THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE: A History by George Zabriskie Gray


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In 1212 a hundred thousand children accompanied by indeterminate numbers of thieves, harlots, parasites and paupers tried to march to Jerusalem. Father Gray documented their venture in 1870; this is a republication of his chronicle, said to be the only single volume for adults on the subject. Unlike the previous crusaders whose object was to expropriate earthly valuables (Gray does not spare the Popes and nobles who plundered ""for Christ's sake"") this expedition had all the markings of religious hysteria. The leader was a 12 year-old shepherd, Stephen, who led the juvenile marchers to Marseilles, where kindly merchants offered their ships to the cause and then delivered ""the little missionaries"" to Saracen slave traders on the African coast. Another contingent organized in Cologne languished in the Alps and trickled into Genoa demanding that the sea allow them to proceed; reduced to vagabondage, the girls were raped and the boys enslaved; the survivors became ""sunken in vice and lost to purity."" Gray hints at the social forces at work, mentioning the drought, the famine, and the political and economic chaos of the time, and he provides clues for those interested in the psychopathology of social disintegration. Thomas Powers' foreword draws a parallel with contemporary youth rebellions (""the movement of the '60's ended bitterly""). Will the book find its way into the Jesus-freak movement, or just into specialized collections?

Pub Date: April 11th, 1972
Publisher: Morrow