hoped to have fighting men to serve in his armies — mercenaries, according to Chalandon — and as reported by Bernold, when Urban called for volunteers at Piacenza, he told those who might go to take an oath to obey the emperor. But the basileus became alarmed when he learned the extent of the movement of people who were coming to help; “all the barbarians between the Adriatic and the Pillars of Hercules”, his daughter Anna rhetorized. He knew from experience how dangerous these westerners were when aroused, that they were greedy and fickle fellows who could not be bound by any agreements. The first problem that confronted the emperor, however, was how to get them through the Balkan provinces without trouble, and arrangements to do this were made much more difficult because the armies were accompanied by art unarmed multitude of pilgrims. Practically the only information about Byzantine plans to handle this sudden influx from the west is found in the Alexiad of Anna Comnena, who was an impressionable girl of thirteen when it happened, but did not write about it until forty years later. She describes the plans of the imperial government so clearly that it may well be that she obtained her information from an official document.

There were two main routes through the Balkans that led to Constantinople. Earlier in the eleventh century many pilgrims from Germany had gone through Hungary to enter the empire at Belgrade, and had then followed the road that went through Nish (Naissus), Sofia (Sardica), Philippopolis, and Adrianople to the Byzantine capital. But as the result of disorders in Bulgaria, this route had become less popular than the old Via Egnatia, which began at Dyrrachium (Durazzo), and ran through Ochrida, Monastir, Vodena, and Thessalonica, and on to Constantinople. The northern road, of course, was an all-land route. It was, naturally, necessary for travelers to cross the Adriatic to get to Dyrrachium, unless they went around the northern end of this sea through wild and desolate regions. It was Anna's recollection that all the crusaders came over the southern road, probably because her cousin, John Comnenus, was stationed in the western part of the empire, and a large military force was sent there to guard against a Norman effort to capture Dyrrachium again.

To handle the crowds expected from the west, the imperial government planned to send officials who would be provided with interpreters familiar with Latin. Commanders of Byzantine ships, who watched for pirates in the Adriatic, were instructed to bring word of approaching pilgrim transports, so that the officials could greet them and take them in hand. Military forces were to serve as escorts, and “discreetly” put them back on the road by light skirmishing if they strayed out of bounds. Finally, and what was very necessary if foraging was to be prevented, the government planned to have stores of provisions at the larger towns on the routes so that pilgrims and crusaders could provide themselves with food — provided they could pay for it, of course. That these plans were carried out is evident from the accounts of western chroniclers.

Unfortunately, bands of pilgrims and crusaders began to arrive in Bulgaria before Byzantine officials were ready to take care of them. Possibly the imperial government had assumed that the date set by the pope, August 15, 1096, would be observed, or, as may be inferred from Anna, it had been assumed that the northern route would not be much used. And it is entirely probable that Urban himself was surprised that crusading bands went off ahead of the time set and did not wait for his legate, Adhémar, as he had proposed to the Flemings. But early in February, while the pope was north of the Loire in western France, a group of lords met at Paris, and, in the presence of their excommunicated king, chose his brother, Hugh, count of Vermandois, to lead them on the crusade. At the same lime, lesser folk, aroused by the preaching of Peter the Hermit, were marching north through Capetian territories, and it was this popular movement, which is known as the Peasants’ or People’s Crusade, that was responsible for the premature appearance of bands of crusaders and pilgrims on the northern road into the Byzantine empire.

Peter had high credentials. He carried a letter which was said to have fallen from heaven, and it contained a prophecy chat the Christians would drive the “infidels” from the holy places if they tried. According to another story, the Hermit had seen Christ in a vision as he prayed at the Holy Sepulcher, for it was long believed that he had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and that on his return he had persuaded pope Urban to launch the crusade. This legend, related by Albert of Abe, was given wider currency by William of Tyre. Thus it came to be believed that Peter, not Urban, initiated the crusade, and this explanation was accepted until late in the nineteenth century, when it finally became clear that there was no evidence to show that Peter had any influence on the pope.

Peter, who seems to have been born in Picardy, was a small man, “short in stature, but great in heart and eloquence”. At a time when popular preaching was unusual, he had great influence, and many followed him as he moved northward from Berry through Capetian territory. At Étampes he enlisted Geoffrey Burel, known as Master of the Footmen, and at Poissy he was joined by a knight named Walter, with his nephews, Walter Sans-Avoir (“the Penniless”), William, Matthew, and Simon. Reginald of Bray came from the vicinity of Liège. It was with a considerable following that Peter arrived at Trier in April, and a few days later he was preaching at Cologne. But the “proud Franks” became impatient, and under the leadership of Walter Sans-Avoir started off toward Constantinople. Albert says there were only eight knights in this band, which clearly consisted largely of pilgrims. Walter, an outstanding knight, according to Fulcher of Chartres, proved to be a capable leader, and his followers seem to have been well prepared, and they were orderly and peaceful on their journey.

The Germans ridiculed these pilgrims for having sold their property in order to go on what they thought was a foolish journey, saying that they had exchanged the certain for the uncertain, and had abandoned the land of their birth for a doubtful land of promise. But the Germans, who knew little about the movement at first, changed their attitude as they saw the crowds, who seem to have been very orderly, cross through their country. Certainly, king Coloman did not hesitate to grant Walter’s request for permission to cross Hungary with the privilege of buying food along the way. This concession was made, the chronicler says, because Walter seemed a worthy man, who had undertaken his journey with the best of intentions. Hungarians, of course, were accustomed to pilgrim travel through their country.

After marching through Hungary, Walter’s band crossed the Sava river into Bulgaria. Nicetas, the Byzantine governor of Bulgaria, who was stationed at Nish, either was without instructions about how to handle crusading bands, or had not informed whoever was in command at Belgrade, and Walter’s request for market privileges was denied. To complicate matters at this time, sixteen stragglers, who had remained behind at Semlin, in Hungary, came in with complaints of being robbed. Walter wisely refused to consider retaliation. In the meantime, further trouble had arisen at Belgrade, where, unable to buy food, his people had spread out in the countryside to forage. Some sixty pilgrims were surrounded in a church, where they were burned to death. Walter, to avoid further trouble, hurried his band off along the road to Nish through the Bulgarian forests. When they arrived at this town on June 18, Nicetas granted market privileges and even made good the losses, at the same time assuring Walter that his people would be able to buy provisions on the rest of the way to Constantinople. Conducted by an escort, this band reached Constantinople without further difficulty, and the only incident recorded on this last stage of the journey is the death of the older Walter, whose body was found to be marked with a cross. At the capital city, where they arrived about mid-July, Walter and his people made camp outside the walls to await the coming of Peter. They had behaved very well, and had asked only for the right to buy their food, which was precisely what the Byzantine government had planned to provide.

Peter, the preacher who could arouse emotions, was not as capable a leader as the knight, Walter. Nevertheless, it seems certain that he intended to have a peaceful journey, as his followers were prepared to pay their way and do not seem to have been guilty of the persecution of the Jews which became so prevalent in the Rhine valley after their departure. Peter, to be sure, had a letter from French Jews advising their brethren elsewhere to aid Peter for the good of Israel, which may mean that he threatened them to obtain money; and later on we learn that he had a treasure chest. Peter’s following, after the departure of the French, probably consisted mainly of Germans who were recruited in the Rhineland. Ordericus Vitalis says that he added many by his preaching at Cologne, and it seems that he was accompanied by two German counts and a bishop. Albert mentions French, Lorrainers, Swabians, and Bavarians, the last being added on the march through southern Germany. At Odenburg (Sopron) on the Hungarian boundary, Peter waited until he received permission to march through Hungary, which was granted by king Coloman with the stipulation that there should be no pillaging nor disputes about markets. Peter agreed to the terms, and his band was orderly until Semlin was reached, where some of the crusaders became so indignant at seeing the clothing and arms of the sixteen stragglers from Walter's band, hanging defiantly from the walls, that they captured the town by assault. They were also disturbed by a rumor that one of Coloman’s officials, named Guz — Runciman suggests that he may have been a Ghuzz (the Arabic form of Oghuz) Turk — was plotting with Nicetas against them, Peter seems to have lost control of the hotheads in his band, and, fearing retaliation, he made haste to get his people out of Hungary.

As few boats were available, his people had to take time to construct rafts, watched by Pechenegs, Byzantine mercenaries, gathered on the Bulgarian side of the Sava, possibly to act as an escort. After a brush with these mercenaries, in which a few were captured, the crossing was made, and the band moved on to Belgrade, which they found deserted. By July 2 they reached Nish, where the chronicler says Nicetas had collected Bulgars, Kumans, Pechenegs, and Hungarians for the defense of the town. But he granted markets on condition that hostages, Walter of Breteuil and Geoffrey Burel, should be given as a pledge for good behavior, who, as all went well, were released the next morning.

According to Albert’s information, some Germans who had become quarrelsome while trading with citizens set fire to some mills outside the walls, and imperial troops then attacked the baggage train which was in the rear of the departing crusaders and pilgrims, and captured women and children. Albert thought these unfortunates were still in captivity when he was writing his history more than a quarter of a century later. Peter hurried back and ordered his people to do nothing until he could negotiate with Nicetas for the return of the prisoners, but, disregarding orders, headstrong young men attempted to storm the walls of the town, only to be repulsed with heavy losses. In the meantime, Peter had sent Bulgars, who had joined his pilgrimage, to ask Nicetas for a cessation of fighting until the troubles could be discussed. The Byzantine governor accepted the proposal, but “the footmen”, unwilling to wait any longer, began to load up their wagons again and march away; although Peter, Fulcher, and Reginald tried to persuade them to stay. To the imperials, it seemed that Peter and his leaders were trying to hurry their people away to avoid negotiating, and they again attacked; in the rout that followed, many were killed, and the rest bought refuge in the surrounding forests.

When Peter finally united his band, Albert's informant thought that a fourth of them had been lost. Stopping at a deserted town, which has been identified as Palanka, they spent three days in gathering and parching grain, on which they fed themselves till they reached the next town, Sofia, on July 12. Here Byzantine officials from Constantinople took charge, promising free markets for the rest of the way, with the stipulation that the band should not stay more than three days at any market town. At Philippopolis, the eloquent Peter told his story of misfortunes with such fervor that the citizens gave his people gold bezants, silver coins, horses, and mules. At Adrianople, imperial messengers urged Peter to hurry on, saying that the emperor had heard much about him and was eager to see him. On August 1, the band arrived at Constantinople, having been on the way from Cologne three months and eleven days.

Other bands that were formed soon after Peter’s departure failed to get through Hungary because they expected to live off the country. The followers of a certain Folkmar passed through Saxony and Bohemia into Hungary. As Albert does not mention him, and Ekkehard is very brief, little is known about him. It may be assumed that the persecutions of Jews at Magdeburg and Prague were the work of this band. Ekkehard merely says that Folkmar traversed Bohemia to Nitra where his band was broken up, some being killed and others captured, because “sedition was incited”. It is not very enlightening to learn further that survivors attributed their escape to a cross which they saw in the heavens.

Gottschalk, a German priest from the Rhineland, was inspired by Peter to preach the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. With followers from eastern France, Lorraine, and southern Germany, he followed Peter’s route into Hungary. Although Albert, who twice says that his information was derived from eye-witnesses, specifics that these people, both horsemen and footmen, had collected money and equipment for the journey, and were peaceful on their march through Germany, Ekkehard calls Gottschalk “a false servant of God” (mercenarius, non pastor). Nevertheless, king Coloman had a favorable enough impression of this band to grant them the privilege of markets in his country on condition that they were not disorderly. But, while negotiating for permission to enter Hungary, Bavarians, Swabians, and “other fools”, who became drunk on stolen wine, took grain, from the Hungarians, who were soon roused to retaliate. The pilgrims were forced to seek refuge in the monastery of St. Martin, and in the negotiations that followed, Gottschalk and his followers were persuaded to surrender both arms and money, “the means of supporting life on the way to Jerusalem”. Then the Hungarians killed or captured most of the band, “just as they affirm who were there and barely escaped”. Such is the improbable account given by Albert. Ekkehard merely says that the band established a fortified camp and engaged in foraging. The “massacre" probably took place in July”.

Folkmar’s band and possibly Gottschalk’s followers were in­volved in the wave of anti-semitism that swept through the Rhineland at this time. Jews, who had been encouraged to settle in the growing cities along the Rhine, were protected by the ecclesiastical princes and the emperor. Money-lending at usurious rates of interest made them prosper, and riches gained by such unchristian practices, as well as their ostentation and exclusiveness, made these strangers unpopular and even hated, and crusaders, going forth to fight the enemies of their faith, were easily persuaded to persecute and rob Jewish “unbelievers”. Especially ready to sack the Jewries were poor crusaders who needed money to finance their journey. Was not the purpose of their expedition to oppose the enemies of Christianity? The chronicler Ekkehard praised the persecution of “these execrable people”, who were “enemies within the church”'. But Cosmas of Prague, it is interesting to note, held it uncanonical to force baptism on them, for, as Albert put it, “God is a just judge who has not ordained that anyone should be brought into the Christian obedience unwillingly by force”. Actuated by more selfish reasons, no doubt, Henry IV later declared chat Jews who had been forced to become Christians could return to their own faith, and the ecclesiastical princes made efforts to protect their Jewish wards from mob violence. According to a late Jewish source, Godfrey of Bouillon threatened to avenge the blood of Christ on the Jews, but denied that he had ever intended to harm them when Henry IV advised both lay and ecclesiastical lords to protect them. Nevertheless, he did collect a thousand marks of silver from the Jewries of Mainz and Cologne to help defray the expenses of his crusade, and it may be assumed that Godfrey had Jew-baiters in his army, although the worst of the persecutions were over before he departed for the east.

The most fanatical pogroms may be attributed to the various bands that came together under the leadership of count Emicho of Leiningen, who had feudal holdings between Mainz and Worms, and was said to be “most powerful in that region”. This robber baron had an evil reputation for oppression, and Ekkehard asserts that he “usurped leadership” over pilgrims by deluding them with reports of divine revelations which he had received “like another Saul”. He was joined by another adventurer, who had acquired his bad reputation in Spain, William the Carpenter, viscount of Melun and Gatinais, and kinsman of Hugh of Vermandois. Other French lords, Clarebold of Vendeuil, Thomas of La Fère, and Drogo of Nesle, also joined Emicho, whose band consisted of “pilgrims and crusaders” (cruce signati) from France, England, Flanders, Lorraine, and southern Germany in addition to his original followers from the Rhine region. To Albert it was a sinful collection of men, women, and children, who regarded the pilgrimage as a pleasure trip, but he notes that they provided themselves with whatever was needed by people taking the road to Jerusalem.

Early persecutions in the Moselle valley may be attributed to bands moving toward the Rhine. (It does not seem possible to distinguish various bands as Wolff has attempted to do.) Early in May, a few Jews who refused to be baptized were killed at Metz, and, at Speyer, a massacre was prevented because bishop John gave asylum to Jews in his palace. At Worms, similar action by the bishop was not effective, and on May 18, crusaders and a mob from the surrounding countryside forced their way into the episcopal palace and killed all within. This pogrom may have been the work of Emicho’s band, as was that which took place soon after at Mainz, where this “enemy of all the Jews” arrived on May 25, to find the gates closed against him. But the Jews who paid the archbishop Ruthard to protect them seem to have been betrayed. Their enemies were admitted to the city two days later and a massacre followed. Later, when the archbishop was accused of having taken money from the Jews, he fled without defending himself.

When Emicho arrived at Cologne, on May 29, Jewish sources say that most of their brethren were saved either by finding pro­tection in the houses of Christian friends or by escaping from the city. When Albert says that two hundred attempted to escape to Neuss, he may have in mind the massacre that occurred in that place later. He also believed that many were killed at Cologne, where he says the mob found “much money” to divide. After the departure of Emicho, other bands carried out a series of persecutions farther down the Rhine valley. This outbreak of anti-Semitism probably came after the departure of Emicho from Cologne, where he had waited for the various bands to gather.

Emicho, Clarebold, and Thomas led that “intolerable crowd of men and women” (twelve thousand is Ekkehard’s figure), laden with loot from the ghettos, as far as Hungary on the way to Jerusalem. Their route led from the Rhine, up the Main and down the Danube, and on the way they were joined by count Hartmann of Dillingen-Kyburg with a contingent of Swabian nobles. At the town of Wieselburg, which was fortified and flanked by swamps, at the juncture of the Leitha river with the Danube, they were halted, and Coloman refused to permit them to enter his kingdom, possibly because, as Ekkehard says, he had heard that the Germans were as willing to kill Hungarians as pagans. Finding advance effectively blocked, Emicho and his colleagues undertook to construct a bridge, an operation which took six weeks. During this time, the crusaders resorted to foraging, and engaged in many skirmishes with the Hungarians, while the leaders quarreled about who should have Hungary when they had conquered this land.

When the bridge was completed, the crusaders crossed to attack the town, and by means of machines soon breached the walls. Just as victory seemed certain, for some reason that the chronicler was unable to explain, the crusaders were seized by sudden panic, and, in their haste to return to the other bank of the river, many were drowned. The Hungarians rallied to pursue and succeeded in completely destroying this band of marauders. The leaders, having good horses, escaped. Thomas, Clarebold, and William the Carpenter made their way southward into Italy, where they may have joined William's kinsman, Hugh of Vermandois. The only explanation for this sudden defeat offered by Ekkehard is that it was the will of God. “Men of our race, having zeal for, but not knowledge of, God”, he says, “in the very militia which Christ provided for liberating Christians, began to attack other Christians ... thus bringing the crusade into bad repute”.

Too many eager pilgrims, inspired by religious enthusiasm, and too few fighting men, had marched away in these early bands. Forty years after, Anna Comnena still believed that the preaching of Peter had aroused the religious fervor of the crusading movement, but, she explains, shrewd, perverse men, such as Bohemond, made use of these simple folk to promote their own selfish ends. Her father understood all this quite well, she says, because he knew how naive the westerners were, and she makes the vanity of Hugh of Vermandois seem ridiculous. Nevertheless, most of our information about Hugh's journey comes from her account.

Hugh, whom she calls Ubos, announced his departure from France in a bombastic letter to Alexius, making the preposterous claim that he was the “basileus of basileis, the greatest on earth”, and being of royal blood, he demanded that he be honored with an appropriate reception when he arrived at Constantinople. The second son of king Henry I and his second wife, Anna, the princess of Kiev, Hugh had obtained his feudal possessions by marrying the daughter of the count of Vermandois. He departed about the middle of August 1096, with a respectable following. When he reached Rome, the pope gave him the standard of St, Peter, an honor of which he proudly informed the emperor when he sent a second announcement of his coming.

Alexius, his daughter recalled, instructed his nephew, John Comnenus, then stationed at Dyrrachium, to welcome Hugh when he arrived. Before setting sail from Bari, Hugh sent a delegation of twenty-four resplendent knights to warn the governor that he was coming. Fulcher briefly states that Hugh, “the first of the heroes who crossed the sea, landed at the city of Dyrrachium in Bulgaria, with his personal following, but having imprudently departed with a scant army, he was detained by the citizens there and taken to Constantinople, where he was detained for a time, not altogether free”. There are other references to his not being free, but according to Anna, he arrived with “a scant army” because most of his followers had been lost in a storm. Only good fortune had permitted Hugh to land on the shore somewhere between Cape Pali and Dyrrachium, where he was picked up bedraggled and forlorn and taken before John Comnenus, who fed and refitted him, and sent him on to Constantinople under the escort of a high official.

Godfrey of Bouillon departed from the west about the same time as Hugh, but, as he followed the northern route, he was longer on the way. If Godfrey, like all “Celts”, was proud of his race, as Anna says, it was not without good reason, as he was descended from Charlemagne. A second son, like Hugh, he did not inherit the county of Boulogne and the extensive English holdings of his father. A promising future seemed to open in his fifteenth year, when his maternal uncle, Godfrey the Hunchback, duke of Lower Lorraine, was assassinated, and on his deathbed designated his nephew as his heir. But the emperor Henry IV, gave the duchy to his own infant son, Conrad, conferring the margraviate of Antwerp on Godfrey by way of consolation. This and the county of Bouillon, with other family possessions in the neighborhood, made Godfrey a feudal lord of some importance. He aided the emperor in his wars, and may have participated in the siege of Rome. Finally, in 1089, Henry made him duke of Lower Lorraine; but, either because ducal authority had deteriorated, or because Godfrey was a poor administrator, he seems to have derived neither power nor wealth from the duchy. Certainly he had to finance his crusade chiefly from his hereditary holdings and was able to sell or mortgage Verdun for a sum said to have been substantial, while the bishop of Liège gave either 1,300 or 1,500 marks of silver for Bouillon. As there is no evidence that he realized anything from his duchy, Anna’s statement that “the man was very rich” is not justified.

No trustworthy evidence explains why Godfrey took the cross. The Chronicle of Zimmern relates that he decided to go on this pilgrimage while he was ill during the siege of Rome. Caffaro says that he went on some such pilgrimage, then visited Raymond of St, Gilles and Adhémar, and with them initiated the crusade. All this is as legendary as his later reputation for piety, to which William of Tyre contributed by saying that he took monks with him on the crusade, “notable for their holy lives”, to celebrate the divine offices. In reality, he had ruined monasteries in the neighborhood of Bouillon by his exactions, and it was his mother, the pious Ida, who induced him to make a few donations to churches to save his reputation before he departed. When crusading excitement spread throughout the Walloon region, and neighboring lords made ready for the pilgrimage, Godfrey decided to go along. Being the duke, he was made leader of the army.

The more important of Godfrey's companions seem to have come chiefly from the region about Godfrey's holdings. Baldwin, the duke's younger brother, who cautiously took time to make up his mind, was accompanied by his wife. Another Baldwin, of Le Bourg, was a kinsman of Godfrey, possibly a cousin. The oldest brother, Eustace, count of Boulogne, who inherited his father's extensive lands in England, also went on the crusade, but whether with Godfrey or with Robert of Normandy is uncertain. A third Baldwin, count of Hainault, Reginald, count of Toul, and a bishop, the schismatic Otto of Strassburg, are mentioned. Godfrey’s follower seem to have been adequately prepared, and he may have maintained a personal following from his own resources. The size of this army cannot be estimated from the dubious figures in the chronicles.

Albert says that Godfrey was on the march by the middle of August, and was at the Hungarian border for three weeks in September. The delay was due to the suspicions that king Coloman had of the intentions of any armed forces after the troubles he had had with Folkmar, Gottschalk, and Emicho. So, while his people were encamped at Tollenburg (either Bruck an der Leitha or pos­sibly Tulln), Godfrey sent forward a delegation of twelve, headed by Geoffrey of Esch, who had been engaged in previous negotiations with the Hungarian king. According to Albert, they rather tactlessly asked Coloman why he had been killing Christian pilgrims, and he replied that he had found it necessary to exterminate them because they were unholy robbers. He demanded a personal conference with Godfrey, and the two met on a bridge; but, still unconvinced, the king invited the duke to visit at his court. Godfrey accepted, and after eight days finally obtained permission to march through Hungary, on condition that his brother Baldwin and his family be given as hostages to guarantee that there would be no pillage. When Godfrey returned to camp with this proposal, Baldwin angrily refused, but yielded when the duke offered to be hostage himself. Godfrey then ordered heralds to proclaim that anyone guilty of foraging would be put to death, while Coloman warned his people that all who failed to provide necessities at fair prices would be punished, and he undertook to escort the crusaders with a strong force of horsemen.

The march through Hungary was without incident, and the army reached Semlin late in November. As soon as the army had crossed the Sava into Bulgaria, king Coloman appeared on the other bank and surrendered the hostages. As Belgrade was desert­ed, the crusaders marched on toward Nish. Byzantine officials met them on the way with assurances that free markets would be available at towns along the route, and Godfrey promised that his people would take nothing except fodder for their horses. At Nish, Godfrey received a generous supply of food as a gift, and his people found abundant supplies for sale. As equally satisfactory markets were provided at Sofia and Philippopolis, the army halted to rest and replenish supplies at both places. Before leaving the latter city, however, Godfrey was greatly disturbed by a rumor that Hugh, William the Carpenter, Drogo, and Clarebold were prisoners of the emperor, and he immediately sent a demand to Alexius that the captives be released. But Baldwin, count of Hainault, and Henry of Esch, excited by the report of handsome imperial gifts to Hugh, departed at dawn in order to reach Constantinople before the generosity of the basileus might be dried up by Godfrey’s ultimatum.

At Selymbria (Silivri) on the Sea of Marmara, Godfrey permit­ted eight days of pillage in the surrounding region because the emperor was holding Hugh and his companions, Albert says. But, when Alexius sent two Franks with the assurance that the count of Vermandois either was, or would be, released, Godfrey called in the foragers, and moved on to the outskirts of Constantinople just in time to celebrate Christmas there. Tension was relieved when Hugh came out to the camp, and imperial officials invited Godfrey to an audience with the emperor. But Godfrey, still suspicious of Alexius, declined. Albert explains that certain men, “from Frankish lands”, secretly advised Godfrey not to enter the city because the Greeks were not to be trusted. Also unconfirmed, and still less plausible, is a talk about Bohemond proposing that Godfrey join him in an attack on Constantinople.

Bohemond crossed the sea fifteen days after Hugh. It was a familiar crossing to this eldest son of Robert Guiscard, who had been his father’s second in command during the war in Albania from 1081 to 1085. So confident had Guiscard been at that time that he had made Bohemond heir to all future conquests on the eastern side of the Adriatic; Roger Borsa, second son by a second marriage, was to inherit his Italian possessions. When Guiscard died and the bold adventure overseas failed, Bohemond returned to wrest what land he could from his less capable half-brother, and although Borsa had the powerful support of his uncle, count Roger of Sicily, Bohemond became one of the strongest lords in southern Italy. Nevertheless, what he could hope for there was not enough to satisfy his ambition, and he welcomed the greater opportunity that the crusade offered.

The historian of his expedition, the author of the Gesta would have his readers believe that Bohemond did not know about the armies that were forming beyond the mountains until French crusaders came down into Italy. When certain that they were fighting men, and on their way to rescue the Holy Sepulcher, he quickly made up his mind to take the cross. This was seven or eight months after Clermont while he was cooperating with his brother and uncle in besieging Amalfi. Dramatically he cut an expensive cloak into crosses, and won so many followers for his crusade that the siege had to be raised. There were many young men in Italy, says Malaterra, “who were eager for something new, as is natural at that age”.

The dominating personality of this large, powerful man, whose eyes flashed fire, fascinated young Anna Comnena. At the age of forty, probably because of his military experience in Albania, he raised an army more quickly than any of the other leaders. How he financed his expedition is very obscure, although it is not likely that he undertook to provide for any followers, except those in his personal following, and this famulatus, mentioned in the Gesta, may have been composed of his kinsmen. Tancred, his twenty-year-old nephew, it is said, had to be persuade by gifts, flattery, and the position of second in command, whereas his brother William, without waiting for Bohemond, joined Hugh and was escorted with him to Constantinople. Also mentioned are two cousins, Richard of the Principate and Rainulf with his son Richard. Bohemond’s army was small, Anna says, “because he lacked money”. As he did not transport all his people at one time, it may be inferred that shipping facilities were not available to many of the pilgrims always so eager to follow crusading armies.

The Normans landed between Dyrrachium and Avlona. Byzan­tine officials were ready for them, and provisions seem to have been plentiful at a place called “Dropuli”, in the valley of the Viyosa river, where the different contingents became united into one army. Then marching from village to village, the anonymous author of the Gesta says, they came to Castoria, where Christmas was celebrated. This was familiar territory to Bohemond, but his previous occupation of this region had not been forgotten by the natives, who, from either hatred or fear of the Normans, refused to sell them provisions. Bohemond, although he was anxious to allay Greek suspicions of his intentions, and had ordered that his men do no foraging, had to permit them to get food. They took cattle, horses, asses, “everything that we found”, says the chronicler. Somewhere on the way between Castoria and the Vardar, they felt justified in destroying a town because it was inhabited by heretics, Paulicians. At the Vardar, the imperial escort caught up with them, and attacked those in the rear who had not crossed the river. Tancred and others recrossed and drove the imperials away.

After passing Thessalonica, they were met by the delegation which Bohemond had sent to Constantinople after his landing, and with them was an important Byzantine official. Although he gave assurance that provisions would be available the rest of the way, Norman propensities to pillage were not easily restrained. When young Tancred proposed to storm and loot a town which was full of supplies, Bohemond became very angry. The citizens, when they realized that he had saved them, were so grateful that they came forth in a procession, bearing crosses to bless him as their protector. It seems, however, that Bohemond was not able to prevent all foraging, and after hearing the complaints of imperial officials, he ordered his men to return all the animals that they had stolen. At Roussa (Keshan), Bohemond decided to accept the invitation of Alexius to leave his army and hurry on to Constantinople. But no sooner was he gone than young Tancred, who as second in command was left in charge of the army, gave them their long-desired chance to live off the country. “Seeing the pilgrims buying food”, as the anonymous author of the Gesta puts it, he “at once led them off the main road into a pleasant valley, where they could live happily because they found all good things there”. In the meantime, Bohemond arrived at the capital city on April 10, eager to make a favorable impression on his former enemy, Alexius. He was assigned quarters outside the city. According to a rumor, he made his servants eat the food provided in order to see whether it contained poison.

The largest army on the crusade was that of Raymond, count of Toulouse, who was accompanied by Adhémar, bishop of Le Puy, the papal legate. Raymond, the great lord of southern France, the wealthiest of all the crusading leaders according to the chronic­lers, aided many poor soldiers to equip themselves for the journey. The pope, in his letter to the Flemings, had suggested that Raymond would provide for the needy. But this army also had the largest following of noncombatants, and Raymond seems to have felt that it was his duty to help all pilgrims. Raymond of Aguilers says that this army was composed of those who came from Burgundy, Auvergne, Gascony, and Gothia, who were called Provençals, while all others were French, but to the enemy all were known as Franks. These provinces, situated along the Mediterranean, were developing a brilliant civilization, and, because of interest in the holy war in Spain, this was the region upon which Urban probably counted most for support of the crusade.

Raymond, aged about fifty-five years, was decidedly old for that period when the life expectancy of the military class was low, and it is not surprising that he was ill oftener than others, once almost to death. However, he survived Adhémar, a younger man, the papal legate, who was a fighting prelate, a good horseman who knew how to wear the armor of a knight. The reports that Raymond took a vow never to return home, and sold all his possessions, may have arisen because he was old, but it is more likely that they arose because he stayed in the east until he died. Also, he took his wife and youngest son with him and left Bertram, his son by his first wife, in charge of his possessions in Languedoc. About all that can be learned about how he financed his expedition comes from a few charters; grants to such abbeys as St. Gilles, Chaise Dieu, and the church of Le Puy, together with a suggestion that he sold Forez. Inasmuch as Raymond of Aguilers noted that none died of starvation during the march through Dalmatia where little or no food could be obtained along the way, Raymond and the nobles who went with him seem to have made adequate preparation. Among the lords of southern France known to have been in his army, several were his own vassals. Perhaps because of Adhémar, the clergy were well represented and seem to have exerted considerable influence on the conduct of the crusade. The chaplain of Adhémar, Bernard of Valence, became patriarch of Antioch.

Either the march through northern Italy and around the northern end of the Adriatic was not recorded by Raymond of Aguilers, or the first section of his account has been lost, and so his story begins with the entrance into Dalmatia (which he calls Sclavonia) in which wilderness they wandered for forty days, at least. They saw neither wild animal nor bird, partly because of the fog and mist, which the good chaplain says was often so thick that it had to be pushed away. As it was winter, the roads through this mountainous region were difficult, and the natives would neither sell provisions nor offer guidance. Moreover, some of them followed the rear of the army to rob and kill stragglers, “the poor, aged, and infirm”. The count tried to protect them, and was always the last to seek rest, sometimes not till the cock crew; and once when he was caught in an ambush he nearly lost his life. Savagely he retaliated by mutilating prisoners and leaving them behind to terrify others. When they reached Scutari (now in Albania), the count induced the local chieftain to agree to grant markets, but the only outcome seems to have been quarrels in which some of his men were killed. They hurried on, anxious to reach Byzantine territory, where they believed that the people were their Christian brothers and allies.

But the good chaplain and the hungry pilgrims also were disappointed when imperial troops attacked “peaceful folk” in groves and villages far from the camp, and although “the duke”, John Comnenus, promised peace, two noble lords were killed. But Raymond, it seems clear, was willing to cooperate with Byzantine policy, for his chronicler complains that although there were opportunities to retaliate, it seemed wiser to continue the march. But the military escort, he bitterly complains, was always in front and behind, on the right and on the left, carrying out the imperial instructions, as indicated by Anna. Unfortunately, in the valley of Pelagonia, when Pecheneg mercenaries found the papal legate away from camp, they threw him from his mule, and injured him severely with a blow on the head. Fortunately for Adhémar, his captors made so much commotion that crusaders rushed forth to rescue him. Not long after, because of an ambush, Raymond says, the crusaders attacked the imperial troops, killing some and putting the rest to flight. And so suspicious of the Greeks was Raymond of Aguilers that he was not impressed by a friendly letter which arrived from the emperor about this time when they were still hemmed in by Byzantine troops. Following the Egnatian way, the army reached Thessalonica about the beginning of April, where Adhémar, who had not recovered from his injury, decided to wait for his brother, Hugh of Monteil, who had been delayed at Dyrrachium by illness.

At Roussa, where the author of the Gesta notes that the Normans had been welcomed some two weeks earlier, the Provençals met a reception so little to their liking that they stormed over the walls, shouting “Toulouse, Toulouse”, and joyfully looted the town. As Runciman suggests, it is probable that the Normans and also the Flemings had exhausted the stock of supplies intended for the crusaders and pilgrims. At Rodogto (Tekirdagh) another brush with imperials took place, but it was not serious enough to prevent Raymond from accepting the invitation of Alexius to come to Constantinople ahead of his army. Chaplain Raymond was bitter about this when he wrote his history, and it was his belief that Raymond had been misled by his own envoys whom he had sent to Constantinople earlier. They had been corrupted because they had accepted money from the emperor, who had promised them much for the future. But he adds that Raymond was told that Bohemond, Robert of Flanders, and Godfrey were eager to see him. The count reached Constantinople April 21, where he was well received.

Friendly negotiations with Alexius were interrupted by news that the Provençals had been disastrously defeated by imperial troops. Raymond of Aguilers was so mortified by what happened that his lamentations merely reveal that the crusaders fled before their attackers and abandoned arms and baggage. No doubt they had given provocation by excessive pillage, and like the armies of Godfrey and Bohemond, the Provençals had exhausted their resources sufficiently to resort to foraging on the last stage of the march. But the reaction of the Byzantine troops on this occasion seems to have been unusually vigorous, and count Raymond became so angry that he flew into a rage and had to be calmed by the other leaders. His army arrived at Constantinople on April 27. The account of the march to Constantinople given by Raymond of Aguilers indicates that the imperial military escort had much trouble with this army. As it was a large army, Byzantine officials may have had difficulty in providing enough food along the way, and the poor pilgrims — of whom there were many — were always ready to forage. Provinciales ad vittualia was their reputation according to Radulf (Ralph) of Caen. The good chaplain undoubtedly reflects the general resentment of his people, who were opposed to any police restrictions, but it must be noted that he is quite definitely anti-Greek in his history.

Robert of Flanders had arrived at Constantinople before Ray­mond, but we have no account of his march across the Balkan peninsula. When he crossed the Adriatic in the winter, and left his companions Robert of Normandy and Stephen of Blois behind in southern Italy, the chronicler, Fulcher of Chartres, stayed with them. Robert II, count of Flanders, dubbed the “Jerusalemite”, was the son of Robert I, “the Frisian”, who had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem sometime between 1087 and 1091, possibly to atone for complicity in the assassination of Godfrey the Hunchback, the maternal uncle of Godfrey of Bouillon. After his return he sent five hundred horsemen to Alexius, and probably he was the recipient of the original of the “spurious” letter from Alexius to a count of Flanders. His son, therefore, had every opportunity to learn about the east, and Urban may have had this in mind when he wrote his letter to the Flemings soon after Clermont. The pope had every reason to be satisfied with the response made to his appeal by Robert, who seems to have been much influenced by the religious appeal of the crusade. “The Holy Ghost fired his heart to check the wickedness of the pagans”, the motive attributed to him in a document subscribed to by his wife, seems to be a fairly accurate statement. He gave evidence of pious inclinations while on the expedition.

Robert had inherited a prosperous feudal state which his father had reduced to reasonably good order, and he seems to have been able to raise funds adequate for the demands of the journey. At least he preferred a gift in relics to gold, silver, and jewels when he was in southern Italy. He was able to raise an effective army, and by his decision to make the rough winter crossing of the Adriatic he probably discouraged most of the Flemish pilgrims who may have followed him to Italy. The military strength of his possessions may have been as great as 1,000 horsemen, but how many of these volunteered for the crusade cannot be ascertained. In 1099, when count Raymond sought to subsidize other leaders for the march on Jerusalem, he estimated that Robert’s strength was six-tenths of that of Godfrey or Robert of Normandy. His wife thought that he departed with a very large following.

With Robert went his first cousin, Robert of Normandy, and his cousin by marriage, Stephen of Blois, husband of Adèle, sister of Robert of Normandy. As noted above, it is not clear whether his neighbor, Eustace III of Boulogne, elder brother of Godfrey, marched with his brother or with Robert of Normandy. Robert, duke of Normandy, oldest son of William the Conqueror, was rapidly losing control over his duchy, partly because of inefficient government on his own part and partly because his brother, William II, king of England, was endeavoring to take it away from him. The crusade offered an opportunity to escape from this unpleasant situation, and he was quite ready to mortgage Normandy for money for his expenses. This was made possible by the negotiations of Gerento, abbot of St, Bénigne of Dijon, whom Urban had commissioned to make peace between the brothers and, when he was in England in April, the abbot seems to have persuaded William to make a loan of 10,000 marks of silver to the duke, with Normandy pledged as security. To obtain such a large sum, king William levied taxes on the English people, including the clergy, who protested vigorously, but in September when he crossed over to Normandy he paid Robert the whole amount. With finances arranged, Robert, as the chroniclers say, took the cross “at the admonition of pope Urban” and “by the counsel of certain men of religion”.  A crusading army was recruited, a “great army” in the eyes of the chronicler, and in addition to a goodly following of adventurous Norman lords, it contained contingents from the neighboring feudal states of Brittany, Perche, and Maine. But the Norman lords in England were still too busy establishing themselves in that conquered land to be lured away, and only two are known to have followed the duke. Representing the Norman church were two bishops who were at Clermont, Odo of Bayeux and Gilbert of Evreux. Robert also took along as chaplain his sister’s tutor, Arnulf of Chocques, who was destined to have an important career overseas.

In the meantime, another lord in western France was preparing to go crusading. Stephen, count of Chartres and Blois, was a person of importance in the feudal world, ruler of as many castles as the days in the year, says Guibert. He has revealed himself in the letters which he wrote to impress “his sweetest and most amiable wife”, Adele, daughter of William the Conqueror. His colleagues thought well enough of him to elect him Quartermaster general for a time and, even after he had disgraced himself by deserting the expedition, Fulcher of Chartres, the historian who accompanied him, could say “all of us grieved since he was a very noble man and valiant in arms”. He was ready to depart with his brother-in-law, Robert of Normandy, and his wife’s cousin, Robert of Flanders, in October. The abbot Gerento and his secretary, Hugh of Flavigny, went as far as Pontarlier to say farewell as they began the crossing of the Alps.

As the pope was at Lucca, the leaders “and others of us who wished, spoke with him and received his blessing”, says Fulcher. At Rome, in the church of St. Peter, they were annoyed by partisans of the anti-pope, but they did not stop to retaliate. Marching “down the old Roman road”, they stopped at Monte Cassino to commend themselves to St. Benedict, before going on to the seaport of Bari, where more prayers were said in the church of St. Nicholas. “We thought to cross the sea at that time”, but the winter weather was so unfavorable in the opinion of the sailors that Robert of Normandy and Stephen were glad to accept the hospitality of the south Italian Normans. Robert of Flanders was urged to do likewise by his sister and her husband, Roger Borsa, who gave him relics, said to be some hair of the Virgin Mary and bones of Saints Matthew and Nicholas, which he sent home to his wife. Then, no doubt with the help of his brother-in-law, he was able to obtain passage and crossed the Adriatic, to hurry on to Constantinople.

If the mysterious komes prebentzas who followed Bohemond, according to Anna, was Baldwin II of Alost, count of Ghent, a follower of Robert of Flanders, his crossing probably took place during the winter or early spring. The count, whoever he was, leased, for 6,000 gold staters, a large pirate ship that had three masts and two hundred rowers. Unfortunately, the Byzantine fleet was on the lookout for pirates and attacked and boarded the ship. The hero, in the long story told by Anna, was Marianus Mavrocatacalon, who commanded the attacking squadron. The count and his party were eventually landed, and it may be assumed that they went on to Constantinople to join the other crusading armies.

When spring came, Robert and Stephen collected their fol­lowers at Brindisi, where ships were ready to transport them to Epirus. On April 5, as the embarkation was beginning, a large ship broke in two, and four hundred persons, as well as horses and mules, were drowned; also, “much money” was lost. This ca­tastrophe discouraged many who were waiting from risking their lives on the deceptive water, and they gave up their pilgrimage forthwith and turned homeward. The others “thrust themselves upon the sea”, to find it very peaceful as the wind died down, and they were virtually becalmed for three days. Not until the fourth day were they able to land at two places near Dyrrachium. Then, as Fulcher says, “joyfully we resumed our dry-land journey”.

The march along the Via Egnatia did not provide many incidents that seemed worthy of note to the chronicler, although he listed the towns to which they came along the way. A swollen mountain stream swept a few pilgrims to their death; others were saved by knights who rode their horses into the torrent. The Vardar was successfully forded, and soon alter they found Thessalonica to be a “city abounding in all goods”. The arrival at Constantinople was about May 14, 1097. No brushes with a Byzantine escort are reported, and there seems to have been no difficulty about obtaining food, which indicates that the crusaders were able to buy what they needed. No doubt the long wait in Apulia, and the fear and cost of transportation by sea, had eliminated many of the impecunious pilgrims. While encamped without the walls, small parties were permitted to enter the city to visit the churches. Among these visitors was the chronicler Fulcher, who was greatly impressed by the sights of this “excellent and beautiful city”.

With the arrival of Robert of Normandy and Stephen, the first stage of the crusade, the march of the armies to Constantinople, was ended. That the Byzantine officials had handled the large numbers of crusaders and pilgrims very successfully is indicated by the rarity, as a whole, of the complaints made by the western chroniclers who accompanied the armies. But it must also be noted that the crusading leaders had managed their undisciplined crowds very well, especially in restraining the propensity of their men to forage. For, although most of the crusaders, and also the noncombatant pilgrims, seem to have understood that they had to have the means to buy food, they were all ready enough to forage when the opportunity came. Certainly, this was true of the Lorrainers, the Normans from southern Italy, and the Provençals. That they were difficult folk to manage, Alexius knew very well, and as they arrived at Constantinople, he undertook to come to terms with the leaders, one by one.