Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
XVI: The Crusader states, 1243-1291, pp. 556-598 PDF (13.9 MB)
Ch. XVI THE CRUSADER STATES, 1243—1291 595 Kalavun no longer hid his intentions. On November he left Cairo at the head of his troops. But he suddenly fell ill, and six days later he died. The people at Acre considered that their troubles were over.93 But there was not the usual disputed succession in Egypt. Kalavun's son al-Ashraf Khalil dealt at once with the inevitable palace conspiracy, and within a few days was firmly established on his father's throne. But it was now too late in the year to start the campaign against Acre. The government there hoped to find the new sultan more pacific and sent an embassy to congratulate him and ask for peace terms. The ambassadors were thrown at once into prison, where they died.94 After careful preparations the Moslem army moved from Egypt in March 1291. On March 6 the sultan left Cairo for Damascus, where he deposited his harem. Meanwhile men and siege machines were gathered from all over his empire. The army from Hamah was so heavily laden that it took a month to travel over the muddy roads from Krak down to Acre. The sultan collected almost a hundred machines, including two vast catapults called the Vic torious and the Furious, and a new efficient type of light mangonel called the Black Oxen. His forces were said to number 60,000 horsemen and 1 60,000 infantrymen. However exaggerated these numbers may be, the Moslems must have outnumbered the Christian forces by about ten to one. On April 5 this huge army encamped before the walls of Acre. By now the Franks had realized their plight. The military orders summoned all their available members from Europe, to serve under their respective masters, the Templar William of Beaujeu, the Hospitaller John of Villiers, and the Teutonic Conrad of Feucht wangen, whose predecessor Burkhard had made a bad impression by choosing to resign his office a few months before. There were a few English knights sent by Edward I under the command of the Swiss Otto of Grandison. King Henry, who was ill, sent troops from Cyprus and promised to follow with reinforcements as soon as he could. Meanwhile his brother Amairic was in command. Every able-bodied man in Acre was enlisted for the defense. In all, the garrison numbered about a thousand horsemen and twelve to fourteen thousand foot-soldiers. The defenses were in good condi tion. The government had never neglected them, and visiting Gestes des chiprois, 482 (p. 806); Amadi, Chronique, p. 219; al-Maqrizi, Al-khitat, II, i, 110-1 12; Abü-l-Fidä', Kitãb al-mukhtasar (RHC, Or., I), p. 163. Other Arabic sources give Kalavun's death date as December 6. Gestes des Chiprois, 483—487 (pp. 806—807); al-Maqrizi, Al-khitat, II, i, 120.
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