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Medieval Sourcebook:
Odo of Deuil:
The Crusade of Louis VII

1. St. Bernard Preaches at Vezelay

[Adapted from Brundage] Following the call of Pope Eugnius IV for a crusade, at Christmas time 1145, the French king, Louis VII, revealed to his courtiers his designs to go to the aid of the Latins in the East. The King met, however, with considerable opposition from his advisors, who believed that the welfare of the kingdom required that the King remain at home. It was agreed, therefore, to defer any action on the project until the following Easter. In the meantime, the King sought the advice of the powerful and renowned Bernard of Clairvaux, who agreed to preach on behalf of the Crusade to the King's court during Easter time at Vezelay:

In the year of the Incarnation of the Word one thousand one hundred forty-six, Louis, the glorious king of the Franks and duke of Aquitaine, the son of King Louis, came to Vezelay at Easter so that he might be worthy of Christ by bearing his cross after him. Louis was twenty-five years old.

When the same pious King held his court at Bourges on the preceding Christmas, he had first revealed the secret in his heart to the bishops and barons of the kingdom, whom he had purposefully summoned for his coronation in greater numbers than usual. The devout Bishop of Langres, had at that time preached in his capacity as a bishop about the slaughter and oppression of the Christians and the great insolence of the pagans in Rohais, known in antiquity as Edessa. He had roused many to tears by this lamentable tale and he had admonished them all that they should fight together with their king for the King of all in order to help the Christians. Zeal for the faith burned and glowed in King Louis. He held luxury and temporal glory in contempt and set an example which was better than any sermon. The King, however, could not immediately harvest by his example what the Bishop had sown by his words. Another day was appointed, therefore, namely Easter at Vezelay, when all were to assemble on Passion Sunday. Those who had received the heavenly inspiration were to take on the glory of the cross on the feast of the Resurrection.

The King, meanwhile, continued to press the undertaking and sent emissaries on this matter to Pope Eugene at Rome. They were joyfully received and were sent back with gladness: they brought back a letter sweeter than any honeycomb. The letter enjoined the King to be obedient and prescribed moderation in weapons and clothing. It also contained a promise of the remission of sins for those who took the sweet yoke of Christ as well as a promise of protection for their wives and children and instructions on certain other matters which seemed useful to the holy wisdom and prudence of the Supreme Pontiff. The Pope hoped that he could be present in person so as to be the first to lay his hands on such a holy enterprise, but he could not, since he was hindered by the tyranny of the Romans." He therefore delegated this task to Bernard, the holy Abbot of Clairvaux.

At last the day which the King hoped for arrived. The Abbot, armed with the apostolic authority and with his own sanctity was there at the time and place appointed, together with the very great multitude which had been summoned. Then the King received the insignia of the cross which the Supreme Pontiff had sent to him and so also did many of his nobles. Since there was no place in the fortress which could hold such a multitude, a wooden platform was built for the Abbot in a field outside of Vezelay, so that he could speak from a high place to the audience standing around him. Bernard mounted the platform together with the King, who wore the cross. When the heavenly instrument had, according to his custom, poured out the dew of the Divine Word, the people on all sides began to clamor and to demand crosses. When he had sowed, rather than passed out, the parcel of crosses which had been prepared, he was forced to tear his clothing into crosses and to sow them too. He labored at this task as long as he was in the town. I shall not attempt to write about the miracles which occurred there at that time and by which it appeared that the Lord was pleased, since if I write about a few of them, it will not be believed that there were more, while if I write about many of them, it may seem that I am overlooking my subject. Finally it was decided that they would start out in a year and everyone returned home rejoicing.

The Abbot indeed covered his robust spirit with a frail and almost moribund body. He flew everywhere to preach and in a short time the number of those who wore the cross had multiplied many fold. The King took an almost childlike joy in spreading the faith and sent ambassadors to King Roger in Apulia concerning the large army which he hoped to raise. Roger wrote back willingly on all these matters. He also sent back noblemen who pledged his Kingdom as security for the food, shipping, and all other necessities. They further promised that either Roger or his son would go along on the journey. Louis sent other messengers to the Emperor at Constantinople - I do not know his name, for it is not written in the book of life. The Emperor replied with a long and wordy scroll filled with flattery and in which he called our King his holy friend and brother and promised many things which he did not in fact carry out. But these things belong else where! Louis also asked the Hungarian and German kings for market rights and the right of passage and he received letters and messengers from them granting what be desired. Many of the dukes and counts of those areas were inspired by his example and wrote asking to take part in his expedition. Thus everything went along favorably. Meanwhile the news flew. It crossed over to England and reached the remote parts of the other islands. The people of the maritime areas prepared ships so as to accompany the King by sea.

The first groups to depart on the Second Crusade were companies of Anglo-Norman and Flemish sailors and troops who sailed from Dartmouth on May 19, 1147, bound for Spain to take part in the Spanish phase of the Crusade. The principal objective of these Crusaders was the conquest of a number of strong positions on the western coast of the Iberian peninsula, among them the important city of Lisbon, in what is now Portugal.' Affonso I of Portugal with his army was already in the field there when the Anglo-Norman contingents landed on the beaches close by, late in June, 1147.


Odo of Deuil, La Croisade de Louis VII, roi de France, I, ed. Henri Waquet, Documents relatifs à l;histoire des croisades, Vol 3 (Paris: Paul Guethner, 1949), 20-23, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962)

Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

2. The French Army in Central Europe

[Adapted from Brundage] A German army under Conrad II set out through Hungary, but met a disastrous end at the hand sof the Slejuqs in Anatolia. While the Germans were marching heedlessly toward defeat, the French army, led by King Louis VII, was following in their tracks, about a month behind. The story of their journey is related by the French King's chaplain, Odo of Deuil:

In what we have written the description of outstanding actions is given as a good example; the names of the cities are given to show the route of the journey; the description of the character of the localities is given as a guide to show what types of provisions are needed. Since there will always be pilgrims to the Holy Sepulcher, it is hoped that they will be more cautious in view of our experiences.

The rich cities of Metz, Worms, Wiirzburg, Ratisbon, and Passau, then, lie a three-day journey from one another. From the last named city it is a five-day journey to Wiener-Neustadt and from there it takes one day to reach the Hungarian border. The country in between these towns is forested and provisions must be brought from the towns, since the countryside cannot provide enough for an army. There are plenty of rivers there and also springs and meadows. When I passed through that area the mountains seemed rugged to me. Now, however, compared to Romania [i.e. Anatolia], I would call it a plain. This side of Hungary is bordered by muddy water. On the other side it is separated from Bulgaria by a clear stream. The Drave River is in the middle of Hungary. One bank of the river is steep and the other has a gentle slope, so that it is shaped like a ball. The result of this is that when even a little rain falls and is added to the water of the nearby swamps, even rather distant places are flooded. We heard that many of the Germans who preceded us were suddenly flooded out there. When we came to the place where their camp had been, we could scarcely ford it. We had only a few small boats and it was therefore necessary to make the horses swim. They found it easy to get in but hard to get out; however, with some work and God's protection they came across without losses.

All the rest of this country is covered with lakes, swamps, and springs-if springs can be made by travellers, even in the summer, by scraping the earth a little bit-except for the Danube, which follows a straight enough course and carries the wealth of many areas by ship to the noble city of Gran. This country is such a great food-producing area that Julius Caesar's commissariat is said to have been located there. The marketing and exchange facilities there were sufficient for our needs. We crossed Hungary in fifteen days.

From there, at the entrance to Bulgaria, the fortress called the Bulgarian Belgrade presented itself; it is so called to distinguish it from the Hungarian town of the same name. One day from Belgrade, with a river between them, lies the poor little town of Branicevo. Beyond these towns the country is, so to speak, forested meadow or crop-producing woods. It is bountiful in good things which grow by themselves and it would be good for other things if it had any farmers. It is not flat, nor is it rugged with mountains; rather it is watered by streams and very clear springs which flow between the hills, vines, and usable fields. It lacks any rivers, and between there and Constantinople we had no use for our boats. Five days from this place lies Nish, which, though small, is the first city of this section of Greece. The cities of Nish, Sofia, Philippopolis, and Adrianople are four days apart from each other and from the last of these it is five days to Constantinople. The countryside in between is flat. It is full of villages and forts and abounds in all kinds of good things. On the right and left there are mountains close enough to be seen. These are so long that they enclose a wide, rich, and pleasant plain. . . .

Thus far we had been at play, for we had neither suffered any damages from men's malice nor had we feared any dangers from the plots of cunning men. From the time when we entered Bulgaria and the land of the Greeks, however, both the strength and morale of the army were put to the test. In the impoverished town of Branicevo, as we were about to enter an uninhabited area, we loaded up with supplies, most of which came via the Danube from Hungary. There was such a number of boats there, brought by the Germans, that the populace's supplies of firewood and timber for building were assured for a long time. Our men took the smaller boats across the river and bought supplies from a certain Hungarian fortress which was not far away. Here we first encountered the stamina, a copper coin. We unhappily gave -or rather, lost-five denarii for one of them and a mark for twelve solidi. Thus the Greeks were tainted with perjury at the very entrance to their country. You may remember that, as has been said, their representatives had sworn, on the Emperor's behalf, that they would furnish us with a proper market and exchange. We crossed the rest of this desolate country and entered a most beautiful and wealthy land which stretches without interruption to Constantinople. Here we first began to receive injuries and to take notice of them. The other areas had sold us supplies properly and had found us peaceful. The Greeks, however, shut up their cities and fortresses and sent their merchandise down to us on ropes suspended from the walls. The supplies purveyed in this manner, however, were insufficient for our multitude. The pilgrims, therefore, secured the necessary supplies by plundering and looting, since they could not bear to suffer want in the midst of plenty.

It seemed to some that the Germans who had preceded us were at fault in this respect, since they had looted everything and we discovered that they had burned several settlements outside the walls of towns. The story must be told, although reluctantly. Outside of the walls of Philippopolis was a noble town inhabited by Latin peoples who sold a great many supplies to travellers for profit. When the Germans settled down in the taverns there, a joker was present, as bad luck would have it. Although he did not know their language, he sat down, made a sign, and got a drink. After guzzling for a long time, he took a charmed snake out of his pocket and placed it in his schooner, which he had deposited on the ground. He went on to play other joker's tricks among people of whose language and customs he was ignorant. The Germans rose up in horror, as if they had seen a monster, seized the entertainer, and tore him to pieces. They blamed everyone for the misdeeds of one man and declared that the Greeks had tried to murder them with poison. The town was aroused by the tumult in the suburb and the Duke came out beyond the walls with a group of his men to settle the disturbance. The Germans, whose eyes were bleary with wine and anger, saw, not unarmed men, but a posse. The angry Germans, therefore, rushed upon the men who had come to preserve peace in the belief that they were going to take revenge for the murder. The Germans snatched up their bows-for these are their weapons-and went out once more to turn to flight those from whom they had fled. They killed and wounded the Greeks and when all the Greeks had been expelled from the suburb, the Germans stopped. Many of the Germans were killed there, especially those who had gone into the inns, for, in order to get their money, the Greeks threw them into caves. When the Germans had plucked up their spirits and had taken up their weapons again, they returned and, in order to redress their shame and the slaughter of their men, they burned nearly everything outside of the walls.

The Germans were also unbearable to us. On one occasion some of our men wished to get away from the crowding of the multitude around the King. They therefore went on ahead and stayed near the Germans. Both they and the Germans went to market, but the Germans would not allow the Franks to buy anything until they got enough for themselves. From this arose a brawl, or rather a squabble, for when one man denounces another whom he does not understand in a loud voice, that is a squabble. The Franks struck them and the Germans struck back. The Franks then returned from the market with their supplies. The Germans, who were numerous, were scornful of the pride of a few Franks and took up arms against them. The Germans attacked them fiercely and the Franks, who were armed in a similar fashion, resisted spiritedly. God put an end to this wickedness, for night soon fell....

Thus, as the Germans went forward they disturbed everything and for this reason the Greeks fled from our peaceful Prince who followed the Germans. Nonetheless, the congregation of the churches and all the clergy came out from the cities with their icons and other Greek paraphernalia and they always received our King with due honor and with fear....


Odo of Deuil, La Croisade de Louis VII, roi de France, II-III, ed. Henri Waquet, Documents relatifs à l;histoire des croisades, Vol 3 (Paris: Paul Guethner, 1949), 30-32, 35-37, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 106-109
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

3. The French Army in Constantinople

[Adapted from Brundage] The French forces arrived at Constantinople on October 4, 1147. There they were both impressed by the splendor of the city and alarmed by the suspicious actions of the Greeks:

Constantinople is the glory of the Greeks. Rich in fame, richer yet in wealth, the city is triangular in shape, like a ship's sail. In Its inner angle lies Santa Sophia and the Palace of Constantine, in which there is a chapel honored for its sacred relics. The city is hemmed in on two sides by the sea: approaching the city, we had on the right the Arm of St. George and on the left a certain estuaryl6 which branches off from it and flows on for almost four miles. There is set what is called the Palace of Blachernae which, although it is rather low, yet, rises to eminence because of its elegance and its skillful construction. On its three sides the palace offers to its inhabitants the triple pleasure of gazing alternately on the sea, the countryside, and the town. The exterior of the palace is of almost incomparable loveliness and its interior surpasses anything that I can say about it. It is decorated throughout with gold and various colors and the floor is paved with cleverly arranged marble. Indeed, I do not know whether the subtlety of the art or the preciousness of the materials gives it the greater beauty or value. On the third side of the city's triangle there are fields. This side is fortified by towers and a double wall which extends for nearly two miles, from the sea to the palace. This wall is not especially strong, and the towers are not very high, but the city trusts, I think, in its large population and in its ancient peace. Within the walls there is vacant land which is cultivated with hoes and plows. Here there are all kinds of gardens which furnish vegetables for the citizens. Subterranean conduits flow into the city under the walls to furnish the citizens with an abundance of fresh water. The city is rather squalid and smelly and many places are afflicted with perpetual darkness. The rich build their houses so as to overhang the streets and leave these dark and dirty places for travellers and for the poor. There murder and robberies occur, as well as other sordid crimes which love the dark. Life in this city is lawless, since it has as many lords as it has rich men and almost as many thieves as poor men. Here the criminal feels neither fear nor shame, since crime is not punisbed by law nor does it ever fully come to light. Constantinople exceeds the average in everything-it surpasses other cities in wealth and also in vice. It has many churches which are unequal to Santa Sophia in size, though not in elegance. The churches are admirable for their beauty and equally so for their numerous venerable relics of the saints. Those who could enter them did so, some out of curiosity in order to see them, and some out of faithful devotion.

The King also was guided on a visit to the holy places by the Emperor. As they returned, the King dined with the Emperor at the latter's insistence. The banquet was as glorious as the banqueters; the handsome service, the delicious food, and the witty conversation satisfied eyes, tongue, and ears alike. Many of the King's men feared for him there, but he bad placed his trust in God and with faith and courage he feared nothing. Since he harbored no wicked designs himself, he was not quick to believe that others harbored wicked designs on him. Even though the Greeks gave no evidence of their treachery, however, I believe that they would not have shown such vigilant helpfulness if their intentions were honest. They were concealing the grievances for which they were going to take revenge after we crossed the Arm of St. George. It should not be held against them, however, that they kept the city gates closed against the commoners, since they had burned many of the Greeks' houses and olive trees, either because of a lack of wood or else because of the insolence and drunkenness of fools. The King frequently bad the ears, bands, and feet of some of them cut off, but he was unable to restrain their madness in this way.


Odo of Deuil, La Croisade de Louis VII, roi de France, IV, ed. Henri Waquet, Documents relatifs à l;histoire des croisades, Vol 3 (Paris: Paul Guethner, 1949), 44-46, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 109-111
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

4. The French Army in Asia Minor

[Adapted from Brundage] The French forces crossed the straits into Asia Minor about October 16, 1147, and then headed straightway into the hinterland of Anatolia or, as Odo calls it, Romania. Though they were more fortunate than the other forces which had preceded them into Anatolia, the French expedition's journey through the peninsula was difficult, slow, and painful. The rugged countryside, the continual harassment of the troops by the Turks, the persistent difficulties with supplies and communications, all combined to discourage the leaders and to make inroads upon the army's strength. As the French forces pushed further during the winter of 1147-1148, their despair deepened. Turkish raids took a mounting toll, while the weather impeded progress and did its own share in weakening the morale of the men. By the time the Crusaders reached Adalia, King Louis and his advisors had had their fill. Despairing of the prospect of continuing to fight their way toward Jerusalem, the King and his advisors decided to continue the rest of the way by sea. Unfortunately for these plans, however, the available Byzantine shipping was insufficient to transport the whole army and they could not wait indefinitely in Adalia for the arrival of further ships. As a result, King Louis with his household and a scattering of knights from the army were taken aboard the available ships and sailed to St. Simeon, the port city of Antioch, leaving the rest of the Crusading army to continue the journey as best it could. Many of the troops thus left behind at Adalia were killed in combat with the Turks in the vicinity of the town when they attempted to continue their journey by land. Those who managed to break through the Turkish cordon around the city were decimated by further Turkish and Arab attacks and only a handful remained alive to complete their journey to Jerusalem.:

Romania, furthermore, is a very wide land with rugged, stony mountains. It extends south to Antioch and is bounded by Turkey on the east. All of it was formerly under Greek rule, but the Turks now possess a great part of it and, after expelling the Greeks, have destroyed another part of it. In the places where the Greeks still hold fortresses, they do not pay taxes. Such are the servile conditions in which the Greeks hold the land which French strength liberated when the Franks conquered Jerusalem."' This indolent people would have lost it all, save for the fact that they have brought in soldiers of other nations to defend themselves. They are always losing, but since they possess a great deal, they do not lose everything at once. The strength of other peoples, however, is not sufficient for a people which totally lacks strength of its own. Nicomedia first made this clear to us: located among briars and brambles, its towering ruins demonstrated its ancient glory and the slackness of its present masters. In vain does a certain estuary of the sea flow from the Arm and terminate after a three-day journey at Nicomedia to better the city's facilities.

From Nicomedia three routes of various lengths and quality lead to Antioch. The road which turns to the left is the shorter of them and, if there were no obstacles along it, it could be traversed in three weeks. After twelve days, however, it reaches Konya, the Sultan's capital, which is a very noble city. Five days beyond the Turkish territory this road reaches the land of the Franks. A strong army fortified by faith and numbers would make light of this obstacle if it were not frightened by the snow-covered mountains in the winter. The road running to the right is more peaceful and better supplied than the other, but the winding seacoast which it follows delays the traveller three times over and its rivers and torrents in the winter are as frightful as the snow and the Turks on the other road. On the middle road the conveniences and difficulties of the other routes are tempered. It is longer but safer than the shorter road, shorter and safer than the long road, but poorer. The Germans who preceded us, therefore, had a disagreement. Many of them set out with the Emperor through Konya on the left hand road under sinister omens. The rest turned to the right under the Emperor's brother, a course which was unfortunate in every way. The middle road fell to our lot and so the misfortunes of the other two sides were tempered.


Odo of Deuil, La Croisade de Louis VII, roi de France, IV, ed. Henri Waquet, Documents relatifs à l;histoire des croisades, Vol 3 (Paris: Paul Guethner, 1949), 54-55, translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 111-112
Copyright note: Professor Brundage informed the Medieval Sourcebook that copyright was not renewed on this work. Moreover he gave permission for use of his translations.

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