Page 1408

1408 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

best of the Islamite warriors. At last, however, the Count of Artois, brother of the

French king, gathering around him the

bravest of the Knights of England and

France, succeeded in forcing his way across

the canal in the very face of the enemy, who

turned, and fled into Mansoura. If the

count had now acted with discretion, all

might have been well; but, instead of yielding

to the prudent counsels of William Long

Sword and other cool-headed leaders, he

rashly and impetuously pursued the flying foe

into the town. The other Knights, not to be

shamed by his valor, pressed after him, and

the whole disorganized mass of mingled

Moslems and Christians rolled through the

gates of Mansoura.

In a short time the Infidels perceived the

folly of their pursuers, and made a rally

in overwhelming numbers. He of Artois

and his rash followers found themselves

surrounded. Valor availed not. The count

himself, Long Sword, and the Grand Master

of the Templars were all either killed outright, or hewed down in blood. The Grand

Master of the Hospitallers was taken prisoner;

nor would any of the force have escaped but

for the opportune arrival of the king with

the main army. The Christians succeeded in

holding Mansoura, but the victory was comparatively fruitless.

At this juncture Nejmeddin died, and the

sultanate passed to his son; but, before

the latter was well seated on the throne, the

powerful Bibars, general of the Mamelukes,

obtained the direction of affairs, and presently took the crown for himself. Under

his direction, the Egyptians now took up

their galleys from the Nile above the Christian camp, and drew the same overland to

a position between the Crusaders and Damietta.

In this wise the army of King Louis

was left in precisely the same predicament

as the Knights of the Fifth Crusade had

been aforetime. In a brief period famine

was added to the horrors of disease in the

French camp, and it became evident that,

unless a retreat could be effected to Damietta,

the whole force would be destroyed. Daily

the audacious Infidels, emboldened by the near

prospect of success, narrowed their lines and

renewed their assaults on the failing Christians, When the latter began their retreat, the victorious Moslems captured the camp,

and murdered the sick and wounded. All

the stragglers were cut off, and the main

body was thrown into confusion, overwhelmed,

annihilated. King Louis and his two remaining brothers, the counts of Anjou and

Poitiers, together with a few other nobles,

were taken prisoners, but the remainder, to

the number of at least thirty thousand, were

massacred without mercy.

The son and successor of Nejmeddin was

named Touran Shah. By him King Louis

and his fellow captives were treated with

some consideration, and negotiations were

opened with a view to securing the ransom

of the prisoners. But, before the terms

of liberation could be carried into effect,

a revolution broke out in Egypt by which

the lives of the captives were brought into

imminent peril. The Mamelukes, that fierce

band of Turcoman horsemen, revolted against

the government, and Touran Shah was

slain. His death was the extinction of that

Kurdish dynasty which had been established by Saladin, in place of which was

substituted a Mameluke dynasty, beginning

in 1250 with the chieftain Bibars.

At length avarice prevailed over the

thirst for blood, and Louis should be liberated for the fortress of Damietta, which

was still held by the Christians, and that

all his living followers should be redeemed

for four hundred thousand livres in gold.

In order to obtain the first installment of

the ransom, the sorrowing but still saintly

warrior-king was obliged to borrow the

requisite sum from the Knights Templars.

Damietta was surrendered to the Moslems,

and Louis, with the shattered remnant of

his forces, took ship for Acre.

Most of the French barons and knights,

however, considering their vows fairly fulfilled by their sufferings in Egypt, sought

the first opportunity to return home. As to

the king, no such course was to be thought

of. His pride and religious zeal both forbade his retirement from the lands of the

Turk until he had done something to requite the Infidels for the destruction of his

army. Entering Acre, the pious monarch

at once set, about the work of reorganizing

the small band of warriors who still adhered

to his fallen fortunes. Of those who had

survived the ill-starred expedition, and of

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