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Children’s Crusades of 1212, 1968, 2018

March 26, 2018

History in the West has been disrupted by messianic movements because “messianism” is part of the idea structure that we inherited from the Gospels. The key difference between the promise of a blessed life after death of the Gospels is that messianic movements seek to make the world itself a “heaven” in this life.

Norman Cohn’s Pursuit of the Millennium is a full discussion of millennial movements from the Middle Ages to the early Modern era. He points out, as have others, that the Children’s Crusade was led by youth leaders and that these efforts ended badly.

The parallel between the Children’s Crusade of 1212 and the movement that took place  on March 24 is clear. Though directed at an immediate goal–gun control–the Children’s Crusade of 2018 promises to become a powerful and disruptive force in the months and years to come.

Here’s a link to a documentary about the Children’s Crusade of 1212 that provides much of the detail about this type of messianism.

The last youthful eruptions occurred in the 1960s through 1973 and had enormous direct consequences for Hubert Humphrey’s presidential ambitions, the old New Deal coalition of Democrats and all higher education.  This one will  reshape American politics through the end of the 21st century.  Like the others, this Crusade will not bring heaven to earth.

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