expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>
Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Medieval Tidbit #4--Children's Crusade

Did you know...

Photo Credit: http://www.sbceo.k12.ca.us
That there was a Children's Crusade in the Middle Ages?

It's true. While early Crusades were largely successful, in that they achieved their major goals, later crusades were most notable for their epic fail status.

At one point, "Thousands of boys and girls flocked into the ports of southern Europe, gripped by religious fervor and convinced (wrongly) that the Mediterranean would dry up so that they could walk to the Holy Land." (Medival Europe: A Short History, 234)

Some died before they got to port. Others were offered free passage from captains of the boats in port, only to be sold into slavery. Others gained passage but were lost at sea long before reaching the Holy Lands.

In recent years, the validity of this story has been questioned. Not whether it happened, but whether it truly involved little children. Something about small kids flocking to the Holy Lands to do battle for Christianity is so mesmerizing that it became legendary. Today, most historians believed the majority of these crusaders were the roaming poor, easily duped into following any banner that came along. They were probably still very young--uneducated, poor young men and women--but not as "little" as the legend would have us believe.

Still other sources--some of them primary sources--insist that "none [of the children] were more than twelve years of age." (source)

I've always wanted to write something about a character who went on this crusade but survived it and made it back to his home village. How would it have colored his or her ideas about the world at large, war, the monarchy, the Church, and God?

What would he or she have done with the rest of his/her life? How do tragedies of this magnitude fit into the cultural beliefs that defined the Middle Ages and the Crusades as a whole? And how does this fit into the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin?

These are questions I would love to explore. I'm hoping when I have a little more time--after the end of this calender year and assuming the planet doesn't implode on 12/21--that I'll be able to return to historical fiction, my first love in writing.

What do you think about the Children's Crusade? How much truth do you think is in the legends?

Remember, knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...


  1. I have no idea how much truth is in this - in fact, I've never heard of it until today - but I do agree that that would make quite a novel.

    1. Yeah it's one not many people have heard of. Thanks for stopping by, guys! :D

  2. Bryce Courtenay wrote a novel about it called Sylvia - it was supposed to be a trilogy but I don't think he ever finished it...


    1. Thanks for the tip! I'll check it out! :D

  3. Liesel, I have heard of it. I think your analogy to The Pied Piper is apt. I'm sure there were a great many poor and uneducated and thought if they made the journey they would be rewarded with a better life. But then, many of the upper classes were also uneducated. But religious fervor was easier to manipulate in that time period as well.

    When I think about it, kids then were getting married and having kids themselves just past the *flow of blood*, boys were Knights before they reached 18. I think there is some validity to a group under 12 making the journey but maybe not as many as the church touted, but a good size group.

    Interesting subject.

    1. Good points, Sia! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the input! :D