Assess the reasons for the failure of the second crusade (1147-1149)
In 1147, the Pope called for the second crusade, fully 200 thousand men answered his call. By 1149 the crusade beat a hasty and disgraced retreat. Just 1 year after being called it had failed. The failure happed straight after the disastrous siege of Damascus. The causes of the failure of the second crusade, are debated wildly by historians, such as Jonathan Riley Smith, Steven Runciman and Hans Mayer. Many Historians agree that there were three main causes for the “demise of the second crusade”, these are: The lack of competent leadership for the crusading forces, the lack of unity and clear objectives, and the lack of Byzantine support. The leadership of the crusade was a very prominent factor leading to the failure of the second crusade. King Louis VII of France was a “figurehead of this failure”, he is almost always blamed for the general failure of leadership by historians, such as Hans Mayer. Louis lacked a clear military objective. This was incredibly clear as his motivations for going on crusade, was not to recapture Edessa from after it fell in to the hands of Zengi in 1144, but as in penance for “his heinous crime of burning the church of Vitry in that same year”, which Christians would considered this sacrilege, treacherous and blasphemous. Knowing this many of Louis’ men were already low on moral before the actual crusade had started. This meant that they would not be fighting to their highest standards. Louis’ mistakes were “irretrievably stupid”. One was failing to provide strong leadership on the journey through Anatolia which lowered his forces moral even more. Then he abandoned his forces at Attalia, this would have made his men even angrier with him than they already were. While at a counsel in Antioch his mistakes cost the crusading forces a great deal, even more than they already had. He refused to help Raymond of Antioch attack Allepo, (then again you can’t really...
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