USE YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE TO ASSESS HOW FAR THE SOURCES SUPPORT THE INTERPRETATION THAT PETER THE HERMIT WAS AN INEFFECTIVE LEADER [70]

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USE YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE TO ASSESS HOW FAR THE SOURCES SUPPORT THE INTERPRETATION THAT PETER THE HERMIT WAS AN INEFFECTIVE LEADER [70]

The sources as a whole both agree and disagree with the interpretation that Peter the Hermit was a poor leader. When analysed in detail, they show that whilst Peter could inspire people to do his bidding in the first instance and that he had some prudent negotiating skills, he was far less effective at the long-term demands of leadership, such as organisational skills, training, logistics and discipline, and that the root of this was over-confidence.

 

Source A was written by Guibert of Nogent by 1108 and mainly disagrees with the statement that Peter was an ineffective leader. Guibert is very complementary of Peter’s leadership, describing him as ‘little short of divine’ and stating that he was held up ‘in such honour’ by his followers. Guibert was in France at the time that Peter was preaching, so it is possible that they may have met. However, it is likely that the author, rather than giving his own account on the hermit’s leadership, collected information from Peter’s supporters. This discredits the source because Peter’s followers would probably have had a high opinion of their leader, which gives the piece a one sided view.  The overall tone of the source depicting Peter as a leader without fault, leads us to believe that the source is unreliable. Source A is useful because it gives us insight to the popular opinion of Peter at the time. On the other hand, it only features an evaluation of his preaching style and does not address other aspects of his leadership. Nonetheless, my own knowledge supports the interpretation that Peter was a highly influential public speaker.

 

Anna Comnena, the author of source B, was the daughter of Alexius I, Emperor of Constantinople. The passage from her book The Alexiad, written in the 1140s, mostly supports the statement. Peter’s followers are illustrated as ‘unruly, difficult, restless’ people by Comnena, indicating that Peter could not control his followers. She also recounts a situation in which Peter did not follow advice from her father, an experienced military leader. This portrays Peter as an over confident, perhaps arrogant leader. On the other hand, similarly to source A, Comnena speaks positively of Peter’s preaching, saying he had a ‘large number’ of followers; this comment is all the more potent due to Anna’s typically disapproving nature towards crusaders in her other writings. The source offers a very convincing opinion and furthermore, the majority of the information in the passage correlates with my own knowledge. However, on the other hand, it is not unreasonable that Comnena would naturally tend to support her father over Peter the Hermit; this and the fact

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