Page 1367

1367 THE CRUSADES-THE KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM.

his pilgrim garb a year longer in Palestine,

and then returned with a small body of

his followers to Germany. The Second

Crusade, undertaken with so much enthusiasm, preached by a saint and

commanded by an Emperor and a king, had

proved to be among the most abortive of

all the projects of fanatical ambition. Not a

single permanent advantage had been gained

by the quarter of a million of French and

German warriors who flung themselves into

the mountain passes of Asia Minor as if

Europe had no graves.

Notwithstanding the collapse of the Second Crusade, the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, under the rule of Baldwin III, for a while held its own against the assaults of the

Moslems. The king was at all times able

to call to his aid the feudal lords and warriors

of his own dominion; and besides these the

Knights of the Hospital and the Templars

were ever ready to rally at his summons. He

was thus able to make a fair defense of his

own kingdom, and at the same time to strike

an occasional blow at some stronghold of the

enemy. The capture of Ascalon, which had

been proposed by the German Emperor and

King Louis after their failure before Damascus, was undertaken and successfully accomplished in 1153 by Baldwin and his warriors. After a successful reign of eighteen

years, he died from the effects of poison administered by a Syrian physician, in 1162,

and left his crown to his brother Almeric,

a prince who was unfortunate in having an

ambition greater than his genius.

On coming to the throne, the new king

of Jerusalem at once projected an expedition

into Egypt. In that country the government

of the Fatimites had become a thing of contempt. The Caliphs themselves had little

influence, and the actual power was disputed

by ambitious viziers, reckless of all interests

save their own. At the time of the death of

Baldwin III., two rival viziers, named Dargan

and Sanor, contended for the supremacy

in Cairo; while their master, El Hadac, was

passing his time in the voluptuous indulgences

of the harem. When the quarrel between

the viziers was at its height, Sanor appealed

for aid to Noureddin, who, after wresting the

principality of Edessa' from the younger De

Courtenay, had become sultan of Damascus.

Not unwillingly did this distinguished Moslem hear the appeal from Egypt. With a keen

regard for his own interest, he sent thitherward a powerful army, and though at the

first the allied force of Syrians and Egyptians

was defeated by the troops of Dargan, the

latter was presently slain, and Sanor established in authority.

As soon, however, as success was achieved,

Syracon, commander of the army of Noureddin, instead of withdrawing to Damascus,

began to behave like a conqueror, and Sanor

discovered in his late friend a foe more

to be dreaded than his former rival. Alarmed

at the situation and tendency of affairs,

the vizier. bethought him of those terrible

Crusaders who had conquered Palestine.

With all haste he dispatched messengers

to Jerusalem and appealed to Almeric to

send an army into Egypt and aid him in

expelling the Syrians. The Christian king

was not slow to avail himself of the fatal

opportunity. A force of Crusaders was

at once dispatched to the assistance of Sanor, and Syracon was driven from the country.

The defeated Syrian general at once

repaired to Damascus and reported to Noureddin. The sultan hereupon sent word

to the Caliph of Baghdad inviting him to

join in a formidable expedition against

Egypt, with a view to the extermination

of the Fatimite dynasty and the transfer

of the Egyptian Caliphate to the Abbassides.

The rumor of the proposed invasion was

carried to Sanor, who, in great alarm, sent

the intelligence to the king of Jerusalem,

imploring him in the name of a common

cause to face the armies which were coming

hither for their destruction, and offering

him forty thousand ducats as the price

of an alliance. To make assurance doubly

sure, Almeric insisted that a personal interview must be had with the Caliph of Cairo; for

Sanor was only a subordinate and might not

be able to fulfill his agreement. Hugh, earl

of Cesarea, accompanied by a Knight Templar, was sent on an embassy to Egypt, and

was conducted into the palace of El Hadac-a place where no Christian had ever set foot

before. Here the eyes of the Christians were

greeted with such a spectacle of splendor as

they had previously beheld only in dreams.

With much hesitation the Caliph permitted the

warriors to look upon him seated on his throne

of gold, and then ratified the conditions made