Turn now in your books to the chapter titled "The Children's Crusade." You may turn in your book by going to www.wikipedia.org and searching "The Children's Crusade." Let's now look, children, at the history of this WONDERFUL event!
The long-standing view of the Children's Crusade, of which there are many variations, is some version of events with similar themes. 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 (which most likely included a minimal number of children) 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.
According to more recent research there seem to have actually been two movements of people (of all ages) in 1212 in Germany and France. The similarities of the two allowed later chroniclers to combine and embellish the tales.
In the first movement Nicholas, a shepherd from Germany, led a group across the Alps and into Italy in the early spring of 1212. About 7,000 arrived in Genoa in late August. However, their plans did not bear fruit when the waters failed to part as promised, and the band broke up. Some left for home, others may have gone to Rome, and some may have travelled down the Rhône to Marseilles, where they were probably sold into slavery. Few returned home and none reached the Holy Land.
The second movement was led by a 12 year old French shepherd boy named Stephen of Cloyes (a village near Châteaudun), who claimed in June that he bore a letter for the king of France from Jesus. Attracting a crowd of over 30,000 he went to Saint-Denis, where he was seen to work miracles. On the orders of Philip II, on the advice of the University of Paris, the crowd was sent home, and most of them went. None of the contemporary sources mention plans to go to Jerusalem.