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The main reason for the failure of the second crusade was the lack of a clear and unified command structure. How far do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

The main reason for the failure of the second crusade was the lack of a clear and unified command structure. How far do you agree with this statement? It is without question that the Second Crusade suffered from a lack of a clear and unified command structure as the two main leaders, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, were unable to cooperate in a cohesive manner. However, it was not the only reason for the failure of the crusade as there were a myriad of other factors such as the lack of clear aims and the problems associated with the method of travel chosen by the crusaders. Arguably, the lack of a clear and unified command structure was inevitable from the inception of the crusade as Bernard of Clairvaux's success in Germany meant that there were to be two separate armies marching on the Holy Land- a situation which is both logistically demanding and likely to breed a lack of focus. An important element in the success of the First Crusade was the fact that there were no monarchs involved-the vast majority of the crusaders were humble people fuelled by religious fervour and the promise of the afterlife. ...read more.

Middle

Both theatres of conflict haemorrhaged resources such as food, men and transport which could have been used more effectively on the second crusade and enabled the crusaders to further establish a foothold in the Holy Land- rather than greedily pillage and loot Eastern Europe and Portugal. It is undoubtedly true that the primary reasons for crusader involvement in these conflicts was the promise of riches and the opportunity to march on the enemies of God in an area closer to home- a cause which was significantly less important than the defence of the Crusader states, and indicative of the lack of focus displayed by the crusaders during this period. In particular, the resources wasted in the Reconquista would have been massively useful in the Second Crusade as a fleet of 150-200 English vessels involved in the Reconquista could have been used to aid the crusaders on their journey to the Holy Land- providing supplies, carrying the wounded, and even transporting some of the fighting forces themselves. Though it is true that the decision to assist in the Reconquista rather than the Second Crusade was the decision of the particular crusaders who travelled there, had there been a clear command ...read more.

Conclusion

There were in fact no redeeming features of the decision to travel by land as it did nothing but weaken an already disorganised and bloated army which had a distinct lack of focus. Had the crusaders decided to travel by sea they would have been in a far stronger position from which to take back Edessa and repel the Muslim forces in the East. However, the decision to travel by land was merely a symptom of more fundamental flaws in the preparation for the second crusade and that single factor cannot be held solely responsible for the ultimate failure of the crusade. Had the crusaders been organised in a cohesive way with a clear and unified command structure it is almost certain that the Second Crusade would have been a more focussed endeavour with a clear set of aims and a strong sense of purpose. Overall, it is clear that the Second Crusade failed due to the combination of a myriad of circumstances; however, the lack of a clear and unified command structure was the main contributor to a significant amount of these issues and thus one can draw the conclusion that it was the main reason for the ultimate failure of the crusade. ...read more.

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