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Children's Crusade

From Academic Kids

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Crusade Series
First Crusade
People's Crusade
German Crusade, 1096
Crusade of 1101
Second Crusade
Third Crusade
Fourth Crusade
Albigensian Crusade
Children's Crusade
Fifth Crusade
Sixth Crusade
Seventh Crusade
Shepherds' Crusade
Eighth Crusade
Ninth Crusade
Northern Crusades

The Children's Crusade is the name given a variety of fictional and factual events in 1212 AD that combine some or all of these elements: visions by a boy, children marching to south Italy, an attempt to free the Holy Land, children being sold into slavery. Several conflicting accounts exist, and the facts of the situation continue to be a subject of debate among historians.

Contents

The long-standing view

The long-standing view of the Children's Crusade is some version of events with similar themes. A boy began preaching in either France or Germany claiming that he had been visited by Jesus and told to lead the next Crusade. Through a series of supposed portents and miracles he gained a considerable following, including possibly as many as 20,000 children. He led his followers southwards towards the Mediterranean, where it is said he believed that the sea would part when he arrived, so that he and his followers could march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Two merchants gave passage on seven boats to as many of the children as would fit. The children were either taken to Tunisia and sold into slavery, or died in a shipwreck. In some accounts they never reached the sea before dying or giving up from starvation and exhaustion. Scholarship has shown this long standing view to be more legend than fact.

Modern research

According to more recent research1 there seems to have been two movements of people in 1212 in France and Germany. The similarities of the two allowed later chroniclers to lump them together as a single tale.

In the first movement Nicholas, a German shepherd, led a group across the Alps and into Italy in the early spring of 1212. About 7,000 arrived in Genoa in late August. However, their plans didn't bear fruit when the waters did not part as promised and the band broke up. Some left for home, others may have gone to Rome, while still others may have traveled down the Rhone to Marseilles where they were probably sold into slavery. Few returned home and none reached the Holy Land.

The second movement was led by a "shepherd boy"2 named Stephen de Cloyes near the village of Chteaudun who claimed in June that he bore a letter for the king of France from Jesus. Attracting a crowd of over 30,000 he went to Saint-Denis where he was seen to work miracles. On the orders of Philip II, on the advice of the University of Paris, the crowd was sent home, and most of them went. None of the contemporary sources mentions plans of the crowd to go to Jerusalem.

Later chroniclers embellished these events. Recent research suggests the participants were not children, at least not the very young. In the early 1200s, bands of wandering poor started cropping up throughout Europe. These were people displaced by economic changes at the time which forced many poor peasants in northern France and Germany to sell their land. These bands were referred to as pueri (Latin for "children") in a condescending manner, in much the same way that people from rural areas in the United States are called "country boys."

In 1212, a young French puer named Stephen and a German puer named Nicholas separately began claiming that they had each had similar visions of Jesus. This resulted in these bands of roving poor being united into a religious protest movement which transformed (in their minds) this forced wandering into a religious journey. The pueri marched, following the Cross and associating themselves with Jesus's biblical journey. This, however, was not a prelude to a holy war.

Thirty years later, chroniclers read the accounts of these processions and translated pueri as "children" without understanding the usage. So, the Children's Crusade was born. The resulting story illustrates how ingrained the concept of Crusading was in the people of that time— the chroniclers assumed that the pueri must have been Crusaders, in their innocence returning to the foundations of crusading characteristic of Peter the Hermit, and meeting the same sort of tragic fate.

According to Matthew Paris, one of the leaders of the Children's Crusade became "Le Matre de Hongrie," the leader of the Shepherds' Crusade in 1251.

In art

  • Crusade in Jeans is a fictional account of the children's crusade, as seen through the eyes of a young time traveller.

Notes

Note 1: Raedts, 1977 Note 2: Russell, 1989

References


The Children's Crusade is the sub-title of Slaughterhouse-Five, a book by Kurt Vonnegut.


Children's Crusade is also the title of a song on the 1985 album The Dream of the Blue Turtles, by the British musician Sting. The song uses the cultural reference of a "lost generation" in the contexts of World War I and modern-day heroin abuse.de:Kinderkreuzzug he:מסע הצלב של הילדים it:Crociata dei fanciulli ja:少年十字軍 nl:kinderkruistocht pl:Krucjata dziecięca sv:Barnkorstget zh:儿童十字军

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