The Children's Crusade

Synopsis

The story begins in 1212 A.D. All Europe is fighting a series of Crusades to win Jerusalem back from the Saracens who hold the city captive. Life is hard. Even children have to work, either in the fields or helping to build the great cathedrals of the day.

A ragged beggar, a veteran of the Crusades, wanders through France. His name is Wolfram. Wolfram knows that the Crusades are as much about killing and plunder as about the glory of God, but then he sees a chance for some plunder for himself.

A shepherd boy named Stephen has had a vision that he, Stephen, will lead an army of children to free Jerusalem once and for all.

Children from all over France are flocking to his side, leaving their homes, ignoring the entreaties of their parents, eager for the glory of doing what no adult has been able to do.

Wolfram follows Stephen too. He has a plan.

At first the children's march is triumphant. Every day new recruits join Stephen. Maybe some of them have moments of doubt, like Madeleine, a girl who lost her father in a previous Crusade. But Stephen's confidence inspires them all and blows away doubt.

Bravely, in spite of fear, hunger, rejection by the towns and villages they pass through, the children make their way south through France, to the sea.

And still Wolfram follows, befriending the children, providing them with things they need. So does Madeleine's mother, determined to save her child.

At last they reach Marseilles.

But how will they cross the Mediterranean sea?

All along Stephen has said, "The waters will part!"

Will they?

On the sea shore, Stephen gives the command. But the waves keep coming in. And then - a miracle.

Two sea captains come on the scene, with promises of an exciting trip and a pleasant adventure. They persuade Stephen that it is their ships that will fulfill Stephen's prophecy, part the waters, and carry the children to Jerusalem.

The young Crusaders happily agree. Only Madeleine is skeptical.

She senses something terrible is about to happen. And she is right.

As the children board the ships Wolfram rushes forward, shouting a warning.

He has had a change of heart. It was he who betrayed them to the sea captains for a reward, and now the captains will sell the children into slavery.

But Wolfram's warning comes too late. Excited by the sea journey they've been promised, the children refuse to turn back. Wolfram is tossed into the harbor by the captains. Stephen now realizes that his Crusade will never reach Jerusalem. But he makes a choice to go with his doomed followers anyway.

Only Madeleine remains behind.

And Wolfram. He will survive to tell the story of the children's innocent heroism - and perhaps, in the telling, make a modest living for himself.

New & Upcoming

Latest commissions, ideas, concepts, sketches, scripts under construction - Kenneth Cavander is always exploring new subject matter. Among the projects engaging him at present ... Read More