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Children’s Crusade

1212. This was a mass migration of tens of thousands of children in an effort to reach the Holy Land. A French boy named Stephen told of receiving a visitation of Christ, who gave him a letter for King Philip Augustus. The boy began preaching and attracted large crowds. He excited children from the age of six upward, and they formed bands to go to Jerusalem. They believed God would deliver the city to their innocence, whereas the nobles had been unable to conquer it. Some of them reached Genoa, where they could not get passage to the Holy Land. Part of this group returned home, others went to Rome where they were urged by the pope to go home as their friends had done. One group went to Marseilles, whence they were shipped to North Africa and sold into slavery. The lay participation and social discontent exhibited in this crusade is regarded as a forerunner to the heresies and revolts of the fourteenth century.