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The Siege of Lisbon
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  Home >> The Crusades >> The Second Crusade >> The Siege of Lisbon

The first group actually to set out consisted of Flemings, Frisians and English. They left by ship in April of 1147, to travel around Gibraltar and across the Mediterranean. They were delayed by storms off Portugal, however, and put in at Oporto.

There, they were met by emissaries of Henry of Portugal, actually a French baron who was about to become the first King of Portugal. The crusaders were persuaded to join the siege of Lisbon, which was held by the Muslims. They accepted largely because they were granted the right to plunder and because they were promised by the Portuguese bishop that they would receive the same spiritual rewards as if they had gone East. Their help was crucial, and the capture of Lisbon was the key element in the creation of the new medieval kingdom of Portugal. The crusaders spent the winter at Lisbon; some continued to the east, but most either returned home or remained in Portugal.

The events here in Portugal demonstrate plainly that the motives of spiritual and material rewards (remission of sins, plus plunder) were at least as important as the idea of liberating the Holy Land. In papal terms, and in the view of the Palestinian barons, these northern crusaders' job was scarcely begun, for they were to help in the recovery of Edessa specifically and more generally to help drive back the Muslims throughout Outremer. But the crusaders themselves viewed the whole transaction more in terms of a contract. If they fulfilled certain obligations, then they would get certain rewards. The Portuguese provided them the opportunity to fulfill those obligations much closer to home. They had already risked their lives for the Church and they felt justified in going home.

Still, some went on, however few.  These may have been motivated by a sense of duty, but it is equally likely that they wished to visit the holy places, regarding their efforts more in terms of the traditional pilgrimage. They might equally have hoped to win estates and titles and honors in the Holy Land, not wishing to return to their homeland.   

But these sort were only a handful.

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