Page 1410

1410 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

resident Christian soldiers in Palestine, he collected an army of nearly four thousand men,

but with this handful he was unable to undertake any important campaign. Nevertheless,

his energies were successfully directed to

the scarcely less essential work of repairing the fortifications of the few places over

which the Christians could still claim authority. The walls and fortress of Acre were

greatly strengthened, and Cesarea, Jaffa, and

Sidon put in a state of tolerable defense.

In this way the king succeeded, in the course

of four years, in making more secure the

little that was left of the Latin kingdom in

the East.

The hopes of Louis grew with the occasion. The Egyptian and Syrian Moslems

quarreled and went to war. So bitter was

the feud between the new Mameluke dynasty and the adherents of the Kurdish

House at Damascus, that the French king

was able to obtain from the former the release of all his prisoners still remaining unransomed with the sultan of Cairo. More

hopeful still was the promise which he secured

from that potentate of a recession of Jerusalem to the Christians. Nor is it to be

doubted that, if the war between Egypt and

Syria had continued, the king would have

accomplished a great part of what all Christendom had fought and prayed for more

than a hundred and fifty years.

But the early reconciliation of the warring Moslems served to blast all expectation

of so happy a result. The sultans not only

made peace but combined their forces to

crush the rising hopes of the Syrian Christians. The latter were so feeble in numbers

that no successful stand could be made against

the Infidel hosts that had gathered on every

hand. All the fortresses, except that of

Acre, were again given up to the Moslems,

and even the gates of that stronghold were

threatened by the triumphant soldiers of the

Crescent. At length, however, the Islamites

withdrew without seriously attempting the

reduction of Acre, and this movement on

their part, together with the news which

was now borne to Syria of the death of the

king's mother, gave him good excuse for retiring from the unequal conquest. In 1254

he took ship at Acre, and the Seventh Crusade

was at an end.

Though in a manner barren of positive results, the expedition of Saint Louis to Palestine had done much to shore up the tottering

fabric of the Christian kingdom. Perhaps, if

he had in his turn been well supported by the

states of the West and by the three great Orders of Knights, a more permanent result

might have been achieved. But the Templars

and Hospitallers had now forgotten their vows

and given themselves up to the mercenary and

selfish spirit of the times, to the extent that the

Cross was shamed rather than honored by their

support. Moreover, a state of affairs had supervened in the West unfavorable to the maintenance of the Christian cause. The Venetians,

Genoese, and Pisans had fallen into such bitter rivalries as to preclude any possibility of

a united effort in any enterprise. These peoples had grown wealthy and cosmopolitan, and

had ceased to care about the different religions

of the world. It was enough that those

with whom they held intercourse should

desire merchandise and possess the means of

purchase. For these and many other reasons

the discouragement to the cause of Eastern

Christianity was extreme, and all who were

at once thoughtful and not blinded by religious fanaticism could but see in the near

future the probable and final expulsion of

the Christians from the remaining fortresses

still held by them in Syria.

As soon as the new Mameluke sultan Bibars

was firmly seated on the throne of Egypt, he

began a career of conquest. He made expeditions into the Moslem states of Syria, and

compelled them to submit to his sway. He

then carried his ravages into the territories

still nominally belonging to the kingdom of

Jerusalem. This movement served the good

purpose of hushing for the moment the dissensions of the Templars and Hospitallers who

had recently been breathing out threats of

mutual destruction. They now united their

hostile forces, and did as much as valor might

to resist the overwhelming forces of the sultan.

As a general rule the Knights fought to the

last, refusing to apostatize, dying rather than

abandon the faith. In 1265 a body of ninety

of these invincible warriors defended the fortress of Azotus until the last man was killed.

The Templars acted with as much bravery as

they of the Hospital. In the year following

the capture of Azotus, the prior of the Order

of the Temple made a courageous defense of

Saphoury, and finally capitulated on a promise