One of the most unusual and strange events ever to come out of Medieval England is known as the Children’s Crusade in the year of 1212. This was a crusade that was mostly led by children, tens of thousands of them, all unarmed marched towards Jerusalem to retake it from the Muslims. They had no official sanction, so it is not really looked at as an official crusade, however, it was a complete disaster.
It is thought that none of the children ever made into to the holy land and that most either were sold into slavery or died over the course of the trip. Marching through Northern France and Western Germany would not have been a walk in the park at the time.
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, there were seven major Crusades that were launched by Christians in Europe against Muslims who were controlling the Holy Land. These were all major military campaigns that had a backing from the Latin Roman Catholic Church, but the really strange phenomenon was the so-called Children’s Crusade which seems to as per reports happened around 1212.
Apparently children from all over the country from six years old to full maturity, suddenly dropped what they were doing grabbed banners and started on a trek towards Jerusalem. Their parents did not want them to go, but it seems the children by and large did not listen because the group grew to over thousands. They claimed it was God’s divine wish for them to start this crusade. A group did make it to Marseilles, but if they ever made it to the holy land that is not known, either way, none ever returned home.
The chronicles account two groups one that came out of France led by a child called Stephen de Cloyes, around 30,000 strong and another out of Germany led by Stephen around 50,000 strong. It is thought they even did make it to Rome, and the pope even addressed them, praising their bravery but advising they were too young for such an expedition.
At this point, many of the children are thought to have tried to return home, but most were captured and sold into slavery. Some were so determined they did on board ships, never to be seen again.