The Second Crusade was an enormous undertaking. There had been
crusades in Spain, activity in Portugal, and a crusade against the Slavs in
Germany, all in addition to the main expedition to Palestine. Only the
un-planned capture of Lisbon yielded any permanent gains. Kings had raised
armies for this. The Church had called upon all its resource, put one of its
greatest preachers in the field, and had staked its reputation on the
When the pitiable results were known, there was a widespread reaction
against crusading as a large-scale movement. There were recriminations for
everyone, but in truth no one really understood why there had been so much
activity for so little result. But they were sure they did not want to go to
such lengths again.
Over the next forty years, there were no more crusades and few calls for
one. The armed pilgrimage had not lost its allure, nor the promise of
remission of sins. But now, crusaders went in small bands, led by local
nobles on their own initiative. Over and over, representatives came from
Jerusalem to beg for large armies. What they got was an army from Brabant
here, a fleet from Pisa there, and little more. Nothing coordinated and
nothing on the scale needed.
Ironically, "crusading" had become what it was in theory: a
pilgrimage of arms. Bands of people came to Jerusalem in order to visit the
holy places and to do battle with the infidel, and then to return home
again. Once in a while, someone came looking to enter the Templars, or to
marry into the local nobility, but most visited for a season and then left.
The Palestinian barons came to understand that they must survive largely on
their own resources and through alliances with local powers.