Walter Sans Avoir

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Reception of Walter Sans Avoir by the King of Hungary, who permits him to pass through his territory with the Crusaders.

Walter Sans Avoir (in French Fr. Gautier Sans-Avoir; died 21 October 1096) was the lord of Boissy-sans-Avoir in the Île-de-France. He was mistakenly known as Walter the Penniless[1], but while his name literally means "Walter without property", it actually derives from the name of his demesne and, ultimately, the motto of his family, Sans avoir Peur ("Fearless").

As lieutenant to Peter the Hermit he co-led the People's Crusade at the beginning of the First Crusade. Leaving well before the main army of knights and their followers, Walter led his knights and pilgrims through the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Serbian (Syrmian) and Bulgarian province of the Eastern Roman Empire, traveling separately from Peter. While they passed through Germany and Hungary uneventfully, Walter's followers plundered the Belgrade area, drawing reprisals upon themselves. From here they continued to Constantinople under Byzantine escort.

Walter and Peter joined forces at Constantinople where Alexius I Comnenus provided transport across the Bosporus. Despite Peter's entreaties to restrain themselves, the Crusaders engaged the Turks at once and were cut to pieces. Peter had returned to Constantinople, either for reinforcements or to protect himself. But Walter was killed, allegedly pierced by seven arrows[2] on 21 October 1096 when the Seljuk leader Kilij Arslan attacked him and his followers.


  1. ^ Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History, 2nd ed. (Yale University Press, 2005), pg. 27
  2. ^ Edgington, Susan B.; Albert of Aachen (2007). Historia Ierosolimitana, Oxford University Press. pp. 41. ISBN 0-19-920486-1. 'There died Walter Sansavoir, pierced by seven arrows through his hauberk and breast'.