Across France, the children are on the march. Seduced by a shepherd boy with a vision of freeing Jerusalem through the power of innocence alone, tens of thousands of children have left their homes and set out upon a new, peaceful crusade. As they stream through the city of Chavigny in Poitou, they are singing the old crusading ballade: Song of Palestine.
The melody awakes memories in the heart of a rich widow, Blanche. Long ago, when she was still young and beautiful, she had been in love with a poor knight, who followed Richard the Lionheart on crusade and never returned. An oblique reference to a man of the same name in a letter addressed to someone else awakes an irresistible longing to go to the Holy Land herself in search of her lost love.
Blanche sets out on a personal crusade, across the war-torn Languedoc, daring the pirates and slavers of the Mediterranean -- only to find a man, who is nothing like she remembered him, and anything but pleased to see Blanche again.