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The Second Crusade

This map is part of a series of 12 animated maps showing the history of Crusades.

In 1144, Zengi, the Turkish ruler of Mosul and Aleppo, laid siege to the fortified city of Edessa, capital of the eponymous county. By breaking down the walls, Zengi managed to capture the city. The news resounded like a thunderclap in the West and prompted the pope to organise a new crusade.

The preaching of the famous Bernard of Clairvaux galvanized the masses and persuaded the greatest princes of the West to take up the cross.

In May 1147, several hundred Flemish, Frisian and English ships set sail for the Holy Land. But first, they stopped to help the king of Portugal regain the city of Lisbon from the Muslims; for these crusaders, the fight against the Infidel began in the Iberian Peninsula. The ships did not resume their journey until February 1148.

In June 1147, the French army started out. For the first time, the king himself, Louis VII, went on crusade. He was accompanied by the cream of his nobility and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The German Emperor Conrad III set off at the same time in command of a large army. In September, he arrived in Constantinople ahead of the French and, without waiting for his allies, crossed the Bosporus and marched towards Edessa.

But the Germans were crushed by the Seljuk troops and the survivors joined the French army.

On 6 January 1148, the French army was defeated at the Battle of Mount Cadmos. The survivors struggled their way to the port of Antalya, where they set sail for Antioch.

After a brief stay in Antioch, Louis VII headed south to Jerusalem.

In June, the crusaders and the nobility of the Crusader states assembled a council in Acre. At this meeting, it was decided to besiege Damascus, a prestigious and strategically important city.

But the siege of Damascus was short-lived: it began on 24 July and ended with a crusader retreat four days later.

Conrad and Louis, sorely vexed, returned to the West after a crusade marked by military failures.