Peter Tudebode

We know but little about Peter Tudebode life. Besly asserts that he was with the army of Poitou, commanded first by Hugo of Lusignan, and then by Gaston of Bearn. But there is no positive proof of this. Besly was led to this conclusion because Hugo was then Lord of Sivray. The book copies the ‘ Gesta Prancorum/ nearly word for word; many of the interpolations are mere episodes, and of little importance. He gives some details concerning the capture of Jerusalem, which may serve partly as an amplification, partly as a rectification of the ‘Gesta.’

Peter Tudebode's Source:

Besly, in the preface to Tudebod’ s History of Jerusalem,’ positively asserts that the  Gesta Francorum,’ edited by Bongars as a genuine and authentic narrative, and frequently used as such by former writers, was nothing more than a plagiarism of the grossest kind, the anonymous author being entirely indebted to Tudebod for his facts, and thinks it his duty to expose such a wholesale plagiarism. Besly grounds this assertion chiefly upon three passages, — one in which Tudebod speaks of himself, and two wherein he mentions the death of his brothers. In these cases, Tudebod, he says, speaks as an eye-witness, and the anonymous author of the ‘ Gesta Francorum’ has carefully omitted all mention of these occurrences in his narrative. Besly’s views met with general concurrence, and have been followed by all subsequent historians of the Crusades .

I must confess that the reasons urged for this opinion appear to me thoroughly unsatisfactory, and that there is evidence of exactly the reverse. In the case in point, Tudebod narrates an unlucky event which occurred at the siege of Jerusalem ; “the author,” he adds, “Tudebod, a priest of Sivray, was present, and was an eye-witness.” The whole narrative, to which this statement is appended, is omitted in the ‘ Gesta Francorum/ and I can conceive nothing unlikely in the supposition that Tudebod, having got so far in his transcription of the * Gesta/ should have inserted in this place something he had himself witnessed. There is nothing to disprove that he and his brothers were present with the army, but there are many objections to looking upon his narrative as the original source of the "Gesta Francorum".

First of all, the anonymous author invariably speaks in the first person ; Tudebod, sometimes in the first, at other times in the third person.

Further, the anonymous author, as we shall presently see, was a knight. Tudebod was a priest. The first remains true to his character, whereas Tudebod introduces himself sometimes as a warrior, at others as a priest , which can easily be accounted for, if we consider him only as the secondary author.

In both works passages occur which are wanting in the other. Those which Tudebod alone has are anecdotes, traits of individual character, etc., which can be easily inserted or omitted, without interfering with the narrative. But it is not so in the other case. It clearly appears 'that Tudebod, from a mistaken endeavour at compression, has omitted passages essential to the meaning. His narrative of the conquest of Nicaea has faults inexcusable in an eye-witness, but easily understood as the errors of a transcriber. It is impossible not to see that the "Gesta Francorum" is the source from which he draws.

This leads me to the last and most important point, which Besly passes over lightly, but which appears to me conclusive. Tudebod makes use of Raymond’s work, as well as of the "Gesta" He has inserted several passages from the former, word for word, in his compilation. Had the author of the ‘ Gesta Francorum ’ followed Tudebod, it would be impossible that some passage from Raymond should not have slipped into his text. Precisely the one passage which is to be found both in Raymond and in the anonymous author of the * Gesta Erancorum/ makes the matter quite clear. Tudebod follows first the ‘ Gesta/ then Raymond, and then repeats the last sentences from the * Gesta ’ for a second time.


Tudebodus (P.), Historia de Hierosolymitano itinere Trans. with introd. and notes by John H. Hill and Laurita L. Hill., Philadelphia, 1974.

James (M. L.), The age of the crusades, New York, 1914.

Murray (A. V.), The Crusades: an encyclopedia, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2006.