France and Germany bestowed great hopes, forces and resources upon the Second Crusade. Britain also made an important contribution. In particular, English knights from the south and east of England took part in the naval expedition to Portugal in 1147. The Lisbon expedition was part of a general crusade to the Mediterranean.
King Afonso I Henriques made siege in Lisbon. The crusaders eventually captured the Portuguese capital, and later that turned out to be the greatest conquest of the Second Crusade.
What ignited the Second Crusade?
The fall of Edessa, one of the Crusader states, triggered the Second Crusade. Edessa had been exposed to numerous assaults of Muslims for decades, and finally it fell in 1144. Pope Eugenius III decreed the Second Crusade in 1145 and ordered to aid Crusaders and protect their families.
Two European monarchs ruled the crusade, Louis VII, the King of France, and Conrad II, the German Emperor.
Expeditions of the Second Crusade
In its entirety, the Second crusade consisted of three expeditions: 1) to Portugal and Spain against Muslims, 2) to the Middle East to aid the Holy Land Crusaders and 3) to the Baltic Sea against Wends to eradicate paganism.
English noblemen, such as earl Waleran of Meulan and bishop Roger Clinton, participated in the expedition directed to Constantinople.
Holy Land (East) Direction
Emperor Manuel Comnenus, of the Byzantine Empire was belligerent against the Second Crusade. It disturbed unions reached by him with Venice, the Pope and Germany against Normans. It also disrupted the diplomacy he had adjusted with the Turkish sultan of Rūm. Manual secured the Byzantine lands in Asia with a truce reached with the sultan.
Conrad II with numerous German knights, the monarchs of Poland and Bohemia and the future emperor Frederick I set off to Constantinople in May 1147. At the time they reached the Byzantine capital (in September), the king of Sicily attacked continental Greece after capturing Corfu.
Defeated by Turks
Having wreaked havoc in Constantinople, Conrad’s squadrons marched towards Anatolia. In late October, Turks assaulted the crusaders on their march and easily defeated the Christian army suffering from lack of discipline and provision. The surviving warriors had to retreat to Nicaea.
A chain of overwhelming defeats followed the first debacle. In particular, the crusaders failed to recapture Edessa. The Christians lost their Antioch stronghold to Byzantines. When the Crusade army finally reached Jerusalem, fundamental controversies arose between the Crusaders and local Jerusalem rulers. One common decision emerged between them: to attack Damascus where an epic failure naturally awaited them.
Crusade Propaganda Fueled
Despite humiliating failures of the Second Crusade, the ideology sparking the military campaigns got strengthened. The reason for the Crusaders’ defeat allegedly lay in the sinfulness of Europeans. Total purification through worships and prayers was to guarantee future victories of Christian knights.