Monday, September 2, 2013

The Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusades

The Seventh Crusade (1248-1250)
In 1244 Turkish Muslims, temporary allies of the Muslim ruler in Cairo, destroyed Jerusalem and put the depopulated rubble once again under Muslim control. This troubled the ruler of the Roman Catholic Church but no one else.

In December 1244, for personal reasons, Louis 9th of France committed himself to crusading. In 1248, after three years of careful preparations, Louis traveled with his army to Cyprus where they wintered. They sailed to Damietta and in June 1249 took control of the city with some pluck and little trouble. The Nile then began its annual flooding so Louis organized municipal affairs, the Crusaders ate an alarming amount of food, and an Egyptian offer to exchange Jerusalem for Damietta was again foolishly refused.

In November 1249 Louis and his Crusaders headed up the Nile to take control of Cairo. They never made it. Only 42 miles (about 70 km) upriver, Egyptian forces met and stopped them. In February 1250 Robert, younger brother of Louis, broke the stalemate by leading a charge against the Egyptian army camp. Attacking unexpectedly, Robert and his men scatter most of the soldiers and killed the Egyptian army leader and those who remained with him. A new leader named Baibars, however, was able to regroup the Egyptian army, lure Robert and his cavalry into a nearby city filled with very narrow streets, and kill them there. The Egyptian army then attacked Louis and the main army of Crusaders but could not capture it.

The Egyptian army did, however, surround the Crusaders and cut off their supplies. Starvation and disease began killing more Crusaders than battle. In April Louis decided he could only save his remaining soldiers by retreating to Damietta. They never made it. The Egyptian army quickly captured them and Louis.

Baibars released Louis in May after receiving a fantastic amount of money as ransom. Louis sailed immediately for Acre. Once he was gone, the Egyptians executed all the sick and wounded Crusaders remaining in Damietta. The rest remained as prisoners until their release the following year.

Surprisingly, Louis remained in Acre for four years, ably administrating the little Catholic state while leaving control of the large French state with his capable mother Blanche of Castile. Only her death prompted him to return to Paris in 1254.

The Eighth Crusade (1270)
In 1250 Baibars commanded the army in Egypt that defeated the Crusaders and held Louis 9th captive until he was ransomed. Ten years later he was the leading commander of the Egyptian army that was the first to decisively defeat the dreaded Mongols in combat. After that victory and the assassination of the sultan shortly thereafter, Baibars became ruler of Egypt.

As sultan, Baibars happily continued his attacks against Crusader cities and states in Levantia. He already and always controlled Jerusalem. In 1263, he captured Ashkelon and Jaffa and attacked Acre. In 1268 he captured Antioch, destroying that city and Catholic state and killing or enslaving its population.

All of these developments distressed Louis in Paris. He called for other rulers and leaders to join him in a new crusade. None did and many spoke against it. His brother Charles, ruler of Sicily, persuaded Louis to start the Eighth Crusade by attacking Tunis in Carthaginia. Tunis!

Louis led his Crusaders against Tunis in the scorching month of July. Much of the drinking water available to him and his men was contaminated. His son John Sorrow, born in Damietta shortly after Louis' capture in 1250, died of a water-borne disease on August 3. Louis himself died for the same reason on August 25. The Crusaders left Tunis for home in October.

The Ninth Crusade (1271-1272)
Edward, son of Henry 3rd, ruler of England, wanted to participate in the Eighth Crusade with Louis but arrived in Tunis three months after Louis' death. He then sailed to Acre where he arrived with his men in May 1271.

Edward and his small army did little. He disliked a 10-year truce negotiated by Hugh, ruler of Cyprus and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, with Baibars in May 1272. Baibars hired an assassin to murder Edward but Edward killed him. In the struggle, however, the assassin wounded Edward with a dagger dipped in poison which kept Edward ill for months.

Edward waited until September to leave Acre. His father died in November 1272, leaving him ruler of England, but he had others rule for him until he returned in August 1274.

The End of Latin States in Levantia (1291)
Baibars, the Turkish Muslim ruler of Egypt and most of Levantia, ended Catholic Christian control of Ashkelon and Jaffa in 1263 and destroyed both Antioch and the Crusader state centered there in 1268. He died in 1277.

Turkish Muslim rulers coming after him destroyed Tripoli and massacred its population in 1289. Finally Acre fell in May 1291. With that loss, Catholic Christian power in Levantia, and the Levantian Crusades that had begun almost two centuries earlier, came to an end.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.