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Chronology of the Crusades

First Crusade 1095 - 1100

« Before the Crusades 350 - 1095 | 1st Crusade | 1st Crusade Aftermath 1100 - 1143 »

Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful. Urban gave a dramatic speech urging Christians to swarm towards Jerusalem and make it safe for Christian pilgrims by taking it away from the Muslims. The armies of the First Crusade left in 1096 and captured Jerusalem in 1099. From these conquered lands Crusaders carved out small kingdoms for themselves which endured for some time, though not long enough to have a real impact upon local culture.

There are several different types of color-coded dates in this timeline of the Crusades, explained in a color key at the bottom of the timeline.

Timeline of the Crusades: First Crusade 1095 - 1100
November 18, 1095 Pope Urban II opens the Council of Clermont where ambassadors from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus, asking help against the Muslims, were warmly received.
November 27, 1095 Pope Urban II preaches the First Crusade Pope Urban II calls for a Crusade (in Arabic: al-Hurub al-Salibiyya, "Wars of the Cross") in a famous speech at the Council of Clermont. Although his actual words have been lost, tradition has it that he was so persuasive that the crowd shouted out in response "Deus vult! Deus vult!" ("God wills it"). Urban had earlier arranged that Raymond, Count of Toulouse (also of St. Giles), would volunteer to take up the cross then and there and offered other participants two important concession: protection for their estates at home while they were gone and plenary indulgence for their sins. The inducements for other Europeans were just as great: serfs were allowed the leave the land they were bound to, citizens were free from taxation, debtors were given a moratorium on interest, prisoners were released, death sentences were commuted, and much more.
December 1095 Adhemar de Monteil (also: Adémar, Aimar, or Aelarz), Bishop of Le Puy, is chosen by Pope Urban II as the Papal Legate for the First Crusade. Although various secular leaders would argue amongst themselves over who led the Crusade, the pope always regards Adhemar as its true leader, reflecting the primacy of spiritual over political goals.
1096 - 1099 1099 First Crusade is carried out in an effort to aid Byzantine Christians against Muslim invaders.
April 1096 The first of the four planned Crusader armies arrives in Constantinople, at that time ruled by Alexius I Comnenus.
April 20, 1096 Peter the Hermit, a native of Amiens in France, leads 20,000 commoners out of Cologne on the Peasants' Crusade.
May 06, 1096 Crusaders moving through the Rhine Valley massacre Jews in Speyer. This is the first major slaughter of a Jewish community by Crusaders marching to the Holy Land.
May 18, 1096 Crusaders massacre Jews in Worms, Germany. The Jews in Worms had heard about the massacre in Speyer and try to hide - some in their homes and some even in the bishop's palace, but they are unsuccessful.
May 27, 1096 Crusaders massacre Jews in Mainz, Germany. The bishop hides over 1,000 in his cellars but the Crusaders learn of this and kill most of them. Men, women, and children of all ages are slaughtered indiscriminately.
May 30, 1096 Crusaders attack Jews in Cologne, Germany, but most are protected by local citizens who hide the Jews in their own houses. Archbishop Hermann would later send them to safety in neighboring villages, but the Crusaders would follow and slaughter hundreds.
June 1096 Crusaders led by Peter the Hermit sack Semin and Belgrade, forcing Byzantine troops to flee to Nish.
July 03, 1096 Peter the Hermit's Peasants' Crusade meets Byzantine forces at Nish. Although Peter is victorious and moves towards Constantinople, about a quarter of his forces are lost.
July 12, 1096 Crusaders under the leadership of Peter the Hermit reach Sofia, Hungary.
August 1096 Godfrey of Bouillon Godfrey De Bouillon, the Margrave of Antwerp and a direct descendant of Charlemagne, sets off to join the First Crusade at the head of an army of at least 40,000 soldiers. Godfrey is the brother of Baldwin of Boulogne (the future Baldwin I of Jerusalem..
August 01, 1096 Peter the Hermit, Leader of the Peasants’ Crusade The Peasants' Crusade, which had departed from Europe that Spring, is shipped over the Bosprous by Emperor Alexius I Comnenus of Constantinople. Alexius I had welcomed these first Crusaders, but they are so decimated by hunger and disease that they cause a great deal of trouble, looting churches and houses around Constantinople. Thus, Alexius has them taken to Anatolia as quickly as possible. Made up of poorly organized groups led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Pennyless (Gautier sans-Avoir, who had led a separate contingent from Peter, most of whom were killed by the Bulgarians), the Peasants' Crusade would proceed to pillage Asia Minor but meet with a very messy end.
September 1096 A group from the Peasants' Crusade is besieged at Xerigordon and forced to surrender. Everyone is given a choice of beheading or conversion. Those who convert in order to avoid beheading are sent into slavery and never heard from again.
October 1096 Bohemond I (Bohemond Of Otranto, French Bohémond De Tarente), prince of Otranto (1089–1111) and one of the leaders of the First Crusade, leads his troops across the Adriatic Sea. Bohemond would be largely responsible for the capture of Antioch and he was able to secure the title Prince of Antioch (1098–1101, 1103–04).
October 1096 The Peasants' Crusade is massacred at Civeot, Anatolia, by Turkish archers from Nicaea. Only small children are spared the sword so that they could be sent into slavery. Around 3,000 manage to escape back to Constantinople where Peter the Hermit had been in negotiations with Emperor Alexius I Comnenus.
October 1096 Raymond, Count of Toulouse (also of St. Giles), leaves for the Crusade in the company of Adhemar, bishop of Puy and the Papal Legate.
December 1096 German King Henry IV The last of the four planned Crusader armies arrives at Constantinople, bringing the total numbers to approximately 50,000 knights and 500,000 footmen. Curiously there isn't a single king among the Crusade leaders, a sharp difference from later Crusades. At this time Philip I of France, William II of England, and Henry IV of Germany are all under excommunication by Pope Urban II.
December 25, 1096 Godfrey De Bouillon, the Margrave of Antwerp and a direct descendant of Charlemagne, arrives in Constantinople. Godfrey would be the primary leader of the First Crusade, thus making it a largely French war in practice and causing the inhabitants of the Holy Land to refer to Europeans generally as "Franks."
January 1097 Normans led by Bohemond I destroy a village on the way to Constantinople because it is inhabited by heretic Paulicians.
March 1097 After relations between Byzantine leaders and the European Crusaders deteriorates, Godfrey De Bouillon leads an attack on the Byzantine Imperial Palace at Blachernae.
April 26, 1097 Bohemond I joins his Crusading forces with the Lorrainers under Godfrey De Bouillon. Bohemond is not especially welcome in Constantinople because his father, Robert Guiscard, had invaded the Byzantine Empire and captured the cities of Dyrrhachium and Corfu.
May 1097 With the arrival of Duke Robert of Normandy, all of the major participants of the Crusades are together and the large force crosses into Asia Minor. Peter the Hermit and his few remaining followers join them. How many were there? Estimates vary wildly: 600,000 according to Fulcher of Chartres, 300,000 according to Ekkehard, and 100,000 according to Raymond of Aguilers. Modern scholars place their numbers at around 7,000 knights and 60,000 infantry.
May 21, 1097 Crusaders begin the siege of Nicaea, a mostly Christian city guarded by several thousand Turkish troops. Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus has a strong interest in the capture of this heavily fortified city because it lies just 50 miles from Constantinople itself. Nicaea is at this time under the control of Kilij Arslan (Dawud Kılıj Arslan ibn Süleyman ibn Kut al-Mish), sultan of the Seljuk Turkish state of Rhüm (a reference to Rome). Unfortunately for him Arslan and the bulk of his military forces are at war with a neighboring Emir when the crusaders arrive; although he quickly makes peace in order to lift the siege, he would be unable to arrive in time.
June 19, 1097 Crusaders captured Antioch after a long siege. This had delayed progress towards Jerusalem by a year.
June 19, 1097 The city of Nicaea surrenders to the Crusaders. Emperor Alexius I Comnenus of Constantinople makes a deal with the Turks that puts the city in his hands and kicks the Crusaders out. In not allowing them to pillage Nicaea, Emperor Alexius engenders a great deal of animosity towards the Byzantine Empire.
July 01, 1097 Battle of Dorylaeum: While travelling from Nicaea to Antioch, the Crusaders split their forces into two groups and Kilij Arslan seizes the opportunity to ambush some of them near Dorylaeum. In what would become known as the Battle of Dorylaeum, Bohemond I is saved by Raymond of Toulouse. This could have been a disaster for the Crusaders, but the victory frees them of both supply problems and from harassment by Turks for a while.
August 1097 Godfrey of Bouillon temporarily occupies the Seljuk city of Iconium (Konya).
September 10, 1097 Splitting off from the main Crusading force, Tancred of Hauteville captures Tarsus. Tancred is a grandson of Robert Guiscard and nephew of Bohemund of Taranto.
October 20, 1097 The first Crusaders arrived at Antioch
October 21, 1097 The Crusaders' siege of the strategically important city of Antioch begins. Located in the mountainous region of Orontes, Antioch had never been captured by any means other than treachery and is so large that the Crusader army is unable to completely surround it. During this siege Crusaders learn to chew on the reeds known to Arabs as sukkar - this is their first experience with sugar and they come to like it.
December 21, 1097 First Battle of Harenc: Because of the size of their forces, Crusaders besieging Antioch are constantly running short of food and conduct raids into the neighboring regions despite the risk of Turkish ambushes. One of the largest of these raids consists of a force of 20,000 men under the command of Bohemond and Robert of Flanders. At this same time, Duqaq of Damascus had been approaching Antioch with a large relief army. Robert is quickly surrounded, but Bohemond comes up quickly and relieves Robert. There are heavy casualties on both sides and Duqaq is forced to withdraw, abandoning his plan to relieve Antioch.
February 1098 Tancred and his forces rejoin the main body of Crusaders, only to find Peter the Hermit attempting to flee to Constantinople. Tancred makes sure that Peter returns to continue the fight.
February 09, 1098 Second Battle of Harenc: Ridwan of Aleppo, titular ruler of Antioch, raises an army to relieve the besieged city of Antioch. The Crusaders learn of his plans and launch a preemptive assault with their remaining 700 heavy cavalry. The Turks are forced into retreat to Aleppo, a city in northern Syria, and the plan to relieve Antioch is abandoned.
March 10, 1098 Christian citizens of Edessa, a powerful Armenian kingdom that controls a region from the coastal plain of Cilicia all the way to the Euphrates, surrenders to Baldwin of Boulogne. Possession of this region would provide a secure flank to the Crusaders.
June 01, 1098 Stephen of Blois takes a large contingent of Franks and abandons the siege of Antioch after he hears that Emir Kerboga of Mosul with an army of 75,000 is drawing near to relieve the besieged city.
June 03, 1098 The Crusaders under the command of Bohemond I capture Antioch, despite their numbers having been depleted by numerous defections during the previous months. The reason is treachery: Bohemond conspires with Firouz, an Aremenian convert to Islam and captain of the guard, to allow the Crusaders access to the Tower of the Two Sisters. Bohemond is named Prince of Antioch.
June 05, 1098 Emir Kerboga, Attabeg of Mosul, finally arrives at Antioch with an army of 75,000 men and lays siege to the Christians who had just captured the city themselves (although they do not have full control of it - there are still defenders barricaded in the citadel). In fact, the positions which they had occupied a couple of days before are now occupied by the Turkish forces. A relief army commanded by the Byzantine Emperor turns back after Stephen of Blois convinces them that the situation in Antioch is hopeless. For this, Alexius is never forgiven by the Crusaders and many would claim that Alexius' failure to help them released them from their vows of fealty to him.
June 10, 1098 Peter Bartholomew, a servant of a member of Count Raymond's army, experiences a vision of the Holy Lance being located at Antioch. Also known as the Spear of Destiny or the Spear of Longinus, this artifact is alleged to be the spear that pierced the side of Jesus Christ when he was on the cross.
June 14, 1098 The Holy Lance is "discovered" by Peter Bartholomew subsequent to a vision from Jesus Christ and St. Andrew that it is located in Antioch, recently captured by the Crusaders. This dramatically improves the spirits of the Crusaders now besieged in Antioch by Emir Kerboga, Attabeg of Mosul.
June 28, 1098 Battle of Orontes: Following the Holy Lance "discovery" in Antioch, the Crusaders drive back a Turkish army under the command of Emir Kerboga, Attabeg of Mosul, sent to recapture the city. This battle is generally regarded as having been decided by morale because the Muslim army, split by internal dissent, numbers 75,000 strong but is defeated by a mere 15,000 tired and poorly equipped Crusaders.
August 01, 1098 Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy and nominal leader of the First Crusade, dies during an epidemic. With this, Rome's direct control over the Crusade effectively ends.
December 11, 1098 Crusaders capture the city of M'arrat-an-Numan, a small city east of Antioch. According to reports, Crusaders are observed eating the flesh of both adults and children; as a consequence, the Franks would be labeled "cannibals" by Turkish historians.
January 13, 1099 Raymond of Toulouse leads the first contingents of Crusaders away from Antioch and towards Jerusalem. Bohemund disagrees with Raymond's plans and remains in Antioch with his own forces.
February, 1099 Raymond of Toulouse captures the Krak des Chevaliers, but he is forced to abandon it in order to continue his march to Jerusalem.
February 14, 1099 Raymond of Toulouse begins a siege of Arqah, but he would be forced to give up in April.
April 08, 1099 Long criticized by doubters that he had truly found the Holy Lance, Peter Bartholomew agrees to the suggestion of priest Arnul Malecorne that he undergo a trial by fire in order to prove the relic's authenticity. He dies of his injuries on April 20, but because he does not die immediately Malecorne declares the trial a success and the Lance genuine.
June 06, 1099 Citizens of Bethlehem plead with Tancred of Bouillon (nephew of Bohemond) to protect them from the approaching Crusaders who had by this time acquired a reputation for vicious looting of cities they capture.
June 07, 1099 The Crusaders reach the gates of Jerusalem. then controlled by governor Iftikhar ad-Daula. Although the Crusaders had originally marched out of Europe to take Jerusalem back from the Turks, the Fatimids had already expelled the Turks the year before. The Fatimid caliph offers the Crusaders a generous peace agreement that includes protection of Christian pilgrims and worshippers in the city, but the Crusaders are uninterested in anything less than full control of the Holy City - nothing short of unconditional surrender would satisfy them.
July 08, 1099 The Crusaders attempt to take Jerusalem by storm but fail. According to reports, they originally attempt to march around the walls under the leadership of priests in the hope that the walls would simply crumble, as did the walls of Jericho in biblical stories. When that fails, unorganized attacks are launched with no effect.
July 10, 1099 Death of Ruy Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid (Arabic for "lord").
July 13, 1099 Armies of the first Crusade launch a final assault on Muslims in Jerusalem.
July 15, 1099 Crusaders breach the walls of Jerusalem at two points: Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin at St. Stephen's Gate on the north wall and Count Raymond at the Jaffa Gate on the west wall, thus allowing them to capture the city. Estimates place the number of casualties as high as 100,000. Tancred of Hauteville, a grandson of Robert Guiscard and nephew of Bohemund of Taranto, is the first Crusader through the walls. The day is Friday, Dies Veneris, the anniversary of when Christians believe that Jesus redeemed the world and is the first of two days of unprecedented slaughter.
July 16, 1099 Crusaders herd Jews of Jerusalem into a synagogue and set it on fire.
July 22, 1099 Raymond IV of Toulouse is offered the title King of Jerusalem but he turns it down and leaves the region. Godfrey De Bouillon is offered the same title and turns it down as well, but is willing to be named Advocatus Sancti Seplchri (Advocate of the Holy Sepulcher), the first Latin ruler of Jerusalem. This kingdom would endure in one form or another for several hundred years but it would always be in a precarious position. It is based upon a long, narrow strip of land with no natural barriers and whose population is never entirely conquered. Continual reinforcements from Europe are required but not always forthcoming.
July 29, 1099 Pope Urban II dies. Urban had followed the lead set by his predecessor, Gregory VII, by working to enhance the power of the papacy against the power of secular rulers. He also became known for having initiated the first of the Crusades against Muslim powers in the Middle East. Urban dies, though, without ever learning that the First Crusade had taken Jerusalem and was a success.
August 1099 Records indicate that Peter the Hermit, principal leader of the failed Peasants' Crusade, serves as leader of the supplicatory processions in Jerusalem which occur prior to the battle of Ascalon.
August 12, 1099 Battle of Ascalon: Crusaders successfully fight off an Egyptian army sent to relieve Jerusalem. Prior to its capture by the Crusaders, Jerusalem had been under the control of the Fatamid Caliphate of Egypt, and the vizier of Egypt, al-Afdal, raises an army of 50,000 men that outnumber the remaining Crusaders five to one, but which is inferior in quality. This is the final battle in the First Crusade.
September 13, 1099 Crusaders set fire to Mara, Syria.
1100 The Polynesian islands are first colonized.
1100 Islamic rule is weakened because of power struggles among Islamic leaders and the Christian crusades.


Color Key: This chart explains which sorts of topics are given which colors in the chronologies.

Color Topic
Blue Christian victories, advances, and actions.
Yellow Other events: births, deaths, marriages, peace treaties, etc.
Green Muslim victories, advances, and actions.
Orange Other conflicts: Christians fighting Christians, Christians fighting heretics, Muslims fighting Mongols, Christians fighting Jews, etc.
Grey Miscellaneous events to provide historical context and comparison

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