Seven main events in Crispin: The Cross of Lead are:
1. Crispin's mother dies and Crispin overhears John Aycliffe and a stranger talking; they try to capture him when they discover he is eavesdropping.
2. Crispin is declared a "wolf's head" on false charges of theft, which were levied by Aycliffe, meaning that Crispin can be legitimately killed by anyone who sees him. Father Quintel advises Crispin to flee but tells him first that his mother could read and write, making her special in the late 14th century.
3. Crispin searches for food in a plague decimated village finding no one, but he hears a voice singing from the village church. The singer is a large man who, upon discovering that Crispin is a runaway, makes him swear an oath of service.
4. The man is Orson Hrothgar and is called Bear and is a juggler, dancer, and entertainer. On their subsequent journeys, Bear educates Crispin on social truths of the day, religion, the meaning of life as well as skills of entertainment, and weaponry while he un-indoctrinates him on the "truths" taught him in his village of Stromford.
5. They retreat to Bear's friends at the Green Man Tavern where they they learn that Lord Furnival of Crispin's village has died. Bear goes on a secret errand and Crispin investigates the town finding a large cathedral where he is seen by Aycliffe who sets up hot pursuit, and Bear is caught by Aycliffe.
6. The Widow Daventy tells Crispin that his cross given him by his mother identifies him as the illegitimate son of Lord Furnival and a claimant to the Furnival wealth and power, which is why he is being pursued to the death.
7. Instead of escaping with the guide provided by Widow Daventy, Crispin rescues Bear from Aycliffe's prison and together they defeat Aycliffe and run to safety, while Bear releases Crispin from his oath of servitude.