Battle of the People’s Crusade

The Unrest at Constantinople

After Peter the Hermit and the crusaders he led marched into Constantinople, the people started getting agitated and uneasy. The Turkish Lands were close enough for the crew to wish to press on and head to battle instead of resting. Doing so, to them, would run contrary to their motivations for taking up the crusade in the first place, so they marched on.

Route of People's Crusade, from two different parts of Rhineland to Constantinople and the Turkish Lands
Route of People’s Crusade, from two different parts of Rhineland to Constantinople and the Turkish Lands

The Crusaders’ Split and Turkish Ambush

On August 6th, the crusade moved across the Bosporus, finally reaching the Turkish Lands. As they marched through Anatolia, it had become clear that without Peter the Hermit to lead them, they had no plan. Even as leaders such as Walter the Penniless were leading the troops (Peters, 145), disputes led to violence and the crusaders split in two: a German and Italian crusade, and a French crusade. The two groups competed via raiding, with the French force looting Nicaea. The Turks routed the German forces after enviously attempting their own raid, and while some converted to Islam and were therefore spared, the rest were slaughtered. The Turks then forged a message to the French regarding the stolen loot, tricking the French into walking into a deadly ambush. Walter the Penniless fell to a storm of arrows from the Turks, as he is the major leader the Turks encountered due to Peter the Hermit not participating. (Peters, 145-149).


Peter the Hermit was not part of the last battle of the People’s Crusade timeline as he headed to discuss tactics with the emperor of Constantinople. After learning of the massacre, he could do nothing but wait for the main body of the First Crusade to arrive as he enjoyed the emperor’s hospitality. Any Christian survivors captured by the Turks instead of executed during the battle were freed (Peters, 150).


“III. Peter the Hermit and the ‘Crusade of the People’ (March-October, 1096)” from The First Crusade: “The Chronicle of Fulcher Chartres” and Other Source Materials by Edward Peters
Madden, Thomas F. The Concise History of the Crusades. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.