The year 1212 has been marked as one of the most remarkable of all crusades, because it was the year of the Children’s Crusade. Munro and Hansbery complain about the lack of resources with credibility on this particular crusade. …
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The movement, nevertheless, is documented to happen sometime between Easter and the Pentecost and spread across northern France, Flanders, and Western Germany.1 As for women, their roles in the crusades are often not well-documented, most likely because of their gender, although some scholars have started to examine the chronicles and annals more closely to examine women’s participation in the crusades.2 Sources note that women played diverse roles during the crusades and that their home based functions should not be overlooked at all, since they kept the household and businesses alive, while their male family members were away, or died in the crusades.3 The Children’s Crusade is an effort to reclaim the Holy Land from the infidels, while the women played diverse direct and indirect roles in the military, spiritual, and financial aspect of the Crusades. The Children’s Crusade has been argued as a reaction of the disappointed youth with the crusaders, because they have not yet reclaimed Jerusalem from the infidels. They were made of children and other adolescents, who aimed to reach the Holy Land and retrieve it from the Muslims. Madden calls the Children’s Crusade as not a real crusade, but more of a collection of uprisings and processions, where the core medieval belief is that poverty will help them achieve their holy goals.4 This can be rooted that Jesus favored the poor over the rich, and so they must have believed that if the poor led the crusades, their victory will also be assured by Jesus Christ.5 Since this crusade by the children was a popular movement, its origins and developments are difficult to trace. None of the participants wrote about the event in a firsthand manner, for instance, as in the more official forms of crusades.6 In “The Children’s Crusade,” Munro reviews the veracity of the chronicles regarding the Children’s Crusade. She notes that for accounts regarding the French children, the most reliable sources are the unspecified chroniclers of Laon, Mortemer, Jumieges, and Andres.7 She notes that these writers markedly illustrated the same movement, but few facts are presented except for one of them. She provides brief accounts from each, where the story of the holy shepherd boy called Stephen can be narrated. On June, 1212, Stephen from the village of Cloyes, near Vendome, declared that the Lord had appeared to him, dressed as a poor pilgrim, had taken bread from him, and had provided him a letter to bring to the King of France.8 He travelled to S. Denis with shepherds of his own age and there the Lord performed numerous miracles through him, as many have witnessed.9 There were also many other boys who went with him and performed miracles. Numerous children joined them, as if they were to be long-term followers of the holy boy Stephen whom they all perceived as their master and prince.10 The bands, made of girls, boys, adolescents and several older persons, paraded through the cities, castles, towns, and villages, holding banners, candles, and crosses, and censers, singing in their language, “Lord God, exalt Christianity! Lord God, restore to us the true cross.”11 They sang these words and many more, which attracted more followers to the procession. When the children were asked by their parents or others where they would go, they would shout in unison: “To God.”12 The children could not be stopped initially, but based on the records of Jumieges, they went home when they got hungry.13 The Laon chronicle stated that the king, upon consultation with the masters of the University of Paris about this matter, finally ordered the children to go back home.14 The other two chroniclers do not provide any ending to this procession. As for the prevalence of the movement, one
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