The Second Crusade
On Christmas Eve 1144, the city of Edessa was conquered by the armies of the Governor of Mosul leading to calls from the Pope to reclaim the city. On hearing of the news, at least six months later, the newly elected Pope Eugenius III set about writing to Louis VII of France, seeking his allegiance. At the time Louis was widely unpopular in France, notably as a result of his controversial decision to seize the lands of Theobald of Champagne in 1142. However, he was still close with Bernard of Clairvaux, a man he often sought for advice.
Clairvaux travelled the country throughout 1146 seeking support for the new Crusade, of which tens of thousands agreed to ‘take up the cross’. As the forces continued to grow, the Pope requested Bernard seek out Conrad III of Germany, at the time reluctant to go to war. Conrad proved easily convinced, following which a meeting took place with the King, the Pope, Bernard and over 250 Templars.
Conrad’s army were first to embark, suffering defeat to the Turks at Dorylaeum in October 1147. Conrad took what remained of his army, about 2,000 men, and joined with Louis’s army at Jerusalem. The forces continued with the intention of besieging Damascus, but the siege was abandoned due to a lack of supplies. Dismayed, Conrad returned to Constantinople, while Louis for the time being returned to Jerusalem. The Templars aside, the Crusade was criticised for the lack of togetherness among the crusaders, leading to their defeat. The King of France later wrote that the role of the Templars had been of pivotal importance, for had it not been for their leadership the capitulation could have been greater.