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)
Ch.XIII CRUSADE OF THEOBALD OF CHAMPAGNE 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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