When Urban II preached at Clermont in November 1095, he asked for assistance for the Holy Land. His intended target audience consisted of the nobles of Europe, those men whose violence the Church had been trying to regulate through the Peace and Truce of God Movements. For the nobility, a military caste for whom fighting was a pastime as well as a necessity, the crusade offered an ideal opportunity to engage in violence without earning the censure of the church; indeed, they would be rewarded for it. It is not surprising then that hundreds, if not thousands, of nobles from across Europe heeded Urban’s call and set out for the East. According to Sigebert of Gembloux (
.1030–1112), the first crusaders
came together from all sides with a single spirit and without animosity, from Spain, Provence, Aquitaine, Brittany, Scotland, England, Normandy, France, Lorraine, Burgundy, Germany, Lombardy, Apulia, and from other lands; and armed with virtue and signed with the Holy Cross, they set out for the injuries of God against the enemies of the Christians.
Over the next two hundred years, groups from across Europe continued to go on crusade, funding and leading campaigns, recruiting men and supplying retinues.