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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 424

to have diminished the doubts in the minds of those who opposed the legate
and, in the words of Peter of Montaigu, master of the Templars, "it was agreed
by all to make the advance." 
 Accordingly, on June 29, 1221, the army moved to its old camp in preparation
for the advance up the river. On July 6 Pelagius and all the prelates, bringing
with them the fragments of the True Cross, appeared. On the following day
king John, acting on the sternest commands from the pope, returned from his
fruitless voyage to Armenia, bringing with him large numbers of troops. 171
Although still opposing the project, he was too late to change the decision
of the other leaders, especially since Pelagius had already threatened with
excommunication those who opposed. To every objection John offered, however
well founded from the point of view of military strategy, Pelagius turned
a deaf ear, allegedly accusing John of treason for his repeated efforts to
dissuade him from his plan. 
 The march of the crusaders, begun on July 17, followed the east bank of
the river to Färiskür and Sharamsãh. Although meeting some
slight resistance on the 1 9th, they occupied Sharamsah on July 2 1. The
sultan was busy at Mansurah, where his own armies, together with those of
his brothers al-Mu'azzam and al— Ashraf, were being stationed for resistance.
After the capture of Sharamsah, 'John of Brienne is said to have attempted
once more in vain to induce the legate to reconsider his decision. Meanwhile
the undisciplined masses, wholly ignorant of the difficulties that lay ahead,
and moved solely by the prospect of the rich booty which the city of Cairo
would afford them, were not to be denied. A Moslem contemporary remarks that,
if king John had not agreed to the continuance of the expedition, the "Franks
would have put him to death".172 Altogether unaware of the hydrography of
this area, Pelagius moved his troops on July 24 into the narrow angle where
al-Bahr as-Saghir separates from the Damietta branch of the Nile, on the
opposite bank from Mansurah. Sure of his ability to capture the enemy's stores,
Pelagius had neglected to bring adequate food supplies. 
 No fewer than 6oo ships, cogs, galleys, and barbotes had advanced up the
river simultaneously with the army, described by Oliver as consisting of
1,200 cavalry, not counting the native Turcopoles and other mounted warriors.
The numbers of foot soldiers were so great that he refrains from an estimate.
He speaks, however, of 4,000 archers, including 2,500 mercenaries. From 
171 Oliver, Historia Darniatina, p. 257. 
172 "Hist. patr. d'AIex.," ROL, XI (1908), 260. 

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