The Crusades

The Seventh Crusade


Jerusalem had once again returned to Moslem control in 1244. This occurred following the fall of the city to the wandering Khwarezmians, who had travelled to Egypt to ally themselves with the Mamluks. Calls for the immediate recapture of the city by the Pope were met with a lukewarm reaction compared to that of previous years as European Christians no longer saw the fall of the city, so long in the conscience Moslem-controlled, as an immediate priority.

In 1248, Louis IX (the pious) led a crusade of 15,000 men, including 3,000 knights, from the ports of Marseille and Aigues-Mortes to Cyprus where they spent the winter in preparation. Despite calls from the Templars, the Principality of Antioch and the Latin Empire for assistance against the Syrians and the Byzantines, Louis continued to Egypt intending to take Jerusalem through a well-supplied area. By June 1249 Damietta fell to the crusaders where they remained following flooding of the Nile. In November they marched towards Cairo, around the same time that the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, as-Salih Ayyub, died. A series of setbacks followed, including defeat to Mamluks and loss of the Templars and a force led by Robert of Artois at the Battle of Al Mansurah. Louis was taken in 1250 and fell ill with dysentery. Though an Arab physician cured him, his ransom cost 800,000 bezants, including the surrender of Damietta.