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Kingdom of Heaven - PETER THE HERMIT

This illumination, circa 1311, is an artist’s interpretation of “Peter the Hermit Leading the Crusades.” It is from “Abreviamen de las estorias,” a “Summary of Universal History, from the creation of the world to the death of Emperor Henry VII (1314).” Online Wikimedia Commons via the British Library, Heritage Images.

 

Once Pope Urban issued his call for "liberation," other clerics rallied the people. More than anyone else, a French hermit dressed in a black woolen cassock and riding a donkey popularly thought to have miraculous powers, Peter the Hermit changed the course of history.

Mesmerizing crowds with his words, Peter galvanized men into action. It is believed he himself made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land before Urban’s sermon. Such pilgrimages were popular during the Dark Ages.

Even before a cohesive army of Crusader knights could be assembled, Peter stirred the hearts of French and German peasants. He talked of apocalyptic battles and the need for deliverance.

Unwisely, before the First Crusade, Peter and other poorly prepared people attempted to do what they should never have attempted. Escaping with his life, then and later, Peter joined the First Crusade (which was co-led by Godfrey of Boullion) and ultimately returned to France. He lived a long life, but his body and tomb were destroyed during the French Revolution.

While he was alive, and preaching, the Hermit helped to motivate people even when the situation was desperate. Crusaders, and the pilgrims who accompanied them, had to travel 3,000 miles to reach Jerusalem. It was difficult to move - and feed - such a crowd. Spirits must have lagged during the long, arduous trek.

More than three years after they commenced their journey, the armies of the First Crusade reached Jerusalem. Shocking events were about to unfold.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Jul 27, 2019


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