Fulcher of Chartres (c.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. 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, 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 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. He followed his new lord after Baldwin split off from the main army, to Edessa, 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. At that time, Fulcher may have been serving as Prior at the Mount of Olives. 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. He started writing it in 1101 and finished around 1128. The chronicle is considered among the best records of the crusade. Included in the chronicle is his account of Pope Urban II's November 1095 speech at the Council of Clermont where Urban calls for the First Crusade:
[Your] brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them.
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.