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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 475

cavalry could clear the defile, but Peter's charge cut them to pieces and
caught the main body in the pass. The fight became a hand-tohand combat with
sword and mace—the type of struggle most favorable to the heavily armed
crusaders. But the Moslems fought well, and Peter felt obliged to sound his
horn to call up his other contingent. The arrival of Ralph and his party
decided the battle. The enemy was routed and fled toward the castle. Peter
and his men entered the castle with the fugitives, killing many and taking
the rest. Then he returned to camp with his booty. The fresh supplies, to
say nothing of the victory, were very welcome to the crusading host. 
 By November 1 2 the crusading army had reached Jaffa. There they learned
that the sultan of Egypt had sent a strong force to the vicinity of Gaza
to hold the frontier of his lands. A number of barons, jealous of the glory
that Peter of Dreux had acquired by his raid, decided to go out ahead of
the army, attack the enemy, and rejoin the host at Ascalon. Apparently the
two most ambitious leaders were the counts of Bar and Montfort, but they
were joined by Hugh, duke of Burgundy; Walter of Brienne, count of Jaffa;
Balian, lord of Sidon; John of Ibelin, lord of Arsuf; Odo of Mont béliard;
the viscount of Beaumont; and many lesser lords. Estimates of their force
range from 400 to 600 knights. When Theobald, Peter of Dreux, and the masters
of the three military orders learned of the plan, they protested strenuously.
They wanted the whole army to move as a unit to Ascalon and then attack the
enemy if it seemed feasible. But the adventurous barons would not listen.
Not even Theobald's plea that they remember the oath they had taken to obey
him as leader of the crusade had any effect. Not only did they defy Theobald
as leader of the army, but even some of his own vassals were among the rebels.
 The party left Jaffa in the evening and rode all night. They passed Ascalon
and came to a brook that formed the frontier of the kingdom of Jerusalem.
The count of Jaffa's desire for adventure had cooled by this time. He pointed
out that the horses were tired and suggested that they retire to Ascalon.
But the crusaders in sisted on going on. Count Walter led his men over the
stream, deployed them, and covered the crossing. Once across the brook the
army halted. The barons spread cloths on the ground and dined. They had chosen
a most unfortunate spot for their rest, a sandy basin surrounded by high
dunes. Apparently not even the count of Jaffa, who had conducted the crossing
in so military a manner, thought to send out patrols or even to post sentries
on the dunes. 

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