Page 1405

1405 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

complete and ruinous overthrow than that

to which the Christians were now doomed.

Their entire forces were either killed or

scattered. The Grand Masters of the Hospitallers and Knights Templars were both

slain. Only twenty-six Knights of the Hospital, thirty-three of the Temple, and three

of the Teutonic Order were left alive of the

whole Christian chivalry of Palestine. The

blood-smeared and ferocious victors made

haste to seize the fortress of Tiberias and

Ascalon, and every other stronghold of Eastern

Christendom, with the exception of Acre.

Here were gathered the fugitives from all

parts of the Holy Land, as to a last rock of

refuge. Nor is it likely that even this mediaeval

Gibraltar of the East would have been able

to escape the general fate but for the fortunate quarrels which broke out between the

Corasmins and their Egyptian allies.

But this unnatural league came to a natural end. The Emir of Egypt sought a

more congenial combination of his forces

with his fellow Moslems of Syria. Meanwhile the barbarous Corasmins continued

to devastate the country as far as Damascus,

which city they captured and pillaged. The

effect of this terrible devastation was to

arouse the half apathetic Moslems from their

stupor. With a heroic effort they rallied a

large army, confronted the Corasmin hordes

in the Desert near Damascus, and routed

them with tremendous slaughter. The invaders were driven entirely out of Palestine,

and Syria was relieved of her peril.

To the Christians, however, the destruction of the Corasmins brought no advantage. The Moslems had not reconquered the Holy Land to deliver it gratis to the followers of Christ. The sway of Islam was

restored in Jerusalem, and the Christian kingdom continued to be bounded by the fortifications of Acre.

As soon as this deplorable Condition of

affairs was known in Europe the same scene

which had been already six times witnessed

in the Western states was again enacted.

In 1245 Pope Innocent IV. convened a

general council of the church at Lyons,

and it was resolved to undertake another

crusade to restore the Cross to the waste

places of Palestine. To this end it was decreed that all wars among the secular princes

of the West should be suspended for a period of four years, so that the combined energies of all might be devoted to a great expedition against the Infidels. Again the

preachers went forth proclaiming a renewal

of the conflict, and from Norway to Spain

the country resounded with the outcry of the

monks.

In Germany the old bitterness between the

Emperor Frederick II and the papal party

had broken out afresh, and the efforts of the

zealots to rekindle the fires of a holy war were

not of much avail. Time and again the

Imperial forces and papal troops were engaged in battles in which the animosity of the

German Knights, beating with battle ax and

sword around the standard-wagons of the

Italian zealots, was not less fierce than were

the similar conflicts of the Christians and

Islamites in Syria. In France and England

the flame of crusading enthusiasm burst forth

with brighter flame, and many of the greatest

nobles of the two kingdoms ardently espoused

the cause. Thus did William Long Sword,

the Bishop of Salisbury, the Earl of Leicester,

Sir Walter de Lacy, and many other English

Knights, who armed themselves and their

followers for the conflict. Haco, king of

Norway, also took the Cross, and become

an ardent promoter of the enterprise, but

before the expedition could depart for Syria

he was induced by reasons best known to

himself to abandon the cause. Most of all,

however, was the crusading spirit revived

in France, in which realm King Louis IX,

most saintly of all the mediaeval rulers, spread

among all ranks of his admiring subjects the

fire of enthusiasm. It was under his devoted

leadership that the Seventh Crusade was

now undertaken.

The island of Cyprus was appointed as the

place of rendezvous. Thither, in the year

1248, repaired the barons, knights, and soldiery of the West. King Louis, leaving his

government in charge of his mother, Blanche

of Castile, departed with his warriors and

became the soul of the enterprise. As in the

case of the Fifth Crusade, it was resolved to

make a descent on Egypt, and to conquer

that country as tb6 gateway of Syria. Nothing

could more clearly illustrate the blind folly,

recklessness, and infatuation of the military

methods of the Middle Ages than the course

now pursued by St. Louis and his army. With

a singular disregard of the lesson of the recent