The Children's “Crusade” took place in Germany and France during the year of 1212. The Crusade was created and led by two young boys named Nicholas (Germany) and Stephen (France). Stephen stated he saw a vision of a jesus dressed "as a poverty-stricken pilgrim. Supposedly, Stephen was given bread and a letter for the King of France from Jesus. Stephen and Nicholas collected up to 30,000 children and adults as they marched to the Holy Land. They believed that "God would part the waters for them, as He did for Moses. Goals for the children were to each the Hold Land without every getting wet. They also hoped to had the true cross would be restored to them as the shouted "Lord God, exalt Christianity!" Children carried bundles, candles, and staffs “just like Moses.” Many adults, children, and elders asked where Stephen and Nicholas were going; they replied “to God.” The children represented righteous and poverty-stricken crusaders armed with only determination, courage, and bravery. Unlike the fortunate crusaders armed with weapons and horses. Adults admired the children's determination and strength but alongside the clergy, protested against their crusade. Pope Innocent officially released the children from the vows they had taken to not be involved with the Crusades. Many urged and ordered the children to return home but they defied their wishes and kept fighting. Others still supported the marchers and gave them food and water. The children were devastated when God did not part the waters for them. They say there barefoot, starving, disappointed in God, and deteriorating from excessive exposure to the sun. Therefore, they could not reach the Holy Land. The bishop at Brindisi declined the children's request to sail their ships to the Holy Land instead. The crusade soon fell apart and the children became scattered. Other ships were offered to the children in the area. Two ships set sail from Marseilles which sank and unfortunately killed everyone on board. Other ships were owned by merchant slave-traders who had tricked the innocent children. Many of those children were sold to Muslim slave markets while girls were raped and some of those were killed. Although, the lucky and few people who made it to Rome were freed from their vows and were said to of put the adults and Pope to shame. Pope Innocent claimed that the children has shown them up. The children had rushed to recover the holy Land while the adults has slept and let them fight. The hungry, dehydrated, and disillusioned children who never returned home were confused, ill, and lost their faith in God. Even though there was no actual battle, the children's key point in their march was the end results. The church said the catastrophic fate of the children was the “work of the devil." Many others also lost their faith in God and the Crusades ended altogether in 1270.


Tyler was a young peasant boy who followed his older brother, Stephen of Cloyes, throughout the Children’s Crusade. The young boy always looked up to his older brother. He aspired to be just like him. Like the other crusaders, he joined in as they chanted "Lord God, exalt Christianity!" and "Restore the True Cross to us!" He followed his older brother, Stephen, on Thebes's march to St. Denis where he, Stephen, allegedly performed miracles. Like the other crusaders, Tyler was starving, barefoot, and confused when God didn't part the Mediterranean Sea for them. The food they were given from generous villagers had run out like their water supply. Tyler prayed for hours, asking God to part the seas for them. All they wanted was to get to the Holy Land. Tyler thought if he could do, that he himself could become strong, heroic, and brave like Stephen. When this unfortunately did not happen yet again, Tyler kept praying. The ships that became available to them were thought to be a gift from God. The two ships from Marseilles had sunk and tragically, killed all on board. Tyler had boarded another ship which ended up to be owned by merchant slave-traders. Tragically, Tyler ended up on a slave market where he worked for many different families. When Tyler heard the news that his older brother Stephen was killed in one of the ships that had sunk, he was heartbroken and became more determined than ever to escape and get home. Even though he was still starving, dehydrated, barefoot, and overworked, he still had enough strength and determination left to haul it home. Unlike many of the other child crusaders, Tyler tragically never made it home. He lost his religious fervor and absolute faith in God and also lost his life.


While there was no actual Crusade, there were many impacts among the families and children involved. When God did not part the waters for them when they reached Genoa, Italy, all 30,000 crusaders were miserably and disappointed. The Children's Crusade fell apart and everyone became scattered. Some went to Brindisi others went to Marseilles. At Brindisi, the children were not allowed to board the ships. Over in Marseilles, children were tricked into getting on ships where they were waiting to be bought by slave owners. Two ships that had taken off from Marseilles had unfortunately sunk and tragically killed everyone on lard. Nearly all children were drowned, killed, sold, or raped. Almost all of them never returned home but the lucky ones who did were deprived of nutrients, water, and their faith in God. Back at home, the Pope was humiliated that children went to battle instead of the adults.

Here at DebNews, we asked 100 people about their thoughts on the Children's Crusade: here are some of their answers.

Holly (27) - “The children had an awful lot of confidence and determination. But without assistance from the adults and past training, they wouldn't have been successful. The crusaders also had no experience in fighting whatsoever which didn't help them either. They weren't equipped with food, water, clothes, armor, and weapons which are all necessities when going to war.”

Bobby (33) - “In my opinion, the children were just being kids. They had an amazing amount of bravery, courage, and determination but in the long run, they weren't going to make it. Let's face it, God probably wouldn't part the waters for the, and they should've taken it as a sign to stop, turn around, and go home. I'm surprised that some of them lived after they were scattered.”

Kyle (5) - “I'm Muslim so I think that the children should've just accepted they fate and converted to fight alongside us.”


Teacher's Guide - The Crusades. N.p.: History Alive, n.d. PDF.

Alchin, L. K. "The Childrens Crusade." The Childrens Crusade. Lords and Ladies, 07 Feb. 17. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

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