Second Crusade - 1147 - 1149
The success of the Christians in the First Crusade had been largely due to the disunion among their enemies. But the Moslems learned in time the value of united action, and in 1144 A.D. succeeded in capturing Edessa, one of the principal Christian outposts in the East. The fall of the city of Edessa, followed by the loss of the entire county of Edessa, aroused western Europe to the danger which threatened the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and led to another crusading enterprise.
Second Crusade and the Origin of the Religious Orders of Knighthood
In the interval between the Second and the Third Crusade, the two famed religious military orders, known as the Hospitallers and the Templars, were formed. A little later, during the Third Crusade, still another fraternity, known as the Teutonic Knights was established. The objects of all the orders were the care of the sick and wounded crusaders, the entertainment of Christian pilgrims, the guarding of the holy places, and ceaseless battling for the Cross. These fraternities soon acquired a military fame that was spread throughout the Christian world. They were joined by many of the most illustrious knights of the West, and through the gifts of the pious acquired great wealth, and became possessed of numerous estates and castles in Europe as well as in Asia.
Medieval Religious Knights
The Cause of Second Crusade - The Fall and Massacre at Edessa
In the year 1146, the city of Edessa, the bulwark of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem on the side towards Mesopotamia, was taken by the Turks, and the entire population was slaughtered, or sold into slavery. This disaster threw the entire West into a state of the greatest alarm, lest the little Christian state, established at such cost of tears and suffering, should be completely overwhelmed, and all the holy places should again fall into the hands of the infidels.
Second Crusade - The Preaching of St. Bernard
The apostle of Second Crusade was the great abbot of Clairvaux, St. Bernard. Scenes of the wildest enthusiasm marked his preaching. The scenes that marked the opening of the First Crusade were now repeated in all the countries of the West. St. Bernard, an eloquent monk, was the second Peter the Hermit, who went everywhere, arousing the warriors of the Cross to the defence of the birthplace of their religion. When the churches were not large enough to hold the crowds which flocked to hear him, he spoke from platforms erected in the fields.
Second Crusade & King Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany
The contagion of the holy enthusiasm seized not only barons, knights, and the common people, which classes alone participated in the First Crusade, but kings and emperors were now infected with the sacred frenzy. St. Bernard's eloquence induced two monarchs, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, to take the blood-red cross of a crusader. Conrad III., emperor of Germany, was persuaded to leave the affairs of his distracted empire in the hands of God, and consecrate himself to the defence of the sepulchre of Christ. Louis VII., king of France, was led to undertake the crusade through remorse for an act of great cruelty that he had perpetrated upon some of his revolted subjects.
The Failure of Second Crusade
Second Crusade, though begun under the most favorable auspices, had an unhappy ending. Of the great host that set out from Europe, only a few thousands escaped annihilation in Asia Minor at the hands of the Turks. Louis and Conrad, with the remnants of their armies, made a joint attack on Damascus, but had to raise the siege after a few days. This closed the crusade. As a chronicler of the expedition remarked, "having practically accomplished nothing, the inglorious ones returned home." The strength of both the French and the German division of the expedition was wasted in Asia Minor, and the crusade accomplished nothing.
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