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The Second Crusade

Second Crusade 1

The Second Crusade

The Second Crusade (1147-1149) came about when Muslim forces started gaining ground in the 1130’s.

On the 24th December 1144, Edessa the Crusader state fell to the Seljuk General; Zengi the Governor of Mosul and Aleppo.  News of the loss, reached the ears of Pope Eugenius III in the autumn of 1145, such news would have been a devastating shock, fearing Jerusalem, the Holy City was at risk.

In 1145, a second crusade was called for by the French Monk; St.Bernard of Clairvaux, with King Louis VII of France and King Conrad III of Germany, leaders of the crusade.

King Conrad III of Germany and his army, left for the Holy Land in May of 1146, followed by the French army under the leadership of King Louis VII accompanied by his wife “Eleanor of Aquitaine” in the June.

Another crusader army set forth by sea comprising mainly of English and small nation knights.  On route they responded to a plea for help from the Portuguese Christian King; Alfonsa, to dislodge Moors from Lisbon.  The combined action of Crusader and Portuguese played a crucial part in establishing Portugal’s Independence.

Upon arrival at Constantinople, Emperor Manuel persuaded King Conrad to move on, and not to wait for the French army coming up behind.  At Nicaea, Conrad split his forces in two; non-combatants took the coast road, whilst the army took the shorter and possibly more dangerous route across Anatolia.  As they neared Dorylaeum, these German knights, weary and thirsty, were ambushed and suffered defeat at the hands of Seljuk Turks in October 1148.  Barely ten per cent escaped, and made it back to Nicaea.  The remnants of the German army joined forces with the French, under the leadership of King Louis VII, taking the coast road to Attalia.  Upon arrival, food was in short supply and the countryside was in the hands of the Turks.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the Byzantium fleet was unable to take his whole army.

The King of France showed his true colours, by moving his own household and as much cavalry he could load onto the ships and headed to Antioch.  As for the rest of the army; his foot soldiers and pilgrims, supposedly under his protection, they were left to the mercy of the Turkish archers, as they made their way by road to Antioch.  Many lost their lives…

King Louis VII of France arrived in Antioch, and was feasted by Prince Raymond of Antioch, showering them with high quality accommodation and gifts.  This small warrior force, would strike fear at the heart of the Turks.

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, he who almost single handedly called for a second crusade, with the backing of the Pope, desired Jerusalem be re-taken.  Many monarchs and knights were under his spell, like King Louis VII of France.

King Louis VII announced that his fleet would be sailing on to Jerusalem, and his highly spirited wife Eleanor of Aquitaine announced she would be staying in Antioch.  Louis had suspected Eleanor and her uncle, Raymond of Poiters, the current ruler of Antioch, and their host, were having an affair.  His response was to kidnap his wife, dragging her by force to his ship and sail off to Acre, to join up with King Conrad III.

On the 25th May 1148, the combined Christian crusader armies laid siege to Damascus.  On the first day, Damascenes came out of the city to do battle with these crusaders, but were driven back into the city.  The crusaders moved to the east side of the city, and were faced with no water and a much stronger wall, this error would cost them dearly.

It wasn’t long before they realised their chance of taking Damascus had evaporated…  At dawn on the next day, the crusaders retreated, through a hail of Damascene arrows… and the Second Crusade had ended in disaster.

(Image) The Second Crusade: Wikipedia

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