Talk:Children's Crusade

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Former good article Children's Crusade was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
December 14, 2005 Good article nominee Listed
August 2, 2008 Good article reassessment Delisted
Current status: Delisted good article

Country boy[edit]

Whoever wrote that "country boy" is a "derogatory" term in the US probably hasn't spent any time here, at least not outside the largest cities. Virtually every man from rural areas takes pride in being a "country boy" and there about 40,000 country songs with crazily twangy praises for country boys. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:59, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Chroniclers writing a mere 30 years after the events would have relied on living memory, which was probably more reliable then than now. If they wrote of "boys" why assume that they didn't mean boys? That is taking modern PC re-writing of history to an extreme. There is no reason to disbelieve that bands of children didn't try to "bring the true religion to the benighted Moslem-occupied Holy Land". There was an enthusian for such a cause that people cannot appreciate now. Often children are the most dedicated to religious and other causes. In the Arab world we see children dedicating themselves to the prophet, and blowing themselves up in his service. In the West children dedicate themselves to saving whales and trees! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:43, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

In history they also dedicated themselves to the whaling trade and just about everything else. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 29 May 2012 (UTC)


I'm reading George Zabriskie Gray's book about the Children's Crusades, and there seems to be a large volume of evidence supporting the three seperate crusades (two German, one French). What evidence is there that this did not occur?

Consider that the names of two merchants are still known, who provided 7 ships for the French band to be transported across the Mediteranian. This seems a very explicit detail, confirming the account of the Crusades.-- 17:13, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Isn't that the one that doesn't have any references or notes, and that the Dictionary of the Middle Ages says is useless? Adam Bishop 18:16, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
Gray's book was published in 1860

, the DMA calls it "fanciful and unreliable". --Stbalbach 18:41, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Juv. fiction[edit]

Just to let anyone of intrest know... the books about the Children's Crusades are labeled Juvenille Fiction on Amazon, which should tell ya something.

I don't think Amazon is a reliable source in and of itself? Topgunn9 (talk) 01:29, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
I remember this book from when I was still a teenager, and in Holland it was definitely considered juvenile fiction. Debresser (talk) 05:15, 22 January 2012 (UTC)


The opening sentence of this article calls the Children's Crusade a tale. Does that mean it is a folktale? Or did the Children's Crusade really occur? If it really occurred, then tale should be replaced with another word or term, such as event or historic event. Kingturtle 16:30, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Unfortunately it's not really clear. Specific things (like names of Stephen and Nicholas, or that Stephen was visited by Christ, or that they were all sold into slavery, etc) are probably not true, but a group of children may have tried to go on a crusade, maybe after making a pilgrimage to Rome or something. No one really knows... Adam Bishop 16:43, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)


Okay, here's the results of my research. It anyone has anything to contradict this, I'd like to hear it. My info is from Karen Armstrong's "Holy War: The Crusades and their Impact on Today's World", pp. 398-399.

The "Children's Crusade" originated as a misreading of a history in the 13th century.

In the early 1200's, bands of wandering poor started cropping up throughout Europe. These were folks displaced by economic changes at the time which forced many poor peasants in northern France and Germany to sell off their land. These bands were referred to as pueri (the children) in a condescending manner, in the same spirit as a white person in the 1950's American south might refer to a black man as "boy".

In 1212, a young French puer named Stephen and a German named Nicholas had similar visions of Christ, which resulted in these bands being united into a religious protest movement which transformed (in their minds) this forced wandering into a religious journey. The pueri marched, following the Cross and associating themselves with Christ, who had wandered in his time.

This, however, was not a prelude to a holy war. At the end of the summer of 1212, the pueri peacefully disbanded and disappeared from history.

Thirty years later, chroniclers read the accounts of these processions and translated pueri as "children" without understanding the usage. So, the childrens' crusade war born. If nothing else, the resulting story illustrates how ingrained the concept of Crusading was in the people of this time -- they assumed that these folks *must* have been Crusaders, in their innocence returning to the old-school days of Peter the Hermit and meeting the same sort of tragic fate.

Anyhow, the Children's Crusade seems to be a fiction of history. Can anyone show otherwise, or should I edit the article?

I believe the source you are quoting is incorrect. Sources dating from the year after the Children's Crusade refer to it as fact, and make it clear that they are talking about actual children. Below is one reference for this:
I would say you should leave the article as it is, though you could quote that author's opinion in a new section. I don't think her arguments will hold much water though. Just my 2 cents, Jwrosenzweig 21:21, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
To clarify, that source I linked to does not say that the children got anywhere on their crusade -- we simply don't know the result. It does, however, attest to the fact that they were real children, and that they apparently presented themselves as a crusade to others, which I thought was the point you were driving at. Figured I should clarify, Jwrosenzweig 21:26, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
It is not at all clear what happened. Try this page[1]
Rmhermen 21:30, Mar 16, 2004 (UTC)

Label the whole article speculative history (legend) with paragraphs on traditional interpretation followed by modern re-interpretation. Another weakness in the modern argument (not new evidence). Are the chroniclers foreign? If the chroniclers are from the same region, its unlikely they were unaware of alternate means of the term "pueri" within 30 years, probably a time within their own lifetime. I have problems believing the historian can be so precise after over 800 years about connotations and slang usage, if the historian argues that "pueri" was only briefly used to mean the poor and then forgotten. Try and track usage of any word more than a couple century old to its introduction and you have problems with the dates of its primary meanings. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:47, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

The source material for Armstrong's assertation is Peter Raedt's article "The Children's Crusade of 1212" (Paris, 1982). Assuming it's not completely off-base, the facts seem to indicate that this wasn't a "crusade" at all. The only historical connection seems to be from a song they sang while marching, "Lord God, raise up the Christian people and give us back the True Cross"...
Skyshadow 21:36, Mar 16, 2004 (UTC)

Actually this is one of many modern re-envisionings of history for which there actually is NOT enough EVIDENCE available anything more to support anything specific or stronger than new speculation. Once again the bulk of this re-envisioning is strong opinion and persuasive argument to extend very sparse documentation. Indeed the correct wording for this is "speculative history" which is often somewhat related to "historical fiction". Historians do not like simply saying "we do not know" or "based on remaining evidence there is some reason to doubt prior accounts."

Key weaknesses are twofold. No substitute word for children is identified which should have been seen in place of a derogatory term. Second his own argument for the wandering poor families would in fact tend to mean that the bulk of such a crowd would be children. With wandering poor families and disease of the time one would expect adults to outnumbered by at least 2 to 1. Largish families were generally the rule at the time lack of contraception and the need to have "spare" children as a hedge against disease. There would even be a tendency toward younger children as families with more mature children would have had more labor available and thus been better able to find work. Families with one or both parents dead would be fairly common as well. A third weakness is that this modern conclusion references no contemporary or near-contemporary historical account with this alternative conclusion. Until the 20th century such alternative contemporary accounts and conclusions were necessary prima fascie evidence for reinterpretation. An unfortunate side effect of directly blending politics with history as propaganda particularly under Communism and the later acceptance of the total scholarly package by western liberal arts without discrimination.
I do to agree that economics most likely had a strong role in making any such "crusade" popular. But its usually incorrect to limit human actions to a single motive especially as time passes. Church indoctrinated poor of the time could well have adopted the idea of going to Jerusalem after economics got them out of their home. Heck it is quite possible that poor families commonly ejected younger children who could not yet do significant work as a means to save who they could.
Keep in mind that while modern historians may have better techniques for validating and analyzing written documents -- modern historians often lose access to many writings to which near contemporaries had access but failed to reference to modern standards or preserve. There is no doubt that private and less valued documents decayed or were otherwise destroyed over the intervening centuries at an exponential rate. So we obviously must grade any modern historic analysis based on the strength of documents used and available now. However, there is every chance that writers in the first 25-75 years had access to personal documents of many citizens that were not preserved. It is unfortunate that formalized bibliographies were not standard centuries earlier so we could better judge the comparative merits. To some extent we must judge ancient historians by other contemporary accounts that were better documented or verified to modern satisfaction -- i.e. by reputation.
In any case I am not particularly enchanted by the modern "authority's" argumentative conclusions based on such slender evidence. Especially when his primary weight of argument is that he is in fact a modern scholar writing to modern standards of evidence ("I have a bibliography and sources you can read yourself -- and the ancients either do not cite their sources nor make all those sources available"). Label it as "historic speculation" and I won't have so many issues with his details and conclusions. (talk) 12:44, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Matthew Paris[edit]

In Matthew's Chronica Maiora (book V, page 248 in the Latin version I was looking at), he is talking about the Shepherds' Crusade of 1251, and mentions that the leader was also a leader of the Children's Crusade. (Matthew was alive (though very young) when the Children's Crusade was supposed to have happened.) I'm not saying this proves anything one way or the other, but it hasn't been mentioned yet (on this page) so I thought I would bring it up. It seems that a contemporary understood something happened, but on the other hand, the way the leader of the Shepherds is portrayed, he wouldn't have been a child during the Children's Crusade. Very strange. Adam Bishop 20:08, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Separate sections for the 3 views[edit]

I was led to this article from this thread in /., where people were commenting about the article dealing with 3 views and I know nothing about the topic of this article. But the version I read seemed confusing about what the 3 views were and needed a little reorganisation. Based on the previous version and the /. comments I made a separate section for what I think are the 3 views. I'm not sure whether my reoganisation of paragraphs & the section-titles I gave are appropriate. If you know something about this topic, please clean up the article. Thanks. -- Paddu 18:44, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

User:Stbalbach's edits seem to suggest that the 2nd view is also from recent research, apart from the 3rd view. If that is true, the 2nd section must probably be merged into the 3rd. First of all, are there 2 or 3 views? Which of these rae backed by modern/recent research? -- Paddu 20:46, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Modern Research[edit]

Most historians speculate that the entire crusade is fiction, as there is no real evidence that any such event occurred, in the 13th or in any other century. Research carried out in the early 1980s indicates that the Children's Crusade began as a misinterpretation of a 1212 religious movement among the landless poor.

This paragraph needs supporting cites. I have a 1989 copy of Dictionary of the Middle Ages and it basically says there is evidence for 2 seperate movements. I'm hoping whoever wrote the above is still around and can point to what source from "the early 1980s" they are refering to. --Stbalbach 05:12, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Ok, I answered my own question. The above was entered by Skyshadow (who is no longer active) last March who says he got the info from Peter Raedts who is allready cited in the References (late 70s). Further research turned up this [2] website which goes in to more detail. It looks like there needs to be a bit of further revision to this article bringing together multiple sources (I dont think the web page linked here is that great a source, but shows the nature of the problem). --Stbalbach 05:33, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

More about Matthew Paris[edit]

I suppose this is more relevant to the Shepherds' Crusade, but since I already mentioned it here, I found an English version of Matthew Paris. Here are the relevant passages:

"Matthew Paris's English History, Vol. II, From the Year 1235 to 1273", trans. J.A. Giles, London, 1853, pg. 452:

He summoned all shepherds to join him, and they, abandoning their flockes, herds, and horses, and without consulting their lords of their relatives, followed him on foot, caring nought about food; for this man preached that chief of devices which was formerly adopted by a beardless youth in France, who about forty years back had infatuated the French people, and convoked an immense host of boys, who followed his footsteps, singing; and, what was wonderful, could not be restrained by bolts or belts, nor recalled by the commands, entreaties, or presents of their fathers and mothers."

So that's interesting, according to this translation it's not the same guy, just similar circumstances. The Latin version I mentioned previously (Matthaei Parisiensis Chronica Majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, vol. V, 1248-1259, London, 1880, pg. 247) says:

Et quoscunque pastores ad se vocavit, ipsi relictis regibus, armentis, et equitiis, inconsultis dominis et parentibus, ipsum non solliciti de victualibus pedetentim sequebantur. Utebatur nempe illo maleficii genere, quo quondam in Francia utebatur, adhuc imberbis at adolescens, quando videlicet, elapsis tunc circiter quadraginta annis, universum populum Francorum infatuaverat, convocans puerorum infinitam multitudinem, qui cantantes ipsum sequebantur e vestigio; et quod mirum fuit, non eos poterant serae vel repagula retinere, nec patrum vel matrum imperia, blanditiae, vel munera, revocare.

The note in the margin says "His previous career, as leader of the children's crusade", and it could be translated as the same guy being leader of both, although the English version from 1853 is also possible.

I hope someone else finds this interesting/useful :) Adam Bishop 23:06, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Peter Raedts[edit]

I've updated this based on Peter Raedts work which is the most recent from 1977 (see references). It is a summary of what he says as described in the Dictionary of the Middle Ages by Frederick Russell from 1989.. the previous text had some inaccuaries and appeared to draw on web based resources which are not very authoritative. --Stbalbach 01:07, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Vertigo Comics Children's Crusade?[edit]

Several years ago Neil Gaiman wrote the only Vertigo comics crossover in the history of the imprint. The title of the crossover was The Children's Crusade. Would it deserve mention here or not? Badbilltucker 17:56, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Donald Spoto[edit]

In regards to this recent entry:

In his book on Saint Francis, Donald Spoto alleges that the description of Children's Crusade as consisting of children is due to the fact that the Catholic church was loath to acknowledge the existence of the dispossed that embarked on the crusade, as their existence reflected so poorly on the church.

The book by Donald Spoto is called Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi (amazon link) published in 2002, I could not find a passage saying the above. He does say however in footnote "121. On the Children's Crusade, which was very likely nothing of the sort, see the important article by Peter Raedts" .. Peter Raedts is mentioned in this article. -- Stbalbach 19:00, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

If you can't find this claim in Spoto's book, it must be because you are unable to read. I certainly read it extremely clearly. Perhaps the hardback and softback differ?

Could you quote the relevant section here, I'm using Amazon's look inside which is limited. It needs clarity as I don't fully understand what you wrote. Why is the Church's "loath to acknowledge the existence of the dispossed that embarked on the crusade" the reason they (or someone?) described them as Children instead (you'd think Children going on crusade would reflect even more poorly on the Church), and why does the existence of the poor reflect badly on the Church? It doesn't make sense really, also what sources is he using? The only source I could find he mentions is the one already used in this article by Peter Raedts. It really sounds like one guys conjecture (with suspiciously anti-catholic leanings) to make a point about something else, which is why I need to see it in context. -- Stbalbach 16:15, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

This is quite interesting. First you write you can't find the claim, implicitly calling me a liar, now you reveal that you in fact are unable to search it. Now you imply that I am a bigot. I am close to implying that you are not a competent reviewew!

"IT IS WORTH calling attention to this popular misrepresentation because the actual moment in history is directly linked to the proclamation of poverty by Francis of Assisi and others. More to the point, the Children's Crusade is connected to Francis' own decision to join the Crusades that same year.

It was, not coincidentally, the prosperous abbeys (so often criticized in Francis's preaching) that produced the first romances of the Children's Crusade. Monks seized on the ambiguity of the word "pueri", conveniently transforming the rash heroism of the poor into the idealism of boys and girls. The official accounts, in other words, glorified not the eagerness of poor wanderers to follow Christ but the putative courage of innocent martyrs obeying the pope's call to liberate Christian shrines. Such chronicles would embarass neither the wealthy monasteries from which they originated nor the hierarchy with its riches, for they avoided praising the poor, WHOSE VERY CONDITION WAS AN INDICTMENT OF THEM. Celebrating the deeds of children was a much safer alternative.

Francis, of course, had always believed the poor had a special place in Christian witness....." p.121 op. cit.

Fair use yada, yada.

I hope this sufficies. Interestingly enough, all I had to do was type "pueri" at, and I got this far.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Asking for more information and being skeptical of sources is what we do at Wikipedia - in particular from anon IP's who don't login, have no reputation and are uncivil ("it must be because you are unable to read").
The quote you provided explains it more clearly. I believe Spoto is re-hashing Peter Raedts in which case we need to credit Raedts and not Spoto and expand on the article in some significant ways. I'm going to obtain a copy of Raedts "The Children's Crusade of 1212", Journal of Medieval History, 3 (1977) -- it will take a few days to obtain and read - a good process anyway as everything to this point has been second-hand about Raedts from other authors and there may be some key material missing from the article. -- Stbalbach 19:41, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Are you looking for anything in particular? I can access it through Scholar's Portal (although I can't say I look forward to reading a 45 page PDF file). He does say right in the introduction that they weren't really children. Adam Bishop 20:06, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, I got a copy. I'd like to have access to Scholar's Portal but that is probably asking too much :) -- Stbalbach 14:29, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
In a time when the average life expectancy hardly surpassed 30, children or teens - puberty set in much later - going off on a crusade would have been far more "normal" than today. You've got to do some things before you die. Excavations of the corpses of mercenaries who died in the 1500s have revealed that many did not have closed fontanelles, something that generally happens before age 3, unless you have rickets, as these mercenaries must have, when it happens around the age of 15. (Sorry no source.) This was long after all the Crusades.
Google reveals numerous links to a Peter Raedts who is described as a church historian, an ex-Jesuit, and as an "SJ." This would seem to allay extant concerns about anti-Catholicism. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Ok I have read Raedt's paper. It is very interesting and well written, recommended reading. It jives pretty well with our current article.

Raedt documents each of the 50-odd sources available and narrows it down to 20-odd that are reliable, going into detail on each one, categorizing them based on when they were written (contemporary, 20-50 years after, anything after). The main differences between Spoto and Raedt being that Spoto says there was a conspiracy of monks to portray them as children when they knew they were not. Raedt's agrees that the church was embarrassed about its wealth - not because they were rich or took money from the poor but because the Church was not also poor - there was a "cult of the poor" at the time which meant you couldn't be pious without also being poor. Also Spoto suggests the people were poor because of the Church seizing property, but again this is not the case according to Raedt there were larger social and population forces at work. Raedt shows that there were only two sources that unambiguously called them "children", as in prepubescent. The rest of the sources refer to them as "pueri" which is an ambiguous term and has been shown by other historians to mean different things (as outlined in our article). So Spoto's idea that the reason we think of them as children is because of monks who made it appear that way isn't supported in Raedt's article when only 2 out of the 50 sources do so - in truth later historians seized on the word ""pueri" for lots of reason, including because it is dramatic story and makes for entertaining reading.

Basically Spoto has an opinion with no peer review or sources to back it up - so I guess the question is do we want to include his opinion in the article, even when it's clearly oversimplified and an unsourced opinion? -- Stbalbach 14:29, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

It does mystify me how you arrive at the idea that Spoto claims there was "a conspiracy of monks" and "that the people were poor because of the church seizing property." The short passage I quoted says nothing of the sort.

A conspiracy is defined as an "An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act." Spoto IN NO WAY talks of a DELIBERATE AGREEMENT to do so. A tradition started by a few monks that stuck is a more plausible explanation than the conspiracy theories you advance. Once one or two authorities on a subject start an interpretation, other monk scholars may not have had the time or inclination to reconsider the established wisdom.

You also write that: "Also Spoto suggests the people were poor because of the Church SEIZING property." Could you kindly furnish a source for this claim.

Spoto writes of the poor, whose very condition was an indictment of the [rich monasteries.] NOWHERE does he say that money or goods were seized. Explanations for the poverty that DO NOT include the seizure of goods include that the monasteries perhaps encouraged pious devotions to an extent that they kept the poor from being prosperous, the sale of indulgences and other means of "fund-raising" that didn't include outright seizure.

Bear in mind that the New Testament tells us that the rich have about the same shot of getting into heaven as a camel has of going through the eye of the needle. Bearing these words in mind, the existence alone of haves and have nots is a huge embarassment. How this came to be is not nearly as important. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

(please sign your posts, see top of the page for instructions). No your right, it doesn't say it outright. But if you knew nothing else, than you would assume so - he doesn't say only "some" of the sources, or even a very small minority of the sources (2 out of 50), he says "Monks seized on the ambiguity of the word "pueri" seized is a DELIBERATE action, not a mistaken interpretation .. "conveniently transforming the rash heroism of the poor into the idealism of boys and girls". "Conveniently transforming" suggests they had a motive to mis-represent the truth and did so knowingly "The official accounts.." Official accounts? What does that mean. Everything was written by Church-related scribes. Misrepresentation of the sources.. He also says "worth calling attention to this popular misrepresentation" suggesting that it was intentionally misrepresented. Now, if your saying he isn't making a conspiracy claim, that no one did this intentionally or for a reason, than what exactly is he saying that is different from Raedt's or our current article? -- Stbalbach 12:57, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

New Spoto entry[edit]

Ok I've thought through this some more and think I see where Spoto is coming from. Here is a proposed new entry:

According to an idea put forth by Spoto in (attrib, some monks who were writing generations after the Crusade looked at the primary sources, which had mostly used the ambiguous description of "pueri" (which could mean "poor" or "children"), instead interpreting it to literally mean "children", intentionally removing any ambiguity that they were poor. The monks were motivated to call them children, and not wandering poor, because being poor was considered pious and the Church was embarrassed by its wealth in contrast to the poor. This, according to Spoto, began a literary tradition from which the popular legend of the crusaders being children originated.

The Raedt paper has a pretty good historiography and this is just a part of that - the article would probably be improved with a historiography section.

-- Stbalbach 17:07, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

This is absolutely fabulous!!!

To understand the Middle Ages, you have to understand that medieval people thought far more in metaphors and allegories. Facts were not nearly as important as in our analytical Post-Enlightenment day. My sense is that a certain, should we say, "school of historiography" established itself, and then prevailed. My strong personal sense - and I know a thing or three about medieval monasticism - is that, for people of that era, the transitions between the "miraculous" and the "scientific" were so nebulous and undelineated, that they would not have been able to enter into a conspiracy to diffuse false knowledge in any sense of the word "conspiracy" that we moderns would understand. An analog situation would be how many American-Indians are supposed to have not been able to understand the concept that they could sell land.

I would bet extremely good money that medieval monasteries had a "chronicles department" that tied into their many scientific endeavors and a "historiography / lives of saints / legend department" that furnished many nice stories of saints and miracles. In today's calendar of saints, some of the calendars see fit to note "that it is not sure whether this saint actually lived."

All this is captured so well in the Italian saying "Si non e vero, e ben trovato," which translates literally as "If it's not true, it's well told," but perhaps more accurately as "Even if it's not true, it doesn't matter because it's such a nice story." More than a few contemporary church historians apply it to various pieces of medieval lore. Bear in mind that in the Middle Ages life was short, and death possible at any juncture. Such stories of eternal bliss were far more of a balm than they are today when most of us breath our last in nursing homes.

Spoto does not only refer to Raedt, but also to Miccoli. I am going to dig up Miccoli's article, and see what it has to say. Stay tuned... -- 14:01, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I've read all but 6 pages of Miccoli. Miccoli, at least implicitly, very strongly suggests that the Church was not at all keen on the Children's Crusade, because it was a led by a layman, and not under their control; a sort of revolutionary of sorts. Would it be best if I'd summarize the contents here so that we can discuss them before integrating any parts deemed advisable into the main article?-- 12:53, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Long standing view reference?[edit]

The last paragraph of the "Long Standing View" states: "Scholarship has shown this long-standing view to be more legend than fact." I'd really like to see a reference to it. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with it, but it's a statement that basically says, "This is just a legend, it didn't happen." It really needs a reference, or should be removed. 18:37, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, the best overall reference is Raedt's, but it is already laid out in more detail in the Historiography section, which has more detailed references. -- Stbalbach 20:46, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

crusade contingencies[edit]

Regarding this deleted section (the part in italic):

A boy began preaching in either France or Germany claiming that he had been visited by Jesus and told to lead the next Crusade. (After the Siege of Jerusalem (1187) by Saladin, the Third and Fourth Crusade had not been successful in reconquering Jeruzalem.)

I removed it for a couple reasons. A complete sentence should not be in parenthesis, it is grammatically incorrect. The sentence is also incomplete on its own. This is all fixable, but the question is, what is trying to be said? It's difficult to put this into historical context since we don't really know if the preacher-boy had any knowledge or concern about prior crusades - to give a straight time-line is suggestive of a contingency of events, which I'm not sure is true. It's better to let the reader judge and decide. -- Stbalbach 15:09, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

The crusades article says that the goal of crusades was recapturing Jerusalem and the sacred "Holy Land" from Muslim rule. Therefore it is strange to suggest that the situation in Jerusalem is irrelevant for crusaders and for readers.--Patrick 00:43, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Please provide a source that says the Children's crusade was in reaction to the the failure of the 3rd and 4th Crusade. -- Stbalbach 15:48, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
The crusades article says that the goal of crusades was recapturing Jerusalem and the sacred "Holy Land" from Muslim rule. That would not be needed if it was not under Muslim rule. I am not saying that the Children's crusade was in direct reaction to the failure of the 3rd and 4th Crusade. I am saying that due this failure Jerusalem was still under Muslim rule.--Patrick 23:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually the reason they went was not a military expedition (they were un-armed, untrained and had no money), but to convert the Muslims. They thought God would part the waters of the sea and allow them to walk across and there God would give them the power to peacefully convert Muslims to the one and true religion of Christianity. My guess is even if Jerusalem was in Christian hands the phenomenon may have still happened seeing as how there were still Muslims in the Holy Land and elsewhere. It's not clear the intention was to "recapture Jerusalem" (although that may have been a part of it), or was connected to other crusading ventures (this was a mass popular uprising with no clear intention or leadership). Also don't take the lead section of the Wikipedia crusades article too seriously, it's just a summary, the crusades are complex. -- Stbalbach 01:16, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I added your clarification also briefly to the intro section.--Patrick 10:35, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Christian POV Prevalent[edit]

Are there any NPOV works on this? It seems difficult to describe Christian or Church historians (past or present) as being neutral in this discussion. Perhaps they attempt neutrality, but when someone suggests that children were allowed to go to war by your belief system you probably would take offense and attempt to disprove rather than dispassionately research the accusation. I'm sure some do, but non-Christian scholarship should also be welcomed and available (I doubt that only Christians have detailed the history of this event). Also, I suggest expansion of works cited and more research on the matter. Perhaps History Guide and History Learning Site. I'm sorry, but I believe the NPOV status of this article is sketchy at best. Perhaps a POV disputed tag would be best untill this is settled with more research (including direct quotes and no original research or speculation). Please respond!--Natezomby 20:05, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Ridiculous assertions, you've created a conspiracy theory that doesn't exist, outside of your own creation (and this talk page). First of all, the two sites you linked are non-academic popular histories that are best laughably incorrect and at worst misleading to those who don't know any better. How could you possibly point to those links as evidence of anything? In the first link Runciman did not understand the sources, his narrative doesn't match with anything anywhere else and shows a real confusion about the sources; the second link is a fairy-tale version. Secondly, your controversy theory is confused, it was Christian historians who created the myth that it was children. Later modern historians, some Christian and some not (does it matter?), using more scientific methods, went back and re-examined the sources and showed that it probably was not actually children, but later Christian historians who said it was children. So that kind of blows your conspiracy theory away right there. This article reflects standard and accepted history by Medieval historians in such Christian bastions as Princeton and Harvard for generations now. Perhaps you've been reading too many popular history and conspiracy theories, but I welcome any and all credible sources and alternative POV's you would like to make available. -- Stbalbach 21:03, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
It would be nice if you would not troll with words that incite flames like "ridiculous" and "conspiracy", "I respectfully disagree" would be fine. I agree that I am no expert but neither are you, and so I simply ask for additional resources that editors can actually check. I did not assume that those links were authoritative, merely that they were online resources which could be listed in the External Links section. You seem to take this awfully personally. I just want explicit resources that support the arguments made listed and, where possible, online sources, such as the abstracts of the scholarly research. If, as you state, there is an abundance of this historical research, then it will be easy to find such sources. Asserting the view provided as "standard and accepted" isn't enough. I am just asking for sources, please do not attack me. I have no view other than that more information is needed.--Natezomby 21:22, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
resources that editors can actually check'
An example from Google Books. Please do your own continued research. The best place to start is the Dictionary of the Middle Ages article (library/free) and Peter Raedts article (online/$). -- Stbalbach 22:51, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
This resource states that Nicholas' father was hanged by grieving parents, and that many of the children were in fact sold into slavery by French merchants, and this one mentions the slave drive as Saracen, so many sources are inconsistent. There should be at least a note that much of this is historically contestable, certainly I can see that someone who goes to school with a focus in Medieval history, as you say you did, would enjoy roasting an amateur like myself, but I stand by asking for further resources. I am sure there are actual article online, not just half glimpses of book previews such as yours and these! If an article or two could be linked to, it would be much appreciated Stbalbach. Thanks for being so nice and gracious with your replies.--Natezomby 02:08, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
You need to read the Raedt's article. It's online. -- Stbalbach 05:40, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Is there an online free summary or detailed discussion of the Raedts article anywhere?[edit]

Am I correct in thinking the article is only available online if you pay? I could find it in the archives of the Journal of Medieval History, however they wanted $31, which is pretty steep. Do any of you know of a good summary or discussion of it anywhere else online? (outside of this article). --Merlinme (talk) 17:22, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

It's online for free if you can access it through a university library, which I suppose is what Stbalbach meant. I don't see a summary or anything anywhere else. Adam Bishop (talk) 20:03, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

GA Sweeps review[edit]

As the result of a GA sweeps review that can be found here, this article has been delisted. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 23:15, 2 August 2008 (UTC)


Someone has added a "conflict" infobox to this article. Since the "crusade" never actually fought a battle or reached Outremer, this is fairly silly. I'm removing it. Choess (talk) 15:32, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Version of events - Traditional[edit]

The section is about the traditional version of events (as evidenced by the title of the section). The statement that "Scholarship has shown this long-standing view to be more legend than fact" is not needed.  Aaron  ►  03:38, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

It's not "needed" but it provides a narrative flow from one section to the next. Articles are not supposed to be discreet chunks of standalone text, they should have a narrative flow moving the reader forward. Although I realize with lots of hands involved it is best practice that usually only shows up in featured articles, but we can aim for it at least. Green Cardamom (talk) 21:01, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Gary Dickson's 2008 book "The Children's Crusade - Medieval History, Modern Mythistory"[edit]

This monograph, published after this article was written contains a fresh view on the children's crusade, and one that conflicts with the commonly held, according to this article, view. It seems to me that Dickson's views should be referred to in this article.--Barend (talk) 13:54, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Historiographical embroilment[edit]

The following quote from the article per 3 March 2011 (C.E.) is an example of a style of formulating historical accounts which necessarily instigate embroilment: Within a generation or two after 1212, the idea of children going on crusade became ingrained in history, retold countless times over the centuries with many different versions, and only in the 20th century has the myth been re-examined by looking at the earliest sources.

I take this as an example because it appears to be rather well formulated. The position of this editor, or the source of this editor, seem to be an authoritative one; it is marked by the first phrases suggesting perspective, a good overview, and historiographical (i.e. semiotical) concern. All this is good. The problem is that it is still an arguement. Why so, and why is this a problem? It is pretty obviously an arguement because it presents the children' crusade as an idea becoming ingrained in history, and by referring to this as myth disclosed as such in the 20th century. One may say this should not be problematic, as long as it relates the apparent fact with weighty sources. And yes, if doing so it meets the criteria of wikipedia articles. Still I'd suggest to highten the standard. The critical point appears quite clearly, to me, in the last phrase: and only in the 20th century has the myth been re-examined by looking at the earliest sources. First, I find it hard to believe that the statement can be substantiated. Is it really only in our time that the earliest sources has been (re-)examined. Or, what is marked as the distinguishing line between examining and re-examining of the earliest sources. in addition, let us keep in mind the broad scope of what are to be regarded as sources. Earliest sources are what? It seems to be signifying dated sources, i.e. official documents? Or are we here to believe it is primary sources or eyewitness sources? Could re-examination of the earliest sources involve a method involving deduction based on comparing accounts of historical official document, folkloristic accounts (songs, oral tradition, visual representation etc), non-official litterature, epistles, personal letters, inspired written tales, poetry and so on and so on; all of which must be regarded as streams of information coming from one and several sources. A turn, one may say, in contemporary theory of historiography (c.f. Hayden White), involves questioning the ranking of criteria of credibility and authority. This challenge is examplified in that it is a trait of western culture, not merely a scientific value, to superimpose the priority of the written word, profusely entangled with the notion of Logos (Christ), and the Religion of the Book. There is not yet established a universal scientific order of such a rank, in spite of the notion of a globalised academia. The problem of the above mentioned example is most poignant in how it, behind a well formulated scientific facade, precent a generalised perspective of those, we may just imagine, who have studied the story of the children's crusade. The statement that it is not until our scientific age (a.k.a. 20th century) that the (his)story of the children's crusade is appearing as a myth. I tend to interpret 'myth' as used in this context rather to signify 'lie', 'fictious' or 'concocted story', than 'orally transmitted story'. Therefor I regard the formulation I here discuss, and formulations of this kind, as facade and not scientific. It does not mean that the statement therefor immediately is wrong, or that I, subjectively, disagree. It simply means that it masks what is ideology-driven as scientific. It is to me, in this example, just a very tiny detail that initially reveiled this masquerade, causing this analysis: The word only, in the last phrase...

It seems to be a recognisable feature of such faking science that it without question look at our time, and our place (and race) as superior to what was (historicism entangled with teleology), superior to oriental and primitive (ethnocentrism, confer also with 'orientalism' as perceived by Idwārd Wadīʿ Saʿīd;).

My suggestion to a better way of presenting historical facts is paradoxically to be more subjective; that is in regard of facts, i.e. bits of information and the puncta causing a field of science to exist. In scientific work it is actually a prerequisite that one should present one's position, perspective, background and so on. As I see this, there are differences from school to school, pertaining to distinct traditions (i.e. continental versus analytical philosophy), and (bitterly?) ideological differences still existing between hard and soft sciences all over the word, but also between, for instant, pure versus applied mathematics. All of this in regard of how to (re-/)present one's self in a scientific publication and work. Wikipedia is an entirely different subject. So the big question is how to unvelop that which is styled as necessary signature, in a scientific work, in the context of wikipedia. In this wikipedia is different from encyclopedias, where each article has a mandatory scientist with signature. The signature of wikipedia is the consensus of the entire wikipedia community, including its hierarchies and formations of such. In order to solve the problem with what may be termed objectivism, fake science or even positivism, I think it is required first that one recognise the need for distinguishing the factual and object of enquiry from what is subjective and what ever perceived in regard of one's biased position. In other words one need to relate to the binary challenge implicit in any scientific study, of any punctum triggering narrations and science what so ever. We need to be mindful of this dualism between the scientific and the unscientific. The tendency of the facade science, or what causes false science, in my view, is that what is will- or desiredriven in any person, also scientists, is perceived as something that must be supressed, excluded from the scientific enquiry. This becomes extremely painful when it comes to ideology and faithsystem. It is the false science that favour the unideological, the nonbeliever, the unenthusiastic or less passionate. But within the context of an honest science by contrast, if the passionate scientist is not able to put her or his passion in context, it will certaintly lead to unscientific results where the biased elements will leak and pollute the processes of discovery. The humble scientist channels this potentially pollution in a beneficial way. In the contemporary world one may very well be an atheist and a scientific student of God, in other words there are atheistic scholars in the field of theology. It is a science. When publishing her work it would be rational to present findings in regard of potential perspectives: from a atheistic point of view God is a creation, formed out of the material concerns of the elite, from a theistic point of view God is reveiling himself through the process of history, from a pantheistic point of view God is cyclically reveiling and occluding herself in the ebb and flow of nature. It would not be scientifically wrong to state, in the introduction of such a work, that s/he was atheistic, but s/he would need to be extremely mindful at every instant her background and eventual ideology came into question, and that should need to be stated, for the concern of the reader, including the scholarly audience. Editing wikipedia articles we can of course not introduce our subjective situations, but we all have the posibility to analyse, take the time to not merely cite our empirical sources, but also our mentality. Thus I like to examplify by reformulating the segment I'm here discussing that started with: Within a generation or two after 1212, the idea of children going on crusade became ingrained in history,

My reformulation of the passage will sound something like this:

As historiography became under scientific scrutiny with 20th Century modernity the historicity of the children's crusade for the first time became sincerly questioned. The idea of children going on crusade became ingrained in history, permeating official histories of the European states, Oriental empires and folk lore in a variety of ways up to the fiction and fantasy of contemporary minds. In the context of the 20th century scientific ideal, the story of the children's crusade needs be regarded as a mytheme of grave importance for the continuous examination in the field of historiography.

Thus I'm trying not to add any information (except that of oriental empires if I may follow the clue to how to substantiate it). This is merely a first suggestion to improve the discussed passage. The example I've chosen is in my view not at all worse than any other passage, or what is standard level of quality in general here at Wikipedia; quite the contrary. I'm first of all trying to touch down my aspiration for an all over betterment of the practice of scientific ideal. --Xact (talk) 20:45, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

the meaning of 'puer'[edit]

'Puer' means 'slave' as well as 'boy', check any Latin dictionary. Landless peasants could indeed be referred to as 'slaves' in a derogatory meaning. (talk) 16:11, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Problems with the citations[edit]

Footnote 3 reads: Snark, I. Publishing, Franklin Watts; N/A, N/A, eds (1980). The Crusades (1st ed.). United Kingdom: Granada Publishing. ISBN 0531098729. The ISBN leads to The Crusades by Antony Bridge. I do not have access to this book, so I cannot determine whether this is the source of the information. I'm also troubled by the "Snark." Is this a minor case of vandalism, or an implication of a broader hoax concerning this entry? I am going to assume the former and correct the citation. The citations for this article seem particularly weak. rpbird (talk) 22:12, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

It was added in this edit, so if it was vandalism the whole edit should be reverted. I'm not sure though, it could just be that the template was poorly filled out. The only way to be certain would be to consult the book, which I don't have. The same editor [ added[ information from the same source toBattle of Jaffa, so this issue is not confined to this article alone. Nev1 (talk) 22:30, 28 October 2011 (UTC)
I think the clear intention was to cite Bridge's book (the note has been "named" bridge1980), so I'll emend the footnote. I don't have a copy of it either, but the details for which it is cited are not controversial, so far as I can see. "Franklin Watts" is the name of a publisher, not an editor; whether Franklin Watts co-published this book I don't know, but Granada Publishing is certainly correct.
The only such detail that I think may be wrong is the statement that Nicholas was a shepherd. According to the sources I'm working from on the Latin article, he was a brewer. But there may be other views. Andrew Dalby 11:30, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

Need for updating[edit]

The present article is an excellent exposition of the state of the debate after Peter Raedts' important article of 1977, which reinterpreted the 'crusade' as a rising by the poor and marginalized, rather than literally children. This reflected the strength of Marxist historiography at this date, with its concern for tensions between social classes. But later work, by such scholars as Franco Cardini, Gary Dickson and Pierre Toubert, has argued that the early sources do indeed confirm that the 'crusaders' were largely young children, inspired by a genuinely religious enthusiasm. See the article by Jean Flori in L'Histoire 373 (March 2012), 82-7. Richard Meredith, 2 March 2012. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Richard Meredith (talkcontribs) 09:45, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

It's a very 1950s narrative we're promoting here. "Pueri ... had a derogatory slang meaning." Children don't really do this kind of thing; if they do, let's despise them. "Early versions of events .. are largely apocryphal" and obviously we can't trust the later ones, so nothing really happened at all. "Purported." "Only about 50 sources." I hope no reader takes the current version of the article seriously. Andrew Dalby 17:33, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Raedts's class theory is predicated on his personal reading of pueri, a term whose principle translation is children. The article fails to mention that this judgement is the basis for the innovation, a key omission. The section on historiography uses Raedt as its base authority to discredit other historians. Reference one is Raedt's study. Reference two is a entry based on Raedt's study. The introduction misrepresents the climate of opinion. It conflates the recognition of fictionalised accounts with currency in Raedt's theory on pueri. -- Lestadii27 (talk) 09:04, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

Raedts - Undue Weight? Nonspecific Language?[edit]

The article speaks on and on about Raedts, but never specifically mentions his findings or any of his points of argument. The article mentions who Raedts feels are credible sources, but does not mention why he feels this way. Why should I trust the article's insistence on taking this person's word at face value? Why are there only three sources, and why is the article primarily sourced on the citation three (Raedts)?

I've found other problems, relating to use of strong langue: "that ghastly journey", using "apocryphal" where "legendary" would be more appropriate. Not sure if there is a trend to downplay the religious significance of a botched crusade involving thousands of children being lost. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:20, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm sure you're right. The recent work of Gary Dickson is much more credible than that of Raedts. It's cited in the bibliography, but unfortunately hasn't influenced the text. Andrew Dalby 08:44, 15 October 2012 (UTC)


A large portion of this article just doesn't make any sense. It first claims that it wasn't really "children" since most of them were not "toddlers", and then later says they were "pre-teens". "Pre-teens" are quite obviously children. The whole idea is that they weren't children at all, but rather slaves or homeless or whatever. Useless hallucinations should not be part of the article. Telanis (talk) 21:09, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Quite right. I deleted the entire "Modern explanation" section because it was very vague and rambling, and despite the fact that it repeatedly referred to "recent research" cited no references at all. The paragraph started of with this bizarre statement: "the participants in the Children's Crusades were not literally children but were much older and mature than mere toddlers but not quite as seasoned as kids or youngsters" but half-way down we are being told that "octogenarians with fat purses full of coins" were mistaken by "myopic eyewitnesses" for an army of young poor children. The rest of the stuff was some meandering stuff about how "contemporary chroniclers to these events" lacked access to "the definitive peer reviewed research ... which clearly demonstrates a lack of familiarity with Latin slang use of the term pueri." If anyone thinks there was any meaningful content hidden amongst all this drivel, then they are quite welcome to cite some textbooks and add it to the article. Pasicles (talk) 22:05, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Take a look at revision history. Someone keeps making a +4 /-4 edit and then quickly removes a large block of content and another +4 edit which gets reverted but the large block is missed. 18:26, 1 November 2012‎ this is just such edit, and that block is still missing with a lot of decent content. Meishern (talk) 06:03, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Okay I undid the section blanking by on the 1 November. I cut the section down a bit though - "popular culture" lists on Wikipedia can be pretty random. But actually I was rather hoping for an explanation of the edits made on the 23 November.... Pasicles (talk) 00:40, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Great job Pasicles, this artcle is finally starting to make some sense with references as well. November 23, I tried to fix the terrible mess that was there, unreferenced, mentioning some unknown modern researcher while throwing all sorts of agenda based claims. So instead of arguing with whoever wrote it, I felt that that the section would be best served by unraveling each sentence so that its logic (or lack of) can be examined for all its worth. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to polish it up before you came in and did a great service by using a referenced source to rewrite it, which unfortunately I lacked, thus having nothing but the words of the previous editor and his modern researcher to guide me. Cheers! Meishern (talk) 03:24, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Articles like this are what give Wikipedia a bad name. It needs someone well studied in the topic to rewrite all or most of it. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 17:37, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

a possible clarification[edit]

The last line in the first paragraph is "Early versions of events, of which there are many variations told over the centuries, are largely apocryphal[clarification needed]." In the article there is the following section;

Metaphorical usage

The adjective apocryphal is commonly used in modern English to refer to any text or story considered to be of dubious veracity or authority, although it may contain some moral truth. In this broader metaphorical sense, the word suggests a claim that is in the nature of folklore, factoid or urban legend.

This would seem to be the best fit for what the author was trying to say. I don't know how to edit articles yet, so I can't attempt to reword it to make it clearer. If someone agrees, please give it a simple edit. (talk) 08:31, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

I think the problem is not only with the word "apocryphal", but also with the unspecified claim of early versions. Debresser (talk) 11:04, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't see anything unclear about that sentence and I have deleted the tag. If it is put back then it would be useful to add a "reason = " parameter. (talk) 17:47, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
The sentence is followed by a citation of two sources, but do they really say exactly this? "Apocryphal" would be a strange word for a historian to use vaguely about "early versions", and it's an odd word to choose in any case -- see the short discussion above and the very long article "Apocrypha" to which this word is linked. So I put the tag back -- not wanting to be argumentative, but I think we ought to find a clearer way to say what we mean. Is anyone able to check the sources that are cited? Are the "early versions" we're talking about here the real early 13th century sources, or the outdated 19th century retellings? To call the latter "apocryphal" might in a sense be true ... but then, to call them "early" would be very misleading. Andrew Dalby 11:33, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that the sentence should be clarified. Debresser (talk) 16:23, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Pied Piper[edit]

Would it be relevant to mention that some people cite the Children's Crusade as the source of the Pied Piper story?--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:12, 10 July 2016 (UTC)