It started in 1096 -1099, it began as a military expedition in the Middle East in the hope to reconquer the lost lands of the Holly Land. Mainly the most important and most valuable city in the world that people have fought for generations over it, Jerusalem.
What really influenced the Pope -at that time Pope Urban II (ca 1035-1099)- to call for a religious war something never heard before ? Well the Pope was supporter of reform within the church and he understood that in order to rule the Catholic faith, the only way to do so is to unite it and stop the wars within. Over the years Europe has been at constant war with each other. Nobles were at war over land or even revenge or hate for one another and sometimes the churches were pillaged , destroyed or worse.
People were poor and looked for help from their lords while they were looking to constantly to impose their authority on the peasants and farmers. Their is a story once that says that one certain nobleman went to the church to pray for help to revenge his brother killed by his rival . Once he came across his enemy the man not only killed him but castrated, mutilated and brought his head to the monastery as a souvenir and a way to thank the monks for answering his prayer. Europe was in total anarchy , there was no place to be for a peasant and the Knights were killing each other for land and less.
Pope Urban II created the so called Holly War in order to channel all this energy towards a more desirable goal so that he can concentrate more on restructure his Church without having to worry so much about his rivals being at each others throat. Also the Byzantine Empire called through letters for help little that they knew what was about to come at the horizon....
So what happened ? Well everybody knows massive amount of people moved across the continent through a diminished Byzantine Empire , the first wave under Peter the Hermit failed to succeed in reaching the Middle East . Why did they failed ? Well its a very easy answer think of this army as a massive to what some people believe to be 20,000 or more of peasants hardly any knights or experienced commanders. Once they reached the Byzantine Empire they started pillaging and stealing and finally they got destroyed and pushed back by the experienced Byzantine army.If they would have only waited a couple more months and tried to achieve to join with the other armies marching towards Jerusalem, well the kingdom might have survived an extra couple of years. This crusade was called the People Crusade and even though Peter the Hermit took the challenge of becoming a leader he was no a military commander. This army was far away from their homes and they were counting on the local markets for supplies. The markets were not prepared for this surely the Byzantine Empire asked for help from west to fight the Seljuk Turks but they were hoping for 100 knights not what they received .When supplies ran low the traders raised their prices only cause even more problems and unrest.
What would have happened if this could have been avoided ? Well everything would have worked just fine the People's Crusades would have passed into the Middle East , and than maybe reunited with the rest would have had a chance.
The point is the People's Crusade had no chance of succeed it was a failure from the beginning people were not trained to fight majority were ill equipped some of them not even having shoes or any armor or weapons.
The Princes Crusade has is called formed an army to envy being able to out sand famine, being outnumbered and in a place far away they were able to create a Kingdom out of nothing like i like to say .... more later , in the next post ...