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Christian forces of the First Crusade

The following is an overview of the armies of First Crusade, including the armies of the European noblemen of the "Princes' Crusade", the Byzantine army, a number of independent crusaders as well as the preceding People’s Crusade and the subsequent Crusade of 1101 and other European campaigns prior to the Second Crusade beginning in 1147.

The total strength of the armies of the Princes' Crusade is estimated at 40,000, including 4,500 nobles.[1] Runciman (1951) estimated that no more than 20% were non-combatants and a cavalry-to-infantry ratio of about one to seven,[2] for rough estimates of just below 5,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry at the beginning of the expedition.

Unless otherwise noted, references are to the on-line database of Riley-Smith,[3] et al., and the hyperlinks therein provide details including original sources. The names below are also referenced in the Riley-Smith tome,[4]

Major European Armies of the First CrusadeEdit

The major armies of the Princes’ Crusade were the following:

The first to leave for Constantinople was Hugh, who took a sea route, followed by Godfrey who travelled through Hungary. Bohemond’s army left shortly thereafter, and then Raymond of Saint-Gilles. The armies of Robert Curthose, Stephen of Blois, and Robert II of Flanders were the last group to leave, travelling together. Altogether, there were an estimated 40,000 crusaders of which 4500 were nobles.[8] Runciman estimates that no more than 20% were non-combatants (families, servants, clerics), and a ratio of one-to-seven were cavalry versus infantry.[9]

Command StructureEdit

The command structure of the armies, including the minor armies and contingents, was dependent on the battle. Details can be found in the articles on the siege of Nicaea, the battle of Dorylaeum, the siege of Antioch, the siege of Jerusalem, and the battle of Ascalon. The command structure for the Crusade of 1101 can also be found in this encyclopedia.

Other Armies and ContingentsEdit

Numerous other armies and contingents also participated in the First Crusades. These include:

Byzantine ArmiesEdit

The Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos had significant armies and navies in and about Constantinople who fought both the Turks and at times the Crusaders, especially the Normans. The major generals were Manuel Boutoumites, Tatikios Constantine Opos and Michael Aspietes. Admiral Manuel Butumites escorted the forces of Hugh to Great to Constantinople. Other admirals included John Dokas and Constantine Dalassenos. Some notable Europeans joined the emperor’s armies including Welf of Burgundy, William of Grandmesnil, son of Hugh de Grandsmesnil and brother of Ivo, and Guy of Hauteville, half-brother of Bohemund. Manuel and Tatikios both participated in the siege of Nicaea. Tatikios also commanded forces in the siege of Antioch and during the Crusade of 1011.

The emperor also employed Pecheneg troops, semi-nomadic Turkics, as mercenaries. During the Crusades, the Pecheneg monitored the activities of the European Crusaders as well as participating in major battles such as the siege of Nicaea.[14]

People's CrusadeEdit

The People’s Crusade, also known as the Peasant’s Crusade, preceded the First Crusade. and was led by Peter the Hermit as well as a number of other colorful characters. The crusade accomplished little other that the slaughter of Jews and those in the army. The major players were Peter and his deputy Walter Sans-Avoir. Most of the army were peasants with their wives and children, accompanying by some minor knights, brigands and criminals. It is said that he had as many as 20,000 followers. Upon Peter’s failure as a leader, his army was divided into two contingents:

  • The German and Italian Contingent of the People’s Crusade, under the command of Rainald,[15] an Italian lord, who took control after Peter’s failure. He later deserted and joined the Turks.[16]
  • The French Contingent of the People’s Crusade. under the command of Geoffrey Burel, again assuming command after Peter’s failure.[17] Geoffrey subsequently deserted his post.

Three other armies joined together to essentially attack the Jews and were eventually slaughtered by the Hungarians:[18]

  • Gottschalk, leader of a popular crusade of over 10,000 soldiers that carried out persecutions of Jews and was dispersed in Hungary[19]
  • Volkmar (Folkmar), a priest with a popular crusade of about 10,000 soldiers[20]
  • The German Army of Emicho of Leiningen, never arriving in the Holy Land due to Emicho’s plundering and genocide. (See also the Rhineland massacres.)

Finally, the Tafurs, a sect who travelled with Peter who wore sackcloth and were barefoot.[21] They were led by a knight whose name remains unknown.[22] They apparently supplemented their diet of roots and grass with the roasted corpses of dead Turks. They fought not with swords but with sticks and shovels. They were either slaughtered or died of disease.

Independent Nobles, Knights and ClericsEdit

A number of nobles and knights participated in the First Crusades either as independent agents or  whose affiliation remain unknown.  In some cases it is unclear whether they were participating in the Crusade or merely on a pilgrimage. Some of the more prominent of these are listed below.  The full list can be found in the on-line database of Riley-Smith, et al., and the hyperlinks therein provide details including original sources. 

Among the nobles whose affiliations are not known are: Charles I, Count of Flanders, who is said to have travelled with an armada in 1107 (see above);  Berengar Raymond II, Count of Barcelona, who took the cross as penance for the murder of his brother;  Bernard II, Count of Besalú, took the cross for the First Crusade but remained in Spain at the counseling of the pope;  Fernando Díaz, one of the few Spaniards to participate in the Crusades; and  Erard I, Count of Brienne, either went on the First Crusade or on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1097.

Some of the renown knights who participated in the First Crusades whose affiliations are unknown include:  Guy, Lord of Dampierre-en-Yvelines, who went to the Holy Land, but it is unclear whether he was a Crusader;  Baldwin Chauderon, described as a rich man and a knight of great renown, and his compatriot Guy of Possesse, both killed at the siege of Nicaea; and Gilduin of Le Puiset, relative of many crusaders, but whose role and affiliations in the campaigns are unclear. 

Clerics who travelled to the Holy Land who were not known to be associated with any army include:

Contemporary accountsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1990). The Atlas of the Crusades. p. 22.
  2. ^ Runciman, Steven (1951). A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. Appendix II.
  3. ^ "A Database of Crusaders to the Holy Land, 1095-1149".
  4. ^ Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The First Crusaders, 1095-1131. pp. 196–246. Appendix I: Preliminary List of Crusaders.
  5. ^ Jamison, E. M. (1939). "Some Notes on the Anonymi Gesta Francorum, with Special Reference to the Norman Contingent from South Italy and Sicily in the First Crusade". Publications of the University of Manchester. 268: 195–204.
  6. ^ Murray, Alan V. (1992). "Structure and Dynamics of a Contingent on the First Crusade" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ David, C. W. (1920). Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. Harvard Historical Studies.
  8. ^ Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1990). The Atlas of the Crusades. p. 22.
  9. ^ Runciman, Steven (1951). A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. Appendix II.
  10. ^ Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The First Crusaders, 1095-1131. p. 95.
  11. ^ "Robert FirzGodwin".
  12. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 153, fn 1.
  13. ^ Galbert of Bruges. The Murder, Betrayal, and Slaughter of the Glorious Charles, Count of Flanders. pp. 25, fn 76.
  14. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 150–1, 156, 161, 162, 180.
  15. ^ "Rainald".
  16. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 128, 130.
  17. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 114, 124, 126, 128, 131–2.
  18. ^ "European History: Other Crusaders".
  19. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 114, 123, 137, 140–1.
  20. ^ Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades, Volume One. pp. 136–7, 139–40.
  21. ^ "Tafurs: Fact or Myth".
  22. ^ "Leader of the Tafurs".
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan, The First Crusaders, 1095-1131, Cambridge University Press, London, 1997
  • Runciman, Steven, A History of the Crusades, Volume One: The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press, London, 1951
  • Bury, J. B., Editor, The Cambridge Medieval History, Volume III: Germany and the Western Empire, Cambridge University Press, London, 1922
  • Prof. J. S. C. Riley-Smith, Prof, Jonathan Phillips, Dr. Alan V. Murray, Dr. Guy Perry, Dr. Nicholas Morton, A Database of Crusaders to the Holy Land, 1099-1149 (available on-line)
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan, The Atlas of the Crusades, Facts On File, New York, 1990
  • The Crusades, Boise State University (available on-line)
  • The First Crusade (available on-line)
  • Jamison, E.M., Some Notes on the Anonymi Gesta Francorum, with Special Reference to the Norman Contingent from South Italy and Sicily in the First Crusade, in Studies in French Language and Medieval Literature Presented to Professor Mildred K. Pope, Publications of the University of Manchester, 268 (Manchester, 1939), pp. 195–204.
  • Murray, Alan V., Structure and Dynamics of a Contingent on the First Crusade (available in PDF[permanent dead link]), Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, 70 (2): 301–29. 1992
  • David, C. W., Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, Harvard Historical Studies, 25 (Cambridge, Mass., 1920), Appendix D, 'Robert's Companions on the Crusade', pp. 221–229