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  • The Second Crusade: Scope and Consequences
  • Malcolm Barber
The Second Crusade: Scope and Consequences. Edited by Jonathan Phillips and Martin Hoch. (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Distributed in the United States by Palgrave, New York. 2001. Pp. xxi, 234. Paperback.)

This is a collection of ten papers presented at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in 1998 to mark the 850th anniversary of the fruitless attack on Damascus in July, 1148. Naturally, contemporary chroniclers did not feel much enthusiasm for writing up this expedition in the way their predecessors had doneafter the First Crusade, but nevertheless the consequences were equally profound.Urban II's initiative ensured that thereafter papal identity would be tightly bound to the crusades, so that, as Rudolf Hiestand sees it, the Second Crusade was a turning-point for the papacy, plunging it into a crisis as serious as those of 1080, 1130, and 1159. At the same time, Eugenius III's negligence in failing to involve the Latins of the East in his original plans meant that, when it all went wrong, the latent rivalry of the great patriarchates reappeared and the Jerusalem Church "started styling itself mater omnium ecclesiarum" in evident defiance of Rome. This was symptomatic of a wider rift between the Latins of the East and the West, for while crusading by no means ceased, it was sufficiently discredited to make it difficult to mount expeditions of any size. Thus, it is not surprising that, as Timothy Reuter shows, the plan for a crusade in 1150 to repair the damage proved abortive. This did not mean, however, that William of Tyre's assertion that this was the beginning of the decline of the crusader states need be accepted. Martin Hoch points out that, even after the crusade, the Damascenes were still willing to renew the alliance of 1140, while the Franks remained strong enough to take Ascalon in 1153 and to launch a series of expeditions into Egypt in the 1160's. There is indeed good reason to think that the problems which led to 1187 are not really evident until c.1180, but it might nevertheless be suggested that the Second Crusade did have [End Page 528] long-term strategic implications for the crusader states, opening the way for Nur ad-Din to take over Damascus and thus creating a situation in which Frankish intervention in Egypt became imperative. Certainly, as Carole Hillenbrand demonstrates, Zengi's base in Mosul rather than Aleppo meant that Damascus was less important to him than for Nur ad-Din, while his appalling reputation for brutality and treachery strengthened Damascene determination to resist him. Zengi's death in 1146 greatly changed the political context within which the crusade operated.

However, ever since Giles Constable's seminal article of 1953, it has been accepted that the Second Crusade cannot be seen solely in terms of Byzantium and the Latin East. Here half the papers are devoted to the attacks on Lisbon, Tortosa, and the Wends. Much stress is laid on the importance of these: the papers by Susan Edgington and Matthew Bennett support Jonathan Phillips' contention that the Lisbon campaign was a planned part of the crusade and not merely a chance diversion, although Nikolas Jaspert is less certain that the Tortosa expedition was equally integral to the papacy's perceptions, even though contemporaries certainly placed it in a crusading context. Indeed, Linda Paterson's analysis of Marcabru's Vers del lavador suggests that, in a curious inversion of their original vows, some crusaders returning from the East actually joined the siege of Tortosa in the hope of salvaging something from the wreckage of their hopes before Damascus. It is possible to overdo this: Lisbon and Tortosa were tangible successes, but they both had a strong local context unrelated to the fall of Edessa, whereas the widespread laments about the Second Crusade surely suggest that contemporaries still regarded the eastern expedition as the central element for Christian society as whole. The Wendish Crusade achieved much less, partly because of Danish-German rivalry, but Kurt Jensen demonstrates that it did have a positive effect on the Danish monarchy which was able to exploit its involvement for the benefit...


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