Pope Eugene III

Pope Eugene III (Latin: Eugenius III; c. 1080 – 8 July 1153), born Bernardo Pignatelli,[2] called Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope from 15 February 1145 to his death in 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope. In response to the fall of Edessa to the Muslims in 1144, Eugene proclaimed the Second Crusade. The crusade failed to recapture Edessa, which was the first of many failures by the Christians in the crusades to recapture lands won in the First Crusade.

He was beatified on 28 December 1872 by Pope Pius IX on the account of his sanctity.

Pope Blessed

Eugene III
Pope Eugene III
Papacy began15 February 1145
Papacy ended8 July 1153
PredecessorLucius II
SuccessorAnastasius IV
Orders
Ordination1135
by Pope Innocent II
Consecration18 December 1145
Personal details
Birth nameBernardo
Born1080[1]
Pisa, Republic of Pisa, Holy Roman Empire
Died8 July 1153
Tivoli, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Previous postAbbot of San Anastasio alle Tre Fontane (1140–45)
Sainthood
Feast day8 July
Venerated inCatholic Church
Title as SaintBlessed
Beatified28 December 1872
Rome, Papal States
by Pope Pius IX
Attributes
Patronage
Other popes named Eugene
Papal styles of
Pope Eugene II
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleBlessed

Biography

Early life

Bernardo was born in the vicinity of Pisa. Little is known about his origins and family except that he was son of a certain Godius.[3] From the 16th century he is commonly identified as member of the family of Paganelli di Montemagno, which belonged to the Pisan aristocracy, but this has not been proven and contradicts earlier testimonies that suggest he was a man of rather humble origins.[4] In 1106 he was a canon of the cathedral chapter in Pisa and from 1115 is attested as subdeacon.[5] 1133–1138 he acted as vicedominus of the archdiocese of Pisa.[6]

Between May 1134 and February 1137 he was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Innocent II, who resided at that time in Pisa.[7] Under the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux he entered the Cistercian Order in the monastery of Clairvaux in 1138. A year later he returned to Italy as leader of the Cistercian community in Scandriglia. In Autumn 1140, Pope Innocent II named him abbot of the monastery of S. Anastasio alle Tre Fontane outside Rome.[8] Some chronicles indicate that he was also elevated to the College of Cardinals,[9] but these testimonies probably resulted from a confusion because Bernardo is not attested as cardinal in any document and from the letter of Bernard of Clairvaux addressed to the cardinals shortly after his election clearly appears that he was not a cardinal.[10]

Papal election

Bernardo was elected pope on 15 February 1145, the same day as the death of his predecessor Lucius II who had unwisely decided to take the offensive against the Roman Senate and was killed by a "heavy stone" thrown at him during an attack on the Capitol[11]. He took the pontifical name of "Eugene III". He was "a simple character, gentle and retiring - not at all, men thought, the material of which Popes are made".[12] He owed his elevation partly to the fact that no one was eager to accept an office the duties of which were at the time so difficult and dangerous and because the election was "held on safe Frangipani territory".[12]

His election was assisted by being a friend and pupil of Bernard of Clairvaux, the most influential ecclesiastic of the Western Church and a strong assertor of the pope's temporal authority. The choice did not have the approval of Bernard, however, who remonstrated against the election, writing to the entire Curia:

"May God forgive you what you have done! ... What reason or counsel, when the Supreme Pontiff was dead, made you rush upon a mere rustic, lay hands on him in his refuge, wrest from his hands the axe, pick or hoe, and lift him to a throne?"[13]

Bernard was equally forthright in his views directly to Eugene, writing:

"Thus does the finger of God raise up the poor out of the dust and lift up the beggar from the dunghill that he may sit with princes and inherit the throne of glory."[13]

Despite these criticisms, Eugene seems to have borne no resentment to Bernard[13] and notwithstanding these criticisms, after the choice was made, Bernard took advantage of the qualities in Eugene III which he objected to, so as virtually to rule in his name.

Pontificate

Consécration par EUgène III
The episcopal consecration of Pope Eugene III

During nearly the whole of his pontificate, Eugene III was unable to reside in Rome. Hardly had he left the city to be consecrated in the monastery of Farfa (about 40 km north of Rome), when the citizens, under the influence of Arnold of Brescia, the great opponent of the Pope's temporal power, established the old Roman constitution, the Commune of Rome and elected Giordano Pierleoni to be Patrician. Eugene III appealed for help to Tivoli, Italy, to other cities at feud with Rome, and to King Roger II of Sicily (who sent his general Robert of Selby), and with their aid was successful in making such conditions with the Roman citizens as enabled him for a time to hold the semblance of authority in his capital. But as he would not agree to a treacherous compact against Tivoli, he was compelled to leave the city in March 1146. He stayed for some time at Viterbo, and then at Siena, but went ultimately to France.

On hearing of the fall of Edessa (now the modern day city of Urfa, the first of the Crusader states established in the Levant) to the Turks, which occurred in 1144, he had, in December 1145, addressed the bull Quantum praedecessores to Louis VII of France, calling on him to take part in another crusade. At a great diet held at Speyer in 1146, King of the Romans Conrad III and many of his nobles were also incited to dedicate themselves to the crusade by the eloquence of Bernard who preached to an enormous crowd at Vézelay[14].

In the end, the Second Crusade was "an ignominious fiasco"[14] and, after travelling for a year, the army abandoned their campaign after just five days of siege "having regained not one inch of Muslim territory."[14] The crusaders suffered immense losses in both men and materiel and suffered, in the view of one modern historian, "the ultimate humiliation which neither they, nor their enemies, would forget".[14]

Eugene III held synods in northern Europe at Paris,[15] Rheims (March 1148),[16][17] and Trier in 1147[18] that were devoted to the reform of clerical life. He also considered and approved the works of Hildegard of Bingen.

In June 1148, Eugene III returned to Italy and took up his residence at Viterbo. He was unable to return to Rome due to the popularity of Arnold of Brescia, who opposed Papal temporal authority, in the city. He established himself at Prince Ptolemy's fortress in Tusculum, the closest town to Rome at which he could safely install himself, on 8 April 1149.

There he met the returning Crusader king Louis VII of France and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine who were by then barely on speaking terms given the strains of the failed Crusade and the suggestion that Eleanor may have entered into a relationship with her uncle Raymond during the Crusade. Eugene, "a gentle, kind-hearted man who hated to see people unhappy"[14] attempted to assuage the pain of the failed Crusade and their failing marriage by insisting that they slept in the same bed and "by daily converse to restore the love between them"[14]. His efforts were unsuccessful, and two years later Eugene agreed to annul the marriage on the grounds of consanguinity.[14] Eleanor went on to remarry and become the wife of one King of England, and the mother of two.

Eugene stayed at Tusculum until 7 November. At the end of November 1149, through the aid of the King of Sicily, he was again able to enter Rome, but the atmosphere of open hostility from the Comune soon compelled him to retire (June 1150).

Mort Eugéne III
The death of Pope Eugene III

The Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa had promised to aid him against his revolted subjects, but this was not to be: Eugene III died at Tivoli on 8 July 1153. Though the citizens of Rome were jealous of the efforts of Eugene III to assert his temporal authority, they were always ready to recognize him as their spiritual lord. Besides that, they deeply reverenced his personal character. Until the day of his death he continued to wear, under his robes, the coarse habit of a Cistercian monk.[14] Accordingly, he was buried in the Vatican with every mark of respect, and his tomb soon acquired an extraordinary fame for miraculous cures.

Beatification

The people of Rome were quick to recognize Eugene III as a pious figure who was meek and spiritual. His tomb acquired considerable fame owing to the miracle purported to have occurred there and his cause for sainthood commenced. Pope Pius IX beatified him in 1872.

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ Horn, p. 35.
  2. ^ Pope Blessed Eugene III, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Horn, p. 31.
  4. ^ J. M. Brixius, Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums von 1130–1181, Berlin 1912, p. 86; Eugenio III. Horn, p. 33–34, has rejected the attribution of this familiar denomination to Eugene III as completely unfounded.
  5. ^ Horn, p. 34–35.
  6. ^ Horn, p. 34.
  7. ^ Horn, p. 35–36.
  8. ^ Horn, p. 36–40.
  9. ^ On that ground Brixius, p. 41 no. 7, lists him among the cardinals created by Innocent II.
  10. ^ Horn, p. 42–45.
  11. ^ NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871.
  12. ^ a b NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871.
  13. ^ a b c NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h NORWICH, JOHN JU (2012). The Popes: A History. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099565871.
  15. ^ J.-D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima Tomus XXI (Venice: A. Zatta, 1776), pp. 707-712. Carl Joseph Hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux Tome V, première partie (Paris: Letouzey 1912), pp. 812-817.
  16. ^ Mansi, pp. 711-736.
  17. ^ P. Jaffe, Regesta pontificum Romanorum, II (Leipzig: Veit 1888), pp. 52-53.
  18. ^ Mansi, pp. 737-738. Hefele, pp. 821-822.

Sources

  • Original text from the 9th edition (1879) of an unnamed encyclopedia. Original referred to him as Eugene – modified to match spelling on Popes list. Please update article as needed.
  • M. Horn, Studien zur Geschichte Papst Eugens III.(1145–1153), Peter Lang Verlag 1992
  • Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, On Consideration, (addressed to Pope Eugene III), George Lewis, trans., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1908.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Lucius II
Pope
1145–53
Succeeded by
Anastasius IV
1140s

The 1140s was a decade of the Julian Calendar which began on January 1, 1140, and ended on December 31, 1149.

1145 papal election

The papal election of 1145 followed the death of Pope Lucius II and resulted in the election of Pope Eugene III, the first pope of the Order of Cistercians.

1153 papal election

The papal election of 1153 followed the death of Pope Eugene III and resulted in the election of Pope Anastasius IV.

Alain (bishop of Auxerre)

Alain (Alanus) (died 1185) was a Cistercian abbot of La Rivour, and bishop of Auxerre from 1152 to 1167. He was a close associate of Bernard of Clairvaux, who was instrumental in getting him appointed bishop, under commission from Pope Eugene III, after a dispute in the diocese. Alain was one of Bernard's biographers.

He was born in Flanders, near Lille, and has often been confused with the later Alain of Lille. The book Doctrinale altum seu liber parabolarum, published c. 1485 is by the latter Alain, who died in 1203.

Châlons Cathedral

Châlons Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Châlons) is a Roman Catholic church in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, formerly known as Châlons-sur-Marne.

The cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Châlons and was consecrated in 1147 October 26, by Pope Eugene III.

Jean-Jacques Arveuf-Fransquin designed the neo-Flamboyant organ case of Châlons Cathedral. The case was created by the cabinetmaker Etienne Gabriel Ventadour, and housed the instrument made by John Abbey, who delivered the instrument in 1849.

The cathedral is also noted for its stained glass windows.

Cosmas of Aphrodisia

Cosmas was Bishop of Aphrodisia and martyr. Born at Palermo, on the island of Sicily, and was appointed and ordained Bishop of Aphrodisia, ordained by Pope Eugene III. When the Saracens invaded the island and captured his see, Cosmas was seized and suffered martyrdom.

Divina dispensatione

Divina dispensatione is the name for two papal bulls issued by Pope Eugene III. The first was issued on 5 October 1146 to the clergy of Italy, urging Italians to join the Second Crusade. The second was issued on 11 April 1147 at Troyes and called for the Wendish Crusade against the pagan Slavs. In the second bull Eugene declared:

Certain of you, however, (are) desirous of participating in so holy a work and reward and plan to go against the Slavs and other pagans living towards the North and to subject them, with the Lord's assistance, to the Christian religion. We give heed to the devotion of these men, and to all those who have not accepted the cross for going to Jerusalem and who have decided to go against the Slavs and to remain in the spirit of devotion on that expedition, as it is prescribed, we grant that same remission of sin...and the same temporal privileges as to the crusaders to Jerusalem.

Gille Aldan

Gille (or Gilla) Aldan (Gaelic: "Servant of Saint Aldwin[e]"), of Whithorn, was a native Galwegian who was the first Bishop of the resurrected Bishopric of Whithorn or Galloway. He was the first to be consecrated by the Archbishop of York, who at that time was Thurstan. The re-creation of the Bishopric suited both the ruler of Galloway, Fergus, and the Archbishop, who had few suffragans and needed more in order to maintain his independence from Canterbury.

We have the record of a mandate by Pope Honorius II, dating to December in 1128, confirming that Gille Aldan should seek consecration from Thurstan. Richard Oram argues that the creation of the Bishopric of Whithorn probably encouraged the wrath and enmity of Bishop Wimund of the Isles, who seems to have regarded the area as his natural area of authority. William of Newburgh records that Wimund made an attack on another Bishop in order to extort tribute. If Oram is correct, and his victim was in fact Gilla Aldan, then this attack would make perfect sense, as Wimund's See was the obvious loser out of the deal done between Fergus and York.

Gilla Aldan's name is recorded for the last time in 1151, when he was told by Pope Eugene III to give homage to the new Archbishop of York, Henry Murdac. We know that Gille Aldan was dead by 1154, because in that year his successor Christian was consecrated.

Giordano Pierleoni

Giordano (sometimes anglicized as Jordan) Pierleoni (in contemporary Latin, Jordanus filius Petrus Leonis) was the son of the Consul Pier Leoni and therefore brother of Antipope Anacletus II and leader of the Commune of Rome which the people set up in 1143. According to Gregorovius, he was a "maverick" in the great Pierleoni family, for he continued to oppose the papacy after Anacletus' death, when the rest of his clan had returned to support of Rome.

In late autumn 1143, the democratic element in Rome set up a Senate in opposition to the higher nobility and the papacy. Drawing on the glorious ancient Roman Republic, the citizens declared a senate, based on four elected representatives from each of the newly created fourteen districts of medieval Rome, the first real senators since the seventh century. The fifty six senators then elected as patrician Pierleoni, because the title of consul had taken on noble connotations. Pierleoni led the defence of the city against Pope Lucius II's assault in 1145, where Lucius himself was killed. However, Pierleoni could not maintain order in the city and, despite his overtures of negotiations with Lucius—demanding the pope renounce secular authority and live as a common priest before being allowed reentry into the city, —he was deposed by the people, who invited Pope Eugene III, Lucius' successor, back. The power vacuum left by Pierleoni's deposition caused even more anarchy and eventually the pope left and a less illustrious man than Giordano, Giacomo da Vico, was elected patrician—though a man his equal, Arnold of Brescia, had arrived in the commune in 1145. Arnold would renew the commune, giving it the intellectual leadership it lacked after Pierleoni's downfall.

Großmaischeid

Großmaischeid is a municipality in the district of Neuwied, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

It has approximately 2350 inhabitants and is placed in the Naturpark Rhein-Westerwald. The municipality is spelled with the 'sharp s' character ß which may ever so often be replaced by a 'ss', as e.g. in standard in English spelling or in the website www.grossmaischeid.de).

First settlements in Großmaischeid date back to the late Bronze Age (1550 - 1200 BC). The Roman border fortification 'Limes' was erected around 80AD in the vicinity of Großmaischeid. The town was first mentioned in an official document issued by pope Eugene III which dates back to 20 January 1148. Its name is most probably derived from 'Metsched's place', referring to a medieval local nobleman. It is assumed that the town as such was a planned settlement around the time of Charlemagne in order to stop the Saxons from expanding into western regions of Germany in the early 9th century. The town center is dominated by the catholic St. Bonifatius church which was first mentioned in 1555 and whose tower dates back to the 12th century. The town is situated 5 km south of the A3 motorway and about 75 km away from Köln und 115 km from Frankfurt. Kausen, a former hamlet at the Saynbach river was included into the municipality of Großmaischeid in 1974. Larger cities in the vicinity of Großmaischeid are Koblenz and Neuwied, both of which are around 25 km away. A mere 1.5 km North of Großmaischeid (Maischeid-Major) is the former hamlet of Kleinmaischeid (Maischeid-Minor). Both places are sometimes referred to simply as Maischeid, referring to their common history.

The local dialect in Großmaischeid is a moselle-frankonian. The town is known for its active community life driven by a series of themed clubs and amateur organisations such as the "Spielmannszug Großmaischeid 1959 e.V." (Spielmannszug is a kind of marching band). Highlight of the activities is the annual Carneval parade, traditionally held on 'Pancake Tuesday' (Veilchendienstag). The local Football team "Sportverein Maischeid e.V." is founded in 1923 and plays at the Waldstadion. The local primary school is named in honour of Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS Children's Villages.

Henry I (archbishop of Mainz)

Henry (Heinrich; c. 1080; died 1 or 3 September 1153 in Einbeck) was archbishop of Mainz from 1142 to 1153.

In his early years as archbishop he was assisted by Anselm of Havelberg. He supported Friedrich von Staufen as successor to Konrad III of Germany.At the time of the Second Crusade, he tried to prevent a repetition of the 1096 violence against the Jews of Mainz. He called in Bernard of Clairvaux, to counter inflammatory preaching by a monk, Radulphe. He took part in the Wendish Crusade of 1147.

He was a supporter and correspondent of Hildegard of Bingen. He consecrated the church of her convent at Rupertsberg in 1152. He has been portrayed showing her works to Pope Eugene III and Bernard of Clairvaux.He was archchancellor of Germany, ex officio, but also of Burgundy at the end of his life.

Hilary of Chichester

Hilary (c. 1110–1169) was a medieval Bishop of Chichester in England. English by birth, he studied canon law and worked in Rome as a papal clerk. During his time there, he became acquainted with a number of ecclesiastics, including the future Pope Adrian IV, and the writer John of Salisbury. In England, he served as a clerk for Henry of Blois, who was the Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen of England. After Hilary's unsuccessful nomination to become Archbishop of York, Pope Eugene III compensated him by promoting him to the bishopric of Chichester in 1147.

Hilary spent many years in a struggle with Battle Abbey, attempting to assert his right as bishop to oversee the abbey. He also clashed with Thomas Becket, then chancellor to King Henry II of England, later Archbishop of Canterbury; Hilary supported King Henry II's position in the conflict with Becket. Henry appointed Hilary as sheriff and employed him as a judge in the royal courts. The papacy also used Hilary as a judge-delegate, to hear cases referred back to England. Known for supporting his clergy and as a canon lawyer, or someone trained in ecclesiastical law, Hilary worked to have Edward the Confessor, a former English king, canonised as a saint.

Hugh of Jabala

Hugh was the bishop of Jabala, or, as it was then called, Gibellum, a town in Syria, during the 12th century. When the County of Edessa fell to Zengi in 1144, Raymond, prince of Antioch, sent Hugh to report the news to Pope Eugene III. In response, Eugene issued the papal bull Quantum praedecessores the following year calling for the Second Crusade. Hugh also told the historian Otto of Freising about Prester John, the mythical Nestorian Christian priest-king of India, who was intending to help the Crusader States against the Saracens. Otto included the story in his Chronicon of 1145; it is the first recorded mention of the Prester John legend.

Militia Dei

Militia Dei (Latin for Soldiers of God) is a papal bull issued by Pope Eugene III in 1145 that consolidated the Knights Templar's independence from local clerical hierarchies by giving the Order the right to take tithes and burial fees and to bury their dead in their own cemeteries. The Knights were allowed to travel through Europe freely.

This bull together with Omne datum optimum (1139) and Milites Templi form the foundation for the Order's future wealth and success.

Montemagno, Pisa

The village of Montemagno is situated in the comune of Calci, Province of Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, some 15 km East of Pisa, 2 km East of Calci. The name Montemagno is vulgar for Mons Ianus, Latin for Monte Giano, dedicated to the Roman god Janus (from whom we have the word January).

The village is first mentioned in a charter of the Monastery of S. Savino in year 780. The village is surrounded by olive groves.

There are three churches in Montemagno. The oldest one is S. Martino, not any longer within the village proper (see below). In 1021 walls were erected around the village, but S. Martino was a few hundred meters away and left out. Within the walls a new church was erected in 1076 (the belltower was founded in 1786 and finished in 1811). The new church is named Santa Maria della Neve. The village continued to develop around the new church, and the old one was abandoned. The third church is a chapel and is named Chiesino di S. Rocco. It was erected in 1632 by the 90 grateful surviving inhabitants after the plague in 1630 took 272 lives in the village.

In 1880, the comune of Montemagno was integrated into the comune of Calci. About 200 people live in the village today.

On 15 February 1145 Pietro Bernardo Paganelli from Montemagno was elected the 167th Pope. He took the name Pope Eugene III.

Paganelli

Paganelli is an Italian surname, and may refer to;

Carl Paganelli, American football official in the National Football League

Domenico Paganelli, Italian architect

Giuseppe Antonio Paganelli, Italian singer and composer

Laurent Paganelli, French former footballer

Manuello Paganelli, American artist and photographer

Mirco Paganelli, Italian former footballer

Niccolò Paganelli (1538–1620), Italian painter

Pietro dei Paganelli di Montemagno, later became Pope Eugene III

Umberto Paganelli, Italian artistic roller skating

Quantum praedecessores

Quantum praedecessores is a papal bull issued on December 1, 1145, by Pope Eugenius III, calling for a Second Crusade. It was the first papal bull issued with a crusade as its subject.

The bull was issued in response to the fall of Edessa, in December 1144. Pilgrims from the east had brought news of the fall of Edessa to Europe throughout 1145, and embassies from the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of Armenia soon arrived directly at the papal court at Viterbo. Hugh, Bishop of Jabala, one of the dioceses of Jerusalem, was among those who delivered the news.

As with most papal bulls, it had no specific title, and has come to be known by its opening words; in Latin the first sentence read "Quantum praedecessores nostri Romani pontifices pro liberatione Orientalis Ecclesiae laboraverunt, antiquorum relatione didicimus, et in gestis eorum scriptum reperimus" – in English, "How much our predecessors the Roman pontiffs did labour for the deliverance of the oriental church, we have learned from the accounts of the ancients and have found it written in their acts."

The bull, issued at Vetralla, briefly recounted the acts of the First Crusade, and lamented the loss of Edessa, Mesopotamia, one of the oldest Christian cities. The bull was addressed directly to Louis VII of France and his subjects, and promised the remission of sins for all those who took the cross, as well as ecclesiastical protection for their families and possessions, just as Pope Urban II had done before the First Crusade. Those who completed the crusade, or died along the way, were offered full absolution.

Louis was already preparing a crusade of his own, independent of Eugenius' bull, and it appears that Louis may have at first ignored the bull completely. It is possible that the embassies from the east had visited Louis as well. However, in consultation with the preacher Bernard of Clairvaux, Louis eventually sought Eugenius' blessing, and Louis' crusade enjoyed full papal support. The bull was reissued on March 1, 1146, and Bernard began to preach the crusade throughout France and later in Germany as well, where he persuaded Conrad III to participate.

Although this is the first papal bull calling for a crusade, the papacy was largely absent from the rest of the expedition. The First Crusade had no such bull – support was gathered at the Council of Clermont in 1095, and spread quickly through popular preaching. Urban II was seen as the leader of the crusade, through his legates, such as Adhemar of Le Puy. By the mid-12th century, papal power had dwindled somewhat, and Rome was controlled by the Commune of Rome. Although there were papal legates accompanying the crusade, the expedition was controlled by Louis and Conrad, not a religious leader.

The crusade was mostly destroyed during its march through Anatolia. Louis and Conrad later joined with the army of Jerusalem at the unsuccessful Siege of Damascus in 1148.

Ralph I, Count of Vermandois

Ralph I of Vermandois (French: Raoul Ier "le Vaillant") (d. 14 October 1152) was Count of Vermandois. He was a son of Hugh, Count of Vermandois and his wife, Adelaide, Countess of Vermandois. By his father, he was a grandson of Henry I of France, while his mother had been the heiress to Herbert IV, Count of Vermandois.

His only paternal uncle was Philip I of France. Through him Ralph was a first cousin of Louis VI of France and a first cousin once removed of Louis VII of France.

Ralph served as the seneschal of France during the reign of his cousin Louis VII. Under pressure from Queen consort Eleanor of Aquitaine, Louis allowed him to repudiate his wife Eleanor of Champagne, daughter of Stephen, Count of Blois and Adela of Normandy and sister of the reigning King Stephen of England, in favor of Eleanor of Aquitaine's sister, Petronilla of Aquitaine. This led to a war with Theobald II of Champagne, who was the brother of Ralph's first wife Eleanor. The war lasted two years (1142–44) and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army.

Ralph and Petronilla were excommunicated by Pope Innocent II for a marriage deemed illegitimate, overriding three bishops who had already annulled Ralph's prior marriage. In 1148, Pope Eugene III, legitimized the marriage at the Council of Reims.

Siege of Damascus (1148)

The Siege of Damascus took place between 24 and 29 July 1148, during the Second Crusade. It ended in a decisive crusader defeat and led to the disintegration of the crusade. The two main Christian forces that marched to the Holy Land in response to Pope Eugene III and Bernard of Clairvaux's call for the Second Crusade were led by Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany. Both faced disastrous marches across Anatolia in the months that followed, with most of their armies being destroyed. The original focus of the crusade was Edessa (Urfa), but in Jerusalem, the preferred target of King Baldwin III and the Knights Templar was Damascus. At the Council of Acre, magnates from France, Germany, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem decided to divert the crusade to Damascus.

The crusaders decided to attack Damascus from the west, where orchards would provide them with a constant food supply. Having arrived outside the walls of the city, they immediately put it to siege, using wood from the orchards. On 27 July, the crusaders decided to move to the plain on the eastern side of the city, which was less heavily fortified but had much less food and water. Nur ad-Din Zangi arrived with Muslim reinforcements and cut off the crusaders' route to their previous position. The local crusader lords refused to carry on with the siege, and the three kings had no choice but to abandon the city. The entire crusader army retreated back to Jerusalem by 28 July.

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