Biography of Pedro el Ermitaño (¿-1115)

French religious, born in the Diocese of Amiens in the 11th century and died in 1115. When Pope Urban II made the appeal to the Holy Cross, in the year 1095, with the intention of liberating the Holy places, West responded in an enthusiastic manner. Phones this as heartfelt response were of various kinds, among them are the religious and economic.

The popular crusade

The liberation of Jerusalem, requested insistently by the Church, was reason enough to convince Christians to embark on such an undertaking. All over Europe appeared preachers who were enumerated miracles and wonders in holy land. This did not only further increase the desire to go to those places. These preachers, endued with an aura of sanctity, messianism, providentialism, and above all with large doses of imagination, promised the remission of sins for those men who went to rescue Jerusalem from the hands of the infidel. Jerusalem was described with biblical words. The Pilgrim and cross went to East believing he/she would be with the heavenly Jerusalem, the city where flowed milk and honey, and that was offered to the believer as the land of promise and refuge of the disinherited, which were many.

It was in this context of religiosity and exaltation where appeared the figure of Pedro the hermit, born in the French city of Amiens. Soon the skeptical mood of the population calaron their pilgrimages and preaching. Pedro soon appeared in a city as elsewhere, mounted on a donkey (in imitation of Christ at the entrance to Jerusalem), looking emaciated by a rigorous discipline, with bare feet and, above all, with a force of deterrence on the large crowd that crowded to listen to it. His words dragged to the masses. For them, the hermit Pedro represented not only a battle cry against the infidel, but also a promise of freedom that would free them of their conditions of poverty, slavery and oppression. The socio-economic situation of the time played in favour of Pedro: poor harvests, terrible famines, violent and warlike society, religious fanaticism encouraged by the Church itself, etc. The disinherited had nothing to lose according to Pedro to the far East where the Sun out.

Heading to Holy Land

Pedro the hermit took the papal call to crusade to lead an army of poor, hungry, and adventurers himself. In 1096, it brought together a contingent of approximately 15,000 people, fugitives, exalted, and entire families, all of them in search of the promised Jerusalem. Other preachers of the same religious spirit, were joined by Pedro as Gautier Sans-Avoir ("Walter without having") and Gotescalco of Germany. In the city of Cologne the group split, leaving first Gautier. The Group was going without any organization, without known bosses who knew halt and lead a group as heterogeneous and so exalted. They passed through the city of Regensburg, Vienna, Belgrade, and finally, Constantinople, leaving towns destroyed and looted for the successive actions of looting, as well as massacre of the minority Jewish populations where they settled.

When the forces of Gautier and Pedro arrived at Constantinople were installed, barely, in the city of Civitot, so no they also loot the city of Constantinople. The plan was to wait for that got the troops of Knights, commanded by Raymond of Toulouse. Crusaders of poverty, as they were called, not waited for the Cavalry, because moral acquired by victory in some skirmishes against the Muslims of the area. This resulted in that they launch into a messy and suicidal attack on land that did not know. The army of the poor was absolutely slaughtered mercilessly by an army professional and combative, the emir Selyuquí de Mossul. Thanks to the presence of Byzantine ships, which arrived in the exalted Crusaders relief, you could avoid the final attack of the Turks.

These bands of Gautier and Pedro the hermit was followed by others who came to Constantinople, since they were crushed in their path by Germany and Hungary. The conquest of the Holy land was achieved with the arrival of the Knights cross, prepared and educated for war.


PERNAUD, R: the men of the Crusades, Madrid, 1987.

ZABOROV'YE, m: history of the Crusades, Madrid, 1979.