Today in Middle Eastern history: the “People’s Crusade” gets depopulated (1096)

and that's the way it was

In all the wonderful absurdity of the overall Crusades project, the fact that the First Crusade wasn’t actually the first Crusade barely registers. But the truth is that there was a Crusade before the First Crusade; it just doesn’t get a number because there weren’t any big-shot Christian nobles on the trip. And, OK, it also wasn’t officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, but the reason it wasn’t officially sanctioned is that there weren’t any big-shot nobles involved.

The “People’s Crusade” was the brainchild of one either very holy or very opportunistic (although I guess “both” is certainly possible) man named Peter of Amiens, better known to posterity as Peter the Hermit. He sort of bursts on to the historical stage in 1095, after Pope Urban II issued his Crusading summons at the Council of Clermont. Peter, who appears to have been a priest in the northern French town of…

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