Letters to the Abbot of Corvey, 1148
On the Germans' Crusade
[TR] These letters were written as official bulletins, in order
to set before the German people the disastrous events of the German
part of the Second Crusade in the light most favorable to the
1. CONRAD III. TO WIBALD, ABBOT
OF CORVEY, 1148
Bouquet: Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France,
xv p. 533, Latin.
Conrad, by the grace of God, king of the Romans, to venerable
Wibald, abbot of Corvey and Stavelot his most kind greeting
Because we have very frequently realized your faithfulness, proven
in many trials, to us and to our kingdom, we do not doubt that
you will rejoice greatly, if you hear of the state of our prosperity.
We, therefore, announce to your faithfulness that we had reached
Nicaea with our army entire and strong, wishing to complete our
journey quickly, we hastened to set out for Iconium under the
guidance of men who knew the road. We carried with us as many
necessities as possible. And behold when ten days journey were
accomplished and the same amount remained to be traversed, food
for the whole host had almost given out, but especially for the
horses. At the same time the Turks did not cease to attack and
slaughter the crowd of footsoldiers who were unable to follow
the army. We pitied the fate of our suffering people, perishing
by famine and by the arrows of the enemy; and, by the advice of
our princes and barons, we led the army back from that desert
land to the sea, in order that it might regain its strength. We
preferred to preserve the army for greater achievements rather
than to win so bloody a victory over archers.
When, indeed, we had reached the sea and had pitched on tents
and did not expect quiet amid so great a storm, to our delight
the king of France came to our tents, wholly unexpectedly He grieved,
indeed, that our army was exhausted by hunger and toil, but he
took great delight in our company. Moreover, he himself and all
his princes offered their services faithfully and devoutly to
us and furnished for our use their money especially, and whatever
else they had. They joined themselves, therefore, to our forces
and princes. Some of the latter had remained with us, and others,
either sick or lacking money, had not been able to follow and
had accordingly withdrawn from the army.
We proceeded without any difficulty as far as St. John's, where
his tomb with the manna springing from it is seen, in order that
we might there celebrate the Nativity of our Lord. Having rested
there some days to recover our health, inasmuch as sickness had
seized on us and many of our men, we wanted to proceed; but weakened
by our illness we were wholly unable to do so. The king, therefore,
departed with his army, after having waited for us as long as
possible; but a long sickness detained us.
When our brother, the emperor of Greece, heard of this, he was
greatly grieved, and with our daughter, the most beloved
empress, his wife, he hastened to come to us. And, liberally giving
to us and our princes his money and the necessities for our journey,
he led us back, as it were' by force, to his palace at Constantinople,
in order that we might be the more speedily cured by his physicians.
There he showed to us as much honor as, to our knowledge, was
ever shown to any one of our predecessors.
Thence we hastened to set out for Jerusalem on Quadragesima Sunday,
in order to collect there a new army and to proceed to Rohas.
Moreover, that God may deign to make our journey prosperous, we
ask that you and your brethren will pray for us and will order
all Christians to do the same. And we entrust our son to your
2. CONRAD III TO WIBALD, ABBOT OF CORVXY, 1148.
Bouquet: Recueil, xv, p 534. Latin.
Conrad, by the grace of God, august king of the Romans, t venerable
Wibald, abbot of Corvey, his most kind greeting.
Because we know that you especially desire to hear from us and
to learn the state of our prosperity, we think it fitting first
to tell you of this. By God's mercy we are in good health and
we have embarked in our ships to return on the festival of the
blessed Virgin in September, after having accomplished in these
lands all that God willed and the people of the country permitted.
Let us now speak of our troops. When following the advice of the
common council we had gone to Damascus and after a great deal
of trouble had pitched our camps before the gate of the city,
it was certainly near being taken. But certain ones, whom we least
suspected, treasonably asserted that the city was impregnable
on that side and hastily led us to another position where no water
could be supplied for the troops and where access was impossible
to any one. And thus all, equally indignant grieved, returned,
leaving the undertaking uncompleted. Nevertheless, they all promised
unanimously that they would make an expedition against Ascalon,
and they set the place and time. Having arrived there according
to agreement, we found scarcely anyone. In vain we waited eight
days for the troops. Deceived a second time, we turned to our
In brief therefore, God willing, we shall return to you. We render
to you the gratitude which you deserve for your care of our son
and for the very great fidelity which you have shown to us, And
with the full intention of worthily rewarding your services;,
we ask you to continue the same.
Dana C. Munro, "Letters of the Crusaders", Translations
and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History,
Vol 1:4, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1896), 12-14
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© Paul Halsall December 1997