The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy

The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy

The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy

The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy

Excerpt

The date is A.D. 1221.

For the last four years, since Pope Honorius III summoned Christendom to a new crusade, a human torrent had been pouring from Europe to the East, mainly from Low Germany, Denmark, and Norway. In Frisia, Cologne, and Bremen men took ship, rounded the west coast, tarried awhile in Portugal to give their fellow-Christians there a hand against the infidel. After a year's sojourn they continued their voyage to Syria, the place of assembly for crusaders of all nationalities. Here was formed a composite army of the devout, the ambitious, adventurers of many races and speaking many tongues, with nothing in common but the Cross on their attire and the hope of battle and victory. There was little bond of unity, and the Moslems, aware of their advantage, feeling secure in their impregnable fortresses, bided their time.

Nor did they need to wait long before the crusading army began to crumble. The King of Hungary was the first leader to return to Europe, being soon followed by Duke Leopold of Austria. Those left behind in Syria removed to Egypt, which offered richer booty. They attacked the wealthy port of Damietta at the mouth of the Nile, and took it after an eighteen months' siege during which 65,000 of the 70,000 inhabitants died of pestilence and famine.

But the rejoicings in Europe over this success and over the vastness of the loot were short-lived, for now Saladin's nephews, the Sultans of Egypt and Damascus, joined forces against the Christian army and beleaguered it. The besiegers were in turn besieged, and nothing but a new crusade and fresh recruits could save them. Hopes were centred upon Frederick II, the Hohen-

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