|Typical male crusaders|
Generally women supplied water and provisions and tended the wounded. But it was also considered proper for them to man launching weapons and shoot bows and arrows from a distance. According to Islamic legends of the crusades, there might have been some women disguised as knights fighting on the front lines, although European records do not concur on this issue. Certainly in times of desperation, women throughout history have done what they must and fought for their lives.
An actual, historical, "Children’s Crusade" had two waves in the early 1200s. Thousands of children followed visionary young teens and set off on crusade, but there is no record of any reaching the Holy Land. Many died along the way, others turned back, and it seems some might have been lost at sea. I wanted to complete that legend, while still presenting the vast complexities of the crusades.
Now to the toughest question you might be asking, should the crusades have been fought at all? In the beginning, the Christian countries of Europe were trying to turn the tide of hundreds of years of Muslim invasion and oppression. They wanted to kick the Muslims out of Europe and take back land lost by their Christian brothers and sisters in the Byzantine part of the world. I would contend that those reasons were as solid and justifiable as those fueling any war in history. But war is messy.
From the start motives were mixed. Some wanted power and money while others had altruistic motives. Sometimes crusaders from different European countries cooperated; sometimes they undermined each other and broke treaties that other groups had made. Some crusades were led by strong, chivalrous leaders, and others turned into riotous mobs. And almost always the new crusaders from Europe failed to understand their enemy and the complex social structure of the Middle East.
I think you'll enjoy the way I handled the potentially tricky subject of the crusades in Courageous. I attempt to take an honest look at both sides, showing honor to the Muslim natives, while still examining some difficult aspects of their religion and culture. This is one fictional adventure you won't want to miss out on.