1148 (The People's Chronology)
Ramon Berenguer IV adds to his realm by conquering Tortosa from the Almoravid Muslims; count of Barcelona and ruling prince of Aragon, he will conquer Lerida, Mequinenza, and Fraga next year.
The Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus purchases Venetian aid to help him resist the Norman fleets of Sicily's Roger II, who has plundered Thebes.
Leaders of the Second Crusade assemble in the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem in June and decide to attack Damascus, rejecting the advice of Raymond of Poitiers that they join him, instead, in an attack on Aleppo's Nur ad-Din. The Frankish barons in northern Syria decline to participate, since Unur, emir of Damascus, is their ally against Nur ad-Din and is receiving large sums of money from the court at Jerusalem. Unur appeals to Nur ad-Din for help, Nur ad-Din sends a relief force, the crusaders abandon their siege of Damascus after 4 days, Unur's bowmen harry them as they retreat toward Galilee, and the Second Crusade ends in humiliating failure, having achieved nothing and lost most of its men to starvation, disease, and battle wounds. Driven by religious fervor, many of the Crusader knights have mortgaged their lands in order to equip their armies, and if they do return home they are penniless. The German king Conrad III leaves for home in September; France's Louis VII tarries in Jerusalem.
Human Rights, Social Justice
Crusaders returning from the Holy Land bring back customs learned from the Arabs that include taking baths and giving more rights to women.
An Italian silk industry is started at Palermo by Roger II, who takes numbers of silk workers back from Greece (see 552). Arabs encountered by the Crusaders have provided European traders not only with luxurious silks (including samite) but also with flax, linen, and Tyrian purple dye.
Hildegard von Bingen founds a new monastery at Rupertsberg in the Rhine Valley near Bingen and settles there with 18 sisters (date approximate) (see 1136). She has been working since 1141 on her book Scivias, recording the 26 revelations she has received, and will not complete it until 1151.
Food And Drink
Returning crusaders bring back sugar from the Middle East, having learned from the Arabs how to process cane (see 1099). Virtually unknown in Europe, even in the greatest castles, the sweetener will soon be prized above honey (see 1226).