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The Second Crusade, 1147-49: Essay Questions

2. Why did the Second Crusade fail?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about why the Second Crusade failed, focusing in particular on: (i) the main secondary sources on this question, including Jonathan Philips' The Second Crusade (2001) and Jonathan Harris' Byzantium and the Crusades (2003); (ii) the poor leadership of Louis VII of France, who at one point hands over control of his army to the Knights Templar; (iii) the poor treatment of the crusaders by the Byzantines, and the suspicion that the guides supplied by the Byzantines deliberately misled the armies of Conrad III and Louis VII; (iv) the effectiveness of the Anatolian Turks' battle tactics against the crusader forces; (v) the mysterious circumstances that led to the failure of the siege of Damascus; (vi) the in-fighting within the crusader forces, particularly between Louis VII of France and Raymond, Prince of Antioch, who was rumoured to have been having an affair with Louis' wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine; (vii) the question of when the Second Crusade failed; (viii) the question of what the Second Crusade was actually trying to achieve; and (ix) the various primary sources that can help us answer this question, including: the accounts of Odo of Deuil, John of Salisbury, William of Tyre, Ibn al-Qalanisi, Ibn al-Athir, Niketas Choniates and John Kinnamos.

Suggested reading:
– Jonathan Phillips, The Second Crusade (2001)
– J. T. Roche and J. M. Jensen (eds.), The Second Crusade: Holy War on the Periphery of Latin Christendom (2015)
– Jonathan Harris, Byzantium and the Crusades (2nd Ed.) (2003)


In this course, Dr Nicholas Morton (Nottingham Trent University) considers four questions related the Second Crusade, 1147-49: (i) How did the Crusader States survive and grow in the decades following the First Crusade?; (ii) Why did the Second Crusade fail?; (iii) Why did the Turkish resistance to the Crusaders intensify during the Twelfth Century?; (iv) How committed was Saladin to Jihad against the Franks during the years 1169-1187? In each module, we outline some potential approaches to the question, as well as considering the sources that are available that might help us answer the question.


Dr Nicholas Morton is a specialist in the history of crusading and the Medieval Mediterranean between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. More recently he has begun to focus specifically upon the theme of inter-faith relations between Christianity and Islam in this region. He has published extensively on topics connected to this subject area, writing a range of monographs and scholarly articles. He is also an editor for the Ashgate series Rulers of the Latin East.

Currently Dr Morton is completing a monograph exploring the First Crusaders' attitudes and behaviour towards the various non-Christian peoples they encountered during their campaign. This will be a highly revisionist work addressing many key scholarly and public orthodoxies surrounding the nature of Christian/Islamic interaction during the crusade.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morton, N. (2018, August 21). The Second Crusade, 1147-49: Essay Questions - Why did the Second Crusade fail? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morton, N. "The Second Crusade, 1147-49: Essay Questions – Why did the Second Crusade fail?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Aug 2018,

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