1147 The Second Crusade

Eastern Christians were unable to mirror the success of their Christian cousins in the West. By 1147, the year King Afonso I of Portugal took control of Lisbon from the Moors, the Turks had re-taken Palestine and were near to breaking through Constantinople’s three walls. Pilgrims from throughout Western Europe gathered for a Second Crusade. This time the Pope told the common folk to stay home and let the nobles and their trained armies forge the way.

The chief participants in the Second Crusade were King Louis VII of France, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine [who was still married to King Louis of France(1)], and King Conrad of Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor. Nobles from England, Hungary, Sicily, Flanders [Belgium] and Friesland joined in, too. The latter groups traveled by sea, stopping off at Portugal to illicit the support of the new king, Afonso I.

The majority of the Second Crusaders lost their lives along the road to Jerusalem. The Turks slaughtered most of those who made it to the city and tried to scale its walls. The few survivors returned to Europe utterly humiliated.


  1. Eleanor did not marry Henry, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou until 1152, two years before he became Henry II, King of England. [They were third cousins. He was nine years younger.] She had obtained an annulment from King Louis VII of France on the grounds that she only bore him daughters, no sons. With Henry, she had eight children: five sons – three became kings – and three daughters – one married Alfonso VIII and became Queen of Castile.

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