The main trigger for the Second Crusade

The fall and Turkish occupation of the County of Edessa, founded by Christians during the First Crusade, was the main trigger for the Second Crusade.

Despite the fact that it was a fortified city, the defenses that the Turks found in it did not go beyond humble artisans and peasants, as well as the Bishop, so it fell into the hands of Imad al-Din Zangi at the end of the year 1144, although the news it would still take a year to reach Pope Eugene III. Edessa was the first Christian stronghold founded during the First Crusade and was an important place of pilgrimage, as well as being fundamental in the defense of the other conquered places.

With this background, the Second Crusade was proclaimed on December 1, 1145 through the bull “Quantum Praedecessores”, the work of preaching being entrusted to Abbot Bernardo de Claraval, who would be elevated to the category of saint due to the large number of volunteers who managed to gather, in the name of Christianity and with the promise of total absolution of all sins. On this occasion the Crusade was led by Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, leaving Pope Eugenius III in the background.

Conrad III set out from Germany in May 1147 with his army in the direction of Edessa, along the same route followed by their predecessors in the First Crusade, but they had the wrong choice of stopping to rest in the city of Dorilea, the place where they were attacked. by surprise by the Seljuks. The remains of the army and Conrad III himself were forced to escape to the city of Nicaea to save their lives.

For their part, the troops of Louis VII who left from Metz had better luck, although with the setback that hunger overtook them due to the lack of provisions and a very uncombatant attitude on the part of the king, since he was making the trip more for the personal atonement of his sins than for a military victory.

The contingents assembled and the kings decided that instead of reconquering the lost city of Edessa they would go directly to Jerusalem as it was a much more important objective, and they skirted the Mediterranean coast as they considered it the safest route. Along the way they attacked Damascus, which was then allied with the King of Jerusalem and soon asked the governor of Aleppo, Saif ad-Din Ghazi I, for reinforcements.

The cross attack on Damascus came on July 23 from the West, a place where they were able to get supplies thanks to the orchards and pantries installed there. Despite the constant attacks of the Muslims, the crusader armies managed to reach the very walls of the city and began to besiege the city. On the 27th they moved their troops to the East of Damascus as it was a much less fortified area and more scarce in food, but the arrival of Nur ad-Din prevented them from recovering their original position to the West. The crusaders had no choice but to leave behind their desire to conquer Damascus (which was conquered by Nur al-Din himself) and marched towards Jerusalem, where another resounding failure after a week of fruitless siege put an end to hopes. of the Christians.

During the year 1171 one of Nur al-Din’s nephews named Saladin is proclaimed Sultan of Egypt and Syria is annexed, leaving the Christian kingdom completely surrounded and causing the fall of Jerusalem in 1187. This would be the seed from which the Third would be born. Crusade.

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