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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

IX: The Children's Crusade,   pp. 325-342 PDF (7.1 MB)


Page 332

 332 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 
affair" - around Easter and Pentecost, March 25 and May 13. <21>
This is considerably earlier than the date recorded for Stephen's procession
in France, and suggests that the movement may have had its origins in the
Lowlands and the Rhine valley, and only its outer fringes on the Seine. Many
thousands of children ranging from six years to the age of discretion came
together, despite the opposition of their parents, relatives, and friends.
Some left their plows, others the flocks and herds which had been in their
care, and rushed to take the cross. They moved off in groups of twenty, fifty,
or a hundred, with Jerusalem their goal. It was unbelievable. How, they were
asked, could they expect to do what kings, dukes, and so many others had
failed to do. They replied with simplicity that they would obey the divine
command and bear with willing spirit whatever God placed upon them. <22>
Another Cologne chronicle, quite independently, confirms that French as well
as German children were involved, of various ages and conditions. There is
the additional note, hardly surprising in view of the circumstances and the
times, that some "maligni homines" joined the pilgrimage, pilfered
the contributions made to the children by the faithful, and then secretly
stole away. One of them was caught and hanged in Cologne. <23> 
 Here, then, was another eloquent expression of popular piety. It appeared
miraculous - but the Devil could work seeming miracles. If it was a sign
of the simple faith of the people, it was also a potential threat to established
authority. In the somewhat sour account from the monastery of Marbach on
the upper Rhine we can sense the conservative distrust for the anti-clerical
tendencies of the movement. <24> "As, in the face of such novelties,
we become a credulous mob, so indeed many thought that all this arose not
from any foolishness but rather through divine inspiration and a kind of
piety, and therefore helped them with food and other necessaries. The clergy,
however, and certain others, who were more sensible and judged the whole
business to be useless, were opposed by the laity, who said that the clergy
were unbelievers, and 
 21 The chronicler has mistakenly put his account under the year 1213, during
which Easter and Pentecost fell on April 14 and June 2. 
 22 Ghronicae regiae Coloniensis continuatio prima, ad ann. 1213 (MGH, SS.,
XXIV), pp. 17-18. 
 23 Annales Colonienses maximi, ad ann. 1212 (MGH, SS., XVII), pp. 826-827.
 24 Cf. Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, p. 66: "Any chiliastic movement
was . . . almost compelled by the situation in which it found itself to see
the clergy as a demonic factor". It must be added, however, that this
one notice from Marbach is the only one, which suggests that the Children's
Crusade might have turned against ecclesiastical authority. The general silence
of the sources, in fact, would indicate that the movement probably never
went so far. 


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