Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
I: The Crusade in the fourteenth century, pp. 2-26 ff. PDF (69.3 KB)
Ch. I THE CRUSADE IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 17 which was locked by the customs officer Ibn-Ghuräb to prevent theft of the goods stored therein. Meanwhile, a great tower barred access from the part of the wall above the Green Gate to that above the Custom-House Gate. That gap in the defense provided the attackers with their sole opportunity, which they seized immediately by burn ing the undefended gate while others employed ladders to mount the wall. The bewildered Egyptians watched the assault and then has tened toward the land gates to save their lives. These are the main data on which William of Machaut 18 and an-Nuwairi al-Iskandari, 19 the two historians and eye-witnesses of the crusade from the oppos ing camps, are in full agreement. For the rest of the story, we have to rely on the Egyptian annalist—that is, from the occupation of the city on October 10 to its evacuation on October 16. The havoc that followed the appear ance of the Christian knights within the walls was indescribable. Masses of inhabitants thronged the narrow circuitous lanes with their light treasures, pushing toward the Rosetta Gate in the east and the southern land gates. The miserable fate of those who lagged behind was sealed, for they were either killed or carried into captivity. The trade storehouses were pillaged, and what could not be carried away was destroyed. Public buildings and emptied warehouses were set aflame. The sack of the city was completed systematically, and in that short span of time the "Queen of the Mediterranean" was left in a state of irreparable wreckage; even the Coptic churches of their fellow Christians of the east were looted. The harmless beasts of burden were put to the sword after the conveyance of the booty, and their bodies were collected and burnt only later by the Moslems on reentering the city. When all their havoc was accomplished, the looters took to their ships in groups, deserting their posts in the city, much to the disgust of such dedicated leaders of the crusade as the king and his two consultants, Peter Thomas and Philip of Mézières. At this juncture the vanguard of the troops from Cairo, alleged to be some hundred thousand strong, appeared in the outskirts of the city. In the end, after some futile negotiations between Yelbogha's emissaries and the king on board one of his galleys, the Christian fleet sailed back home laden with booty and without releasing the 18. Ed. Louis de Mas Latrie as La Prise d'Alexandrie ou chronique du roi Pierre Ier de Lusignan (Société de 1'Orient latin, série historique, no. 1; Geneva, 1877). 19. Or, as he describes himself, "al-Iskandarãni." Excerpts ed. E. Combe, in Farouk University, Faculty of Arts, Bulletin (Majallat Kulliyat al-ãdab), III (Alexandria, 1946), 99—110, 119—129. The full text of an-Nuwairi's "Kithb al-ilmam" dealing with the crusade from the Egyptian side has been published by the present writer in 6 vols., in the Da'iratu ' l-Ma ' arif-il-'Osmania (new series, Hyderabad, 1968—1973).
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