Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

Excerpt

The Fifth Crusade had its beginnings in 1213, when Pope Innocent III announced his intention to summon a council of the church to meet in 1215 to discuss reform of the church and the promotion of the crusade. It ended in Egypt in 1221 on the Nile road between Damietta and al-Manṣūrah with the surrender of a major part of the crusader army to the forces of the sultan, al- Kāmil. Its failure marked the last time that a medieval pope would succeed in mounting a major expedition for the liberation of the Holy Land. This crusade involved more extensive planning and a greater commitment than any of its predecessors. Preachers carried its message to virtually all parts of Europe, from Scandinavia to Sicily, from Ireland to Poland. Its ranks were filled with men -- and women -- of myriad tongues. The greatest charismatic of the age, Francis of Assisi, visited the crusader camp. Through long periods of frustration and intense suffering, the crusader army persevered. In desperation over the threat it posed, the sultan offered several times to exchange Jerusalem for the conquered city of Damietta, the "key to Egypt," but the crusaders refused. Finally, with victory seemingly in their grasp, they lost everything. Yet another disaster had been added to the heavy burden of failure that already weighed on the crusade movement and its supporters because of the meagre results of the Second and Third crusades and the turning of the Fourth Crusade from its goal in the East to the conquest of Constantinople and much of the Byzantine Empire.

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