The Second Crusade

Origins of the Second Crusade

  • The Second Crusade (1147-1149) was a major military expedition to the Holy Land, primarily incited by the fall of the Crusader state, the County of Edessa, to the Muslims in 1144.
  • The news of Edessa’s fall reached Europe and Pope Eugenius III, who issued a crusading bull, encouraging religious and martial leaders to reclaim the lost territory.
  • Popular preaching, by religious figures like Bernard of Clairvaux, galvanised European Christendom towards this Crusade.

Key Figures of the Second Crusade

  • Unlike the First Crusade which was mostly led by minor nobles, the Second Crusade saw the active participation of two reigning kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany.
  • Besides the Pope, Bernard of Clairvaux played a key role in rallying support, earning him a reputation as the ‘second founder of the Templars’.

Course of the Crusade

  • Amidst unfavourable political alliances and lack of unity, the European forces split between different course of action.
  • Conrad III led the German forces towards Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), where they suffered a significant defeat by the Seljuk Turks in Dorylaeum in 1147.
  • The French, under Louis VII, fared no better in their march through Anatolia, losing many men to Seljuk attacks and the harsh terrain.
  • The Crusaders decided to focus their efforts onto Damascus, an ill-conceived strategy which ended in a failed siege and marked the end of the campaign.

Effects and Impact

  • The unsuccessful attempt of the Second Crusade served to embolden the Muslim states under leaders such as Nur ad-Din and Saladin.
  • European perceptions towards the Crusades began to change; criticism of the Crusaders’ conduct and questions about the motives and effectiveness of the Crusade emerged.
  • This marked a turning point in Crusading history, leading to an increased papal involvement in subsequent Crusades and setting the stage for the pivotal Third Crusade.