Page 1397

1397 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

restoration of Christian supremacy, not only in

Palestine but in all the principalities which

they had formerly held. And yet of all

the advantages afforded by the general condition of affairs, the Syrian Christians secured no more than this: a six years' truce with Saphadin.

Meanwhile, Almeric and Isabella, titular

king and queen of Jerusalem, both died; and

the shadowy crown of that alleged "kingdom"

descended to the Princess Mary, daughter of

Isabella by her former marriage with Conrad

of Tyre. It was, however, deemed essential

by the barons and knights of the West that

the young Queen Mary should be strengthened

by the arm of a husband, and the choice being left to Philip Augustus of France, that

monarch selected the Prince John, son of the

Count of Brienne, as most worthy of the

honor. Accordingly, in 1210, the prince departed for Palestine, claimed the hand of Mary,

and with her was jointly crowned.

When the truce with Saphadin expired,

the Christians refused to renew the treaty,

and hostilities were presently resumed. It

soon appeared that King John, with the

handful of knights whom he had brought

with him from Europe, was unable to repel

the encroachments of the Turks. In his

distress he wrote a pathetic appeal to Pope

Innocent III, beseeching him for the love

of the fallen Cross again to rally the Christians of the West for the salvation of Palestine. His Holiness was most ready to undertake the enterprise. Although he was

at present profoundly engaged in the work

of suppressing the heretical Albigenses in

the south of France, he sent a favorable

answer to King John's appeal, and issued a

letter to the Christian rulers of Europe, proclaiming a new Crusade. He also directed the

clergy of all Christendom to urge forward the

laity, should the latter lag in renewing the

Holy War. The fourth council of the Lateran

was called, and a resolution was adopted by

the august body to undertake once more the

great work of subjugating the Infidels of Syria.

Such was the origin of the Fifth Crusade.

The leaders of the new expedition to the

East were King Andrew of Hungary and the

Emperor Frederick II. Besides the armies

led by these two princes a third was organized,

consisting of a mixed multitude of Germans,

French, Italians, and English. King Andrew set out with his forces in the year 1216, and

was joined on his route by the dukes of

Austria and Bavaria. On reaching Palestine the Hungarian monarch made some

desultory incursions into the Moslem territories, but besides ravaging undefended districts accomplished nothing honorable to

himself or his country. He soon abandoned

the enterprise, gathered his forces on the

coast, and reembarked for Europe. The

Germans, however, who had accompanied

the expedition, refused to return, and joined

themselves with the knights of Palestine

to aid them in defending whatever remained

of the kingdom of Jerusalem. Other bands

of warriors like-minded with themselves arrived from Germany, and the forces of the

Christians were so augmented that it was resolved to make a campaign against Egypt.

That country had been reduced to such a

state of misrule, famine, and pestilence as to

have become an especially inviting field for

foreign invasion. There only wanted the additional fact of storied wealth and treasure to

inflame to the highest pitch the cupidity of

the mercenary chivalry of the West. Nor

could it be denied that even from a military

point of view the conquest of Egypt was an

important, if not a necessary antecedent, to

that of Syria.

In the year 1218 an armament fitted

out at Acre left the Syrian coast and proceeded against Damietta, at the mouth of

the Nile. The Christian forces were landed

before the city, and the place was at once

besieged. An assault was made upon a castle

in the river, and though the assailants were

beaten back, so furious was their onset that

the defenders of the castle were terrified

into a capitulation. A short time afterwards

the news was borne to the Christian camp

that their great enemy, Saphadin, was dead,

and the dread which they had hitherto felt

of Syrian assistance to the Egyptians was

dismissed. Another circumstance favorable

to the Crusaders was the almost constant

arrival of other bands from Europe. Some

of these were headed by the chief barons of

Italy, France, and England, such as the

counts of Nevers and La Marche, and

the noted earls of Salisbury, Arundel, and

Chester.

While, however, the forces of the besiegers of Damietta were thus augmented, an