Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Fifth and Sixth Crusades

The Fourth Crusade (summary)
Shortly after becoming ruler of the Roman Catholic Church in 1198, Innocent 3rd called for a fourth crusade against Muslims to recapture Jerusalem. That had led, strangely enough, to the brutal sacking of Constantinople (1204) and the establishment of Catholic Christian states in formerly Orthodox Christian lands (1204-1261).

The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221)
Not content with that unmitigated disaster, Innocent called for another crusade to Levantia in 1213 and again in 1215. He died in 1216, before the newest batch of Crusaders departed, but his successor renewed the call and preparations continued.

A large army of Crusaders arrived in Acre in October 1217 and engaged Muslims armies in some minor battles the following month. Leaders of the Crusaders spent January looking for ancient relics. In February 1218 everyone sailed home.

In June 1218 another army of Crusaders besieged the port city of Damietta in Egypt. The idea, as with the Fourth Crusade, was to break the power of the Muslim state in Cairo and then return to Jerusalem. To attack Cairo, Damietta had to be taken first.

While Crusaders were besieging the city, Francis of Assisi arrived. He asked to see the Muslim ruler of Egypt. Francis and al-Kamil enjoyed a pleasant conversation during which Francis invited him to become a Christian. The sultan respectfully declined and sent Francis on his way.

Damietta fell to the Crusaders in November 1219. Al-Kamil offered to give Jerusalem to the Crusaders if they returned Damietta to him. Strangely, the representative of the ruler of the Catholic Church in Damietta refused this offer. Too bad.

Conflicts between Catholic leaders over control of Damietta prevented any march on Cairo until July 1221. A flooding Nile trapped that army, the Muslim army savaged it, and the Catholic Church representative had to surrender it to al-Kamil. He let the Crusaders sail home—in exchange for Damietta.

The Sixth Crusade (1228-1229)
Frederick 2nd, ruler of Germania, Alpinia, and southern Latinia, had wanted to participate in the Fifth Crusade but had been unable to do so. Finally in 1227 he sailed for Acre but, after learning of a plague there, he returned to Latinia. The ruler of the Catholic Church, in a struggle for power with Frederick, used his failure to keep his promise to crusade as an excuse to excommunicate him. Frederick ignored him and successfully arrived in Acre in September 1228.

Once in Acre, Frederick had trouble gathering together enough knights and soldiers to attack Jerusalem. Some Catholic leaders were bothered by his excommunication, others sided politically with the Catholic Church ruler, and some just didn't like his general bossiness.

Lacking adequate military strength, Frederick decided he would try to regain control of Jerusalem by negotiating with al-Kamil. It worked. In February 1229 al-Kamil agreed to give control of Jerusalem, along with Bethlehem and Nazareth and even the ports of Jaffa and Sidon, to the Catholic ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He only kept control of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Frederick peacefully entered Jerusalem in March, enjoyed himself in the city as no Christian ruler had since 1187, and peacefully sailed home in May.

Frederick demonstrated that a Crusade could be successful, where others had failed miserably, without any battles against Muslims and without any support from the ruler of the Catholic Church. After that, the ruler of the Catholic Church played no further role in future Crusades to Levantia.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.