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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

XI: The Fifth Crusade,   pp. 376-428 PDF (13.1 MB)

Page 418

the amputation of a hand and have their belongings confiscated. Failure to
bear arms at all times while guarding the tents would subject every culprit,
regardless of rank, to excommunication. Orders were issued also regulating
the conduct of the crusaders in case Damietta should be captured.145 
 By now the garrison of Damietta had become so weakened that it was no longer
possible to man all the towers. On the night of November 4, 12 I 9, four
Christian sentries, while observing a tower which had previously been breached
by the machines of the Hospitallers, suspected that it had been deserted.
Climbing a long ladder, they found that both wall and tower had in fact been
abandoned. They reported their observations, and a sufficient detachment
of crusaders occupied the tower while the Christian army entered the city.
Much contemporary testimony is written in the spirit of partisanship, for
or against Pelagius or John of Brienne. But the ascertainable facts appear
to be fairly summarized by the simple statement of Oliver: "On the night
of the 5th of November Damietta was captured without treachery, without resistance,
without violent pillage and tumult. . . ." According to the author of the
History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, however, there were those who said
that Damietta was taken only by the treachery of its garrison, who were moved
to surrender because of their extreme distress.146 Seeing the Christian standards
flying from the towers on the following morning, the sultan hastily abandoned
his camp at Färiskür and withdrew to Mansurah. Most of the Arab
chroniclers agree that the conquerors either massacred or enslaved the surviving
inhabitants. All contemporary sources testify that the few thousands of Saracen
survivors, men and women, were all more or less ill. Streets and houses were
filled with the dead, whose naked bodies had been partially devoured by ravenous
dogs. The dead lay un moved in the beds of the helpless dying.147 Oliver
says that of the 8o,ooo people in the city at the beginning of the siege,
only 3,000 survived, and of these only 100 were not ill.148 
 Some of the survivors were probably sold into slavery, although many, certainly
the prosperous, were retained to be exchanged for 
 145 Gesta obsidionis Damiate, pp. 110-111. 
 146 Eracles (RHC, 0cc., II), pp. 345 ff.; Oliver, Historia Damiatina, pp.
224 ff.; Chronique d'Ernoul, p. 426; "Hist. Patr. d'Alex.," ROL, XI
(1908), 254. 
 147 See especially Abu-Shamah, Ar-raudatain (RHC, Or., V), p. 177; al-Maqrizi,
"His toire d'Egypte," ROL, IX (1902), 480; and Abu-l-Fida', Kitab al-mukhtasar
(RHC, Or., I), 
p. 91. 
 148 Oliver, Historia Damiatina, p. 236; cf. Gesta obsidionis Damiate, p.
113; James of Vitry, Epist. VI, pp. 77—78. 

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