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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVIII: The Aftermath of the Crusades,   pp. [unnumbered]-666 PDF (7.8 MB)

Page 652

Christianorum pro con questa Terrae Sanctae,7 to be submitted to pope Eugenius
IV. In this work, Piloti resuscitated the idea that a permanent conquest
of the Holy Land should begin by the invasion of Egypt. Without seizing Alexandria
and Cairo in the first instance, all Latin victories in Syria and Palestine
would remain empty. The task of winning Egypt would be made easier by the
depopulation of Alexandria and by the customary practice of the sultan, who
butch ered his emirs on the least suspicion of treachery. The author then
outlined the Mamluk power and methods of war for the benefit of the crusader.
Unlike most propagandists, he repudiated the crusade as an act of vindictiveness
aimed at the extermination of the Mos lems. The victorious leaders of Christendom,
on the contrary, should treat their new subjects with love and leniency in
order to win them over to Christianity. In this respect, his work recalls
the thesis of earlier propagandists like Peter the Venerable in the twelfth
century and Raymond Lull toward the end of the thirteenth and the begin ning
of the fourteenth. A propagandist document of considerable weight, the De
modo must also be regarded as a worthy complement to Marino Sanudo Torsello's
Secreta fidelium crucis (1321)8 as a source for the history of medieval commerce
in the Levant. 
 While propagandists were thus busy discussing the possibilities of an eastern
reconquest, the Ottomans proceeded firmly with the task of consolidating
their territorial gains in Europe; their troops were already mustered in
the environs of Constantinople. The situation became critical for the isolated
city; and in the summer of 1397 Manuel II Palaeologus dispatched his ambassador
Theodore Canta cuzenus to implore Charles VI for immediate help. After some
procrastination, the French king consented to contribute 400 knights, 400
squires, and a number of archers under the command of marshal Boucicault;
the expedition started from Aigues-Mortes on June 26, 1399. Arriving at the
island of Chios, the French squadron awaited in vain a promised reinforcement
from Venice and from the Knights of Rhodes, and had to sail alone through
the hazardous waters of the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara to Constantinople.
Perhaps the only achievement of the French was in helping to raise the maritime
blockade of the capital. Otherwise, Boucicault realized the hopelessness
of the position and decided to retrace his steps to 
 7. Ed. Baron de Reiffenberg, Monument pour servir a l'histoire de Namur...,
IV (Brussels, 1846), 312—419. 
8. See above, p. 10. 

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