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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 475

 Ch. XIII MOSLEM NORTH AFRICA, 1049—1 394 475 
the crusade but well informed on Louis's preparations. He was wrong in asserting
that the Tunisians knew they were the destined target, right in that they
had strong and well-founded suspicions. He was probably correct in his account
of the embassy, except in his report of Louis's response. And he may have
narrated accurately his hearsay on the gold but ascribed it to the wrong
occasion. In addition, he is our best source on al-Mustansir's plans and
preparations for repelling the crusaders. 
 The first steps were the strengthening of city walls and especially the
repairing of breaches facing seaward, the accumulating of reserve stocks
of grain and other necessities, and the prohibiting of free access by Christian
merchants to the inland portions of his realm. Further precautions, taken
when his suspicions were confirmed by the return empty-handed of his embassy,
concerned the recruitment of defenders. He requested contingents from western
Algeria and Morocco, which were too involved in fighting each other to accede
to his demands, and from Egypt, whose Mamluk sultan Baybars ordered the garrison
of Cyrenaica to proceed immediately to his assistance. He enlisted a splendid
volunteer corps from among the refugee Spanish Moslems within his borders.
Contingents were requisitioned from all his provinces, and swarms of Arabs
joined him for the interval before the autumnal date-ripening. The garrisons
and citizens of the coastal cities were armed and alerted, and his own court
and household troops were made the mobile nucleus of his forces. 
 When the hostile fleet appeared off Carthage, al-Mustansir's coun cillors
were divided over the best strategy. One group wanted to prevent a landing;
others argued that it was desirable for the French to commit their troops
to an attack on such a strongly fortified position rather than to sail away
and seek a softer spot elsewhere. The caliph, to his later regret, adopted
this latter course and the landing was effected without strong opposition
on July 18, 1270. 
 There is no reason to repeat here in detail the actual events of the crusade—the
skirmishes and inaction pending the arrival of Charles of Anjou, the dysentery
that decimated the French, the death of Louis on August 25, the belated arrival
of Charles, the further skirmishes, the treaty signed November 1, the coming
on November 10 of Edward, prince of Wales, with the English and Scottish
contingents, the evacuation on November 18, and the storm which sank several
ships, allegedly including the one bearing the gold paid to Charles by al-Mustansir.
The Moslem accounts do not differ significantly from the European except
to exaggerate the number of crusaders (40,000 knights, 100,000 archers, and
a million foot-soldiers according to 

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