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Layover At Antioch
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  Home >> The Crusades >> The Second Crusade >> Layover At Antioch

Louis and Eleanor were finally at Antioch; the remnant of the army was mainly knights -- the noncoms and sergeants had largely been killed or left behind. Eleanor was delighted with Antioch, the first really great city since Constantinople. It was, moreover, ruled by her uncle, Raymond of Toulouse, and Raymond entertained the French in royal style.

Raymond proposed that Louis join forces with him to attack Aleppo, the heart of Muslim power in northern Syria.  Joscelin of Edessa heartily agreed with this plan, for Edessa would never be secure so long as Aleppo was strong.  Many of the French nobility agreed with Raymond and even engaged in a reconnaissance raid on Aleppo.

Louis, however, hesitated.  Joscelin wanted an attack directly on Edessa first. Raymond of Tripoli wanted an attack on  Montferrand. Louis, a deeply pious man, did not want the crusade sacred purpose subverted to local politics. It would be difficult to choose one proposal without alienating other Christian lords. Moreover, Raymond was a Poitevin, and that faction was distinctly out of favor since the debacle at  Pamphlygonia.

Louis did not exactly say no, but he temporized and did not say yes, either. The queen naturally supported her uncle and argued strongly on his behalf, which merely lent all the more impression of factionalism.

Louis continued to temporize, using as his excuse that he was waiting for the infantry to arrive from Attalia. Queen Eleanor spent many long hours with Raymond, who was only a few years older, and rumors began to circulate that the queen preferred the company of her uncle to that of her husband. They spoke the dialect of Languedoc, incomprehensible to the Franks, lending still more fuel to rumor and speculation.

Louis finally made his decision when the Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Antioch in April with news that King Conrad was already there. Louis announced his intention of setting out immediately for Palestine.

Raymond was furious and so was Eleanor. In private audience with Louis she raised her objections; Louis remained obdurate. Eleanor declared that she would nevertheless remain at Antioch and let it be known she was considering a divorce. That night, Louis gave orders that his queen be taken under guard from the city, and the whole host of the French moved out. Eleanor was not quite kidnapped by her own husband, but from this time on she no longer figures strongly in the course of the crusade.

In early summer, Louis at last arrived in Jerusalem, having passed without incident down the coast. The French were met in the hills by the Patriarch and by a company of Templars. 

The Second Crusade at finally come to the holy city. And even yet, it was not clear at all what the crusaders intended to do.

Damascus is targeted

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