Bernard of Clairvaux calls for Second Crusade – March 31, 1146
This week marks the anniversary of when St. Bernard of Clairvaux in France gave a popular speech that led many in Christian Europe to join the Second Crusade.
About 50 years after the First Crusade ended, many of the gains made by the end of the conflict had been overturned by Islamic forces.
In his speech, which encouraged Emperor Conrad III of Germany to help lead the military expedition, Bernard argued many points in favor of the crusade, including a focus on the persecution experienced by Christians in the Middle East.
“If it were announced to you that the enemy had invaded your cities, your castles, your lands; had ravished your wives and your daughters, and profaned your temples—which among you would not fly to arms?” declared Bernard.
“Well then, all these calamities, and calamities still greater, have fallen upon your brethren, upon the family of Jesus Christ, which is yours. Why do you hesitate to repair so many evils—to avenge so many outrages?”
Despite his passionate words and the efforts on the part of the Christian armies, the Second Crusade is generally regarded as having been a failure for the Western European forces.