Post-classical history





‘Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.’ I CHRONICLES XXII, 16

As soon as it was known in Jerusalem that Edessa had fallen, Queen Melisende sent to Antioch to consult with the government there about the dispatch of an embassy to Rome, to break the news to the Pope and to ask for a new Crusade. It was decided that the ambassador should be Hugh, Bishop of Jabala, whose opposition to the demands of the Emperor John had given him renown amongst the Latin Christians. Despite the urgency of his message the bishop did not arrive until the autumn of 1145 at the Papal Curia. Pope Eugenius III was at Viterbo, as Rome was in the hands of a commune resentful of papal rule. With him was the German chronicler, Otto of Freisingen, who recorded the Pope’s reception of the dreadful news, though he himself was more interested by information brought by the bishop of a Christian potentate who lived to the east of Persia and was conducting a successful war against the infidel. His name was John, and he was a Nestorian. Already he had conquered the Persian capital of Ecbatana, but he had gone northward to a region of ice and snow, where he had lost so many men that he had returned to his home. This was the first entry of the legendary Prester John into the pages of history.

Pope Eugenius did not share the chronicler’s hope that Prester John would rescue Christendom. He was seriously disquieted. About the same time a delegation reached him of Armenian bishops from Cilicia, eager for support against Byzantium. The Pope could not neglect his Oriental duties. While Bishop Hugh went on to inform the courts of France and Germany, Eugenius decided to preach the Crusade. But the Papacy was not in the position to direct the movement as Pope Urban had tried to do, Since his accession in February, Eugenius had not been able to enter Rome. He could not yet afford to travel beyond the Alps. Fortunately he was on good terms with the two chief potentates of western Europe. Conrad of Hohenstaufen, King of Germany, had owed his throne to ecclesiastical support, and had been crowned by the papal legate. With Louis VII, the pious King of France, papal relations were even more cordial. After some early misdemeanours, due to the influence of his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, he had repented and allowed himself to be guided in all things by ecclesiastical advisers, notably by the great Abbot of Clairvaux, Saint Bernard. It was to King Louis that the Pope decided to apply for help for the East. He needed Conrad’s help in Italy, for the subjection of the Romans and the curbing of the ambitions of Roger II of Sicily. He did not wish Conrad to assume other obligations. But Louis was king of the land from which most of the Frankish princes and lords in the East had come; he was the obvious leader for the expedition that was to relieve them. On 1 December 1145, Eugenius addressed a bull to King Louis and all the princes and the faithful of the kingdom of France, urging them to go to the rescue of eastern Christendom and promising them security for their worldly possessions and remission for their sins.

Sporadic Crusades

The news of the fall of Edessa horrified the West. The interest and enthusiasm aroused by the First Crusade had quietened down. The capture of Jerusalem had fired men’s imagination; and immediately afterwards large reinforcements had willingly set out in answer to appeals from the East, as the Crusades of 1101 had shown. But the Crusades of 1101 had ended in disaster; and, in spite of that, the Frankish states in the East had held and consolidated their position. Reinforcements still came, but in driblets. There was a steady stream of pilgrims, many of whom would stay long enough to fight in a summer campaign. Among these were potentates like Sigurd of Norway; or there might be a great company of humbler folk, such as the Englishmen, Flemings and Danes who came in 1106. The Italian maritime cities would from time to time send a fleet to help in the capture of some seaport; but their motive was frankly commercial interest, which also brought in a growing number of individual Italian merchants. But since Baldwin I’s reign there had been few of these armed pilgrim companies. Of recent years the only one of note had been that led by King Fulk’s son-in-law, Thierry, Count of Flanders. Immigrants had continued to arrive, younger sons, like Balian of Chartres, founder of the house of Ibelin, or barons like Hugh of Le Puiset or Manasses of Hierges, who hoped to take advantage of kinship with the royal house. A more constant and valuable element was provided by the knights that came out to join the great Military Orders, the Hospitallers and the Templars. The Orders were gradually assuming the role of the standing army of the kingdom; and the many grants of lands made to them by the Crown and its vassals showed how highly they were appreciated. But ever since the dispersal of the armies of the First Crusade there had not been in the East a Frankish force strong enough to undertake a grand offensive against the infidel.

It needed the shock of the disaster at Edessa to rouse the West again. For meanwhile in the perspective of western Europe the Crusader states of Syria had seemed merely to form the left-flank of the Mediterranean-wide campaign against Islam. The right flank was in Spain, where there were still tasks for a Christian knight to perform. The progress of the Cross in Spain had been held up during the second and third decades of the century, owing to the quarrels between Queen Urraca of Castile and her husband King Alfonso I of Aragon. But the Queen’s son and heir by her first, Burgundian, marriage, Alfonso VII brought about a renaissance in Castile. In 1132, six years after his accession, he began a series of campaigns against the Moslems, which brought him by 1147 to the gates of Cordova, where he was recognized as suzerain. Already in 1134 he had taken the title of Emperor, to show that he was overlord of the peninsula and vassal to no man. Meanwhile Alfonso I, freed by Urraca’s death of Castilian complications, spent his last years taking the offensive, with varying success, in Murcia; and along the coast Raymond-Berenger III, Count of Barcelona, pushed his power southward. Alfonso I died in 1134. His brother, the ex-monk Ramiro, reigned disastrously for three years; but in 1137 Ramiro’s two-year old daughter, Queen Petronilla, was married to Raymond-Berenger IV of Barcelona, and Catalonia and Aragon were united to form a power whose naval strength enabled it to complete the reconquest of north-eastern Spain. Thus by 1145 things were going well in the Spanish theatre; but a storm was brewing. The Almoravids, who had dominated Moslem Spain for the last half-century, had fallen into a hopeless decay. Their place in Africa had already been taken by the Almohads, a sect of ascetic reformers, almost Gnostic in its theology and its insistence on a class of adepts, founded by the Berber prophet Ibn Tumart, and carried on even more aggressively by his successor Abd al-Mumin. Abd al-Mumin defeated and slew the Almoravid monarch, Tashfin ibn Ali, near Tlemcen in 1145. In 1146 he completed the conquest of Morocco and was ready to move into Spain. With such preoccupations the Christian knights in Spain were insensible to an appeal from the East. On the other hand, now that the Spanish kingdoms were securely founded, they no longer offered the same scope as in the previous century to the knights and princes of France.

Roger II of Sicily

The centre of the battlefield against Islam was occupied by King Roger II of Sicily. Roger had united all the Norman dominions in Italy and assumed the royal title in 1130. He was well aware of the strategic importance of his kingdom, which was ideally placed to control the Mediterranean. But, to make that control complete, it was necessary for him to have a footing on the African coast opposite to Sicily. The quarrels and rivalries of the Moslem dynasties in northern Africa, intensified by the declining power of the Almoravids in Morocco and the ineffectual suzerainty of the Fatimids in Tunisia, together with the dependence of the African cities upon the import of grain from Sicily, gave Roger his chance. But his first campaigns, from 1123 to 1128, brought him no profit beyond the acquisition of the island of Malta. In 1134 by judiciously timed assistance he induced El-Hasan, lord of Mahdia, to accept him as overlord; and next year he occupied the island of Jerba in the Gulf of Gabes. Successful raids on Moslem shipping whetted his appetite, and he began to attack the coastal towns. In June 1143 his troops entered Tripoli, but were forced to retire. Exactly three years later he recaptured the city, just as an internal revolution was installing an Almoravid prince as its governor. This time he could not be dislodged; and Tripoli became the nucleus for a Norman colony in Africa.

King Roger was thus admirably fitted to take part in the new Crusade. But he was suspect. His behaviour to the Papacy had never been dutiful and seldom deferential. His presumption in crowning himself king had been resented by the other potentates of Europe; and Saint Bernard had commented to Lothair of Germany that ‘whoever makes himself King of Sicily attacks the Emperor’. Saint Bernard’s disapproval meant the disapproval of French public opinion. Roger was still more unpopular among the princes in the East; for he had made it clear that he had never forgiven the kingdom of Jerusalem for its treatment of his mother Adelaide and his own failure to secure the succession promised in her marriage-contract, while he claimed Antioch as sole heir in the male line of his cousin Bohemond. His presence on the Crusade was not desired; but it was hoped that he would carry on the war against Islam in his own particular sector.

The Pope’s choice of King Louis of France to organize the new Crusade was easy to understand; and the King responded eagerly to the call. When the papal Bull arrived, following close on the news brought by the Bishop of Jabala, Louis had just issued a summons to his tenants-in-chief to meet him at Christmas at Bourges. When they were assembled he told them that he had decided to take the Cross and he begged them to do likewise. He was sadly disappointed in their answer. The lay nobility showed no enthusiasm. The chief elder statesman of the realm, Suger, Abbot of Saint-Denis, voiced his disapproval of the King’s projected absence. Only the Bishop of Langres spoke up in support of his sovereign.

1146: The Assembly at Vezelay

Chilled by his vassals’ indifference, Louis decided to postpone his appeal for three months, and summoned another assembly to meet him at Easter at Vezelay. In the meantime he wrote to the Pope to tell him of his own desire to lead a Crusade; and he sent for the one man in France whose authority was greater than his own, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux. Saint Bernard was now at the height of his reputation. It is difficult now to look back across the centuries and appreciate the tremendous impact of his personality on all who knew him. The fire of his eloquence has been quenched in the written words that survive. As a theologian and a controversialist he now appears rigid and a little crude and unkind. But from the day in 1115 when, at the age of twenty-five, he was appointed Abbot of Clairvaux, till his death nearly forty years later he was the dominant influence in the religious and political life of western Europe. It was he who gave the Cistercian Order its impetus; it was he who, almost single-handed, had rescued the Papacy from the slough of the schism of Anacletus. The fervour and sincerity of his preaching combined with his courage, his vigour and the blamelessness of his life to bring victory to any cause that he supported, save only against the embittered Cathar heretics of Languedoc. He had long been interested in the fate of eastern Christendom and had himself in 1128 helped in drawing up the rule for the Order of the Temple. When the Pope and the King begged for his help in preaching the Crusade, he eagerly complied.

The assembly met at Vezelay on 31 March 1146. The news that Saint Bernard was going to preach brought visitors from all over France. As at Clermont, half a century before, the crowd was too great to be fitted into the Cathedral. Saint Bernard spoke from a platform erected in a field outside the little town. His words have not been handed down. We only know that he read out the papal Bull asking for a holy expedition and promising absolution to all that took part in it, and that he then made use of his incomparable rhetoric to show the urgency of the papal demand. Very soon his audience was under his spell. Men began to cry for Crosses — ‘Crosses, give us Crosses!’ — It was not long before all the stuff that had been prepared to sew into Crosses was exhausted; and Saint Bernard flung off his own outer garments to be cut up. At sunset he and his helpers were still stitching as more and more of the faithful pledged themselves to go on the Crusade.

King Louis was the first to take the Cross; and his vassals forgot their earlier coolness in their eagerness to follow him. Amongst them were his brother Robert, Count of Dreux, Alfonso-Jordan, Count of Toulouse, who had himself been born in the East, William, Count of Nevers, whose father had led one of the unfortunate expeditions of 1101, Henry, heir to the County of Champagne, Thierry of Flanders, who had already fought in the East and whose wife was Queen Melisende’s stepdaughter, the King’s uncle, Amadeus of Savoy, Archimbald, Lord of Bourbon, the Bishops of Langres, Arras and Lisieux and many nobles of the second rank. An even greater response came from humbler people. Saint Bernard was able to write a few days later to the Pope, saying: ‘You ordered; I obeyed; and the authority of him who gave the order has made my obedience fruitful. I opened my mouth; I spoke; and at once the Crusaders have multiplied to infinity. Villages and towns are now deserted. You will scarcely find one man for every seven women. Everywhere you see widows whose husbands are still alive.’

1146: Saint Bernard in Germany

Encouraged by his success Saint Bernard undertook a tour of Burgundy, Lorraine and Flanders, preaching the Crusade as he went. When he was in Flanders he received a message from the Archbishop of Cologne, begging him to come at once to the Rhineland. As in the days of the First Crusade, the enthusiasm aroused by the news of the movement had been turned against the Jews. In France the Abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, eloquently complained that they were not paying a financial contribution towards the rescue of Christendom. In Germany the resentment took a fiercer form. A fanatical Cistercian monk called Rudolf was inspiring Jewish massacres throughout the Rhineland, in Cologne, Mainz, Worms, Spier and Strasburg. The Archbishops of Cologne and Mainz did what they could to save the victims, and the latter summoned Bernard to deal with the Cistercian. Bernard hastened from Flanders and ordered Rudolf back into his monastery. When calm was re-established, Bernard stayed on in Germany; for it seemed to him that the Germans too should join in the Crusade.

The Germans hitherto had played an undistinguished part in the Crusading movement. Their Christian zeal had, rather, been directed towards the forcible evangelization of the heathen Slavs on their eastern frontiers. Since the beginning of the century missionary work and German colonization had been going on in the Slav districts in Pomerania and Brandenburg; and the German lords regarded this expansion of Christendom as a more important task than a war against Islam, whose menace was to them remote and theoretical. They were therefore disinclined to respond to Saint Bernard’s preaching. Nor was their King, Conrad of Hohenstaufen, greatly though he admired the Saint, much more eager to listen to him. He had Mediterranean interests; but they were restricted to Italy, where he had promised the Pope help against the recalcitrant Romans and against Roger of Sicily, in return for his much desired imperial coronation. And his position was still insecure in Germany itself. Despite his victory at Weinsburg in 1140 he still was faced with the enmity of the supporters of the house of Welf; while the antics of his Babenberger half-brothers and sisters raised trouble for him along all his eastern flank. When Saint Bernard, after writing round to secure the co-operation of the German bishops, met the King at Frankfort-on-the-Main in the autumn of 1146, Conrad prevaricated; and Bernard would have gone back to Clairvaux, had the bishops not begged him to continue his preaching. He therefore turned southward to preach the Crusade at Freiburg, at Basle, at Schaffhausen and Constance. The tour was immediately successful, even though the sermons had to be translated by a German interpreter. The humbler people flocked to take the Cross. The crops in Germany had failed that year, and there was famine in the land. Starvation breeds a mystic exaltation; and it is probable that many in Bernard’s audiences thought, like the pilgrims of the First Crusade, that the journey eastward would bring them to the riches of the New Jerusalem.

King Conrad agreed to meet Saint Bernard again at Christmas 1146, when he would be holding a Diet at Spier. Saint Bernard’s sermon on Christmas Day, once more asking him to take the Cross, failed to move the King. But two days later Bernard preached again before the Court. Speaking as though he were Christ Himself he rounded on the King, reminding him of the benefits that Heaven had showered on him. ‘Man,’ he cried, ‘what ought I to have done for you that I have not done?’ Conrad was deeply moved and promised to follow the Saint’s bidding.

1147: Pope Eugenius in France

Saint Bernard left Germany well pleased with his work. He travelled through eastern France, supervising the arrangements for the Crusade and writing to the Cistercian houses all over Europe to bid them encourage the movement. He was back in Germany in March to assist at a council at Frankfort, when it was decided to send a Crusade against the heathen Slavs east of Oldenburg. His presence was intended to show that while he advocated an Oriental Crusade, he did not desire the Germans to neglect their nearer duties. This German Crusade, though the Pope allowed the participants to wear the Cross, was in its outcome a fiasco that did much to retard the conversion of the Slavs. From Frankfort Bernard hurried to his abbey at Clairvaux, to receive a visit from the Pope.

Pope Eugenius had spent Christmas 1145 in Rome; but difficulties with the Romans forced him soon to withdraw again to Viterbo, while Rome itself passed under the influence of the anti-clerical agitator, Arnold of Brescia. Eugenius realized that without the help of King Conrad he could not hope to re-establish himself in the Holy City. In the meantime he decided to cross the Alps into France, to see King Louis and to superintend the Crusade. He left Viterbo in January 1147 and reached Lyon on 22 March. As he journeyed he received news of Saint Bernard’s activities. He was not altogether pleased. His practical sense had made him envisage a purely French Crusade, under the lay leadership of the King of France, without the divided command that had so nearly wrecked the First Crusade. Saint Bernard had turned the movement into an international enterprise; and the splendour of his conception might well be outweighed in practice by the rivalry of the kings. Besides, the Pope could not spare King Conrad, on whose aid he was counting in Italy. He gave the news of German participation a very chilly reception. But he could not countermand it.

Proceeding into France, the Pope met King Louis at Dijon in the first days of April and arrived at Clairvaux on 6 April. Conrad sent him an embassy there to ask for an interview at Strassburg on the 18th; but Eugenius had promised to spend Easter, on 20 April, at Saint-Denis and would not alter his plans. Conrad prepared to depart for the East without the personal blessing of the Pontiff. Eugenius meanwhile had many interviews with the abbot Suger, who was to govern France while Louis was away. He held a council at Paris to deal with the heresy of Gilbert de la Poree, and he saw Louis again, at Saint-Denis, on 11 June. Then, while Louis completed his last preparations, he moved slowly southward to return to Italy.

1147: King Conrad leaves Germany

While the Kings of France and Germany were preparing for the Crusade, planning a long overland journey, a humbler expedition composed of Englishmen, together with some Flemings and Frisians, was inspired by the preaching of Saint Bernard’s agents to set out by sea for Palestine. The ships left England in the late spring of 1147; and early in June bad weather forced them to take refuge at the mouth of the river Douro, on the Portuguese coast. There they were met by emissaries from Alfonso-Henry, Count of Portugal. He had recently established his country’s independence and was negotiating with the Papacy for the title of King, giving as its justification his successful campaigns against the Moslems. Taking advantage of the difficulties of the Almoravids, he had won a great victory at Ourique in 1139, and in March of 1147 he had reached the banks of the Tagus and had captured Santarem. He now wished to attack the local Moslem capital, Lisbon, and needed naval help for it. The Crusaders’ arrival was timely. His chief envoy, the Bishop of Oporto, pointed out to them that there was no need to make the long voyage to Palestine if they wished to fight for the Cross. There were infidels close at hand, and not only spiritual merit but rich estates could be won here and now. The Flemings and Frisians agreed at once; but the English contingent hesitated. They had vowed to go to Jerusalem; and it needed all the influence of their leader, Henry Glanville, Constable of Suffolk, whom the Bishop had won over, to persuade them to remain. Once the terms were arranged, the flotilla sailed down to the Tagus, to join the Portuguese army; and the siege of Lisbon was begun. The Moslems defended their city valiantly. It was only in October, after four months of fighting, that the garrison surrendered, on the guarantee that their lives and property would be preserved. The Crusaders promptly broke the terms and indulged in a glorious massacre of the infidel, in which the English, congratulating themselves on their virtue, only played a minor part. After the campaign was over, some of the Crusaders continued their journey to the East, but many more remained as settlers under the Portuguese crown. The episode, though it heralded the long alliance between England and Portugal and though it laid the foundations for the spread of Christianity beyond the oceans, did little to help Christians in the East, where sea-power would have been invaluable to the cause.

While the northerners delayed in Portugal, the Kings of France and Germany set out by land to the East. King Roger of Sicily had sent to each of them to offer to transport them and their armies by sea. To Conrad, who had long been Roger’s enemy, the offer was obviously inacceptable, and Louis also declined it. The Pope did not wish for Roger’s co-operation; and it is doubtful whether in fact the Sicilian marine was large enough to carry all the soldiers bound for the Crusade. Louis had no desire to entrust himself, separated from half his army, to a man whose record for duplicity was notorious and who was bitterly hostile to the French Queen’s uncle. It was safer and cheaper to travel by land.

King Conrad intended to leave Germany at Easter, 1147. In December he had received a Byzantine embassy at Spier, which he told of his immediate departure to the East. In fact it was not till the end of May that he started his journey. He left Ratisbon towards the last days of the month and passed into Hungary. His army was of formidable proportions. Awed chroniclers spoke of a million soldiers; and it is probable that the whole company, armed men and pilgrims, numbered nearly twenty thousand. With Conrad came two vassal-kings, Vladislav of Bohemia and Boleslav IV of Poland. The German nobility was headed by Conrad’s nephew and heir, Frederick, Duke of Swabia. There was a contingent from Lorraine, led by Stephen, Bishop of Metz, and Henry, Bishop of Toul. It was a turbulent army. The German magnates were jealous of each other; and there was constant friction between the Germans, the Slavs and the French-speaking Lorrainers. Conrad was not the man to keep it under control. He was now well over fifty years of age, of indifferent health and a weak, uncertain temperament. He had begun to delegate much of his authority into the vigorous but inexperienced hands of his nephew Frederick.

During June the German army moved through Hungary. The young King Geza was well disposed; and there was no unpleasant incident. A Byzantine embassy, led by Demetrius Macrembolites and the Italian Alexander of Gravina, met Conrad in Hungary and asked him on the Emperor’s behalf whether he came as a friend or foe and to beg him to take an oath to do nothing against the welfare and interests of the Emperor. This oath of non-injury was well chosen; for in certain parts of the West it was the usual oath for a vassal to take to his overlord; it was the oath that Raymond of Toulouse had taken to Alexius during the First Crusade; yet it was so framed that Conrad could hardly refuse to take it without labelling himself as the Emperor’s enemy. He took it; and the Byzantine ambassadors then promised him every assistance while he should be in imperial territory.

1147: The Germans in the Balkans

About 20 July Conrad crossed into the Empire at Branitchevo. Byzantine ships helped to convey his men across the Danube. At Nish the governor of the Bulgarian province, Michael Branas, met him and provided the army with food that had been stored up against its arrival. At Sofia, which it reached a few days later, the governor of Thessalonica, the Emperor’s cousin, Michael Palaeologus, gave Conrad an official welcome from the Emperor. So far all had gone well. Conrad wrote to friends in Germany that he was satisfied with everything. But after leaving Sofia his men began to pillage the countryside and to refuse to pay the villagers for what they took, even slaughtering those who protested. When complaints were made to Conrad, he confessed that he could not discipline the rabble. At Philippopolis there were worse disorders. More food was stolen, and a riot occurred when a local juggler, who had hoped to gain some money from the soldiers by showing off his tricks, was accused by the Germans of sorcery. The suburbs were burnt down; but the city walls were too strong for the Germans to attack. The Archbishop, Michael Italicus, protested so vigorously to Conrad that he was shamed into punishing the ringleaders. Manuel then sent troops to accompany the Crusaders and to keep them to the road. This only produced worse disorders, as the Byzantines and Germans frequently came to blows. The climax came near Adrianople, when some Byzantine bandits robbed and killed a German magnate who had lingered behind sick; whereupon Frederick of Swabia burnt down the monastery near which the crime had been committed and slew its inhabitants. Drunken stragglers, who were abundant amongst the Germans, were slain in retaliation whenever they fell into Byzantine hands. When the Byzantine commander Prosuch had restored peace and the army resumed its march, an embassy came from Manuel, who was now seriously alarmed, to urge Conrad to take the road to Sestos on the Hellespont and cross from there into Asia. It would be regarded as an unfriendly act were the Germans to march on to Constantinople. Conrad would not agree. Manuel then seems to have decided to oppose the Crusaders by force, but at the last moment countermanded his orders to Prosuch. The Germans were soon visited by divine punishment. As they lay encamped at Cheravas on the Thracian plain a sudden inundation swept through their tents, drowning many of the soldiers and destroying much property. Only Frederick’s detachment, encamped on higher ground, were unharmed. There was, however, no further serious incident till the army reached Constantinople, on about 10 September.

King Louis and the French army followed about a month behind. The King himself set out from Saint-Denis on 8 June and summoned his vassals to meet him at Metz a few days later. His expedition was probably a little smaller than Conrad’s. All the nobles who had taken the Cross with him at Vezelay came to fulfil their vows; and with the King was his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the greatest heiress in France and niece to the Prince of Antioch. The Countesses of Flanders and Toulouse and many other great ladies travelled with their husbands. The Grand Master of the Temple, Everard of Barre, joined the army with a regiment of recruits for his Order. The King himself was aged twenty-six. He was famed for piety rather than for a strong personality. His wife and his brother both wielded influence over him. As a commander he was untried and indecisive. On the whole his troops were better disciplined and less wanton than the Germans, though there were disorders at Worms at the crossing of the Rhine.

1147: The French arrive at Constantinople

When all the French contingents had joined the King the army set out through Bavaria. At Ratisbon, where it arrived on 29 June, ambassadors from the Emperor Manuel were waiting. These were Demetrius Macrembolites, who had already interviewed Conrad in Hungary, and a certain Maurus. They asked for guarantees that Louis would behave as a friend while in imperial territory and that he would promise to restore to the Empire any of its former possessions that he should conquer. Apparently they did not require him to swear the oath of non-injury, whose significance he might have realized too well. Louis declared formally that he was coming as a friend, but he gave no promise about his future conquests, finding the request dangerously vague. From Ratisbon the French journeyed peaceably for fifteen days through Hungary and reached the Byzantine frontier at the end of August. They crossed the Danube at Branitchevo and followed the main road through the Balkans. They found some difficulty in procuring sufficient food; for the Germans had consumed all that was available, and the excesses committed by the Germans made the local inhabitants suspicious and unwilling to help. Moreover, the local merchants were far too ready to give short measure after insisting on pre-payment. But the Byzantine officials were friendly, and the French commanders kept their men in order. There was no serious trouble till the army drew near to Constantinople, though the French began to feel resentment against both the Byzantines and the Germans. At Adrianople the Byzantine authorities tried, as with Conrad, to persuade Louis to by-pass the capital and cross the Hellespont into Asia, but with equal unsuccess. Meanwhile, some of the French, impatient with the leisurely progress of their army, hurried ahead to join with the Germans. But the Germans were unfriendly, refusing to spare them rations. The contingents from Lorraine, already on bad terms with their German comrades, joined with these Frenchmen and inflamed French public opinion against the Germans. Thus, before ever the French King arrived at Constantinople, relations between the two Crusading armies were suspicious and embittered, and Germans and French alike were ill-disposed towards Byzantium. It did not augur well for the success of the Crusade.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!