The First Crusade 1096–99

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Map Code: Ax00148

The ‘official’ start date for the First Crusade ordained by Pope Urban II was 15 August 1096, the Feast of the Assumption. Caught up in the general fervour, unofficial armies of peasants, accompanied by knights errant, set off early under the loose command of a charismatic priest, Peter the Hermit. These first crusaders were unruly, undisciplined and erratic. They massacred Jews and pillaged en route. This People’s Crusade was followed by the four armies of the Princes’ Crusade, which gathered around Constantinople in winter 1096–97. After capturing Nicaea and repelling a Seljuk attack the crusaders, supported by the Christian kingdom of Cilicia, took Antioch after a difficult siege, and then advanced forward to capture Jerusalem. There they massacred its defenders and populace. A follow-up Crusade in 1101 was largely abortive but helped to reinforce the defence of the new Kingdom of Jerusalem.

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