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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

XIII: The Crusade of Theobald of Champagne and Richard of Cornwall, 1239-1241,   pp. 463-486 PDF (13.4 MB)

Page 471

noted for its enthusiasm, courage, and perseverance as crusaders, and he
was to prove himself a worthy member of it. Count Henry of Bar had probably
done more fighting with less success than any other baron of France. 
 In a letter which we should probably date October 6, 1237, the chief barons
and prelates of Jerusalem who were opposed to Frederick II gave Theobald
advice, in answer to questions he had asked them. 10 They saw no point in
delaying the expedition until the end of the truce, as Saracens never kept
truces anyway. Mar seilles or Genoa seemed the best ports of departure for
a French army. They then suggested that the crusaders land at Cyprus and
there take counsel with the leaders of the Christians in Palestine. At Cyprus
supplies were plentiful and the army could rest after its voyage. Moreover
from Cyprus it was equally easy to strike for Syria or Egypt, whichever seemed
more promising. 11 Apparently Theobald had not asked about political conditions
in either the kingdom of Jerusalem or the Aiyubid state, but if the advice
to stop at Cyprus had been followed, the crusaders would have been able to
inform themselves on these matters before they reached Palestine. 
 In another letter Armand of Perigord, master of the Knights Templar,12 informed
Walter of Avesnes that the sultan of Egypt was a man of no valor and was
held in general contempt. The lord of Transjordania was at war with the sultan
of Damascus. Several of the Aiyubid lords whom Armand would not yet name
were anxiously awaiting the coming of the crusaders and had promised to submit
to them and receive baptism. The references to a feeble sultan of Egypt and
to an independent sultan at Damascus show that this letter was written after
the death of the sultan al-Kämil in March 1238. It is not clear that
Walter of Avesnes was connected with the barons who were planning the crusade;
but the letter appears in the chronicle of Aubrey of Trois-Fontaines, whose
chief interest lay in Champagne and its vicinity. It may well have been the
knowledge that different sultans ruled at Damascus and in Egypt that led
the crusaders to abandon any idea of attacking Alexandria or Damietta and
moved them to sail directly to Acre. 
10 E. Martène and U. Durand, Thesaurus novus anecdotorum, I (Paris,
1717), 1012—1013. 
 11 R. Rohricht, Regesta regni Hierosolymitani, p. 282, dates this letter
1238. The letter tells the crusaders not to delay because of the truce. But
the crusaders had postponed their departure to August 1239 as early as November
4, 1237. To accept the date of 1238 it is necessary to believe that this
news took eleven months to reach Acre. Moreover, to justify his date Röhricht
makes an emendation in the list of men who sent the letter. October 1237
seems an acceptable date that removes all difficulties. 
12 Aubrey of Trois-Fontaines (MGH, SS., XXIII), p. 945. 

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