What did those who walked the First Crusade wear? I'm not just talking about the noblemen etc. but also the poor people who allegedly went (or is that a myth?). And how did they dress according to their own fashions/standards/habits once on the road? It took them quite some time to get to Jerusalem so I'm thinking that at some point they've had to get new threads?

2 Answers 2


I'll cover just the peasants. Peasants participated in the First Crusade in three ways. First, in the very poorly organized People's Crusade preceding the First Crusader armies by a few months. Second, peasantry would made up the bulk of the armies raised for the First Crusade and most would simply be wearing their normal work clothes. Third, camp followers, specialists, craftsmen accompanied the Crusader armies.

These people would likely be wearing what they normally wore for traveling and working. Many had no idea how far away Jerusalem was or what the climate would be like.

A typical 11th century peasant traveling outfit would include a blouse of cloth or skin, a leather belt around the waist, a long wool mantle over the shoulders, a hood, a knife, and a purse. Some would wear trousers, some would wear a smock. If they're lucky they had hose with shoes or boots, but many would be barefoot. Underwear was not a thing at this time.

Men harvesting.  Anglo-Saxon calendar, 11th century.  By permission of The British Library.  Cotton Tiberius B. V, Part 1.

Men harvesting, from an 11th century Anglo-Saxon calendar. Source

What did they do when they wore out? They patched them, and patched, and patched. When their shoes wore out they patched them too, then they went barefoot. Eventually the People's Crusade would do what most undisciplined and undersupplied armies in the field do: steal, loot and pillage. Since they spent most of their time in European territory this didn't go over so well.

The People's Crusade never made it to Jerusalem. It was destroyed shortly after crossing into Anatolia at the Battle of Civetot. Of the tens of thousands who set out, a few thousand survived and returned to Constantinople. Some joined the official Crusader armies and continued with them to Jerusalem.

  • 2
    I do not believe that 11th century peasants would have been barefoot for most work or travel. Neither does the illustration seem to indicate such (though that is not necessarily conclusive). Cheap, single-piece shoes should have been available and used for arduous tasks such as long journeys. Such shoes were common, even with the lower classes, amongst Greeks, Romans, and Celts since early times. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 15:50
  • I suspect that peasants who couldn't afford shoes, or who were afraid such a precious item to wear off, were mostly wearing wooden clogs.
    – Evargalo
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 7:14

Peasants did not participate in the first crusade, at least in the way that this question is implying. Pope Urban II called for the noblemen or knights to go and recapture the "Holy Land." In exchange for their service, the Pope granted a "plenary pardon" to all those who participated in the crusades. Peasants began to participate in the later crusades because they wanted the Pope's pardon as well. When hoards of peasants began to trek over to Jerusalem, wreaking havoc in their wake, the Pope began to grant the pardon to people who would help sponsor a crusade, in an effort to keep peasants from crusading themselves. Peasants during the first crusade would be apart of a knights entourage. These people were extremely poor, and wore a blouse and britches. When these clothes wore out, they would keep wearing them, because it was all they had.

  • 3
    While this answer does help the questioner with a false belief, it simply does not even attempt to answer the question as asked.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 2:06
  • I am simply pointing out that his/her question is based off and entirely false assumption that peasants participated in the first crusade. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 2:17
  • 6
    Peasants most definitely participated. Lacking standing armies, the bulk of medieval armies would be peasantry recruited/pressed and (if they're lucky) armed and trained for the particular campaign. Plus camp followers, specialists, and craftsmen (smiths, craftsmen, wagon drivers, people to take care of the livestock...). And then there's the People's Crusade, an entire army of peasants. While you can debate if it was part of the First Crusade, it certainly deserves mention. It was smashed by the Turks and its remnants joined the crusaders.
    – Schwern
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:49
  • 4
    @SamanthaHutto Perhaps I was a bit harsh. The fact remains that you didn't answer it. IF you firmly believe the peasants didn't participate and the basis of the question is wrong, there is still an answer to the question: they didn't wear anything to the Crusades because they didn't go. If you read the entire question though, he asks not only the noblemen, but which implies he also is interested in the garb of the noblemen... Extend your answer to actually answer what was asked, and I'll not only remove my down-vote but probably give you an up-vote.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 11:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.