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1368 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

by the vizier with the king. Almeric was

already on his march towards Egypt, and

on coming near Cairo was joined by the army

of the viceroy. Syracon was met and defeated in battle by the allied forces of the

Christians and the Fatimite Moslems. The

enemy retired from the country and Almeric's

army returned to Jerusalem laden with gold

and presents.

Had the Christian king been content with

what he had now achieved, all would have

still been well. But the sight of Egypt

with her storied treasures, and the knowledge of the condition of imbecility into which

the government of that country had fallen,

inflamed the mind of Almeric with the passion of conquest. He resolved, in the very

face of his recent treaty with the Caliph,

to make an invasion of Egypt; but, before

undertaking so important and perilous an

enterprise, he had the prudence to seek

and obtain an alliance with Comnenus, Emperor of the East, whose daughter he had

taken in marriage. Fortified with the promise of assistance from his father-in-law, he

deliberately broke his promise with El Hadac,

and began an expedition into the country

of his recent allies. This perfidious proceeding, however, was by no means heartily

ratified by the knights and warriors of Palestine. The Grand Master of the Templars

entered his protest against the dishonor of

causelessly violating a treaty; but the Hospitallers, less sensitive to the point of honor,

and actuated by rivalry of the opposing

Order, cordially supported the king. Almeric

was by no means to be turned from his purpose. At the head of his army he marched

into Lower Egypt, took the city of Belbeis,

and burned it to the ground.

In the mean time, however, the sultan of

Damascus was himself planning an invasion

of Egypt. Perceiving the weakness of the

Fatimite dynasty, he was thoroughly convinced that the times were ripe for the annexation of the land of the Pharaohs to the Eastern Caliphate. While cogitating his

schemes, the ambitious Noureddin was amazed

on receiving from the Egyptian Caliph an

earnest message to come to his aid against

the enemies of the Prophet, who were already

in the country with an army. Quickly as

possible the sultan, rejoicing at the news,

dispatched an army across the desert to secure whatever was to be gained by war

or diplomacy in the African Caliphate.

Before the arrival of this army, which was

led by Syracon, the vizier Sanor had beaten

the king of Jerusalem at his own game of

duplicity. The crafty Egyptian sent to

Almeric an embassy, offering to give him

two millions of crowns if he would abandon

the invasion. Dazzled with the splendid

prospect, the king stood waiting while the

Egyptians fortified their cities, and otherwise prepared for defense. When he awoke

from his reverie, he heard on one side the

derisive laughter of the Fatimites, and on

the other the blasts of Syracon's trumpets

coming up from the desert.

Almeric, perceiving his condition, turned

about, not without a show of valor, and

offered battle to the Syrians. But Syracon

was wary of the Christian warriors, and

declined to fight until what time he had

effected a junction with the Egyptians. The

king of Jerusalem, finding himself unable

to cope with the united armies of his foes,

withdrew from the isthmus and returned to

the Holy City.

It would have been supposed that his.

late experiences were of a sort to cure the

folly of Almeric and lead him to a wiser

policy; but not so with the ambitious prince.

Instead of falling back upon defensive measures he at once repaired to Constantinople

and besought the Emperor Comnenus to

join him in the magnificent project of the

conquest of Egypt. If the fulfillment had

been equal to the promises made by the

wily Greek to his ardent son-in-law, then

indeed not only Egypt but the world might

have been subdued. Comnenus, however, had

no thought of hazarding aught in the interest

of the kingdom of Jerusalem. He therefore,

after the manner of his race, promised and

promised and did nothing. The disappointed Almeric returned to Jerusalem still

haunted with the vision of the gold and

treasures which his ambassadors had seen

in the palace of El Hadac.

Very soon after the withdrawal of the

Christian army from Egypt the ambitious

and success Sanor met an inglorious end

at the hands of Syracon, who had him seized

and put to death. The office of vizier was

transferred to the Syrian, who, however,

survived his success for the brief space of