The Second Crusade - Saint Bernard

1147-1149. Beginning in the late 1120's, Sangi, governor of Mosul on the Tigris, succeeded in unifying the local Moslem rulers of the region. Christians suffered great losses and in 1144, he took Edessa, the first of the Crusader cities to fall. Sangi was assassinated 2 years later but the re-conquest had already begun. The dangerous concentration of power in the hands of Nureddin (sultan of Aleppo and Damascus) & the capture of Edessa caused the preaching of the second Crusade to relieve the pressure of Frankish states before they were swept away completely...

Bernard himself preached the so-called "Second Crusade." An extraordinary pervasive man, he induced thousands of fighting men to put on the cross. Inspired by the reforming monk over the loss of Edessa, he aroused enormous enthusiasm, and for the first time western Monarchs, namely King Louis VII of France and King Conrad III of Germany, came to the east.

As the German and French armies passed through Constantinople, relations with the Byzantines were worse than ever. The Crusade proved to be a shattering failure. The main force of this expedition was cut to pieces as it moved across Asia Minor. The western armies were almost wiped out in Asia Minor. At first St. Bernard had boasted his success in recruiting, "Because of my preaching, towns and castles are empty of inhabitants". Afterward he laments "We have fallen on evil days in which the Lord, provoked by our sins, has judged the world, with justice, indeed, but not with his wonted mercy." Bernard, convinced that his cause was just, concluded that the failure must have been due to the sinfulness of the crusaders. Bernard had to encounter the storm of public indignation; he was stigmatized as a lying prophet, who, by pretended inspiration and false miracles, had lured myriads to a miserable doom.. pointing out the true causes of the failure, the follies and vices of the crusaders themselves, he asserted that a new expedition, under-taken in a spirit of piety, would be crowned with success and urged the states of Christendom to combine in one great effort for securing the kingdom of Jerusalem.

The siege of Damascus failed, and the princes returned home having effected nothing. Bernard was charged by his former pupil, Pope Eugenius III, to stir up enthusiasm for a new Crusade. Again Constantinople was chose as the meeting point, but there was even less mutual cooperation this time than there had been before between the newcomers and the Byzantines. The Crusaders accused the latter of having deliberately misguided and betrayed them into the hands of the Turks. Germans thoroughly defeated in Asia Minor and obliged to retreat to the coast. The French who arrived somewhat later, were also hard pressed, prompting St. Bernard to describe the campaign as "an abyss so deep that I must call him blessed who is not scandalized thereby."
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