THE STORY OF THE SEVENTH CRUSADE
Now clattering arms, now raying broils of war,
Can pass the noise of dreadful trumpets' clang.
N. GRIMALD: The Death of Zoroas, 1550.
HE ten years' truce made by Frederick II. with
the Sultan Camhel was by no means scrupulously kept by either side.
The smaller Moslem states did not hesitate to attack
the Christian towns whenever they saw an opportunity of
so doing, and the Templars, who had been from the first
entirely against the terms of the truce, continued to fight
against the Sultan until, in a pitched battle, they lost
their Grand Master and nearly all their adherents.
This occurrence was seized upon in Europe as the
opportunity to stir up a Seventh Crusade. A leader
was soon found in the person of Theobald, Count of
Champagne and King of Navarre, a renowned
"troubadour" and one of the most skilful minstrels and
accomplished knights of his day.
Theobald had begun his career as a rebel to the
child-king, Louis IX. of France, and aspired to become the
leader of that large number of discontented barons who
hoped to obtain their independence of the royal power.
But the heart of the rebel was touched by the womanly
devotion and courage of the young Queen-mother under
 these trying circumstances. He became her true and
loyal knight, and, in obedience to her desire, assumed
the Cross and prepared for a Crusade. All his wealth,
all his influence was used for this purpose, and many of
the rebellious barons were prevailed upon to follow his
Just as Theobald and his company were prepared to
start from the town of Lyons, a message arrived from
Pope Gregory, urging them to give up their project and
return to their homes that they might hold themselves
in readiness when he should call in their aid in affairs
more pressing than those of the Holy Land. The chief
of these was the defence of Constantinople, now ruled
by Baldwin, son of John of Brienne, who had implored
his aid against the attacks of Greeks and Bulgarians;
another, scarcely less important, was the violent quarrel
between himself and Frederick.
But the French Crusaders were little in sympathy with
the ambitious projects of Gregory. They had taken up
the Cross with a definite aim, and remembering what had
happened in the days of the Fifth Crusade, they would
not be deterred by side issues.
They left Europe torn with fierce political and
religious conflicts only to find Syria in the same condition.
The Saracen princes were waging war upon each other
as well as upon the Christians, and the unhappy people
of both religions had to bear the brunt.
Hearing that the Sultan had already seized Jerusalem,
some of the Crusaders determined to revenge themselves
by an attack upon the territory round Gaza. In vain
Theobald urged them to act together and not to waste
their strength; they pushed on until they came to a
region shut in by barren sand-hills, where they alighted
 to rest. Suddenly the silence of the desert was broken
by the shrill notes of war-music, and the shouts of the
foe. Beset on all sides, a few managed to escape; the
rest remained to sell their lives or freedom dearly, and
incidentally to weaken the forces of Thcobald of Navarre
by their loss.
The blow was a crushing one, and Theobald seemed
now to lose all heart. A vain attempt was made to
negotiate a treaty which both sides would accept. All
was in confusion, and during the turmoil Theobald
quietly retired from the scene with his men, and went
home, confessedly a failure.
The position of the Sultan himself, however, was little
less difficult. He was beset by civil strife within his
dominions, and when a more dreaded adversary appeared
upon the scene he was in no condition to offer
effective resistance. The new-comer was Richard, Earl of
Cornwall, a namesake and nephew of Richard
Lionheart, whose name was still a terror to the children of
Islam. The reputation of the English Earl as a
redoubtable man of war had preceded him, and the Sultan showed
great anxiety to come to terms. He offered almost
immediately to surrender all prisoners and the Holy
Land itself, and to this Richard readily agreed.
For the third and last time the Latin kingdom of
Jerusalem was established, and for the next two years
it remained in Christian hands. Then, just as Pope
Innocent IV. succeeded Gregory IX., came a terrible
rumour of a new and more dangerous foe than the
"In the year 1240," says Matthew of Paris, "that
human joys might not long continue, an immense horde
of that detestable race of Satan, the Tartars, burst forth
 from their mountain regions and making their way
through rocks almost impregnable, rushed forth like
demons loosed from hell; and over-running the country,
covering the face of the earth like locusts, they ravaged
the eastern countries with lamentable destruction,
spreading fire and slaughter wherever they went."
Descending upon the region of the Caspian lake, they
drove out the no less savage shepherd people of that
district, and these hurled themselves upon Syria.
"Whatever stood against them was cut off by the
sword or dragged into captivity; the military orders were
almost exterminated in a single battle; and in the pillage
of the city, in the profanation of the Holy Sepulchre, the
Latins confess and regret the modesty and discipline of
the Turks and Saracens."
Such is the gloomy picture painted by Gibbon of
this terrible invasion. Christians and Moslems for the
first time fought side by side against the foe they had in
common, but they could do nothing. The army left to
guard Jerusalem, as well as all the inhabitants, save the
old and sick, fled at sight of the savage hordes, who,
nevertheless, by a cruel trick obtained their fill of slaughter.
Entering the city they hoisted the Cross and the flags
of the Crusaders upon the walls of the Holy City, and
rang the bells of the different churches all at once.
The Christians heard, paused in their headlong flight,
and seeing the red cross flag streaming from the citadel,
cried, "God has had mercy on us and has driven away
Thousands of them at once returned, and directly they
had entered their homes, the foemen rushed upon them
from secret hiding-places and killed or threw into prison
every person they found.
 In a great pitched battle fought near Gaza the allied
armies of the Moslems and the Christians were almost
entirely destroyed. Amongst the prisoners was the Prince
of Joppa, who was forthwith led before the walls of his
own city, placed upon a cross, and threatened with instant
death if he would not command his people to surrender.
But this brave man only cried to the men upon the
walls, "It is your duty to defend this Christian city,
and mine to die for Christ," and so, rather than surrender,
he suffered death at the hands of a howling mob.
Nevertheless, Joppa was taken, and every other
Christian city; and not until the rulers of Egypt and Syria
united with each other as well as with the few Christians
left, was there any hope of driving the invaders from the
land. But even when this was at length accomplished
the Holy City remained in the hands of Islam, and all
that the Seventh Crusade had accomplished was entirely
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