How Far Was King Louis Vll Responsible for the Failure of the 2nd Crusade?

In disparity to the 1st crusade, the 2nd failed miserably. Generally it is regarded as an unmitigated disaster. As far as King Louis Vll was concerned, his part in this was quite apparent.   Firstly it was clear that King Louis Vll lacked an obvious military objective – the army were defectively disciplined and the decisions of the leaders were thoughtless resulting in a reduction in numbers. Being a leader is an important role and for him to act in the ways in which he did left no questions as to why it became such a shambles. With no clear objectives, King Louis Vll didn’t know what he wanted – if he didn’t, his army most certainly didn’t and so they had nothing to aspire to.

Furthermore King Louis Vll held weak leadership skills, he lacked in being a positive figure toward his people. The journey through Anatolia was one absent of discipline and King Louis Vll abandoned his army at Attalia.   This not only portrayed him again as a bad leader but also as a coward – leaving his army to fend for themselves was an obvious error showing King Louis Vll having a lack of confidence and making himself seem weak. The army were consequently left leaderless.

Another issue was the fact King Louis Vll was not planning the crusade to regain Edessa but as a pilgrimage to fulfil a vow made by his brother Philip to go to the Holy Land as death prevented himself from doing so. In January 1143 Louis invaded Champagne because of a dispute between him and a French noble in an act of, ‘appalling savagery’ he burned the church at Vitry with 1,300 innocent people inside. Bernard of Clairvaux told him that, ‘you will not remain unpunished if you continue in this way.’ People were not fond of King Louis Vll’s plans. His thoughtless actions made him unpopular with the people adding to the failure of the 2nd crusade.

A series of mistakes made by King Louis Vll at Antioch also added to why he was so responsible for the failure of the 2nd crusade. King Louis Vll participated in an...