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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 473

out against them. Soon imperial agents arrived to ask for an exten sion of
the truce. Although these officers persuaded the Moslems to abandon their
attack on the Tower of David, it is not clear whether or not they retired
from the city.13 
 The news of the attack on Jerusalem reminded the crusaders who were resting
quietly at Acre that they had come to the Holy Land to conduct a campaign
against the Moslems. Theobald sum moned a council of the crusading lords
and the prelates and barons of the kingdom of Jerusalem to decide on a course
of action. The chroniclers tell us that a whole day was passed in fruitless
debate, and that many divergent views were presented, but they do not say
what these views were. Presumably the possibility of fortifying Jerusalem
was discussed. Perhaps the local barons, who were all members of the anti-imperial
party, had no enthusiasm for saving the city for Frederick, with whom they
were at war. Perhaps Theo bald felt that he lacked the resources required
for so great a task. Then it seems likely that there were some who wanted
to attack the sultan of Damascus, while others preferred a campaign against
Egypt. As the two sultans were on very bad terms, a good argument could be
advanced for a vigorous attack on one of them in the hope that the other
would stay neutral. The final decision looks like a compromise. The army
would first march down the coast to Ascalon and build a castle there, a scheme
that was of particular interest to the chief local lord in the council, Walter
of Brienne, as Ascalon covered his county of Jaffa from Egyptian attacks.
Then the host would proceed against Damascus itself. The chief objection
to this plan was that it was likely to antagonize both sultans. The sultan
of Egypt would naturally be alarmed at having the host camp on his frontier,
and he probably had no desire to see a castle built at Ascalon. Under the
circumstances annoying the sultan of Egypt seems a poor way to prepare for
an attack on Damascus. 
 It was November before the army commenced its march toward Ascalon. Except
for the two days spent debating their plan of campaign there is no information
about the barons' activities during the two preceding months. Acre was a
pleasant city, noted 
 13 It is impossible to reconcile fully the different accounts of the events
in Jerusalem during this crusade. Rothelin Eracles, pp. 529—530, states
clearly that both the city and the Tower of David were taken shortly after
the crusaders arrived at Acre. All the other chroniclers both Christian and
Moslem place the fall of Jerusalem after the battle of Gaza. The only possible
solution seems to lie in a passage of the Annales de Dunstaplia, p. 150.
It tells how Richard of Argentan and his men were saved by the imperial envoys.
Obviously the Rothelin Eracles may have confused this Moslem attack with
the later one that captured and destroyed the Tower of David. As Richard's
lands lay near Dunstable, the priory's chronicler may well have based its
account on a letter from him or a report by one of his men. 

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