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THE SECOND CRUSADE
 LOUIS VII. was called "the Young," because he was only
eighteen when he began to reign, but the name clung to
him until he died at the age of sixty.
Suger, the Abbot of St. Denis, who had been the friend
and minister of Louis VI., had also been the tutor of
the young king.
When Louis the Young was grown to be a man, Suger still
had great influence over him, and it was really the
abbot who ruled the kingdom.
But though Suger had great power, he lived quite
quietly and simply in a tiny cell in the abbey of St.
Denis. His bed was of straw, his bedclothes only a
rough woollen counterpane. If any one visited the abbot
in his cell, he would not have seen the rough couch
upon which Suger slept, for through the day it was
carefully covered with a carpet.
By his father's wish Louis the Young had married
Eleanor, a rich princess whose father ruled Aquitaine
in the south of France, as well as many other wealthy
provinces. As her dowry she brought both her lands and
wealth to the young king.
But though the princess was rich, she was so different
in character from Louis, that it was not easy for
either of them to live happily together.
Queen Eleanor was gay, ambitious, selfish; while Louis,
trained by the devout Abbot of St. Denis, was grave,
humble and unselfish.
 About five years after he began to reign, Louis
the Young went to war with one of his barons. The
king's soldiers set fire to Vitry, the town which they
were besieging. As it was built of wood the flames
spread to the church, in which the inhabitants of the
town had taken refuge. When the poor people saw that
they would be burned to death, they uttered piercing
cries, and these cries reached the ear of the king.
Had it been possible Louis would even then have saved
the people, but the flames had spread so quickly that
it was too late to do anything, and they all perished.
The king could never forget the cries he had heard, and
blamed himself for what had happened. He determined to
do penance for this and all his other sins by going on
At this very time St. Bernard, the great and holy Abbot
of Clairvaux, was going from city to city throughout
France rousing the people, even as Peter the Hermit had
done, to go on a crusade against the Turks.
Edessa, one of the great strongholds of the Christians
in the east, had been captured by the Turks, who had
then cruelly massacred the inhabitants. These tidings
reached France while St. Bernard was preaching the
Second Crusade. It added to the power of his words as
he cried, "Christian warriors, He who gave His life for
you to-day demandeth yours."
King Louis heard, and believed that this was the
for which he had been seeking. The multitude, too, who
listened shouted the old battle-cry of the crusaders,
"God willeth it! God willeth it!"
Then Louis, kneeling at the feet of St. Bernard, took
from his hand the Cross, the badge of the Holy War.
Knight after knight followed the king's example. The
people also clamoured for "Crosses, Crosses," until St.
Bernard tore up his garments that the pieces might be
made into badges for the eager multitude.
 From France the abbot, still preaching the
crusade, journeyed into Germany.
The Emperor, Conrad III., was not as easily persuaded
to join the movement as St. Bernard wished. Conrad
believed, and perhaps truly, that his own kingdom
needed his presence.
Then one day, when the emperor was present in church,
St. Bernard drew a picture of Jesus bearing His cross
and reproaching Conrad because he had not helped Him to
The emperor, as he listened, was strangely moved. He
interrupted the preacher, crying, "I know what I owe to
Jesus Christ, and I swear to go whither it pleaseth Him
to call me."
And so in 1147, when the second crusade set out for
Palestine, Louis VII. and Conrad III. were each at the
head of a large army.
Conrad reached Asia Minor first. Before Louis could
join him the-Turks had fallen upon the German army and
utterly defeated it. Those who escaped joined the
French army, and together they began to march across
Asia Minor. But Conrad went back to Constantinople.
King Louis gained a great victory over the Turks close
to the river Meander, but soon after his army got
scattered and lost among the narrow passes of the
mountains in Pisidia.
The Turks had foreseen that this would happen, and were
awaiting the scattered army as it struggled in small
companies out of the narrow mountain passes.
Louis's bodyguard was slain before his eyes. The king,
left alone, placed himself against a rock, and fought
with his sword so desperately, that at length the Turks
who had attacked him turned and fled. Had they known it
was the king, they might have been less ready to leave
When the Turks had fled, Louis, glancing round, saw
close at hand a riderless horse. He lost not a moment
 mounting it, and galloping off he soon rejoined
his advanced guard, who had feared that their king was
The army now continued its march until it arrived at a
small seaport on the Mediterranean. King Louis had
hoped to reach Antioch by land. But to march there
would still take forty days, and food was scarce, while
to go by sea would take only three days.
Unfortunately it was impossible to provide ships for
the whole army. At first King Louis refused to desert
those who had followed him so far, but before long he
was persuaded to embark with as many knights as the
ships would hold, and the army was left to its fate.
Before he sailed the king gave all the money and
provisions he had to the soldiers to help them on their
long and dangerous march to Antioch. But only a remnant
of the army ever set out on that march. For no sooner
had the king and his nobles sailed than the Turks fell
upon the forsaken soldiers, and many of them were slain
or taken prisoners.
When Louis reached Antioch in March 1148, he heard of
the terrible fate that had overtaken his army; and
again, as when the people of Vitry were burned, he felt
that he was responsible for the terrible disaster.
In April King Louis reached Jerusalem, where the
Emperor Conrad, disguised as a pilgrim, also arrived
accompanied by only a few knights. Soon afterward the
remnant of the French and German armies joined their
kings, who at once determined to lay siege to Damascus.
But the town was too strong to be taken by the feeble
force which was now all that was left of the united
armies. The siege was raised, and the king and the
emperor went back to Jerusalem. Conrad, discouraged and
disappointed, returned to Germany soon after the siege
of Damascus had been raised.
Louis could not make up his mind to go home. He had
done so little, and lost so large a part of his army,
 was ashamed to face his faithful minister
Suger. Gradually many of the knights went back to
France, but Louis lingered
At length the entreaties of Suger, who had sent
messengers to beg the king to come home, were
successful, and in the autumn of 1149 Louis was once
more in France. Of the great army with which he had set
out for Palestine, only two or three hundred knights
were left to journey home with the king.
Suger, who had been regent during the king's absence,
welcomed him with joy, and, having given Louis an
account of his work, retired to St. Denis. Here he
spent the rest of his life, ruling his abbey as wisely
as he had ruled the kingdom of France.
Three years after Louis's return from the crusade Suger
died. The king missed his minister sorely, but perhaps
the kingdom missed his strong hand even more. Louis had
called Suger the Father of the Country, and in the
years to come it was by this name that he was long
A few months after Suger's death Queen Eleanor left
Louis to marry Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou. She
brought to her new husband the rich provinces of
Aquitaine and Poitou.
A chronicler who lived in Anjou at this time, and ought
to have known the count, tells us that he was "vigorous
in war, marvellous in prudence of reply, frugal in
habits, munificent to others, sober, kindly, peaceable.
He bore himself so wisely, defended himself so
manfully, that all men, even his foes, praised him."
It was this worthy count who became Henry II., King of
England. And you can easily understand that Louis was
not at all pleased that so powerful a ruler as the King
of England should also possess so many rich provinces
From 1154, when Henry Plantagenet became King of
England, the struggle between him and Louis never
 And long after Henry II. and Louis VII. had ceased
to reign, the struggle between the two countries was
continued, until at length an English king laid claim
to the throne of France.
Meanwhile Louis, forsaken by Eleanor, married again.
His second wife, however, died in 1160. Then Louis
married a third time, and in 1165 a son was born, heir
to the throne of France.
The little prince was named Philip, but the people in
their gladness called him Dieu donné, the Gift of God.
When Philip was fifteen years old the king wished his
son to be crowned. The day before the coronation,
however, Philip went out to hunt and lost himself in a
forest. Cold and bewildered, he wandered about all
night, and only in the morning did he find his way back
to the palace.
Unfortunately the prince had caught cold during the
night in the forest, and soon he grew so ill, Louis
feared that his son would die.
Then the king did a strange thing. He left the prince
lying ill in bed, and went to England on a pilgrimage
to the tomb of Thomas à Becket.
When Thomas à Becket had been archbishop. King Louis
had befriended him. Perhaps he hoped that now the
archbishop had become a saint he would plead with God
that the little sick Prince of France might get well.
At the end of five days, so quickly had Louis
journeyed, he was back at the bedside of his son, who
was already much better.
But the king himself, worn out with anxiety and the
haste of the journey, took ill, and was unable to be
present at the coronation of the prince.
During his illness he begged that all his money and his
garments might be brought to him. Then with his own
 royal hands he divided both money and clothes among
the poor, who by his request had been brought into the
room where he lay.
In September 1180, a few months after the coronation of
his son, Louis VII. died.