Fulcher of Chartres

Fulcher of Chartres (1059 in or near Chartres - after 1128) was a priest and participated in the First Crusade. He served Baldwin I of Jerusalem for many years, and wrote a chronicle of the Crusade, writing in Latin.


Fulcher was born in 1059.[1] His appointment as chaplain of Baldwin of Boulogne in 1097 suggests that he had been trained as a priest, most likely at the school of Chartres. However, he was probably not a member of the cathedral chapter, since he is not named in the listing of the Dignitaries of the Church of Our Lady of Chartres.

The details of the Council of Clermont in his history suggest he attended the council personally,[1] or knew someone who did, perhaps bishop Ivo of Chartres, who also influenced Fulcher's opinions on Roman Catholic Church reform and the investiture controversy with the Holy Roman Empire.

Fulcher was part of the entourage of Count Stephen of Blois and Robert of Normandy[1] which made its way through southern France and Italy in 1096, crossing into the Eastern Roman Empire from Bari and arriving in Constantinople in 1097, where they joined with the other armies of the First Crusade. He travelled through Asia Minor to Marash, shortly before the army's arrival at Antioch in 1097, where he was appointed chaplain to Baldwin of Boulogne.[1] He followed his new lord after Baldwin split off from the main army, to Edessa,[1] where Baldwin founded the county of Edessa.

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 Fulcher and Baldwin travelled to the city to complete their vow of pilgrimage. When Baldwin became king of Jerusalem in 1100, Fulcher came with him to Jerusalem and continued to act as his chaplain until Baldwin died in 1118.[1] At that time, Fulcher may have been serving as Prior at the Mount of Olives.[1] After 1115 he was the canon of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, possibly attached to the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, and was probably responsible for the relics and treasures in the church. Fulcher was a resident of Jerusalem until 1127. After that date, nothing further is known about him. Any details about his death are unknown.


Fulcher wrote a chronicle of the crusade, made of three books.[2] He started writing it in 1101 and finished around 1128.[1] The chronicle is considered among the best records of the crusade.[1] Included in the chronicle is his account of Pope Urban II's speech at the Council of Clermont in November 1095 to launch the First Crusade.[3] Within his account of Urban’s speech there was a promise of remission of sins for anyone who participated in the crusade:

All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let them eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide.

At the earliest, Fulcher began his chronicle in the late autumn of 1100, or at the latest in the spring of 1101, in a version that has not survived but which was transmitted to Europe during his lifetime. This version was completed around 1106 and was used as a source by Guibert of Nogent, a contemporary of Fulcher in Europe.

He began his work at the urging of his travelling companions, who probably included Baldwin I. He had at least one library in Jerusalem at his disposal, from which he had access to letters and other documents of the crusade. In this library the Historia Francorum of Raymond of Aguilers and the Gesta Francorum must also have been available, which served as sources for much of the specific information in Fulcher's work that he did not personally witness.

Fulcher divided his chronicle into three books. Book I described the preparations for the First Crusade in Clermont in 1095 up to the conquest of Jerusalem and the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by Godfrey of Bouillon. It included an enthusiastic description of Constantinople. The second book described the deeds of Baldwin I, who succeeded Godfrey and was king of Jerusalem from 1100 to 1118. The third and final book reported on the life of king Baldwin II, until 1127 when there was a plague in Jerusalem, during which Fulcher apparently died. The second and third books were written from around 1109 to 1115, and from 1118 to 1127, compiled into a second edition by Fulcher himself.

Fulcher's work was used by many other chroniclers who lived after him. William of Tyre and William of Malmesbury used part of the chronicle as a source. His chronicle is generally accurate, though not entirely so. It was published in the Recueil des historiens des croisades and the Patrologia Latina, and a critical edition of the Latin version was published by Heinrich Hagenmeyer in 1913.



Further reading

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