The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148

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The Second Crusade: the War Council of Acre, 1148 brings to life a dramatic moment in the history of the crusades. Students become the great gathering of monarchs, barons, religious authorities, and others that met as a war council in Acre on the eve of the Second Crusade, and “react” as participants in the discussions and debates that might have been held there. As William of Tyre, the most important historian of the twelfth-century crusader states explains, after the armies led by the French and German monarchs had arrived in the holy land in response to the Pope’s call for crusade, “a general court was proclaimed at the city of Acre to consider the results of this great pilgrimage, the completion of such great labors, and also the enlargement of the realm. On the appointed day they assembled in Acre, as had been arranged. Then, together with the nobles of the realm who possessed an accurate knowledge of affairs and places, they entered into a careful consideration as to what plan was most expedient.” The war council must discuss and debate the idea of “crusading,” the justifications for holy war, and the reasons why a second crusade should be launched at this time. They must decide who from among the council’s participants should lead the crusade, and further if the authority for the crusade should lie in secular or religious hands. And finally, they must consider what city or area should be attacked and how. The debates are informed by Christian and Muslim teachings about peace and holy war found in the New Testament and the Qur’an. They are also informed by St. Augustine’s City of God, documents from the Investiture Controversy, and selections from various other historical sources about the Second Crusade and the crusader states, including William of Tyre, Odo of Deuill, Otto of Freising, Usamah ibn Munqidth, and Ibn al-Qalanisi. The Second Crusade game reverberates with issues that are as important today as they were in the twelfth century.

About the Author:

Helen Gaudette is the director of the Queens College Office of Global Education Initiatives. In this capacity, she works with faculty to oversee, coordinate, and assess Queens College’s study abroad and international exchange programs. Gaudette manages partnerships with foreign institutions, keeps faculty informed and engaged, and helps create new study abroad programs. In addition, she advertises and promotes study abroad, internships, and service learning opportunities to current and prospective students, and implements crisis management policies and practices. A full-time member of the Queens College Department of History as well, Gaudette earned her Ph.D. at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Her dissertation examined the power and patronage of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem's monarchs.  She has taught a wide range of European history courses for Queens College with Reacting to the Past, including study abroad courses in France, Greece, India, Israel, and Italy. In 2007, she won the Queens College President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.