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

XIII: Moslem North Africa, 1049-1394,   pp. 457-485 PDF (25.3 MB)

Page 472

were established with Aragon, whose king, James I, went so far as to have
his Genoese agent Nicholas Cigala request—unsuccessfully—from
pope Innocent IV an assurance that French king Louis IX's 1248 crusade to
Egypt would not attack Tunisia, a strange foreshadowing of the events of
 Yahyá refused to adopt any title beyond the simple amir, and at first
Muhammad imitated his father's modesty, but early in 1253 12 he was proclaimed
amir al-mu ' minin and assumed the epithet al Mustansir. After the extinction
of the ' Abbasid caliphate by the Mongols in 1258, he was the foremost ruler
of Islam, and his claim to caliphal dignity was recognized as valid by the
authorities at Mecca in 1259. By 1270 he had expelled two local rivals, had
been acknowl edged as suzerain by Nasrids, Ziyanids, and Marinids, and had
made a notable record for orderly administration and development of Tuni
sia. He had recently returned from an armed patrol of his remoter territories,
during which he had punished fractious nomads and restored order. He was
on excellent diplomatic and commercial terms with the Italian cities and
Aragon, and his relations with France and Sicily were far from hostile. This
is the state which was represented to aspiring crusaders as an easy and rich
conquest; this is the ruler who was depicted to pious Christians as a timid
potential convert. 
 Louis IX, his motivations for crusading in general and for crusading to
Tunis in 1270 in particular, his finances, his military dispositions, and
the consequences of his death have been carefully analyzed in a previous
volume.13 The Moslems' reaction to this onslaught is of equal interest; their
accounts differ in several important points from the familiar European narratives.
 Charles of Anjou is known to have had several strong motives for deflecting
the crusade to Tunis—reluctance to leave turbulent Sicily for any long
period or at any great distance; the desire to punish al-Mustansir for furnishing
troops to the Hohenstaufens Manfred and Conradin, and for sheltering Frederick
of Castile, who had com manded these troops in Sicily; the need to collect
sums previously paid by the Hafsids for navigational and commercial privileges,
often miscalled "tribute"; and his friendship with Baybars of Egypt, the
logical target. He is, consequently, usually blamed14 for manufac 
 12. This date, wrongly given by Ibn-Khaldun as October 1249, one month after
Muham mad's accession, is established by az-Zarkashi and confirmed by the
quantity of coins on which he is termed merely amir (Hazard, Numismatic History,
pp. 74, 162—163). Al-'Umari is of course even more incorrect in ascribing
these events to the period after the "victory" over the crusaders in 1270.
 13. See volume II of this work, chapter XIV. 
 14. An important group of modern historians tend to absolve Charles on the
grounds that his real interest was the attacking of the Byzantine empire
after peacefully negotiating with 

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