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trated on his uneasy couch, the dying king gave his heir that kind of advice which comes so solemnly from the lips of a man whose soul is going to judgment. "Remember," says he, “that royalty is a public trust,
" for the exercise of which a rigorous account will be exacted by Him who has the sole disposal of crowns." Louis the Young, to whom this admonition was addressed, ascended the French throne when scarcely more than eighteen, and espoused Eleanor, daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine. The king, who had been educated with great care, gave promise of rivalling the policy and prowess of his father; and the young queen, besides being endowed by fortune with a magnificent duchy, had been gifted by nature with rare beauty and intellect. Everything prognosticated a prosperous future.
Scarcely, however, had Louis taken the reins of government, than the prospect was clouded by the insubordination of the Court of Champagne and the pretensions of the Pope. Louis, not daunted by the league which they formed, mounted his war-horse, and set out to maintain his authority. But the expedition terminated in a tragical event, which seemed to change the king's nature. While besieging Vitey, he cruelly set fire to a church in which the inhabitants had taken refuge; and having burned the edifice, with thirteen hundred human beings within its walls, he experienced such remorse that for some time afterward he had hardly courage to look upon the face of day. The tragical scene was ever present to the young king's memory; and while still brooding painfully over the crime, news of the fall of Edessa reached France. The idea of pacifying his conscience by a new crusade immediately occurred; and an assembly of barons and bishops was summoned to consider the project. This assembly submitted the propriety of such an enterprise to the Pope, and who after expressing approval, confided to St. Bernard the preaching of a new crusade.
Bernard-who was then Abbot of Clairvaux, and at the height of his fame-entered upon his mission with zeal. Having, in the spring of 1146, convoked an assembly at Vezelay, he presented himself in the garb of an anchorite, and, on a hill outside the town, addressed an immense concourse, among whom figured the King and Queen of France, surrounded by barons and prelates. Never was an orator more successful. Indeed, Bernard produced an impression hardly less marvellous than Peter the Hermit had done half a century earlier; and, as he concluded, his audience raised the old cry of “God wills it!"
While the hillside was ringing with enthusiastic shouts, Louis, throwing himself on his knees, received the cross; and Eleanor immediately followed her husband's example. Shouts of “ The Cross! The Cross !” then rose on all hands; and peers and peasants, bishops and burghers, rushing forward, cast themselves at Bernard's fect. Such was the demand, that the crosses provided for the occasion were quite insufficient. But Bernard, tearing up his vestments, got over the difficulty; and the sacred emblem soon appeared on every shoulder.
Elate with the success of his oratory, Bernard travelled through France, preaching the crusade ; and having in every city and province roused the enthusiasm of the populace, he repaired to Germany. At that time the crown of the Empire of the West rested on the brow of Conrad III.—but not quite so easily as he could have wished. In fact, the German Kaiser had a formidable rival in the Duke of Bavaria, and felt the reverse of secure. When, therefore, Bernard reached Spires, and asked the Emperor to arm for the defence of the Holy Sepulchre, Conrad, who was holding a Diet, evinced no ardor for the enterprise.“ Consider," he said, “the troubles in which the empire would be involved.” “ The Holy See,” said Bernard, “has placed you on the imperial throne, and knows how to support you there. If you defend God's heritage, the Church will take care of yours.”
But still Conrad hesitated ; and the preacher's eloquence was exerted in vain. At length, one day when Bernard was saying Mass before the emperor and the princes and the lords assembled at Spires, he paused in the midst of the service to expatiate on the guilt of those who refused to fight against Christ's enemies; and produced such an effect while picturing the Day of Judgment, that Conrad's hesitation vanished. “I know what I owe to Christ," he said, approaching, with tears in his eyes to receive the cross; "and I swear to go where his service calls me.”—“ This is a miracle !” exclaimed the peers and princes present, as they followed their sovereign's example, and vowed to attend his steps.
Having gained over Conrad, the eloquent Saint pursued his triumphs, and soon fired Germany with zeal. When he returned to France, and reported his success, preparations began in both countries. Enthusiasm was general ; men of all ranks assumed the cross; and even women vowed to arm themselves with sword and lance, and took an oath to fight for the Holy Sepulchre.
It was arranged that Louis and Conrad should depart in the spring of 1147, and that the French and German armies should unite at Constantinople. When the time approached, all rushed eastward, with the cry of “God wills it !” and every road was covered with pilgrims on their way to the camps. Bernard must almost have felt some dismay at the effect of his eloquence. “Villages and castles, are deserted,” he wrote to the Pope, “and there are none left but widows and orphans, whose parents are still living."
Early in the spring of 1147, Europe was in commotion. Everywhere in Germany and France men were seen with the cross on their shoulders. Shepherds flung down their crooks, husbandmen abandoned their teams, traders quitted their booths, barons left their castles, and bishops deserted their bishoprics, to arm for the defence of the Holy Sepulchre. From England, exhausted by dynastic war, and Italy, agitated by ecclesiastical strife, bands of warriors issued to swell the armies of Conrad and Louis. Many ladies armed themselves for the crusade, and prepared to signalize their prowess under the leadership of a female warrior whose dress excited much admiration, and whose gilded boots procured for her the name of “Golden-legs."
At Ratisbon, about Easter, the Emperor of Germany assembled his warriors. Accompanied by a host of nobles-among whom were his brother Otho, Bishop of Frisigen ; his nephew, Frederick Barbarossa, Duke of Suabia ; the Marquis of Montferrat, and the Duke of