N.B. What follows is a brief essay/collection of quotations from Christian sources considering criticism of crusading in the wake of the failure of the Second Crusade. The success of the First Crusade had stifled such criticism, but the failure of the Second Crusade, led by Europe’s most important monarchs, led to soul searching about the cause of the failure, as well as finger pointing. This was originally written in 2005 for an old crusades website I used to run (e.g. “crusades-encyclopedia) while I was an ambitious M.A. graduate student at the University of North Florida. The website is no longer online, but I plan to resurrect it, in a more polished form, at some point in the future. But for now, this may be useful for those searching the web for information on this topic or as a link to supplementary reading for a crusades course, so I include it here in its original form.
The Search for Answers
Since Urban II’s calling of the First Crusade, popes and preachers had promised crusaders that they acted with divine sanction and that God would grant them significant spiritual rewards for their efforts. Pope Eugenius III and his preachers used the same formula in their preaching of the Second Crusade, announcing that those willing to take the cross would win no less than the full remission of their sins. Thousands responded to Eugenius III’s call and headed for the Holy Land confident of God’s support. Few were prepared for the disastrous events that followed, which witnessed the nearly total destruction of King Conrad III’s army and the ignoble withdrawal of King Louis VII’s forces. Once the demoralizing results of the crusade became known, disillusioned Christians began to seek answers for the failure of warriors whom, as they had been assured by their priests, fought on God’s behalf. It was not long before the search for answers turned to criticism of nearly all involved with the crusade. Continue reading