Second Crusade Chronology 1144 - 1150: Christianity vs. Islam

Second Crusade
Second Crusade (1147-1149) : the departure of the Crusaders. Cressac Chapel fresco, 12th century. Museum of French Monuments, Paris.

 Photo Josse/Leemage/Getty Images

Launched in response to the capture of Edessa by Muslims in 1144, the Second Crusade was accepted by European leaders primarily due to the tireless effort of St. Bernard of Clairvaux who traveled across France, Germany, and Italy to exhort people to take up the cross and reassert Christian domination in the Holy Land. The kings of France and Germany answered the call but the losses to their armies were devastating and they were easily defeated.

Timeline of the Crusades: Second Crusade 1144 - 1150

December 24, 1144—Muslim forces under the command of Imad ad-Din Zengi re-capture Edessa, originally taken by Crusaders under Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098. This event makes Zengi a hero among Muslims and leads to a call for the Second Crusade in Europe.

1145 - 1149—The Second Crusade is launched to recapture territory recently lost to Muslim forces, but in the end, only a few Greek islands are actually taken.

December 01, 1145—In the Bull Quantum Praedecessores, Pope Eugene III proclaims the Second Crusade in an effort to retake territory once again coming under the control of Muslim forces. This Bull was sent directly to the French King, Louis VII, and although he had been contemplating a Crusade on his own, he chose to ignore the pope's call to action at first.

1146—The Allmohads drive the Almoravids out of Andalusia. The descendants of the Amoravids can still be found in Mauretania.

March 13, 1146—Saxon nobles meeting in Frankfurt ask Bernard of Clairvaux for permission to launch a Crusade on pagan Slavs in the east. Bernard would pass the request along to Pope Eugene III who gives his authorization for a Crusade against the Wends.

March 31, 1146—St. Bernard or Clairvaux preaches the merits and necessity of the Second Crusade at Vézelay. Bernard writes in a letter to the Templars: "The Christian who slays the unbeliever in the Holy War is sure of his reward, the more sure if he himself is slain. The Christian glories in the death of the pagan, because Christ is thereby glorified." King Louis VII of France is particularly taken by Bernard's preaching and is among the first to agree to go, along with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.

May 01, 1146—Conrad III (first German king of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and uncle of Frederick I Barbarossa, an early leader of the Third Crusade) personally leads German forces into the Second Crusade, but his army would be almost completely destroyed during their crossing of the plains of Anatolia.

June 01, 1146—King Louis VII announces that France will join in the Second Crusade.

September 15, 1146—Imad ad-Din Zengi, the founder of the Zengid Dynasty, is assassinated by a servant he had threatened to punish. Zengi's capture of Edessa from the Crusaders in 1144 had made him a hero among Muslims and led to the launching of the Second Crusade.

December 1146—Conrad III arrives at Constantinople with the remnants of his army of German Crusaders.

1147—The Almoravid (al-Murabitun) Dynasty falls from power. Taking the name "those who line up in defense of the faith," this group of fanatical Berber Muslims had ruled North Africa and Spain since 1056.

April 13, 1147—In the bull Divina dispensatione, Pope Eugene III approves of the Crusading into Spain and the beyond the northeastern frontier of Germany. Bernard Clairvaux writes "We expressly forbid that for any reason whatsoever they should make a truce with these people [the Wends] ... until such time as ... either their religion or their nation be destroyed."

June 1147—German Crusaders travel through Hungary on their way to the Holy Land. On the way they would raid and pillage widely, causing a great deal of resentment.

October 1147—Lisbon is captured by Crusaders and Portuguese forces under the command of Don Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, and Crusader Gilbert of Hastings, who becomes the first Bishop of Lisbon. In the same year, the city of Almeria falls to the Spanish.

October 25, 1147Second Battle of Dorylaeum: German Crusaders under Conrad III stop at Dorylaeum to rest and are destroyed by Saracens. So much treasure is captured that the market price of precious metals throughout the Muslim world drops.

1148—Count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona, with the aid of an English fleet, captures the Moor city of Tortosa.

February 1148—German Crusaders under Conrad III who had survived the Second Battle of Dorylaeum the previous year are massacred by the Turks.

March 1148—French forces are left in Attalia by King Louis VII who purchases passage on ships for himself and a few nobles to Antioch. Muslims quickly descend upon Attalia and kill nearly every Frenchman there.

May 25, 1148—Crusaders set out to capture Damascus. The army consists of forces under the command of Baldwin III, survivors of Conrad III's trip across Anatolia, and the cavalry of Louis VII which had sailed directly to Jerusalem (his infantry was supposed to march to Palestine, but they were all killed along the way).

July 28, 1148—Crusaders are forced to withdraw from their siege of Damascus after only a week, partly as a result of the three leaders (Baldwin III, Conrad III, and Louis VII) being unable to agree on almost anything. The political divisions among the Crusaders stand in sharp contrast to the greater unity among the Muslims in the region - a unity that would only increase later under the dynamic and successful leadership of Saladin. With this, the Second Crusade is effectively finished.

1149—A Crusading army under Raymond of Antioch is destroyed by Nur ad-Din Mahmud bin Zengi (son of Imad ad-Din Zengi, founder of the Zengid Dynasty) near the Fountain of Murad. Raymond is among those killed, reportedly fighting until the very end. One of Nur ad-Din's lieutenants, Saladin (Kurdish nephew of Nur al-Din's best general, Shirkuh), would rise to prominence in the coming conflicts.

July 15, 1149—The Crusader Church of the Holy Sepulcher is officially dedicated.

1150—Fatimid rulers fortify the Egyptian city of Ascalon with 53 towers.

1151—The Toltec Empire in Mexico ended.