Page 1413

1413 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

to Palestine and thus redeem the Eighth Crusade from failure.

In the autumn of 1270 Edward and his

warriors arrived at Acre. The Christians

of that forlorn outpost of the Cross were

greatly inspirited by the coming of their

English friends, led by one who bore the terrible name of Plantagenet. The Moslems

conceived a wholesome dread of the Knights,

who had just arrived from the West. The

Sultan Bibars, who was already before the

gates of Acre, retired in haste when he learned

that Edward Plantagenet was in the fortress.

The scattered Christian warriors of Palestine sought shelter and a renewal of confidence by gathering around the English

standard. Prince Edward thus succeeded

in rallying a force of about seven thousand warriors, and with this small army

went boldly forth to encounter the hosts of

Islam.

Marching in the direction of Nazareth the

Crusaders soon fell in with a division of the

Moslems, whom they defeated and dispersed.

Proceeding to the boyhood home of Christ

they took the town by storm and slaughtered

the inhabitants with an excess of ferocity

which might well have signalized the deeds

of the first Crusaders. The Christians took

up their station in Nazareth, but were almost immediately attacked with dreadful

diseases, more fatal than the swords of the

Moslems. Hundreds of the small army fell

victims to the pestilence. The prince himself fell sick, and while confined to his couch

was assailed by one of the Assassins. The

wretch, under pretense of giving Edward

important information, gained access to his

tent, and while the latter was reading the

pretended credentials attacked him with a

poisoned dagger. Plantagenet, however, was

not to be extinguished by a murderer. Springing from the couch he seized his assailant,

threw him to the earth, and transfixed him

with his own weapon. The prince's physician then excised the poisoned wounds of the

prince and his vigorous constitution prevailed over both his injuries and the pestilence. So greatly, however, were his scanty

forces wasted that a further continuance of

the conflict seemed out of the question.

The news now came from England that

King Henry III. was sick unto death and

the prince's presence was necessary to the peace of the realm. He accordingly determined to avail himself of the overtures

made by the sultan, who perhaps not knowing the condition of Edward and his handful of warriors, and entertaining for them

a salutary respect had proposed a truce

for a period of ten years. A settlement was

accordingly made on this basis, and after

a residence of fourteen months Prince Edward retired from Palestine. The success

of his campaign had been such as to secure

another respite to the tottering fabric of

Christianity in Syria.

In the year 1274 the Pope's legate in Palestine, the Count Thibaut, was elected

to the papal throne with the title of Gregory

X. Himself familiar by long and painful

observation with the deplorable condition

of Christian affairs in the Holy Land, he at

once resolved to do as much as lay in the

power of the pontiff to rouse the states of

Europe from their lethargy. He accordingly,

in the year of his elevation to the papacy,

convoked the second council of Lyons, and

there exerted himself to the utmost to induce another uprising of the people. The

effort was in vain. Though several of the

secular princes promised to lend their aid in

a new movement to the East, their pledges

remained unfulfilled, and with the death of

the Pope two years afterwards the whole

enterprise came to .naught.

For eight years the Syrian Christians remained unmolested. This observance by the

Moslems of the treaty made with Prince

Edward was due, however, rather to the dissensions of the Islamites than to any consideration of a compact which they knew the Christians to be unable to enforce. After the death

of Frederick II., in the year 1250, the crown

of Jerusalem had been conferred on Hugh of

Lusignan, king of Cyprus, though his claim

to the mythical dignity was controverted by

Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily. The latter

by his recent victory over Count Manfred of

Naples, whom he defeated and slew in the

decisive battle of Benevento, had become the

leading actor in the affairs of Italy. The new

sovereign was, however, so far as his Syrian

dominions were concerned, a mere phantom.

No attempt was made by him to recover the

Holy City or any other of the lost possessions

of Christendom in Asia. Indeed, the Latin

power on the coast existed only by sufferance.