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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)

Page 596

pilgrims had helped to pay for their upkeep and repair. On the west and south
the city was protected by the sea. On the north and east a double line of
walls ran encasing both the city and its northern suburb Montmusart. The
two quarters were separated by a single wall and the castle. The north and
east walls met at a salient, at the end of which jutted out a great tower
recently built by king Henry II, opposite the so-called "accursed tower"
on the inner wall. Projecting from king Henry's tower was a barbican built
by king Hugh. This salient was considered the most vulnerable section of
the defense. It was therefore entrusted to the bailie Amairic and the royal
troops. On his right were the French and English knights, under John of Grailly
and Otto of Grandison, then the Venetian and Pisan troops, and, next to the
sea, those of the commune of Acre. The Teutonic Knights supplemented the
royal troops, and on their left, along the walls of Montmusart, were the
Hospitallers, then the Templars. The army of Hamah was opposite the Templars,
that of Damascus opposite the Hospitallers, and the Egyptian army stretched
from the salient to the bay of Acre, with the sultan's tent pitched near
the shore. 
 The Christians had command of the sea. Many women and children had already
been transferred to Cyprus, and the ships had returned laden with provisions.
A considerable flotilla lay off the harbor and at the quays. It was later
believed that many able-bodied men had slipped away with the refugees. But
the taunts of cowardice that were freely exchanged afterwards seem to have
had small foundation. 
 The siege began on April 6 with a bombardment from the sultan's catapults
and mangonels that was maintained day and night, while his archers poured
their arrows at the galleries on the walls and over them into the town. On
April 1 the Templars made a moonlight sortie into the camp of the Hamah army,
which began well, till the knights and their horses became entangled in the
tent ropes and were forced back in confusion. A sortie by the Hos pitallers
in pitch darkness a few days later failed completely. It was then decided
that sorties were too expensive, for the defense realized that men and armaments
were both running short. Mean while the sultan's sappers were at work. There
were said to be a thousand employed against each tower of the enceinte. 
 King Henry arrived on May 4, with a hundred horsemen and two thousand infantrymen,
and with John Turco, archbishop of Nicosia. In a last effort to make peace
he sent envoys to the sultan, who merely asked them if they had brought the
keys of the city. 

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