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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

I: The Crusade in the Fourteenth Century,   pp. 2-26 ff. PDF (9.6 MB)

Page 17

which was locked by the customs officer Ibn-Ghuräb to prevent theft
of the goods stored therein. Meanwhile, a great tower barred access from
the part of the wall above the Green Gate to that above the Custom-House
Gate. That gap in the defense provided the attackers with their sole opportunity,
which they seized immediately by burn ing the undefended gate while others
employed ladders to mount the wall. The bewildered Egyptians watched the
assault and then has tened toward the land gates to save their lives. These
are the main data on which William of Machaut 18 and an-Nuwairi al-Iskandari,
19 the two historians and eye-witnesses of the crusade from the oppos ing
camps, are in full agreement. 
 For the rest of the story, we have to rely on the Egyptian annalist—that
is, from the occupation of the city on October 10 to its evacuation on October
16. The havoc that followed the appear ance of the Christian knights within
the walls was indescribable. Masses of inhabitants thronged the narrow circuitous
lanes with their light treasures, pushing toward the Rosetta Gate in the
east and the southern land gates. The miserable fate of those who lagged
behind was sealed, for they were either killed or carried into captivity.
The trade storehouses were pillaged, and what could not be carried away was
destroyed. Public buildings and emptied warehouses were set aflame. The sack
of the city was completed systematically, and in that short span of time
the "Queen of the Mediterranean" was left in a state of irreparable wreckage;
even the Coptic churches of their fellow Christians of the east were looted.
The harmless beasts of burden were put to the sword after the conveyance
of the booty, and their bodies were collected and burnt only later by the
Moslems on reentering the city. When all their havoc was accomplished, the
looters took to their ships in groups, deserting their posts in the city,
much to the disgust of such dedicated leaders of the crusade as the king
and his two consultants, Peter Thomas and Philip of Mézières.
At this juncture the vanguard of the troops from Cairo, alleged to be some
hundred thousand strong, appeared in the outskirts of the city. 
 In the end, after some futile negotiations between Yelbogha's emissaries
and the king on board one of his galleys, the Christian fleet sailed back
home laden with booty and without releasing the 
 18. Ed. Louis de Mas Latrie as La Prise d'Alexandrie ou chronique du roi
Pierre Ier de Lusignan (Société de 1'Orient latin, série
historique, no. 1; Geneva, 1877). 
 19. Or, as he describes himself, "al-Iskandarãni." Excerpts ed. E.
Combe, in Farouk University, Faculty of Arts, Bulletin (Majallat Kulliyat
al-ãdab), III (Alexandria, 1946), 99—110, 119—129. The
full text of an-Nuwairi's "Kithb al-ilmam" dealing with the crusade from
the Egyptian side has been published by the present writer in 6 vols., in
the Da'iratu ' l-Ma ' arif-il-'Osmania (new series, Hyderabad, 1968—1973).

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