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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 476

 The Egyptian commander had not been so negligent, and his scouts soon informed
him of the crusaders' position. He promptly covered the dunes with crossbowmen
and slingers. Their presence was first discovered by Walter of Jaffa; perhaps
he had belatedly sent out a scout. The call to arms was given, and the leaders
as sembled in council. Walter and the duke of Burgundy wanted to retreat,
but the counts of Bar and Montfort refused to do so. They said that the enemy
was so near that only the cavalry could hope to escape. Retreat would mean
sacrificing the infantry. Thereupon Walter of Jaffa and Hugh of Burgundy
departed for Ascalon, leaving their colleagues to fight the battle. It seems
likely that Balian of Sidon, John of Ibelin, and Odo of Montbéliard
went with them. Walter's objections to crossing the Egyptian frontier lead
one to wonder whether he and his fellow Syrian barons had not joined the
expedition in the hope of curbing the recklessness of the crusaders, and
saved themselves when they found it impossible. 
 Amairic of Montfort ordered his crossbowmen to clear the foe from the dunes.
The men opened fire and were making good pro gress until they ran out of
crossbow bolts. Amairic then noticed a deep, narrow passage between two dunes
where his troops would be sheltered from the enemy's fire. The knights charged
toward this place and easily scattered the infantry holding it. By this time
the Egyptian cavalry had arrived on the scene, but its leader knew better
than to charge the heavily armed knights in their narrow pass. Instead he
tried the time-worn trick of a feigned retreat. Completely duped, the crusaders
rode out of their position in full pursuit while the Moslem infantry seized
the pass behind them. The battle was over. The Moslem cavalry turned around,
surrounded the crusaders, and cut them to pieces. Count Henry of Bar was
killed. The count of Montfort, the viscount of Beaumont, some eighty knights,
and many serjeants were captured. 
 When the main body of the army reached Ascalon, it met the count of Jaffa
and the duke of Burgundy, who told them of the desperate situation of the
counts of Bar arid Montfort. With the Teutonic Knights in the vanguard, the
army at once moved toward Gaza. Soon they met scattered fugitives and then
the pursuing Moslems. But the Egyptian commander did not feel strong enough
to fight the whole crusading army, and he retired while the crusaders occupied
the corpse-strewn battlefield. Theobald was inclined to pursue the retreating
enemy, but the Templars and Hospitallers pointed out that in that case the
prisoners would probably be killed by their captors. Reluctantly Theobald
accepted their advice and 

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