Children's Crusade Europe News
By Editor James Rhodes
The tragic events many are calling the “Children's Crusades” has left thousands of people devastated and asking questions. One of the biggest questions asked is what is the motivation for the crusades and why would they happen first place. After some exclusive information from different unnamed sources, we have found out that these Crusades originated from two boys who lived in different parts of Europe. The crusade that took place in France came about because of a French Shepherd boy named Steven of Cloyes. Steven, at the age of about twelve, claimed he had a vision and preached that Jesus Christ had commanded him to lead a crusade of children to retrieve the true cross. Steven also claimed Jesus gave him the ability to perform miracles. Children flocked together in massive crowds to hear Steven. Steven preached that he would lead a crusade of children to the Holy land to claim the cross. The more he preached, the more the children of France would come to follow and believe in him. He gathered over 30,000 French children to march down streets carrying banners, candles, and crosses. The groups were chanting, "Lord God, exalt Christianity. Lord God, restore to us the true cross." Steven then lead his crusade to Marseilles. The other children's crusade took place around the same time as the one that started in France. This crusade however, began in Germany. It started because of another young boy named Nicholas of Cologne. He too claimed to have a vision which inspired him to start his crusade. As Steven did, Nicholas preached his beliefs to fellow children. They gathered in rallies to hear him. At his rallies Nicholas said that God would part the Mediterranean Sea for him and his followers, as he did for Moses, so they could easily reach the holy land. He also wanted to lead his crusade to the holy land to claim it for themselves. To confirm why this crusade happened, Pope Innocent lll stated, “While we sleep, they rush to recover the Holy Land." That is exactly what they did. Wearing a cross, Nicholas lead about 50,000 of his followers made up of children and some adults. He lead them up the Rhine River, over the Alps, and into Italy. Both boy’s crusades ended in failure and tragedy. They did not claim the holy lannnd or anything in it as they planned to. Evidently both visions the boys said to have were not true. We can only hope no other motivations like these will arise to create another disaster.
By Editor Paige George
In May 1212, two boys, Nicholas who's from Germany, and Stephen who's from France, started what was later to be called the Children's Crusade. Stephen gave a letter to King Philip, that said God wants him to preach the crusade. King Philip was very unimpressed, and told Stephen to go home. Ignoring the king, he started to think that he could be a preacher, and emulate, or surpass, Peter the Hermit. Peter the Hermit was a priest of the Amiens during the first crusade. Stephen had a very persuasive way of speaking and he truly believed Jesus wanted him to do this. Children and adults, from the very rich to the very poor started to join this crusade partly because the boys preaching inspired them and they would be there to witness God’s glory. It is believed over 30,000 people joined Stephen’s procession and over 50,000 joined Nicholas’. They were headed for the holy land in hopes that the sea would part and they would find the prophesied City of God. As more and more people joined, the more Pope Innocent became furious with the children. He released the children of their vow, and told them to return home. The children felt they could not give up on something they felt so strongly about. They continued their journey with the support of some villagers who would give them food. During their march the children would singing and hold up their wooden crosses. Stephen’s group went up the Rhine River, over the alps, and into the cities Lombardy and Genoa, in the country of Italy. The journey was very hard and dangerous. Hunger and thirst were a constant struggle. Stephen demanded to travel in a decorated cart with a canopy to shade him. His followers treated him like a saint. Some children lost their lives along the way. The children traveled to the Red Sea but, the sea did not part. Heartbroken and lost, some stayed, hoping God would hear their prayers and give in and part the sea. Some attempted to return home. Ships were offered to the disappointed children in Marseilles and Brindisi. Two of those ships from Marseilles sank, without any survivors. The ships from Brindisi sold the children into Muslim slave markets. They raped and killed the girls. Parents were angered that their children had died while on the crusade. Nicolas had not returned to his home near Cologne, so the families had his father arrested and he was hung. Some of the German crusaders had taken a route to Genoa. When the Red Sea did not part, they were welcomed to become Genoese citizens. Other children continued to Pisa with Nicholas then set sail for Palestine. Nicholas continued to Rome where Pope Innocent told them to go home. He stated, “These children have put us to shame. They rush to recover the holy land while we sleep.” Some people believe the children's crusade was based on influence from the Holy Spirit. “It really was the work of the devil,” Helga, a member of the church. A lot of people stopped believing in God, including the surviving children.
By Editor Shayla Comfort
William- William was one of the children in the Children’s Crusade. He was born in 1204 and was 8 years old. He lived with his Mom, Dad, and his sister. They were all really close to each other and loved spending time with one another . During the crusades, his parents and his sister were really concerned about William spending half his time away from them and they didn't know where he was or what he was doing. His family was very confused and worried about William. After school, he would just disappear and not come home for a couple of hours. He would sneak back into the house without his parents catching him. One night, his parents caught him sneaking back in his house and William told them all about the crusade and what he had been doing and where he had been going and he told them about Nicolas. His parents thought it was a very good and spiritual thing for their son but then realized it was a very bad thing. “I thought this was a good thing for my son to connect with all these children and I thought it was a very spiritual and special journey, but I later realized it had negatively impacted people religiously and politically.” -William’s Mom. They were kind of torn apart from each other and they didn't see much of William because he was with the other children. He was kind of the leader of the group and just helped make the rules for the group and he was like a big brother to some of the younger kids and just watched over them. He was so excited to be going on this spiritual journey with a bunch of other kids who all believed that God would part the waters of the Red Sea for them as he did for Moses. Nicolas was their leader and he would hold rallies and preach when the kids would all meet up after school every day. Sometimes, some parents would join in the rallies and preaching with their children. The bad thing about this is that many adults and clergy protested this crusade. All the children decided to meet in Cologne and headed up the alps. It was a long, difficult and steep journey, without a lot of food or water. The kids never gave up hope and just remained positive and stayed strong and worked together to make it to the top. Sadly, William had to see some of his best friends die before making it to the top. It was a very heartbreaking moment for him because he had never really experienced a severe loss before. After a good 5 months, they finally made it to Lombardy and Genoa and Italy. They were all very disappointed when they finally got to the Mediterranean Sea and God didn't part the water for them. William had felt like he had wasted all this time away from his family for nothing and he felt like he let them down greatly. This event led to some of the children losing their hope and faith in God. William just happened to be one of those children. There were two ships that they set sail on. Unfortunately, William was on one of the ships that sank and it set sail from Marseilles. Like several other children, William died on the ship he was on. By the end of this crusade, most of the other children had died, lost their faith or had been enslaved. It was truly a tragic event. William will be dearly missed.
Result And Impact
By Editor Maddie Moore
The result of the children's crusade was tragic. Parents who had once thought it was a good idea to let their kids take place in the crusade soon deeply regretted it. Not only did the crusades impact people emotionally, but it also impacted the people religiously and politically. The crusades weakened both feudalism and the manorial system. The nobles would be too busy trying to deal with the crusades, that the power Monarchs increased. One of our website journalists interviewed a woman who had a son who took place in one of the crusades, she was heartbroken. She didn't even know what happened to her boy, William, or if her boy was even still alive. Even if he was alive, he would be living in slavery. This happened to an uncountable amount of parents, who could put get closure because they never knew how their child had died or even if their child had died. Nothing remotely good resulted from the children's crusade. Many of the children who were apart of a crusade tried to go home on ships, which ended up sinking, killing all of the passengers on board. Even the churches were calling this crusade an act of Satan, and that the crusade was horrific. (205) The failures of the previous crusades led people to believe that something as out of the ordinary and as unlikely as a bunch of children marching to the Red Sea for Moses to part it and lead them to the promise land, seemed possible. After the failure of the crusade, many people lost hope in crusades altogether. Many historians still argue and defend as to why the children's crusade shouldn't be referred to as an actual crusade. (282). It still shocks people as to why two young boys could convince thousands and thousands of people to believe the sea would be parted for them. Though most of them were either children, elderly, poor, petty thieves or prostitutes, there was still a number of adults, who for some reason believed one of these two boys. One of the boys said to have seen a beggar on the street, and when the boy gave the beggar a piece of bread, he revealed himself to be Jesus. It is said that this person, or, “Jesus” gave the boy a letter. The letter was written by the king, but was later proved that the king did NOT want another crusade, and he did not write that letter. Even the pope didn't agree that the children should have gone on the crusade. Both crusades ended tragically... in depression and denial. Whether or not the children's crusade is considered an actual crusade, there was a definite impact.