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Crusade, Second (1147-1149)

The Second Crusade was launched by European rulers in 1147 after the fall of Edessa to Zengri two years earlier. It is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History during 1140 AD. It ended in disaster in 1147, and Edessa stayed in Muslim hands in the years that followed. The Crusades in Europe against the Wendish people and the Muslims of Portugal were successful.

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The Siege of Edessa

On the 28th of November 1144, Zengi, the Turkish atabeg (governor) of Mosul besieged the city of Edessa that was ruled by Joscelin I of Courtenay. The count was busy with the siege of Aleppo at that time, so the people were caught by surprise when Zengi’s troops arrived. The atabeg blocked all the passages into the city, so the people ran out of food. He had many of Edessa’s people killed when he finally entered the city. Those who survived the massacre fled from the city, but many of them were crushed to death when they tried to take refuge in a nearby citadel.

Count Joscelin tried to help his people by asking Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem, for more troops. The queen agreed to help him and sent Elinard of Bures, Philip of Milly (Nablus), and Manasses to Edessa. But they were too late as Edessa fell to Zengi on the 24th of December, 1144.

The Papal Bull

When news of the fall of Edessa reached him in 1145, Pope Eugene III immediately sent a papal bull to the king of France Louis VII. In his letter, he encouraged the king to launch a new Crusade in the Levant and take back the city of Edessa from Zengri. Louis was eager to go to the Levant, but many of his barons did not feel like it was a good idea. So to convince them, he asked Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux to preach a message that endorsed the Crusade. It worked, and many of the noblemen and peasants answered the call to take back Edessa.

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux also traveled to Germany in 1146 to convince the German emperor Conrad III to join the Crusade. Conrad III and the Germans were easier to convince than the French nobles, and his army marched to Constantinople in May 1147. Meanwhile, King Louis VII, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Pope Eugene, and their troops followed in June of the same year. Conrad and the German troops arrived in Constantinople four months later, while the French troops led by Louis arrived in October.

But the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos did not really like the presence of the European rulers and soldiers in his city. Roger II of Sicily had attacked Byzantine territories. Manuel was afraid that the European rulers would join Roger instead. He was also afraid of the undisciplined European troops that stayed in his city during winter.

A Disastrous Crusade

By spring of 1148, Conrad’s troops marched from Constantinople into the Levant. Their first mistake was to follow the route the first Crusaders took some years before instead of the route Manuel suggested. On the way south, Conrad divided his soldiers into two teams and allowed the Bishop of Freising to lead the infantrymen into another route. They had not even left Asia Minor when Conrad’s troops were defeated by the Seljuk Turks, while Otto’s soldiers were defeated later on.

“The Siege of Antioch”

The King Louis VII’s army left Constantinople some time later, but they, too, were unlucky. They travelled through the western route to the city of Attalia, many of Louis’ men died after they faced a harsh winter. Seljuk raiders also attacked them on the way south, and Louis (just like Conrad) had to continue with fewer men in the ranks. Louis and his remaining men were forced to travel to Antioch by sea instead of land.

Louis VII and his men arrived in Antioch in March of 1148. The city was ruled by Raymond of Poitiers (who also happened to be Eleanor of Aquitaine’s uncle), and he asked Louis to help him recapture the city of Edessa from Zengi. Although it was the original goal of the Second Crusade, Louis refused to help Raymond. He decided to march his men to Jerusalem instead. He also refused to help Count Raymond of Tripoli beat back the invaders of his tiny domain.

Many Europeans were unhappy with the results of Second Crusade in the Levant when news of the disaster reached them. Most of the blame fell to Bernard of Clairvaux and the pope for encouraging the Crusade. Some people blamed Manuel I Komnenos as they thought that he did not help the Crusaders. Even the success of the Crusade against the Wendish people of Europe and the Reconquista efforts in Portugal were not enough to keep the people from blaming them in their part in the disastrous Second Crusade.

Picture By Jean ColombeAdam Bishop, copied from, Public Domain, Link
“Eugene III: Summons to A Crusade, Dec 1, 1154.” Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Accessed November 16, 2016.
Madden, Thomas F., ed. Crusades: The Illustrated History. Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2004.
Setton, Kenneth M., and Marshall W. Setton, eds. A History of the Crusades: The First Hundred Years. Vol. 1. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
“William of Tyre: The Fall of Edessa.” Internet History Sourcebooks Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
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