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Children’s Crusade Debacle - Part 1

Updated on October 30, 2010

The Children's Crusade

Books Written on the Crusade



There is, astonishingly, very little historical record preserved from one of the most fascinating phenomena of the medieval crusade era. There is enough in the reports of the devastation called “The Crusades” to make anyone, whether Christian or other, shake their heads. However, upon the discovery of the “Children’s Crusade,” the world’s stark astonishment borders on disbelief, which has happened for the larger part for historians. Since there is such a lack of formal recorded evidence, a large portion of historical society has concluded that this event never happened.

Many, therefore, think of the ‘story’ of the children’s crusade as merely sensational folklore, created during the fantastic age of the chivalrous crusades. Imagined stories of great braveries and unbelievable endeavors on the part of the surviving knights in an attempt to remove the shame brought on by the constant defeats and irresponsible behaviors of the crusading pilgrims. Yet the evidence is irresistible in light of the other fiascos the crusades served to create. Nevertheless, is it enough to bring one to the conclusion that “the Children’s Crusade” was indeed a reality?

The Fourth Crusade


The Beginnings

The Children’s Crusade took place after the Fourth Crusade (1202 to 1204). It was clear the Christian crusaders had gained no long-term success; in fact, the Fourth Crusade had been a major disaster. Many crusaders not even getting to the Holy Land, let alone fight for Jerusalem. The particular crusade used as a means to plunder valuable goods and drive forward personal ambitions. The Children’s Crusade therefore seemed to come on the heels of this shame and indicate that the Christian beliefs of the First Crusade were yet still alive. (Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades (Cambridge 1951) Volume III, The Kingdom of Acre and Later Crusades , pp. 139-144 )

Hunger and Depression assailed the common people


The crusading epidemic broke out among the children of France and Germany in the year 1212. This expedition was not a crusade at all, in the strict sense of the term. The pope never officially blessed this specific crusade. Regardless it attracted thousands of course, it also attracted deplorable, immoral persons of the society to join in its ecclesiastical purpose.

Many factors contributed to the birth of this new “crusade.” The previous devastating crusades left many families fatherless, which in turn left them without a source of income. Taxed heavily to fund the crusades the poverty-stricken people of the land fought with feelings of outrage. Destitution and grief greatly diminished religious fervor.

In an effort to revive interest in yet a fifth crusade, Pope Innocent III sent priests and bishops across Europe with appeals, arguments and threats, even misusing the words of Jesus, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” Processions were held, entreating God for the imperiled cause and rekindle the zeal of onlookers. Sermons had no other theme. “The Savior was spoken of as a king banished from his heritage, and Jerusalem as a captive queen, appealing to the loyal heart on her behalf.” (George Zabriskie Gray, The Children s Crusade , William Morrow & Company, Inc. New York, N.Y., (c1972, 1870) pg 27)

Three groups, one from France and two from Germany. Groups composed almost entirely of young boys and girls, some as young as six years old, others were up to thirteen years old. These courageous, if not somewhat foolish children, took up the imposing challenge from the Pope. Convinced that God would protect them these children believed they would actually get to the holy land and take Jerusalem for the Christian.

Continue to part 2

Continue to Part 3

A Beginning Full of Zeal
A Beginning Full of Zeal


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    • UlrikeGrace profile image

      UlrikeGrace 7 years ago from Canada

      DeBorrah, thanks for visiting and having a read, I too am amazed at the fervor of these children but also at the lack of wisdom of their parents!

      Bless you for reading and sharing your comments

      Ulrike Grace

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 7 years ago

      Ulrike Grace, Wonderful informative hub on the Children's Crusade! What dedicatiion these children demonstrate... Thank you for sharing, In HIS Grace, Love, Joy, Peace & Blessings!

    • UlrikeGrace profile image

      UlrikeGrace 7 years ago from Canada

      Blessings to you rls for stopping in once again and having a read. I love your well thought out comments. Have you ever thought of sharing a hub or two with us...I feel you would have much to share with us. I loved what you said, Quote...

      "It should be the prayer of us all that God the Holy Spirit would be gracious to tear the veil of deception that sin creates over our eyes to see clearly the truth of God and find His power to walk in the power of His love."

      Oh Amen, amen rls...this is the prayer of my heart...not only that we would see clearly but that God would be glorified with our seeing!

      Blessings and much love to you my friend Ulrike Grace

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      rls4immanuel 7 years ago

      Ulrike Grace. Thankyou very much for reminding us of the lessons for us in church history. Those who refuse to study and learn from those lessons are destined to repeat them. As followers of Jesus, we must turn to the Scriptures, under the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit to gain wisdom and understanding from God. It should be the prayer of us all that God the Holy Spirit would be gracious to tear the veil of deception that sin creates over our eyes to see clearly the truth of God and find His power to walk in the power of His love.

      Thankyou again for being courageous to bring again to light a very troubling time in the history of the church so that we may embrace the truth and turn.

      Our Lord's richest blessings on you Ulrike Grace.

    • UlrikeGrace profile image

      UlrikeGrace 7 years ago from Canada are such a joy! You can be a “picayune” on behalf of the posts I present anytime you would like to! I appreciate the help you can give to me. As would my readers. I laughed when I read your comment as I struggled with that very image...thanks for the feedback...I will change it today before I start work on part 2!

      I believe as you do that the children's crusade is not fiction. Emotions ran high in that era and the children had good adult predecessors who ran off on crusades with arrogant, prideful, and unrealistic expectations of what they were going to accomplish against the "barbarians." It was truly no wonder that in their superstitious culture this could happen. Thanks for reading Lynda. You can share anything you feel would make my posts a better, more enjoyable, and faithful read anytime. Blessings to you..."smile & hugs" Ulrike Grace

    • UlrikeGrace profile image

      UlrikeGrace 7 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Quill...your encouragement and support is always such a blessing to me...hope all is well with you, thanks for and blessings in Jesus Name...Ulrike Grace

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      A fascinating article. I have always believed the Children's Crusade to be fact not fiction. Considering all the other equally astonishing movements of the times, it comes as no surprise. Thanks for the information and I look forward to part 2.

      Now, I know this is picayune of me, but the image you have posted "The poor of medieval times" is not of those times. The dress of the standing man and the children strongly suggest 19th century, the time of Dickens, not the thirteenth. (I have worked as both an auditor and an editor, both of which require attention to detail and a pedantic viewpoint. I apologize but I cannot help myself.) Lynda

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      "Quill" 7 years ago

      Well done Sister as always. You are such a blessing, we love you dearly.