History Of The Christian Church (1892) Philip Schaff


§ 52. The Fall of Edessa and the Second Crusade

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§ 52. The Fall of Edessa and the Second Crusade.


The Second Crusade was led by two sovereigns, the emperor Konrad III. and Louis VII. of France, and owed its origin to the profound impression made in Europe by the fall of Edessa and the zealous eloquence of St. Bernard. Edessa, the outer citadel of the Crusader’s conquests, fell, December, 1144. Jocelyn II., whose father, Jocelyn I., succeeded Baldwin as proprietor of Edessa, was a weak and pleasure-loving prince. The besiegers built a fire in a breach in the wall, a piece of which, a hundred yards long, cracked with the flames and fell. An appalling massacre followed the inrush of the Turks, under Zengi, whom the Christians called the Sanguinary.398

Eugenius III. rightly regarded Zengi’s victory as a threat to the continuance of the Franks in Palestine, and called upon the king of France to march to their relief. The forgiveness of all sins and life eternal were promised to all embarking on the enterprise who should die confessing their sins.399  The pope also summoned Bernard to leave his convent, and preach the crusade. Bernard, the most conspicuous personage of his age, was in the zenith of his fame. He regarded the summons as a call from God,400 and proved to be a leader worthy of the cause.

At Easter tide, 1146, Louis, who had before, in remorse for his burning the church at Vitry with thirteen hundred persons, promised to go on a crusade, assembled a great council at Vézelai. Bernard was present and made such an overpowering impression by his address that the bearers pressed forward to receive crosses. He himself was obliged to out his robe to pieces to meet the demand.401  Writing to Eugenius, he was able to say that the enthusiasm was so great that "castles and towns were emptied of their inmates. One man could hardly be found for seven women, and the women were being everywhere widowed while their husbands were still alive."

From France Bernard proceeded to Basel and Constance and the cities along the Rhine, as far as Cologne. As in the case of the First Crusade, a persecution was started against the Jews on the Rhine by a monk, Radulph. Bernard firmly set himself against the fanaticism and wrote that the Church should attempt to gain the Jews by discussion, and not destroy them by the sword.

Thousands flocked to hear the fervent preacher, who added miraculous healings to the impression of his eloquence. The emperor Konrad himself was deeply moved and won. During Christmas week at Spires, Bernard preached before him an impassionate discourse. "What is there, O man," he represented Christ as saying, seated in judgment upon the imperial hearer at the last day,—"What is there which I ought to have done for thee and have not done?"  He contrasted the physical prowess,402 the riches, and the honors of the emperor with the favor of the supreme judge of human actions. Bursting into tears, the emperor exclaimed: "I shall henceforth not be found ungrateful to God’s mercy. I am ready to serve Him, seeing I am admonished by Him." Of all his miracles Bernard esteemed the emperor’s decision the chief one.

Konrad at once prepared for the expedition. Seventy thousand armed men, seven thousand of whom were knights, assembled at Regensburg, and proceeded through Hungary to the Bosphorus, meeting with a poor reception along the route. The Greek emperor Manuel and Konrad were brothers-in-law, having married sisters, but this tie was no protection to the Germans. Guides, provided by Manuel, "children of Belial" as William of Tyre calls them, treacherously led them astray in the Cappadocian mountains.403  Famine, fever, and the attacks of the enemy were so disastrous that when the army fell back upon Nicaea, not more than one-tenth of its original number remained.

Louis received the oriflamme from Eugenius’s own hands at St. Denis, Easter, 1147, and followed the same route taken by Konrad. His queen, Eleanor, famed for her beauty, and many ladies of the court accompanied the army. The two sovereigns met at Nicaea and proceeded together to Ephesus. Konrad returned to Constantinople by ship, and Louis, after reaching Attalia, left the body of his army to proceed by land, and sailed to Antioch.

At Antioch, Eleanor laid herself open to the serious charge of levity, if not to infidelity to her marriage vow. She and the king afterward publicly separated at Jerusalem, and later were divorced by the pope. Eleanor was then joined to Henry of Anjou, and later became the queen of Henry II. of England. Konrad, who reached Acre by ship from Constantinople, met Louis at Jerusalem, and in company with Baldwin III. the two sovereigns from the West offered their devotions in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. At a council of the three held under the walls of Acre,404 they decided to direct their arms against Damascus before proceeding to the more distant Edessa. The route was by way of Lake Tiberias and over the Hermon. The siege ended in complete failure, owing to the disgraceful quarrels between the camps and the leaders, and the claim of Thierry, count of Flanders, who had been in the East twice before, to the city as his own. Konrad started back for Germany, September, 1148. Louis, after spending the winter in Jerusalem, broke away the following spring. Bernard felt the humiliation of the failure keenly, and apologized for it by ascribing it to the judgment of God for the sins of the Crusaders and of the Christian world. "The judgments of the Lord are just," he wrote, "but this one is an abyss so deep that I dare to pronounce him blessed who is not scandalized by it."405  As for the charge that he was responsible for the expedition, Bernard exclaimed, "Was Moses to blame, in the wilderness, who promised to lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land?  Was it not rather the sins of the people which interrupted the progress of their journey?"

Edessa remained lost to the Crusaders, and Damascus never fell into their power.

§ 53. The Third Crusade. 1189–1192.


The Third Crusade was undertaken to regain Jerusalem, which had been lost to Saladin, 1187. It enjoys the distinction of having had for its leaders the three most powerful princess of Western Europe, the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus, king of France, and the English king Richard I., surnamed Coeur de Lion, or the Lion-hearted.406  It brought together the chivalry of the East and the West at the time of its highest development and called forth the heroism of two of the bravest soldiers of any age, Saladin and Richard. It has been more widely celebrated in romance than any of the other Crusades, from the songs of the mediaeval minstrels to Lessing in his Nathan the Wise and Walter Scott in Talisman. But in spite of the splendid armaments, the expedition was almost a complete failure.

On the news of Saladin’s victories, Urban III. is alleged to have died of grief.407  An official summons was hardly necessary to stir the crusading ardor of Europe from one end to the other. Danes, Swedes, and Frisians joined with Welshmen, Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans in readiness for a new expedition. A hundred years had elapsed since the First Crusade, and its leaders were already invested with a halo of romance and glory. The aged Gregory VIII., whose reign lasted less than two months, 1187, spent his expiring breath in an appeal to the princes to desist from their feuds. Under the influence of William, archbishop of Tyre, and the archbishop of Rouen, Philip Augustus of France and Henry II. of England laid aside their quarrels and took the cross. At Henry’s death his son Richard, then thirty-two years of age, set about with impassioned zeal to make preparations for the Crusade. The treasure which Henry had left, Richard augmented by sums secured from the sale of castles and bishoprics.408  For ten thousand marks he released William of Scotland from homage, and he would have sold London itself, so he said, if a purchaser rich enough had offered himself.409  Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, supported his sovereign, preaching the Crusade in England and Wales, and accompanied the expedition.410  The famous Saladin tax was levied in England, and perhaps also in France, requiring the payment of a tithe by all not joining the Crusade.

Richard and Philip met at Vézelai. Among the great lords who joined them were Hugh, duke of Burgundy, Henry II., count of Champagne, and Philip of Flanders. As a badge for himself and his men, the French king chose a red cross, Richard a white cross, and the duke of Flanders a green cross.

In the meantime Frederick Barbarossa, who was on the verge of seventy, had reached the Bosphorus. Mindful of his experiences with Konrad III., whom he accompanied on the Second Crusade, he avoided the mixed character of Konrad’s army by admitting to the ranks only those who were physically strong and had at least three marks. The army numbered one hundred thousand, of whom fifty thousand sat in the saddle. Frederick of Swabia accompanied his father, the emperor.

Setting forth from Ratisbon in May, 1189, the German army had proceeded by way of Hungary to Constantinople. The Greek emperor, Isaac Angelus, far from regarding the Crusaders’ approach with favor, threw Barbarossa’s commissioners into prison and made a treaty with Saladin.411  He coolly addressed the western emperor as "the first prince of Germany." The opportunity was afforded Frederick of uniting the East and West once more under a single sceptre. Wallachians and Servians promised him their support if he would dethrone Isaac and take the crown. But though there was provocation enough, Frederick refused to turn aside from his purpose, the reconquest of Jerusalem,412 and in March, 1190, his troops were transferred across the Bosphorus. He took Iconium, and reached Cilicia. There his career was brought to a sudden termination on June 10 in the waters of the Kalycadnus river into which he had plunged to cool himself.413  His flesh was buried at Antioch, and his bones, intended for the crypts of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, were deposited in the church of St. Peter, Tyre. A lonely place, indeed, for the ashes of the mighty monarch, and far removed from those of his great predecessor, Charlemagne at Aachen!  Scarcely ever has a life so eminent had such a tragic and deplored ending. In right imperial fashion, Frederick had sent messengers ahead, calling upon Saladin to abandon Jerusalem and deliver up the true cross. With a demoralized contingent, Frederick of Swabia reached the walls of Acre, where he soon after became a victim of the plague, October, 1190.

Philip and Richard reached the Holy Land by the Mediterranean. They sailed for Sicily, 1190, Philip from Genoa, Richard from Marseilles. Richard found employment on the island in asserting the rights of his sister Joan, widow of William II. of Sicily, who had been robbed of her dower by William’s illegitimate son, Tancred. "Quicker than priest can chant matins did King Richard take Messina."414  In spite of armed disputes between Richard and Philip, the two kings came to an agreement to defend each other on the Crusades. Among the curious stipulations of this agreement was one that only knights and the clergy were to be allowed to play games for money, and the amount staked on any one day was not to exceed twenty shillings.

Leaving Sicily,415 whence Philip had sailed eleven days before, Richard proceeded to Cyprus, and as a punishment for the ill treatment of pilgrims and the stranding of his vessels, he wrested the kingdom in a three weeks’ campaign from Isaac Comnenus. The English at their occupation of Cyprus, 1878, might well have recalled Richard’s conquest. On the island, Richard’s nuptials were consummated with Berengaria of Navarre, whom he preferred to Philip’s sister Alice, to whom he had been betrothed. In June he reached Acre. "For joy at his coming," says Baha-ed-din, the Arab historian, "the Franks broke forth in rejoicing, and lit fires in their camps all night through. The hosts of the Mussulmans were filled with fear and dread."416

Acre, or Ptolemais, under Mount Carmel, had become the metropolis of the Crusaders, as it was the key to the Holy Land. Christendom had few capitals so gay in its fashions and thronged with such diverse types of nationality. Merchants were there from the great commercial marts of Europe. The houses, placed among gardens, were rich with painted glass. The Hospitallers and Templars had extensive establishments.

Against Acre, Guy of Lusignan had been laying siege for two years. Released by Saladin upon condition of renouncing all claim to his crown and going beyond the seas, he had secured easy absolution from the priest from this solemn oath. Baldwin of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, bishop of Salisbury, and the justiciar Ranulf of Glanvill had arrived on the scene before Richard. "We found our army," wrote the archbishop’s chaplain,417 "given up to shameful practices, and yielding to ease and lust, rather than encouraging virtue. The Lord is not in the camp. Neither chastity, solemnity, faith, nor charity are there—a state of things which, I call God to witness, I would not have believed if I had not seen it with my own eyes."

Saladin was watching the besiegers and protecting the garrison. The horrors of the siege made it one of the memorable sieges of the Middle Ages.418  It was carried on from the sea as well as on the land. Greek fire was used with great effect by the Turks.419  The struggle was participated in by women as well as the men. Some Crusaders apostatized to get the means for prolonging life.420  With the aid of the huge machine Check Greek, and other engines constructed by Richard in Sicily, and by Philip, the city was made to surrender, July, 1191. By the terms of the capitulation the city’s stores, two hundred thousand pieces of gold, fifteen hundred prisoners, and the true cross were to pass into the hands of the Crusaders.

The advance upon Jerusalem was delayed by rivalries between the armies and their leaders. Richard’s prowess, large means, and personal popularity threw Philip into the shade, and he was soon on his way back to France, leaving the duke of Burgundy as leader of the French. The French and Germans also quarrelled.421  A fruitful source of friction was the quarrel between Guy of Lusignan and Conrad of Montferrat over the crown of Jerusalem, until the matter was finally settled by Conrad’s murder and the recognition of Guy as king of Cyprus, and Henry of Champagne, the nephew of both Richard and Philip Augustus, as king of Jerusalem.

A dark blot rests upon Richard’s memory for the murder in cold blood of twenty-seven hundred prisoners in the full sight of Saladin’s troops and as a punishment for the non-payment of the ransom money. The massacre, a few days before, of Christian captives, if it really occurred, in part explains but cannot condone the crime.422

Jaffa and Ascalon became the next points of the Crusaders’ attack, the operations being drawn out to a wearisome length. Richard’s feats of physical strength and martial skill are vouched for by eye-witnesses, who speak of him as cutting swathes through the enemy with his sword and mowing them down, "as the reapers mow down the corn with their sickles." So mighty was his strength that, when a Turkish admiral rode at him in full charge, Richard severed his neck and one shoulder by a single blow. But the king’s dauntless though coarse courage was not joined to the gifts of a leader fit for such a campaign.423  His savage war shout, "God and the Holy Sepulchre aid us," failed to unite the troops cloven by jealousies and to establish military discipline. The camps were a scene of confusion. Women left behind by Richard’s order at Acre came up to corrupt the army, while day after day "its manifold sins, drunkenness, and luxury increased." Once and perhaps twice Richard came so near the Holy City that he might have looked down into it had he so chosen.424  But, like Philip Augustus, he never passed through its gates, and after a signal victory at Joppa he closed his military achievements in Palestine. A treaty, concluded with Saladin, assured to the Christians for three years the coast from Tyre to Joppa, and protection to pilgrims in Jerusalem and on their way to the city. In October, 1192, the king, called back by the perfidy of his brother John, set sail from Acre amid the laments of those who remained behind, but not until he had sent word to Saladin that he intended to return to renew the contest.

The exploits of the English king won even the admiration of the Arabs, whose historian reports how he rode up and down in front of the Saracen army defying them, and not a man dared to touch him. Presents passed between him and Saladin.425  One who accompanied the Third Crusade ascribes to him the valor of Hector, the magnanimity of Achilles, the prudence of Odysseus, the eloquence of Nestor, and equality with Alexander. French writers of the thirteenth century tell how Saracen mothers, long after Richard had returned to England, used to frighten their children into obedience or silence by the spell of his name, so great was the dread he had inspired. Destitute of the pious traits of Godfrey and Louis IX., Richard nevertheless stands, by his valor, muscular strength, and generous mind, in the very front rank of conspicuous Crusaders.

On his way back to England he was seized by Leopold, duke of Austria, whose enmity he had incurred before Joppa. The duke turned his captive over to the emperor, Henry VI., who had a grudge to settle growing out of Sicilian matters. Richard was released only on the humiliating terms of paying an enormous ransom and consenting to hold his kingdom as a fief of the empire. Saladin died March 4, 1193, by far the most famous of the foes of the Crusaders. Christendom has joined with Arab writers in praise of his chivalric courage, culture, and magnanimity.426  What could be more courteous than his granting the request of Hubert Walter for the station of two Latin priests in the three churches of the Holy Sepulchre, Nazareth, and Bethlehem?427

The recapture of Acre and the grant of protection to the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem were paltry achievements in view of the loss of life, the long months spent in making ready for the Crusade, the expenditure of money, and the combination of the great nations of Europe. In this case, as in the other Crusades, it was not so much the Saracens, or even the splendid abilities of Saladin, which defeated the Crusaders, but their feuds among themselves. Never again did so large an army from the West contend for the cross on Syrian soil.





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