Children's Crusade

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The Children's Crusade is the name given to a variety of fictional and factual events which happened in 1212 that combine some or all of these elements: visions by a French or German boy; an intention to peacefully convert Muslims in the Holy Land to Christianity; bands of children marching to Italy; and children being sold into slavery.

A study published in 1977[1] cast doubt on the existence of these events and many historians now believe[2] that they were not (or not primarily) children but multiple bands of "wandering poor" in Germany and France, some of whom tried to reach the Holy Land and others who never intended to do so. Early versions of events, of which there are many variations told over the centuries, are largely apocryphal.

Contents

Version of events

Traditional

The long-standing view of the Children's Crusade, of which there are many variations, is some version of events with similar themes.[2] A boy began preaching in either France or Germany claiming that he had been visited by Jesus and told to lead a Crusade to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. Through a series of supposed portents and miracles he gained a considerable following, including possibly as many as 30,000 children. He led his followers south towards the Mediterranean Sea, in the belief that the sea would part on their arrival, allowing him and his followers to march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Two merchants gave "free" passage on boats to as many of the crusading poor as were willing. They were then either taken to Tunisia and sold into slavery, or died in a shipwreck on San Pietro Island off Sardinia during a gale. According to most accounts, many of the poor and elderly failed to reach 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

According to more recent research there seem to have actually been two movements of people (of all ages) in 1212 in Germany and France.[1][2] The similarities of the two allowed later chroniclers to combine and embellish the tales.

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