On This Day
1146 – Bernard of Clairvaux preaches his famous sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade. Louis VII is present, and joins the Crusade.
Second Crusade (1146–49)
News came at this time from the Holy Land that alarmed Christendom. Christians had been defeated at the Siege of Edessa and most of the county had fallen into the hands of the Seljuk Turks. The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the other Crusader states were threatened with similar disaster. Deputations of the bishops of Armenia solicited aid from the pope, and the King of France also sent ambassadors. In 1144 Eugene III commissioned Bernard to preach the Second Crusade and granted the same indulgences for it which Pope Urban II had accorded to the First Crusade.
There was at first virtually no popular enthusiasm for the crusade as there had been in 1095. Bernard found it expedient to dwell upon taking the cross as a potent means of gaining absolution for sin and attaining grace. On 31 March, with King Louis VII of France present, he preached to an enormous crowd in a field at Vézelay, making “the speech of his life”. The full text has not survived, but a contemporary account says that “his voice rang out across the meadow like a celestial organ”
James Meeker Ludlow describes the scene romantically in his book The Age of the Crusades:
A large platform was erected on a hill outside the city. King and monk stood together, representing the combined will of earth and heaven. The enthusiasm of the assembly of Clermont in 1095, when Peter the Hermit and Urban II launched the first crusade, was matched by the holy fervor inspired by Bernard as he cried, “O ye who listen to me! Hasten to appease the anger of heaven, but no longer implore its goodness by vain complaints. Clothe yourselves in sackcloth, but also cover yourselves with your impenetrable bucklers. The din of arms, the danger, the labors, the fatigues of war, are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the Infidels, and let the deliverance of the holy places be the reward of your repentance.” As in the olden scene, the cry “Deus vult! Deus vult! ” rolled over the fields, and was echoed by the voice of the orator: “Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood.”
When Bernard was finished the crowd enlisted en masse; they supposedly ran out of cloth to make crosses. Bernard is said to have flung off his own robe and began tearing it into strips to make more. Others followed his example and he and his helpers were supposedly still producing crosses as night fell.
Unlike the First Crusade, the new venture attracted royalty, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France; Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders; Henry, the future Count of Champagne; Louis’s brother Robert I of Dreux; Alphonse I of Toulouse; William II of Nevers; William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey; Hugh VII of Lusignan, Yves II, Count of Soissons; and numerous other nobles and bishops. But an even greater show of support came from the common people. Bernard wrote to the pope a few days afterwards, “Cities and castles are now empty. There is not left one man to seven women, and everywhere there are widows to still-living husbands.”
Bernard then passed into Germany, and the reported miracles which multiplied almost at his every step undoubtedly contributed to the success of his mission. Conrad III of Germany and his nephew Frederick Barbarossa, received the cross from the hand of Bernard. Pope Eugenius came in person to France to encourage the enterprise. As in the First Crusade, the preaching led to attacks on Jews; a fanatical French monk named Radulphe was apparently inspiring massacres of Jews in the Rhineland, Cologne, Mainz, Worms, and Speyer, with Radulphe claiming Jews were not contributing financially to the rescue of the Holy Land. The archbishop of Cologne and the archbishop of Mainz were vehemently opposed to these attacks and asked Bernard to denounce them. This he did, but when the campaign continued, Bernard traveled from Flanders to Germany to deal with the problems in person. He then found Radulphe in Mainz and was able to silence him, returning him to his monastery.
The last years of Bernard’s life were saddened by the failure of the Second Crusade he had preached, the entire responsibility for which was thrown upon him. Bernard considered it his duty to send an apology to the Pope and it is inserted in the second part of his “Book of Considerations.” There he explains how the sins of the crusaders were the cause of their misfortune and failures.
Moved by his burning words, many Christians embarked for the Holy Land, but the crusade ended in miserable failure.
Born On This Day
1833 – Mary Abigail Dodge, American writer and essayist (d. 1896)
Mary Abigail Dodge (March 31, 1833 – August 17, 1896) was an American writer and essayist, who wrote under the pseudonym Gail Hamilton. Her writing is noted for its wit and promotion of equality of education and occupation for women.
Mary Abigail Dodge was born March 31, 1833, in Hamilton, Massachusetts. She was born on a farm, the seventh child of Hannah and James Dodge. A childhood accident left her blind in one eye. At 12, she was sent to a boarding school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before enrolling at the Ipswich Female Seminary. She graduated in 1850, and proceeded to teach there for four years, until she got a position at Hartford Female Seminary. She disliked the job, however, and decided to write poetry.
Editor Gamaliel Bailey read her work in 1856 and, by 1858, she had moved to Washington, D. C. to serve as a governess for his children. From there, she sent in her publications to anti-slavery newspapers. She disliked attention, however, and chose the pen name Gail Hamilton, combining the last part of her middle name with her place of birth. Among her writings were political commentaries, making her one of the first female political correspondents in Washington. Her essays were best known for their harshness towards men.
In 1860, after Bailey’s death, Dodge returned to her native town and contributed to The Atlantic Monthly. Her father died in 1864 and she helped support her mother until she died in 1868. By 1871, she returned to Washington to live with the family of James G. Blaine, who was married to her first cousin, but returned to Hamilton in summers.
Dodge became known for her personality as much as her writing. When asked for a description for a compilation about eminent women of the day, she responded with a variation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Bells” that she was “Neither man nor woman / I am neither brute nor human / I am a ghoul!” One of her admirers later wrote, “She is incisive, even combative, by nature, and thoroughly enjoys a good, hot old-fashioned controversies.”
Dodge was also interested in publishing matters and criticized the assumption that women writers were “an eternal child” when it came to understanding the business side of authorship. In 1868, after reading an article in The Congregationalist titled “Pay of Authors”, she realized her royalty payment of 15 cents per book sold was less than the average author pay of 10%. She wrote to her publisher James Thomas Fields, who initially ignored her, eventually claimed that he spent more money on publishing and advertising her books than average. She learned, too, that Sophia Hawthorne, widow of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, was also having similar trouble with Field’s publishing house Ticknor and Fields. She abruptly ended her friendship with Ticknor’s wife Annie Adams Fields in February 1868, and Mrs. Fields eventually destroyed all the letters from her former friend. In her journal a month later, she wrote of her distress, “We do not forget to feel still the savagery… of Gail Hamilton… I really thought she cared for me! And now to find it was a pretense or a stepping-stone merely is something to shudder over. And all for a little of this world’s poor money!” After months of back and forth, during which Dodge came to distrust Ticknor and Fields and wrote to other authors including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe to discredit them, she anonymously published A Battle of the Books in 1870 chronicling her negative experiences.
While working on a biography of James Blaine, she had a stroke, leaving her in a coma that lasted for several weeks. She then returned to Hamilton, before dying of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 17, 1896.
Country Living and Country Thinking (1864)
Woman’s Wrongs: A Counter-irritant (1868)
A Battle of the Books (1870)
Woman’s Worth and Worthlessness (1872)
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