|« Prev||Chapter LIX: The Crusades.—Part III.||Next »|
Chapter LIX: The Crusades.—Part III.
Philip Augustus, and Richard the First, are the only kings of France and England who have fought under the same banners; but the holy service in which they were enlisted was incessantly disturbed by their national jealousy; and the two factions, which they protected in Palestine, were more averse to each other than to the common enemy. In the eyes of the Orientals; the French monarch was superior in dignity and power; and, in the emperor's absence, the Latins revered him as their temporal chief. 73607360 Magnus hic apud eos, interque reges eorum tum virtute tum majestate eminens.... summus rerum arbiter, (Bohadin, p. 159.) He does not seem to have known the names either of Philip or Richard. His exploits were not adequate to his fame. Philip was brave, but the statesman predominated in his character; he was soon weary of sacrificing his health and interest on a barren coast: the surrender of Acre became the signal of his departure; nor could he justify this unpopular desertion, by leaving the duke of Burgundy with five hundred knights and ten thousand foot, for the service of the Holy Land. The king of England, though inferior in dignity, surpassed his rival in wealth and military renown;73617361 Rex Angliæ, præstrenuus.... rege Gallorum minor apud eos censebatur ratione regni atque dignitatis; sed tum divitiis florentior, tum bellicâ virtute multo erat celebrior, (Bohadin, p. 161.) A stranger might admire those riches; the national historians will tell with what lawless and wasteful oppression they were collected. and if heroism be confined to brutal and ferocious valor, Richard Plantagenet will stand high among the heroes of the age. The memory of Cur de Lion, of the lion-hearted prince, was long dear and glorious to his English subjects; and, at the distance of sixty years, it was celebrated in proverbial sayings by the grandsons of the Turks and Saracens, against whom he had fought: his tremendous name was employed by the Syrian mothers to silence their infants; and if a horse suddenly started from the way, his rider was wont to exclaim, "Dost thou think King Richard is in that bush?"73627362 Joinville, p. 17. Cuides-tu que ce soit le roi Richart? His cruelty to the Mahometans was the effect of temper and zeal; but I cannot believe that a soldier, so free and fearless in the use of his lance, would have descended to whet a dagger against his valiant brother Conrad of Montferrat, who was slain at Tyre by some secret assassins.73637363 Yet he was guilty in the opinion of the Moslems, who attest the confession of the assassins, that they were sent by the king of England, (Bohadin, p. 225;) and his only defence is an absurd and palpable forgery, (Hist. de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xv. p. 155—163,) a pretended letter from the prince of the assassins, the Sheich, or old man of the mountain, who justified Richard, by assuming to himself the guilt or merit of the murder. * After the surrender of Acre, and the departure of Philip, the king of England led the crusaders to the recovery of the sea-coast; and the cities of Cæsarea and Jaffa were added to the fragments of the kingdom of Lusignan. A march of one hundred miles from Acre to Ascalon was a great and perpetual battle of eleven days. In the disorder of his troops, Saladin remained on the field with seventeen guards, without lowering his standard, or suspending the sound of his brazen kettle-drum: he again rallied and renewed the charge; and his preachers or heralds called aloud on the unitarians, manfully to stand up against the Christian idolaters. But the progress of these idolaters was irresistible; and it was only by demolishing the walls and buildings of Ascalon, that the sultan could prevent them from occupying an important fortress on the confines of Egypt. During a severe winter, the armies slept; but in the spring, the Franks advanced within a day's march of Jerusalem, under the leading standard of the English king; and his active spirit intercepted a convoy, or caravan, of seven thousand camels. Saladin73647364 See the distress and pious firmness of Saladin, as they are described by Bohadin, (p. 7—9, 235—237,) who himself harangued the defenders of Jerusalem; their fears were not unknown to the enemy, (Jacob. à Vitriaco, l. i. c. 100, p. 1123. Vinisauf, l. v. c. 50, p. 399.) had fixed his station in the holy city; but the city was struck with consternation and discord: he fasted; he prayed; he preached; he offered to share the dangers of the siege; but his Mamalukes, who remembered the fate of their companions at Acre, pressed the sultan with loyal or seditious clamors, to reserve his person and their courage for the future defence of the religion and empire. 73657365 Yet unless the sultan, or an Ayoubite prince, remained in Jerusalem, nec Curdi Turcis, nec Turci essent obtemperaturi Curdis, (Bohadin, p. 236.) He draws aside a corner of the political curtain. The Moslems were delivered by the sudden, or, as they deemed, the miraculous, retreat of the Christians;73667366 Bohadin, (p. 237,) and even Jeffrey de Vinisauf, (l. vi. c. 1—8, p. 403—409,) ascribe the retreat to Richard himself; and Jacobus à Vitriaco observes, that in his impatience to depart, in alterum virum mutatus est, (p. 1123.) Yet Joinville, a French knight, accuses the envy of Hugh duke of Burgundy, (p. 116,) without supposing, like Matthew Paris, that he was bribed by Saladin. and the laurels of Richard were blasted by the prudence, or envy, of his companions. The hero, ascending a hill, and veiling his face, exclaimed with an indignant voice, "Those who are unwilling to rescue, are unworthy to view, the sepulchre of Christ!" After his return to Acre, on the news that Jaffa was surprised by the sultan, he sailed with some merchant vessels, and leaped foremost on the beach: the castle was relieved by his presence; and sixty thousand Turks and Saracens fled before his arms. The discovery of his weakness, provoked them to return in the morning; and they found him carelessly encamped before the gates with only seventeen knights and three hundred archers. Without counting their numbers, he sustained their charge; and we learn from the evidence of his enemies, that the king of England, grasping his lance, rode furiously along their front, from the right to the left wing, without meeting an adversary who dared to encounter his career.73677367 The expeditions to Ascalon, Jerusalem, and Jaffa, are related by Bohadin (p. 184—249) and Abulfeda, (p. 51, 52.) The author of the Itinerary, or the monk of St. Alban's, cannot exaggerate the cadhi's account of the prowess of Richard, (Vinisauf, l. vi. c. 14—24, p. 412—421. Hist. Major, p. 137—143;) and on the whole of this war there is a marvellous agreement between the Christian and Mahometan writers, who mutually praise the virtues of their enemies. Am I writing the history of Orlando or Amadis?
Note: * Von Hammer (Geschichte der Assassinen, p. 202) sums up against Richard, Wilken (vol. iv. p. 485) as strongly for acquittal. Michaud (vol. ii. p. 420) delivers no decided opinion. This crime was also attributed to Saladin, who is said, by an Oriental authority, (the continuator of Tabari,) to have employed the assassins to murder both Conrad and Richard. It is a melancholy admission, but it must be acknowledged, that such an act would be less inconsistent with the character of the Christian than of the Mahometan king.—M.]
During these hostilities, a languid and tedious negotiation73687368 See the progress of negotiation and hostility in Bohadin, (p. 207—260,) who was himself an actor in the treaty. Richard declared his intention of returning with new armies to the conquest of the Holy Land; and Saladin answered the menace with a civil compliment, (Vinisauf l. vi. c. 28, p. 423.) between the Franks and Moslems was started, and continued, and broken, and again resumed, and again broken. Some acts of royal courtesy, the gift of snow and fruit, the exchange of Norway hawks and Arabian horses, softened the asperity of religious war: from the vicissitude of success, the monarchs might learn to suspect that Heaven was neutral in the quarrel; nor, after the trial of each other, could either hope for a decisive victory. 73697369 The most copious and original account of this holy war is Galfridi à Vinisauf, Itinerarium Regis Anglorum Richardi et aliorum in Terram Hierosolymorum, in six books, published in the iid volume of Gale's Scriptores Hist. Anglicanæ, (p. 247—429.) Roger Hoveden and Matthew Paris afford likewise many valuable materials; and the former describes, with accuracy, the discipline and navigation of the English fleet. The health both of Richard and Saladin appeared to be in a declining state; and they respectively suffered the evils of distant and domestic warfare: Plantagenet was impatient to punish a perfidious rival who had invaded Normandy in his absence; and the indefatigable sultan was subdued by the cries of the people, who was the victim, and of the soldiers, who were the instruments, of his martial zeal. The first demands of the king of England were the restitution of Jerusalem, Palestine, and the true cross; and he firmly declared, that himself and his brother pilgrims would end their lives in the pious labor, rather than return to Europe with ignominy and remorse. But the conscience of Saladin refused, without some weighty compensation, to restore the idols, or promote the idolatry, of the Christians; he asserted, with equal firmness, his religious and civil claim to the sovereignty of Palestine; descanted on the importance and sanctity of Jerusalem; and rejected all terms of the establishment, or partition of the Latins. The marriage which Richard proposed, of his sister with the sultan's brother, was defeated by the difference of faith; the princess abhorred the embraces of a Turk; and Adel, or Saphadin, would not easily renounce a plurality of wives. A personal interview was declined by Saladin, who alleged their mutual ignorance of each other's language; and the negotiation was managed with much art and delay by their interpreters and envoys. The final agreement was equally disapproved by the zealots of both parties, by the Roman pontiff and the caliph of Bagdad. It was stipulated that Jerusalem and the holy sepulchre should be open, without tribute or vexation, to the pilgrimage of the Latin Christians; that, after the demolition of Ascalon, they should inclusively possess the sea-coast from Jaffa to Tyre; that the count of Tripoli and the prince of Antioch should be comprised in the truce; and that, during three years and three months, all hostilities should cease. The principal chiefs of the two armies swore to the observance of the treaty; but the monarchs were satisfied with giving their word and their right hand; and the royal majesty was excused from an oath, which always implies some suspicion of falsehood and dishonor. Richard embarked for Europe, to seek a long captivity and a premature grave; and the space of a few months concluded the life and glories of Saladin. The Orientals describe his edifying death, which happened at Damascus; but they seem ignorant of the equal distribution of his alms among the three religions,73707370 Even Vertot (tom. i. p. 251) adopts the foolish notion of the indifference of Saladin, who professed the Koran with his last breath. or of the display of a shroud, instead of a standard, to admonish the East of the instability of human greatness. The unity of empire was dissolved by his death; his sons were oppressed by the stronger arm of their uncle Saphadin; the hostile interests of the sultans of Egypt, Damascus, and Aleppo,73717371 See the succession of the Ayoubites, in Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 277, &c.,) and the tables of M. De Guignes, l'Art de Vérifier les Dates, and the Bibliothèque Orientale. were again revived; and the Franks or Latins stood and breathed, and hoped, in their fortresses along the Syrian coast.
The noblest monument of a conqueror's fame, and of the terror which he inspired, is the Saladine tenth, a general tax which was imposed on the laity, and even the clergy, of the Latin church, for the service of the holy war. The practice was too lucrative to expire with the occasion: and this tribute became the foundation of all the tithes and tenths on ecclesiastical benefices, which have been granted by the Roman pontiffs to Catholic sovereigns, or reserved for the immediate use of the apostolic see.73727372 Thomassin (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. iii. p. 311—374) has copiously treated of the origin, abuses, and restrictions of these tenths. A theory was started, but not pursued, that they were rightfully due to the pope, a tenth of the Levite's tenth to the high priest, (Selden on Tithes; see his Works, vol. iii. p. ii. p. 1083.) This pecuniary emolument must have tended to increase the interest of the popes in the recovery of Palestine: after the death of Saladin, they preached the crusade, by their epistles, their legates, and their missionaries; and the accomplishment of the pious work might have been expected from the zeal and talents of Innocent the Third. 73737373 See the Gesta Innocentii III. in Murat. Script. Rer. Ital., (tom. iii. p. 486—568.) Under that young and ambitious priest, the successors of St. Peter attained the full meridian of their greatness: and in a reign of eighteen years, he exercised a despotic command over the emperors and kings, whom he raised and deposed; over the nations, whom an interdict of months or years deprived, for the offence of their rulers, of the exercise of Christian worship. In the council of the Lateran he acted as the ecclesiastical, almost as the temporal, sovereign of the East and West. It was at the feet of his legate that John of England surrendered his crown; and Innocent may boast of the two most signal triumphs over sense and humanity, the establishment of transubstantiation, and the origin of the inquisition. At his voice, two crusades, the fourth and the fifth, were undertaken; but, except a king of Hungary, the princes of the second order were at the head of the pilgrims: the forces were inadequate to the design; nor did the effects correspond with the hopes and wishes of the pope and the people. The fourth crusade was diverted from Syria to Constantinople; and the conquest of the Greek or Roman empire by the Latins will form the proper and important subject of the next chapter. In the fifth,73747374 See the vth crusade, and the siege of Damietta, in Jacobus à Vitriaco, (l. iii. p. 1125—1149, in the Gesta Dei of Bongarsius,) an eye-witness, Bernard Thesaurarius, (in Script. Muratori, tom. vii. p. 825—846, c. 190—207,) a contemporary, and Sanutus, (Secreta Fidel Crucis, l. iii. p. xi. c. 4—9,) a diligent compiler; and of the Arabians Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 294,) and the Extracts at the end of Joinville, (p. 533, 537, 540, 547, &c.) two hundred thousand Franks were landed at the eastern mouth of the Nile. They reasonably hoped that Palestine must be subdued in Egypt, the seat and storehouse of the sultan; and, after a siege of sixteen months, the Moslems deplored the loss of Damietta. But the Christian army was ruined by the pride and insolence of the legate Pelagius, who, in the pope's name, assumed the character of general: the sickly Franks were encompassed by the waters of the Nile and the Oriental forces; and it was by the evacuation of Damietta that they obtained a safe retreat, some concessions for the pilgrims, and the tardy restitution of the doubtful relic of the true cross. The failure may in some measure be ascribed to the abuse and multiplication of the crusades, which were preached at the same time against the Pagans of Livonia, the Moors of Spain, the Albigeois of France, and the kings of Sicily of the Imperial family.73757375 To those who took the cross against Mainfroy, the pope (A.D. 1255) granted plenissimam peccatorum remissionem. Fideles mirabantur quòd tantum eis promitteret pro sanguine Christianorum effundendo quantum pro cruore infidelium aliquando, (Matthew Paris p. 785.) A high flight for the reason of the xiiith century. In these meritorious services, the volunteers might acquire at home the same spiritual indulgence, and a larger measure of temporal rewards; and even the popes, in their zeal against a domestic enemy, were sometimes tempted to forget the distress of their Syrian brethren. From the last age of the crusades they derived the occasional command of an army and revenue; and some deep reasoners have suspected that the whole enterprise, from the first synod of Placentia, was contrived and executed by the policy of Rome. The suspicion is not founded, either in nature or in fact. The successors of St. Peter appear to have followed, rather than guided, the impulse of manners and prejudice; without much foresight of the seasons, or cultivation of the soil, they gathered the ripe and spontaneous fruits of the superstition of the times. They gathered these fruits without toil or personal danger: in the council of the Lateran, Innocent the Third declared an ambiguous resolution of animating the crusaders by his example; but the pilot of the sacred vessel could not abandon the helm; nor was Palestine ever blessed with the presence of a Roman pontiff.73767376 This simple idea is agreeable to the good sense of Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Ecclés. p. 332,) and the fine philosophy of Hume, (Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 330.)
The persons, the families, and estates of the pilgrims, were under the immediate protection of the popes; and these spiritual patrons soon claimed the prerogative of directing their operations, and enforcing, by commands and censures, the accomplishment of their vow. Frederic the Second,73777377 The original materials for the crusade of Frederic II. may be drawn from Richard de St. Germano (in Muratori, Script. Rerum Ital. tom. vii. p. 1002—1013) and Matthew Paris, (p. 286, 291, 300, 302, 304.) The most rational moderns are Fleury, (Hist. Ecclés. tom. xvi.,) Vertot, (Chevaliers de Malthe, tom. i. l. iii.,) Giannone, (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. ii. l. xvi.,) and Muratori, (Annali d' Italia, tom. x.) the grandson of Barbarossa, was successively the pupil, the enemy, and the victim of the church. At the age of twenty-one years, and in obedience to his guardian Innocent the Third, he assumed the cross; the same promise was repeated at his royal and imperial coronations; and his marriage with the heiress of Jerusalem forever bound him to defend the kingdom of his son Conrad. But as Frederic advanced in age and authority, he repented of the rash engagements of his youth: his liberal sense and knowledge taught him to despise the phantoms of superstition and the crowns of Asia: he no longer entertained the same reverence for the successors of Innocent: and his ambition was occupied by the restoration of the Italian monarchy from Sicily to the Alps. But the success of this project would have reduced the popes to their primitive simplicity; and, after the delays and excuses of twelve years, they urged the emperor, with entreaties and threats, to fix the time and place of his departure for Palestine. In the harbors of Sicily and Apulia, he prepared a fleet of one hundred galleys, and of one hundred vessels, that were framed to transport and land two thousand five hundred knights, with their horses and attendants; his vassals of Naples and Germany formed a powerful army; and the number of English crusaders was magnified to sixty thousand by the report of fame. But the inevitable or affected slowness of these mighty preparations consumed the strength and provisions of the more indigent pilgrims: the multitude was thinned by sickness and desertion; and the sultry summer of Calabria anticipated the mischiefs of a Syrian campaign. At length the emperor hoisted sail at Brundusium, with a fleet and army of forty thousand men: but he kept the sea no more than three days; and his hasty retreat, which was ascribed by his friends to a grievous indisposition, was accused by his enemies as a voluntary and obstinate disobedience. For suspending his vow was Frederic excommunicated by Gregory the Ninth; for presuming, the next year, to accomplish his vow, he was again excommunicated by the same pope.73787378 Poor Muratori knows what to think, but knows not what to say: "Chino qui il capo," &c. p. 322. While he served under the banner of the cross, a crusade was preached against him in Italy; and after his return he was compelled to ask pardon for the injuries which he had suffered. The clergy and military orders of Palestine were previously instructed to renounce his communion and dispute his commands; and in his own kingdom, the emperor was forced to consent that the orders of the camp should be issued in the name of God and of the Christian republic. Frederic entered Jerusalem in triumph; and with his own hands (for no priest would perform the office) he took the crown from the altar of the holy sepulchre. But the patriarch cast an interdict on the church which his presence had profaned; and the knights of the hospital and temple informed the sultan how easily he might be surprised and slain in his unguarded visit to the River Jordan. In such a state of fanaticism and faction, victory was hopeless, and defence was difficult; but the conclusion of an advantageous peace may be imputed to the discord of the Mahometans, and their personal esteem for the character of Frederic. The enemy of the church is accused of maintaining with the miscreants an intercourse of hospitality and friendship unworthy of a Christian; of despising the barrenness of the land; and of indulging a profane thought, that if Jehovah had seen the kingdom of Naples he never would have selected Palestine for the inheritance of his chosen people. Yet Frederic obtained from the sultan the restitution of Jerusalem, of Bethlem and Nazareth, of Tyre and Sidon; the Latins were allowed to inhabit and fortify the city; an equal code of civil and religious freedom was ratified for the sectaries of Jesus and those of Mahomet; and, while the former worshipped at the holy sepulchre, the latter might pray and preach in the mosque of the temple,73797379 The clergy artfully confounded the mosque or church of the temple with the holy sepulchre, and their wilful error has deceived both Vertot and Muratori. from whence the prophet undertook his nocturnal journey to heaven. The clergy deplored this scandalous toleration; and the weaker Moslems were gradually expelled; but every rational object of the crusades was accomplished without bloodshed; the churches were restored, the monasteries were replenished; and, in the space of fifteen years, the Latins of Jerusalem exceeded the number of six thousand. This peace and prosperity, for which they were ungrateful to their benefactor, was terminated by the irruption of the strange and savage hordes of Carizmians.73807380 The irruption of the Carizmians, or Corasmins, is related by Matthew Paris, (p. 546, 547,) and by Joinville, Nangis, and the Arabians, (p. 111, 112, 191, 192, 528, 530.) Flying from the arms of the Moguls, those shepherds73817381 They were in alliance with Eyub, sultan of Syria. Wilken vol. vi. p. 630.—M. of the Caspian rolled headlong on Syria; and the union of the Franks with the sultans of Aleppo, Hems, and Damascus, was insufficient to stem the violence of the torrent. Whatever stood against them was cut off by the sword, or dragged into captivity: the military orders were almost exterminated in a single battle; and in the pillage of the city, in the profanation of the holy sepulchre, the Latins confess and regret the modesty and discipline of the Turks and Saracens.
Of the seven crusades, the two last were undertaken by Louis the Ninth, king of France; who lost his liberty in Egypt, and his life on the coast of Africa. Twenty-eight years after his death, he was canonized at Rome; and sixty-five miracles were readily found, and solemnly attested, to justify the claim of the royal saint.73827382 Read, if you can, the Life and Miracles of St. Louis, by the confessor of Queen Margaret, (p. 291—523. Joinville, du Louvre.) The voice of history renders a more honorable testimony, that he united the virtues of a king, a hero, and a man; that his martial spirit was tempered by the love of private and public justice; and that Louis was the father of his people, the friend of his neighbors, and the terror of the infidels. Superstition alone, in all the extent of her baleful influence,73837383 He believed all that mother church taught, (Joinville, p. 10,) but he cautioned Joinville against disputing with infidels. "L'omme lay (said he in his old language) quand il ot medire de la loi Crestienne, ne doit pas deffendre la loi Crestienne ne mais que de l'espée, dequoi il doit donner parmi le ventre dedens, tant comme elle y peut entrer" (p. 12.) corrupted his understanding and his heart: his devotion stooped to admire and imitate the begging friars of Francis and Dominic: he pursued with blind and cruel zeal the enemies of the faith; and the best of kings twice descended from his throne to seek the adventures of a spiritual knight-errant. A monkish historian would have been content to applaud the most despicable part of his character; but the noble and gallant Joinville,73847384 I have two editions of Joinville, the one (Paris, 1668) most valuable for the observations of Ducange; the other (Paris, au Louvre, 1761) most precious for the pure and authentic text, a MS. of which has been recently discovered. The last edition proves that the history of St. Louis was finished A.D. 1309, without explaining, or even admiring, the age of the author, which must have exceeded ninety years, (Preface, p. x. Observations de Ducange, p. 17.) who shared the friendship and captivity of Louis, has traced with the pencil of nature the free portrait of his virtues as well as of his failings. From this intimate knowledge we may learn to suspect the political views of depressing their great vassals, which are so often imputed to the royal authors of the crusades. Above all the princes of the middle ages, Louis the Ninth successfully labored to restore the prerogatives of the crown; but it was at home and not in the East, that he acquired for himself and his posterity: his vow was the result of enthusiasm and sickness; and if he were the promoter, he was likewise the victim, of his holy madness. For the invasion of Egypt, France was exhausted of her troops and treasures; he covered the sea of Cyprus with eighteen hundred sails; the most modest enumeration amounts to fifty thousand men; and, if we might trust his own confession, as it is reported by Oriental vanity, he disembarked nine thousand five hundred horse, and one hundred and thirty thousand foot, who performed their pilgrimage under the shadow of his power.73857385 Joinville, p. 32. Arabic Extracts, p. 549. *
Note: * Compare Wilken, vol. vii. p. 94.—M.]
In complete armor, the oriflamme waving before him, Louis leaped foremost on the beach; and the strong city of Damietta, which had cost his predecessors a siege of sixteen months, was abandoned on the first assault by the trembling Moslems. But Damietta was the first and the last of his conquests; and in the fifth and sixth crusades, the same causes, almost on the same ground, were productive of similar calamities.73867386 The last editors have enriched their Joinville with large and curious extracts from the Arabic historians, Macrizi, Abulfeda, &c. See likewise Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 322—325,) who calls him by the corrupt name of Redefrans. Matthew Paris (p. 683, 684) has described the rival folly of the French and English who fought and fell at Massoura. After a ruinous delay, which introduced into the camp the seeds of an epidemic disease, the Franks advanced from the sea-coast towards the capital of Egypt, and strove to surmount the unseasonable inundation of the Nile, which opposed their progress. Under the eye of their intrepid monarch, the barons and knights of France displayed their invincible contempt of danger and discipline: his brother, the count of Artois, stormed with inconsiderate valor the town of Massoura; and the carrier pigeons announced to the inhabitants of Cairo that all was lost. But a soldier, who afterwards usurped the sceptre, rallied the flying troops: the main body of the Christians was far behind the vanguard; and Artois was overpowered and slain. A shower of Greek fire was incessantly poured on the invaders; the Nile was commanded by the Egyptian galleys, the open country by the Arabs; all provisions were intercepted; each day aggravated the sickness and famine; and about the same time a retreat was found to be necessary and impracticable. The Oriental writers confess, that Louis might have escaped, if he would have deserted his subjects; he was made prisoner, with the greatest part of his nobles; all who could not redeem their lives by service or ransom were inhumanly massacred; and the walls of Cairo were decorated with a circle of Christian heads.73877387 Savary, in his agreeable Letters sur L'Egypte, has given a description of Damietta, (tom. i. lettre xxiii. p. 274—290,) and a narrative of the exposition of St. Louis, (xxv. p. 306—350.) The king of France was loaded with chains; but the generous victor, a great-grandson of the brother of Saladin, sent a robe of honor to his royal captive, and his deliverance, with that of his soldiers, was obtained by the restitution of Damietta73887388 For the ransom of St. Louis, a million of byzants was asked and granted; but the sultan's generosity reduced that sum to 800,000 byzants, which are valued by Joinville at 400,000 French livres of his own time, and expressed by Matthew Paris by 100,000 marks of silver, (Ducange, Dissertation xx. sur Joinville.) and the payment of four hundred thousand pieces of gold. In a soft and luxurious climate, the degenerate children of the companions of Noureddin and Saladin were incapable of resisting the flower of European chivalry: they triumphed by the arms of their slaves or Mamalukes, the hardy natives of Tartary, who at a tender age had been purchased of the Syrian merchants, and were educated in the camp and palace of the sultan. But Egypt soon afforded a new example of the danger of prætorian bands; and the rage of these ferocious animals, who had been let loose on the strangers, was provoked to devour their benefactor. In the pride of conquest, Touran Shaw, the last of his race, was murdered by his Mamalukes; and the most daring of the assassins entered the chamber of the captive king, with drawn cimeters, and their hands imbrued in the blood of their sultan. The firmness of Louis commanded their respect; 73897389 The idea of the emirs to choose Louis for their sultan is seriously attested by Joinville, (p. 77, 78,) and does not appear to me so absurd as to M. de Voltaire, (Hist. Générale, tom. ii. p. 386, 387.) The Mamalukes themselves were strangers, rebels, and equals: they had felt his valor, they hoped his conversion; and such a motion, which was not seconded, might be made, perhaps by a secret Christian in their tumultuous assembly. * their avarice prevailed over cruelty and zeal; the treaty was accomplished; and the king of France, with the relics of his army, was permitted to embark for Palestine. He wasted four years within the walls of Acre, unable to visit Jerusalem, and unwilling to return without glory to his native country.
Note: * Wilken, vol. vii. p. 257, thinks the proposition could not have been made in earnest.—M.]
The memory of his defeat excited Louis, after sixteen years of wisdom and repose, to undertake the seventh and last of the crusades. His finances were restored, his kingdom was enlarged; a new generation of warriors had arisen, and he advanced with fresh confidence at the head of six thousand horse and thirty thousand foot. The loss of Antioch had provoked the enterprise; a wild hope of baptizing the king of Tunis tempted him to steer for the African coast; and the report of an immense treasure reconciled his troops to the delay of their voyage to the Holy Land. Instead of a proselyte, he found a siege: the French panted and died on the burning sands: St. Louis expired in his tent; and no sooner had he closed his eyes, than his son and successor gave the signal of the retreat.73907390 See the expedition in the annals of St. Louis, by William de Nangis, p. 270—287; and the Arabic extracts, p. 545, 555, of the Louvre edition of Joinville. "It is thus," says a lively writer, "that a Christian king died near the ruins of Carthage, waging war against the sectaries of Mahomet, in a land to which Dido had introduced the deities of Syria."73917391 Voltaire, Hist. Générale, tom. ii. p. 391.
A more unjust and absurd constitution cannot be devised than that which condemns the natives of a country to perpetual servitude, under the arbitrary dominion of strangers and slaves. Yet such has been the state of Egypt above five hundred years. The most illustrious sultans of the Baharite and Borgite dynasties73927392 The chronology of the two dynasties of Mamalukes, the Baharites, Turks or Tartars of Kipzak, and the Borgites, Circassians, is given by Pocock (Prolegom. ad Abulpharag. p. 6—31) and De Guignes (tom. i. p. 264—270;) their history from Abulfeda, Macrizi, &c., to the beginning of the xvth century, by the same M. De Guignes, (tom. iv. p. 110—328.) were themselves promoted from the Tartar and Circassian bands; and the four-and-twenty beys, or military chiefs, have ever been succeeded, not by their sons, but by their servants. They produce the great charter of their liberties, the treaty of Selim the First with the republic:73937393 Savary, Lettres sur l'Egypte, tom. ii. lettre xv. p. 189—208. I much question the authenticity of this copy; yet it is true, that Sultan Selim concluded a treaty with the Circassians or Mamalukes of Egypt, and left them in possession of arms, riches, and power. See a new Abrégé de l'Histoire Ottomane, composed in Egypt, and translated by M. Digeon, (tom. i. p. 55—58, Paris, 1781,) a curious, authentic, and national history. and the Othman emperor still accepts from Egypt a slight acknowledgment of tribute and subjection. With some breathing intervals of peace and order, the two dynasties are marked as a period of rapine and bloodshed:73947394 Si totum quo regnum occupârunt tempus respicias, præsertim quod fini propius, reperies illud bellis, pugnis, injuriis, ac rapinis refertum, (Al Jannabi, apud Pocock, p. 31.) The reign of Mohammed (A.D. 1311—1341) affords a happy exception, (De Guignes, tom. iv. p. 208—210.) but their throne, however shaken, reposed on the two pillars of discipline and valor: their sway extended over Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, and Syria: their Mamalukes were multiplied from eight hundred to twenty-five thousand horse; and their numbers were increased by a provincial militia of one hundred and seven thousand foot, and the occasional aid of sixty-six thousand Arabs.73957395 They are now reduced to 8500: but the expense of each Mamaluke may be rated at a hundred louis: and Egypt groans under the avarice and insolence of these strangers, (Voyages de Volney, tom. i. p. 89—187.) Princes of such power and spirit could not long endure on their coast a hostile and independent nation; and if the ruin of the Franks was postponed about forty years, they were indebted to the cares of an unsettled reign, to the invasion of the Moguls, and to the occasional aid of some warlike pilgrims. Among these, the English reader will observe the name of our first Edward, who assumed the cross in the lifetime of his father Henry. At the head of a thousand soldiers the future conqueror of Wales and Scotland delivered Acre from a siege; marched as far as Nazareth with an army of nine thousand men; emulated the fame of his uncle Richard; extorted, by his valor, a ten years' truce;73967396 Gibbon colors rather highly the success of Edward. Wilken is more accurate vol. vii. p. 593, &c.—M. and escaped, with a dangerous wound, from the dagger of a fanatic assassin.73977397 See Carte's History of England, vol. ii. p. 165—175, and his original authors, Thomas Wikes and Walter Hemingford, (l. iii. c. 34, 35,) in Gale's Collection, (tom. ii. p. 97, 589—592.) They are both ignorant of the princess Eleanor's piety in sucking the poisoned wound, and saving her husband at the risk of her own life. 73987398 The sultan Bibars was concerned in this attempt at assassination Wilken, vol. vii. p. 602. Ptolemæus Lucensis is the earliest authority for the devotion of Eleanora. Ibid. 605.—M. Antioch,73997399 Sanutus, Secret. Fidelium Crucis, 1. iii. p. xii. c. 9, and De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. iv. p. 143, from the Arabic historians. whose situation had been less exposed to the calamities of the holy war, was finally occupied and ruined by Bondocdar, or Bibars, sultan of Egypt and Syria; the Latin principality was extinguished; and the first seat of the Christian name was dispeopled by the slaughter of seventeen, and the captivity of one hundred, thousand of her inhabitants. The maritime towns of Laodicea, Gabala, Tripoli, Berytus, Sidon, Tyre and Jaffa, and the stronger castles of the Hospitallers and Templars, successively fell; and the whole existence of the Franks was confined to the city and colony of St. John of Acre, which is sometimes described by the more classic title of Ptolemais.
After the loss of Jerusalem, Acre,74007400 The state of Acre is represented in all the chronicles of te times, and most accurately in John Villani, l. vii. c. 144, in Muratori, Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, tom. xiii. 337, 338. which is distant about seventy miles, became the metropolis of the Latin Christians, and was adorned with strong and stately buildings, with aqueducts, an artificial port, and a double wall. The population was increased by the incessant streams of pilgrims and fugitives: in the pauses of hostility the trade of the East and West was attracted to this convenient station; and the market could offer the produce of every clime and the interpreters of every tongue. But in this conflux of nations, every vice was propagated and practised: of all the disciples of Jesus and Mahomet, the male and female inhabitants of Acre were esteemed the most corrupt; nor could the abuse of religion be corrected by the discipline of law. The city had many sovereigns, and no government. The kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus, of the house of Lusignan, the princes of Antioch, the counts of Tripoli and Sidon, the great masters of the hospital, the temple, and the Teutonic order, the republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, the pope's legate, the kings of France and England, assumed an independent command: seventeen tribunals exercised the power of life and death; every criminal was protected in the adjacent quarter; and the perpetual jealousy of the nations often burst forth in acts of violence and blood. Some adventurers, who disgraced the ensign of the cross, compensated their want of pay by the plunder of the Mahometan villages: nineteen Syrian merchants, who traded under the public faith, were despoiled and hanged by the Christians; and the denial of satisfaction justified the arms of the sultan Khalil. He marched against Acre, at the head of sixty thousand horse and one hundred and forty thousand foot: his train of artillery (if I may use the word) was numerous and weighty: the separate timbers of a single engine were transported in one hundred wagons; and the royal historian Abulfeda, who served with the troops of Hamah, was himself a spectator of the holy war. Whatever might be the vices of the Franks, their courage was rekindled by enthusiasm and despair; but they were torn by the discord of seventeen chiefs, and overwhelmed on all sides by the powers of the sultan. After a siege of thirty three days, the double wall was forced by the Moslems; the principal tower yielded to their engines; the Mamalukes made a general assault; the city was stormed; and death or slavery was the lot of sixty thousand Christians. The convent, or rather fortress, of the Templars resisted three days longer; but the great master was pierced with an arrow; and, of five hundred knights, only ten were left alive, less happy than the victims of the sword, if they lived to suffer on a scaffold, in the unjust and cruel proscription of the whole order. The king of Jerusalem, the patriarch and the great master of the hospital, effected their retreat to the shore; but the sea was rough, the vessels were insufficient; and great numbers of the fugitives were drowned before they could reach the Isle of Cyprus, which might comfort Lusignan for the loss of Palestine. By the command of the sultan, the churches and fortifications of the Latin cities were demolished: a motive of avarice or fear still opened the holy sepulchre to some devout and defenceless pilgrims; and a mournful and solitary silence prevailed along the coast which had so long resounded with the world's debate.74017401 See the final expulsion of the Franks, in Sanutus, l. iii. p. xii. c. 11—22; Abulfeda, Macrizi, &c., in De Guignes, tom. iv. p. 162, 164; and Vertot, tom. i. l. iii. p. 307—428. *
Note: * After these chapters of Gibbon, the masterly prize composition, "Essai sur 'Influence des Croisades sur l'Europe," par A H. L. Heeren: traduit de l'Allemand par Charles Villars, Paris, 1808,' or the original German, in Heeren's "Vermischte Schriften," may be read with great advantage.—M.]
|« Prev||Chapter LIX: The Crusades.—Part III.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version