In the year 1212 two separate and seemingly spontaneous children's crusades sprang up in Europe. These crusader children were convinced that they could take back the holy land by persuading the Muslins to convert to Catholicism. Their efforts came to be know as the Children's Crusades. A French twelve year old shepherd boy named Stephen of Cloyes convinced a large group of children his age that he had a letter from Jesus to the king of France. Stephen and his friends were reported to have performed miracles as they traveled and gained followers on the road to Versailles. The king of France, Phillip II urged the children to return home and did not meet with them. The children crusaders then set out for the Holy Land. At their height the children crusaders attracted thousands of children and a horde of beggars who were attracted to the food and clothing that was given to the children in the towns and villages they passed through. By midsummer the crusaders had reached Marseilles where by then many of the children and become dispirited and returned home. Stephen and some of his followers stayed and survived by begging. The other children's crusade was led by a German boy, also a shepherd, named Nicholas. Nicolas' followers fanned out across Germany and persuaded as many as 30,000 children to join his quest to take the Holy Land. The children formed up in Cologne and divided into two groups to cross the Alps and advance to the Holy Land. Over half of the children died trying to cross the Alps and many others returned home. About 7,000 children made it to Genoa, Italy by summers end. Nicholas had convinced the children soldiers that the sea would part for them and they would walk to the Holy Land. When the sea did not part, the children were offered free passage by some of the merchant ship owners. Those who boarded the ships were transported to the Arab lands and sold as slaves. None made it to the Holy Land. Nicholas died of privation and his father was seized and hanged by the families of children lost to Nicholas' graceful speech. But, hope springs eternal in the human breast. Though Nicholas and Stephan are gone, their spirit of children leading the way lives on. It's a wonderment. Life is good.