Main Events and Historical Impact of The Second Crusade

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 Holylands in Iberia, but they also wanted to defeat the Pagans armies in North-eastern Europe at the same time.


“The Second Crusade was the first great international crisis of the High Middle Ages.”

Jonathan Phillips, Professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London

Although Christians had high expectations that were raised on the triumphant legacy of the First Crusade, surprisingly it was only in Iberia that they had any victories.


Tales are told of how the Christian crusaders who had recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem in 1099 became lazy and took for granted their position, many of the original crusaders had also returned to Europe which further weakened their numbers in the Holylands.

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.

Prelude to the 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 Holylands.

Second 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.

“The Second Crusade was marked by a series of military defeats and missed opportunities.”

Christopher Tyerman, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford
Map 2nd crusade

Bernard Clairvaux’s powers of persuasion were almost mystical and he managed to persuade important people to raise armies for this worthy cause against all odds.

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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.

Second Crusade *The King’s Armies

Historians describe the armies of the second crusade as being large with 20,000 German knights and many others from around Europe.

Kings Louis VII and Roman Emperor Conrad II both joined forces in amassing an incredible army and in 1145 the second crusade was launched.


“The Second Crusade was a failure in every sense.”

Steven Runciman, Historian and Author of “A History of the Crusades

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.

Rise of Saladin – 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.

Great Muslim Leader Saladin

Saladin was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim who was able to build a great and all-conquering Muslim army.

Second Crusade Edessa

“The Second Crusade was a pivotal moment in the history of the Crusades, demonstrating the limitations of Christian military power in the Holy Land.”

Helen Nicholson, Senior Lecturer in History at Cardiff University

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 Second Crusade was a complex and multifaceted event, shaped by a variety of political, religious, and economic factors.”

Jonathan Riley-Smith, Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Cambridge and one of the world’s leading authorities on the Crusades.

The Christian Knights suffered terribly and usually bled to death before their heads were eventually hacked off.

5 Good Books about the Second Crusade

“The Second Crusade: Extending the Frontiers of Christendom” by Jonathan Phillips
This book provides a comprehensive and detailed account of the Second Crusade, exploring the political, religious, and military factors that shaped the event.

“The Crusades: A History” by Jonathan Riley-Smith
This book provides an overview of the Crusades as a whole, including a detailed analysis of the Second Crusade and its impact on European history.

“The Second Crusade and the Cistercians” by Michael Gervers
This book examines the role of the Cistercian order in the Second Crusade, exploring their motivations and contributions to the event.

“The Second Crusade: Holy War on the Periphery of Latin Christendom” by Conor Kostick
This book provides a detailed analysis of the Second Crusade and its impact on the periphery of Latin Christendom, including the Baltic region and eastern Europe.

“The Second Crusade: Scope and Consequences” edited by Jonathan Phillips and Martin Hoch
This collection of essays brings together the latest research on the Second Crusade, exploring its impact on European and Middle Eastern history, as well as its cultural and religious significance.

These books offer a range of perspectives on the Second Crusade, from detailed accounts of the event to broader analyses of its impact on European and Middle Eastern history. They are written by experts in the field and provide a thorough and informative overview of this important historical

Second Crusade Edessa

10 Historic Sites to Visit to Experience the Second Crusades

1. Damascus Citadel, Syria
The Citadel of Damascus was attacked by the Crusaders during the Second Crusade, but they were unable to capture it.

2. Crusader Castle of Montfort, Israel
Built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, this castle played a key role in the Crusaders’ defense against Muslim forces during the Second Crusade.

3. Castle of St. Peter, Bodrum, Turkey
Built by the Knights Hospitaller in the early 15th century, this castle was a key stronghold for the Crusaders during the Second Crusade.

4. Cathedral of Saint-Etienne, Metz, France
This cathedral was built during the 13th century and contains several artifacts from the Second Crusade, including a piece of the True Cross.

5. Citadel of Tripoli, Lebanon
This citadel was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and was a key point of defense during the Second Crusade.

6. Cathedral of Saint-Trophime, Arles, France
This cathedral was built in the 12th century and contains several Romanesque sculptures that were created during the Second Crusade.

7. Citadel of Ascalon, Israel
This citadel was a major target of the Crusaders during the Second Crusade, and was eventually captured by them after a lengthy siege.

8. Church of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France
This church was built in the 11th century and was a key pilgrimage site for Crusaders during the Second Crusade.

9. Castle of Ibelin, Israel
Built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, this castle was a key point of defense during the Second Crusade.

10. Abbey of Fontenay, France:
This abbey was founded in the 12th century and contains several artifacts and relics from the Second Crusade.