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

XIII: The Crusade of Theobald of Champagne and Richard of Cornwall, 1239-1241,   pp. 463-486 PDF (13.4 MB)

Page 477

returned to Ascalon. Soon the army retired up the coast to Jaffa and then
went all the way back to Acre. 
 This retirement to Acre is extremely puzzling. The army had marched to Ascalon
in order to build a castle there. Certainly the loss of a few hundred men
did not weaken it so seriously that it could not carry out its plan. One
reason for the retreat may well have been lack of supplies. The army had
started from Acre without enough provisions, and Peter's booty cannot have
lasted long. But it seems likely that the perpetual conflict between crusaders
and local lords was an even more important factor. The barons of Jerusalem
and the military orders were in general inclined to let the Moslems alone
when they could. Their interest lay in defending their own lands rather than
in aggression, and long experience had given them a deep respect for the
military capacity of their foes. No doubt the Templars and Hospitallers considered
the idea of pur suing the victors of Gaza into Egypt utterly foolhardy. The
prisoners captured at Gaza blamed the two orders for their plight.16 While
this was obviously unfair, it seems clear that the orders saw no reason for
risking a large army in the vague hope of rescuing a small number of prisoners.
But not even the non-aggressive ten dencies of the orders and the local barons
explain the retirement to Acre. The fortification of Ascalon was to their
interest. It seems more likely that the determining factor was the civil
war between the local barons and Richard Filangieri, the imperial bailie.
Filan gieri was holding Tyre, and the local barons were anxious to recover
it. The Ibelins and Odo of Montbëliard may well have felt that they
had spared enough time from their private war. It is interesting to notice
that Philip of Novara in his chronicle mentions the crusade of Theobald only
in connection with the arrival in the Holy Land of Philip of Montfort, who
was to become an important baron of Jerusalem.17 
 At Acre the crusaders settled down once more to enjoy the pleasures of the
city. Either they had forgotten the plight of Jeru salem or they were too
discouraged to attempt to do anything to save it. A month or so after the
battle of Gaza, an-Näsir Dä'üd of Kerak, lord of Transjordania,
advanced into the city and laid siege to the Tower of David. The garrison
was small and poorly furnished 
16 Joseph Bédier, Les Chansons de croisade (Paris, 1909), Pp. 2 17—225.
17 This rests on a distinction drawn between Philip of Novara's own work
and later addi 
tions to it. See Charles Kohler's edition of Les Mémoires de Philippe
de Novare, 1218—1243 
(Les Classiques français du moyen-âge, no. xo, Paris, 1913),
p. xii, and cf. in general John L. 
LaMonte and Merton J. Hubert, translators, The Wars of Frederick II against
the Ibelins in 
Syria and Cyprus by Philip of Novare (Records of Civilization, no. xxv, New
York, 1936). 

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