September 15, 2012 by

The Ninth Crusade

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Edward I of England took the cross in 1268.  His father, King Henry, was still alive at the time so he was able to take the opportunity to campaign in the Holy Land.

The eighth crusade, which was very short and only lasted a few months, is sometimes lumped into the ninth.  It’s leader, however, was Louis the IX of France, “sailing from Aigues-Mortes, initially to come to the aid of the remnants of the crusader states in Syria. However, the crusade was diverted to Tunis, where Louis spent only two months before dying.”

By 1270, things had deteriorated for the Christian states in the Middle East considerably.  Jerusalem had fallen in 1244 AD and was never recovered.  For Edward’s purposes, the Baron’s War against Simon de Montfort was over and the Welsh threat contained with the Treaty of 1267.  “Edward took the Crusader’s Vow, along with his younger brother Edmund and their cousin, Henry of Almain, in an elaborate ceremony, in June, 1268. England was at peace and the only obstacle to Edward joining the Crusade was the lack of funds. Louis IX, the King of France provided a loan of 17,500 pounds, however, this was not enough and the rest had to be raised by taxing the laity. Edward set sail for the Holy Land with a force of 1,000 men on August 20.

“The original intent of the Ninth Crusade was to relieve the Christian fortress of Acre. However, Louis and his brother, Charles of Anjou, instead went to Tunis with the intent of establishing a Christian kingdom in North Africa. By the time Edward had arrived in Tunis, Louis was dead and Charles had signed a peace treaty with the Muslims. The campaign was postponed until the spring and a bad storm dissuaded Charles and France’s new King, Philip III, from continuing with the campaign. Undeterred, Edward continued on alone, landing in Acre in May, 1271.”

After a few defeats and a few victories, none of which amounted to very much, Edward negotiated at truce with the “Sultan Baibars; a 10 year, 10 month an 10 day agreement was reached in May 1272, at Caesarea. Almost immediately Prince Edmund departed for England, while Edward remained to see if the treaty would hold. The following month Baibars attempted to assassinate Edward. Edward killed the assassin but received a festering wound from a poisoned dagger in the process, further delaying Edwards own departure. In September 1272 Edward departed Acre for Sicily and while recuperating on the island he first received news of the death of his son John, and a few months later that of his father. In 1273 Edward started his homeward journey via Italy, Gascony and Paris. Edward finally reached England in the summer of 1274, and was crowned King of England on the 19th August 1274.”
The Ninth Crusade was the last official crusade of the 13th century.  In 1291, Acre (Akka) fell.

The master of the Hospital, John de Villiers, wrote from his sickbed in Cyprus to William de Villaret, prior of St Gilles, describing the last dreadful hours:

I myself on that same day was stricken nearly to death by a lance between the shoulders, a wound which has made the writing of this letter a very difficult task. Meanwhile a great crowd of Saracens were entering the city on all sides, by land and by sea, moving along the walls, which were all pierced and broken, until they came to our shelters. Our sergeants, lads and mercenaries and the crusaders and others gave up all hope and fled towards the ships, throwing down their arms and armour. We and our brothers, the greatest number of whom were wounded to death or gravely injured, resisted them as long as we could, God knows. And as some of us were lying as if we were half-dead and lay in a faint before our enemies, our sergeants and our household boys came and carried me, mortally wounded, and our other brothers away, at great danger to themselves. And thus I and some of our brothers escaped, as it pleased God, most of whom were wounded and battered without hope of cure, and we were taken to the island of Cyprus. On the day that this letter was written we were still there, in great sadness of heart, prisoners of overwhelming sorrow.

[From: Cartulaire général de l’ordre des Hospitaliers, ed. Joseph Delaville le Roulx, no. 4157; translated by Edwin James King, The Knights Hospitallers in the Holy Land (London, 1931), pp. 301-2: amended by H. J. Nicholson.]

4 Responses to The Ninth Crusade

  1. Jeffrey Storey

    The Crusades were a successful failure. The Crusades were a successful failure because they became the pattern for European colonization in the New World. The Crusades were terrible for the Jews but were a blessing for the Muslim barbarians.

    • Sarah Post author

      Probably the Muslim ‘barbarians’ would object to the use of that term, since they were anything but barbarous, but that’s an interesting comparison to the New World conquest.