First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
Of Damietta and Its Siege

The Christian princes, who sometime before, through the diligence of Innocent the Third and the Lateran Council had been influenced to rescue the city of Jerusalem, collected an army and, some by land and some by water, proceeded to Constantinople; and from there, under the leadership of the papal legate, to the city of Acre (Acconem).[Acre, here called Acco, and also called Ptolemais in the . See Folio CXCV verso, and note on Ptolemais.] In this host were Andrew (Andreas), king of Hungary; the duke of Austria; County Henry (Heinricus) of Nivernais, and Walter (Gualterius), the chamberlain of the king of France. Together with King John (Ioannes) of Jerusalem they decided to attack the city of Damietta, lying on the river Nile, in Egypt, with the expectation that having taken this city, they could more readily conquer Cairo and Babylon, the great cities, which touched each other[Babylon (in Egypt) is now incorporated into the city of Cairo.]; and having subjugated these cities, where the Saracen sultans resided, they hoped to eradicate all the barbarian Saracen people not only from Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but from the confines of the earth. Accordingly the city of Damietta was besieged in the month of May in the Year of Salvation twelve hundred eighteen. This same city is surrounded by three very thick tile walls, and a branch of the Nile, as wide as the Tiber at Rome, flows about it. It is situated three days’ journey to the east of the New Babylon, and seven days’ journey from Mount Sinai. This city of Damietta lies between the sea and the Nile, and has 28 tall towers and countless small ones. Among others was a tower called Pharea, the like of which in thickness and height has never been found, and out of which the suburban city of Crema and the outer public buildings could be watched and guarded against pirates and night prowlers. When our army was moving upon the city, the Sultan caused the city to be protected with defenses and bulwarks, and this tower to be protected and fortified round about. While our people were storming the defenses and bulwarks, and were destroying the tower round about, many people were injured daily, but more of the infidels than of our own. After our people had besieged the city for five months, some of our men went forth to spy out the sentinels of the enemy. And when they found them either asleep, or were not challenged by them, our men mounted the walls to destroy the gates, and they stabbed the Saracens who came running up when they heard the commotion. In the meantime the Christians crowded through the open gates. Thus they captured the city, and all the fortifications and gates were surrendered to the Christians. And the first and foremost temple of the city was converted into a church in honor of the glorious Virgin, the Mother of God, and consecrated as a bishopric. At that time Damietta was a widely celebrated and mighty city, in which an abundance of gold, silver and costly household furnishings were found; all of which the papal legate, the king, and the generals distributed among the Christian knights; and so also action was taken concerning the distribution of the possessions and estates in the city and in the country.

Damietta is a town of Lower Egypt on the eastern branch of the Nile, a few miles above its mouth, and 125 miles northeast of Cairo by rail.

Damietta is a Byzantine corruption of the Coptic name, Tamiata, Arabic Dumyat. The original town was four miles nearer the sea than the modern city. Under the Saracens it had great wealth and commerce, and, as the eastern bulwark of Egypt, was frequently attacked by the crusaders. In 1249, Louis IX of France occupied Damietta without opposition, but being defeated in the following year at Mansura, and compelled to surrender himself prisoner. Damietta was restored to the Muslims as part of the ransom exacted. To prevent further attacks from the sea of Mameluke, sultan Bibars around the year 1260 blocked up the Phatnitic mouth of the Nile, razed old Damietta to the ground, and transferred the inhabitants to the site of the modern town.