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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 474

peace sufficiently advantageous to quell his warlike ardor." Ibn Khaldun
adds, not as fact but as hearsay, that the ambassadors took 80,000 pieces
of gold to buy Louis off, but that the latter accepted the gold and then
announced that the expedition would nevertheless be aimed at Tunisia, because
al-Mustansir had frequently broken the treaty between them. The envoys, being
dismissed, returned to Africa and informed the caliph of the situation, leading
him to strengthen the measures of defense he had commenced on first learning
of Louis's preparations. 
 This narrative contains four essential features: Tunisian knowledge of the
destination of the crusade, the Hafsid peace feelers, Louis's public declaration
of his plans, and the episode of the gold. It is clear that the Moslems were
well aware that extensive preparations were being made by Louis for a crusade;
even in the absence of definite knowledge of its destination al-Mustansir
would have been criminally remiss if he had neglected the obvious precautions
for defending his realm which he certainly took, and which will be discussed
in more detail below. The peace mission sent by al-Mustansir to France fits
the circumstances very plausibly,16 and may well have taken a small but royal
gift; Louis's answers would not have been reassuring and the envoys on their
return would probably have advised their caliph to look to his defenses.
On the third point, however, the Moslems are clearly in error. It can be
stated categorically that Louis did not announce publicly his intention of
attacking Tunisia and his pretexts for so doing. At most, he might have alleged,
in his reply to the envoys, instances of Hafsid treaty-breaching, but the
final decision was not generally known until July of 1270, so much is certain.
The incident of the 80,000 dinars is assigned by Mercier, 17 with apparent
plausibility, to the period immediately following the appearance of the fleet
off Carthage, a last desperate attempt to purchase immu nity. His assertion
that Louis's nature was too chivalrous to permit him to retain the gold and
deny the peace plea may be doubted in view of that saintly monarch's infinite
capacity for rationalization and self-deception in a pious cause, as well
as of the contemporary concept that no Christian need observe any code of
ethics in dealing with the "infidel." But the utter silence of the French
sources on this matter suggests that the only gold actually paid was the
authenti cated reparations collected by Charles of Anjou. 
 In general, Ibn-Khaldun was poorly informed on the motivations of 
 16. Geoffrey of Beaulieu indicates that a Hafsid embassy visited Paris in
October 1269, but does not specify its mission (RHGF, XX [Paris, 1840], 20—23).
17. Histoire de l'Afrique septentrionale, II, 19 8—199. 

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