The Second Crusade (1145-1149) was an extraordinary attempt to fight Muslim non believers on three separate fronts. The Christian Crusader armies set out to defeat the Muslims who had captured the Holy Lands in Iberia, but they also wanted to defeat the Pagans armies in North-eastern Europe at the same time. To the shock and horror of medieval society who had high expectations and that were raised on the triumphant legacy of the First Crusade, surprisingly it was only in Iberia that they had any victories.
The Christian crusaders who had recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem in 1099 had become lazy and had taken for granted their position, many of the original crusaders had also returned to Europe which had further weakened their numbers in the Holy Lands. This weakening of the crusaders had obviously been noticed by the Muslim armies who were determined to recapture the Holy Lands and the city of Jerusalem.
Second crusade | Edessa
A large city in the Christian Holy lands called Edessa was recaptured by the invading armies of the Muslim leader Zengi. The Muslim leaders armies slaughtered and killed all the Western Christians they could find, however they spared Christians from the Byzantine Empire and the East which enraged the western church and its leaders. In 1144 Pope Eugenius announced that a new Christian army would be formed and this would lead to a second crusade to capture the Holy lands.
Map of the lands around the time of 2nd crusade
Bernard of Clairvaux
It was mainly down to the charismatic and persuasive powers of Benard Clairvaux that the second crusade happened, before he entered the fray there was not much interest in the second crusade to the Holy Lands. Benard Clairvaux powers of persuasion were almost mystical and he managed to persuade important people to raise armies for this worthy cause against all odds. People believed that they would be rewarded by God for their service and they believed that it was unthinkable that Muslim non-believers now controlled the Holy Lands.
The second crusade | The King’s armies
History describes the size of the armies for the second crusade as being around 1 million people, although this seems incredible it is possibly true. Kings Louis VII and Roman Emperor Conrad II both join forces in amassing this incredible army and in 1145 the second crusade was launched.
Second crusade | The Damascus attack
The second crusade was actually a complete disaster, on their way to confront the Muslim invaders of Edessa the large Christian army attacked the city of Damascus instead which was home to Muslims who were known to be friendly towards the Christian crusaders. This was a terrible mistake on the crusaders part as it united the Muslims in their efforts against the Christian crusaders. The crusaders did not even enter the city of Damascus during this attack, they just packed up their bags and left.
The rise of Saladin in the second crusade
The attack on the city of Damascus during the second Crusades helped the rise of the great Muslim leader Saladin as it made his job of uniting all Muslim forces together under one great leader much easier. Saladin was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim who was able to build a great and all conquering Muslim army.
The Second Crusade in Edessa
Saladin the great conqueror
There is no doubt that the second Crusades were a disaster and helped create the great Muslim armies that were now able to conquer Egypt and the Christian Knights of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was in fact captured again by the Muslim armies in the year 1149. Saladin was a great Muslim leader, but he was also ruthless and allowed untrained people to behead the Christian Knights that were captured by the Muslim armies. The Christian Knights suffered terribly and usually bled to death before their heads were eventually hacked off.
Second crusade facts:
The second crusade started in the year 1145
It is believed that 1 million people took part in the second crusade
King Louis VII and Roman Emporer Conrad II both led armies on the second crusade
The second crusade was a complete disaster and united the Muslim armies against the crusaders
The second crusade gave rise to the great Muslim leader Saladin
The united Muslim armies and Saladin conquered Egypt