St. Bernard and the Theology of Crusade

On Easter Sunday in 1146 at Vézelay, King Louis VII took the Cross of crusade. He had announced his intention to go to Jerusalem to his court at Christmas, and it was decided that the court would meet again at Vézelay, with those who would take the Cross doing so at Easter.[1] Meanwhile the city of Edessa had fallen at the end of 1144. The bishop of Jabala, Syria, came to the papal court in November 1145 and informed Pope Eugenius III of the predicament of the Church in the East. On 1 December 1145 the pontiff published for the first time Quantum prædecessores nostri in which he called for a crusade. However, this had not reached France by Christmas when Louis made public his intention.[2] Otto of Freising says that Louis wanted to go on Crusade because his brother Philip had died before he could fulfil his own vow to do so and that this is why Louis gathered his court.[3] When the pope’s letter did reach France, King Louis wrote back to him, and the pope gave a favourable reply. On 1 March 1146 Pope Eugenius published a second version of Quantum prædecessores nostri which named Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, as the preacher of the Crusade.[4]

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