Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
VIII: The Albigensian Crusade, pp. 276-324 PDF (19.3 MB)
302 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II even a lightly fortified position. In this way Peter's decision to meet him in the field rather than to remain in the protected camp played into his hand. Surprised, while assembling, by the rapidity of Simon's attack, the troops of the count of Foix received the shock of the first assault, and were hurled back upon the division under the king of Aragon. Here the lack of cohesion on the part of the allies became immediately apparent. Some of the Gascon and Catalan troops under Peter fled the field. Simon's men fought their way to where the king was stationed and, though the Aragonese rallied about him and fought to the last, Peter was struck down; his surviving followers were thrown into confusion by his death. Meanwhile Simon himself led his division on a flanking movement, which completed the rout. The engagement lasted only a matter of minutes; there is no record that Raymond and his troops ever got into the fight at all, thus repeating the failure at Castelnaudary two years previously. The victory was complete. With the mounted troops of the allies in flight from the field, Simon turned to deal with the allies' foot soldiers who, in the belief that their cavalry were winning the engagement, had proceeded to attack the town. Some were ridden down; others in an attempt to gain their ships, anchored down the Garonne northeast of the town, were drowned in the river. The sources place at 15,000 to 20,000 the numbers of those, mostly foot soldiers of course, who thus lost their lives. These figures seem very high indeed. There is agreement, however, that losses among the mounted troops were slight for the crusaders, while for the allies, particularly the Aragonese, they were substantial. However the figures are interpreted, the engagement represented a brilliant victory of a small force (perhaps 800-1,000 mounted men), possessing determination, decision, and discipline, over a larger one (perhaps 2,000-4,000 mounted men), weakened by divided counsels and lacking in leadership and training. <35> The hero of Las Navas de Tolosa presented a sorry spectacle as a commander on the plain of Muret, and the count of Foix, good soldier that he had proved himself in other engagements, failed here to distinguish himself, while, as we have seen, Raymond VI figured not at all in the battle. The defeat of Muret eliminated Aragon as a threat to the crusaders, and constituted a severe check to the pretensions of 35 In L'Art militaire (I, 214-216) Lot discusses the number of effectives on both sides and indicates the caution necessary in judging the figures.
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