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History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
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§ 52. The Fall of Edessa and the Second Crusade.


Literature.—Odo of Deuil (near Paris), chaplain of Louis VII.: De profectione Ludovici VII. in Orientem 1147–1149 in Migne, 185, translated by Guizot: Collection, XXIV. pp. 279–384.—Otto of Freising, d. 1158, half brother of Konrad III. and uncle of Fred. Barbarossa: Chronicon, bk. VII., translated in Pertz-Wattenbach, Geschichtschreiber der Deutschen Vorzeit, Leipzig, 1881. Otto accompanied the Crusade.—Kugler: Gesch. des 2ten Kreuzzuges, Stuttgart, 1866.—The De consideratione and De militibus Christi of Bernard and the Biographies of Bernard by Neander, ed. by Deutsch, II. 81–116; Morison, Pp. 366–400; Storrs, p. 416 sqq.; Vacandard, II. 270–318, 431 sqq. F. Marion Crawford has written a novel on this Crusade: Via Crucis, a Story of the Second Crusade, N. Y., 1899.


The Second Crusade was led by two sovereigns, the emperor Konrad III. and Louis VII. of France, and owed its origin to the profound impression made in Europe by the fall of Edessa and the zealous eloquence of St. Bernard. Edessa, the outer citadel of the Crusader’s conquests, fell, December, 1144. Jocelyn II., whose father, Jocelyn I., succeeded Baldwin as proprietor of Edessa, was a weak and pleasure-loving prince. The besiegers built a fire in a breach in the wall, a piece of which, a hundred yards long, cracked with the flames and fell. An appalling massacre followed the inrush of the Turks, under Zengi, whom the Christians called the Sanguinary.399399    See Otto of Freising, VII. 30.

Eugenius III. rightly regarded Zengi’s victory as a threat to the continuance of the Franks in Palestine, and called upon the king of France to march to their relief. The forgiveness of all sins and life eternal were promised to all embarking on the enterprise who should die confessing their sins.400400    Gottlob, Kreuzablass, 106 sqq. Eugenius quoted Urban II’s decree of indulgence at Clermont. preach the crusade. Bernard, the most conspicuous personage of his age, was in the zenith of his fame. He regarded the summons as a call from God,401401    De consideratione, II. 1, Reinkens’translation, pp. 31-37. In this chapter of his famous tract, Bernard explains and justifies his course in the Crusade.

At Easter tide, 1146, Louis, who had before, in remorse for his burning the church at Vitry with thirteen hundred persons, promised to go on a crusade, assembled a great council at Vézelai. Bernard was present and made such an overpowering impression by his address that the bearers pressed forward to receive crosses. He himself was obliged to out his robe to pieces to meet the demand.402402    Odo, I. 1, caeperunt undique conclamando cruces expetere ... coactus est vestes suas in cruces scindere et seminare.es. One man could hardly be found for seven women, and the women were being everywhere widowed while their husbands were still alive."

From France Bernard proceeded to Basel and Constance and the cities along the Rhine, as far as Cologne. As in the case of the First Crusade, a persecution was started against the Jews on the Rhine by a monk, Radulph. Bernard firmly set himself against the fanaticism and wrote that the Church should attempt to gain the Jews by discussion, and not destroy them by the sword.

Thousands flocked to hear the fervent preacher, who added miraculous healings to the impression of his eloquence. The emperor Konrad himself was deeply moved and won. During Christmas week at Spires, Bernard preached before him an impassionate discourse. "What is there, O man," he represented Christ as saying, seated in judgment upon the imperial hearer at the last day,—"What is there which I ought to have done for thee and have not done?" He contrasted the physical prowess,403403    As a proof of Konrad’s strength, William of Tyre, XVII. 4, relates that at the siege of Damascus he hewed a man clad in armor through head, neck, and shoulder to the armpit with one stroke of his blade.he emperor with the favor of the supreme judge of human actions. Bursting into tears, the emperor exclaimed: "I shall henceforth not be found ungrateful to God’s mercy. I am ready to serve Him, seeing I am admonished by Him." Of all his miracles Bernard esteemed the emperor’s decision the chief one.

Konrad at once prepared for the expedition. Seventy thousand armed men, seven thousand of whom were knights, assembled at Regensburg, and proceeded through Hungary to the Bosphorus, meeting with a poor reception along the route. The Greek emperor Manuel and Konrad were brothers-in-law, having married sisters, but this tie was no protection to the Germans. Guides, provided by Manuel, "children of Belial" as William of Tyre calls them, treacherously led them astray in the Cappadocian mountains.404404    Bk. XVI. 20. William suggests that Manuel’s jealousy was aroused because Konrad asserted the title, king of the Romans. Diehl, Essays on the Crusades, p. 107, doubts the statement that Manuel’s guides intentionally misled and betrayed the Germans. He, however, acknowledges that Greek inhabitants of Asia Minor "fleeced or starved the Latins."

Louis received the oriflamme from Eugenius’s own hands at St. Denis, Easter, 1147, and followed the same route taken by Konrad. His queen, Eleanor, famed for her beauty, and many ladies of the court accompanied the army. The two sovereigns met at Nicaea and proceeded together to Ephesus. Konrad returned to Constantinople by ship, and Louis, after reaching Attalia, left the body of his army to proceed by land, and sailed to Antioch.

At Antioch, Eleanor laid herself open to the serious charge of levity, if not to infidelity to her marriage vow. She and the king afterward publicly separated at Jerusalem, and later were divorced by the pope. Eleanor was then joined to Henry of Anjou, and later became the queen of Henry II. of England. Konrad, who reached Acre by ship from Constantinople, met Louis at Jerusalem, and in company with Baldwin III. the two sovereigns from the West offered their devotions in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. At a council of the three held under the walls of Acre,405405    William of Tyre, XVII., gives a list of the distinguished personages present, Bishop Otto of Freising, the emperor’s brother, being among them.e distant Edessa. The route was by way of Lake Tiberias and over the Hermon. The siege ended in complete failure, owing to the disgraceful quarrels between the camps and the leaders, and the claim of Thierry, count of Flanders, who had been in the East twice before, to the city as his own. Konrad started back for Germany, September, 1148. Louis, after spending the winter in Jerusalem, broke away the following spring. Bernard felt the humiliation of the failure keenly, and apologized for it by ascribing it to the judgment of God for the sins of the Crusaders and of the Christian world. "The judgments of the Lord are just," he wrote, "but this one is an abyss so deep that I dare to pronounce him blessed who is not scandalized by it."406406    De consideratione, II. 1. he was responsible for the expedition, Bernard exclaimed, "Was Moses to blame, in the wilderness, who promised to lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land? Was it not rather the sins of the people which interrupted the progress of their journey?"

Edessa remained lost to the Crusaders, and Damascus never fell into their power.



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