Battle of Al Mansurah
|Battle of Al Mansurah|
|Part of the Seventh Crusade|
Battle of Al Mansurah
|Commanders and leaders|
Fakhr-ad-Din Yusuf †
Faris ad-Din Aktai
| Louis IX
Guillaume de Sonnac †
Alphonse de Poitiers
Robert d'Artois †
William II Longespée
|ca.70,000 men||15,000 men|
|Casualties and losses|
|Light||c15,000. Entire Army killed.|
The Battle of Al Mansurah was fought from February 8 to February 11, 1250, between crusaders led by Louis IX, King of France, and Ayyubid forces led by Emir Fakhr-ad-Din Yusuf, Faris ad-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Bunduqdari.
At the end of the first half of the 13th century, the crusaders became convinced that Egypt, which became Islam's citadel and arsenal, was an obstacle to their ambition to capture Jerusalem, which they had lost for the second time in 1244. In 1245, during the First Council of Lyon, Pope Innocent IV gave his full support to the Seventh Crusade that was being prepared by Louis IX, king of France.
The goals of the Seventh Crusade were to destroy the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria and capture Jerusalem. To achieve their goals, the crusaders tried to convince the Mongols to become their allies against the Muslims so that they could encircle and attack the Islamic world from west and east at the same time. The answer of Güyük, the Great Khan of the Mongols, to the Pope's envoys was that the Pope himself and the kings of Europe should submit to the Mongols.
The ships of the Seventh Crusade sailed from the French ports of Aigues-Mortes and Marseille to Cyprus during the autumn of 1248, then in 1249 sailed toward Egypt, led by King Louis's brothers, Charles d'Anjou and Robert d'Artois. The ships entered Egyptian waters and the troops of the Seventh Crusade disembarked at Damietta in June 1249. Louis IX sent a letter to as-Salih Ayyub. Emir Fakhr ad-Din Yusuf, the commander of the Ayyubid garrison in Damietta, retreated to the camp of the Sultan in Ashmum-Tanah, causing a great panic among the inhabitants of Damietta, who fled the town, leaving the bridge that connected the west bank of the Nile with Damietta intact. The crusaders crossed over the bridge and occupied Damietta, which was deserted. Upon hearing the news of the fall of Damietta, a general emergency (which was called al-Nafir al-Am النفير العام) was declared and commons[clarification needed] from Cairo and from all over Egypt began to move to the battle zone. For many weeks, a guerrilla war was launched against the camps of the crusaders; many of the crusaders were captured and sent to Cairo. As the crusaders' army was strengthened by the arrival of Alphonse de Poitiers, the third brother of King Louis IX, at Damietta and encouraged by the news of the death of the Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih Ayyub, they began their march towards Cairo. Shajar al-Durr, the widow of the dead Sultan, concealed the news for some time and sent Faris ad-Din Aktai to Hasankeyf to recall Turanshah, the son and heir, to ascend the throne and lead the Egyptian army.
By arriving to the canal of Ashmum (known today by the name Albahr Alsaghir) the Crusaders became separated from the Muslims camp by the water of the canal. With the help of a local who showed them canal shoals, the Crusaders, led by Robert of Artois (brother of Louis IX), crossed the canal along with the Knights Templars and an English contingent led by William of Salisbury and launched a surprise assault against the Egyptian camp in Gideila, two miles (3 km) from Al Mansurah, and advanced toward the royal palace in Al Mansurah. The leadership of the Egyptian forces passed to the Mamluks Faris Ad-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Buduqdari who succeeded in containing the situation and reorganizing the Muslim forces. This was the first appearance of the Mamluks as supreme commanders inside Egypt. Shajar al-Durr, who had full control of Egypt, agreed with Baibars' plan to defend Al Mansurah. Baibars ordered the opening of a gate to let the knights of the crusaders enter the town. The crusaders rushed into the town that they thought was deserted to find themselves trapped inside. The crusaders were besieged from all directions by the Egyptian forces and the town population and heavy losses were inflicted upon them. Robert of Artois who took refuge in a house and William of Salisbury, were both killed along with most of the Knights Templar. Only five Templar Knights escaped alive. The crusaders were forced to retreat to their camp in disorder and surrounded it with a ditch and wall. Early in the morning of February 11, The Muslim forces launched a devastating offensive against the Frankish camp. On February 27, the new sultan Turanshah arrived at Al Mansurah to lead the Egyptian army and the death of as-Salih Ayyub was formally announced in Egypt. Ships were transported overland and dropped in the Nile behind the crusaders' ships blocking the reinforcement line from Damietta. The Egyptians who used Greek fire destroyed and seized many supply vessels and soon the besieged crusaders were suffering from famine and disease. Some crusaders deserted to the Muslim side.
Despite the ultimate defeat of his forces and the fact that he was totally besieged, King Louis IX tried to negotiate a deal with the Egyptians offering the surrender of the Egyptian port of Damietta in exchange for Jerusalem and some towns on the Syrian coast. The offer was rejected by the Egyptians and nothing was left for the crusaders except to flee back to Damietta under cover of darkness on April 5, followed closely by the Muslim forces. At the subsequent Battle of Fariskur, the last major battle of the Seventh Crusade, the Crusader forces were annihilated and King Louis IX was captured on 6 April. Meanwhile, the Crusaders were circulating false information in Europe claiming that king Louis IX defeated the Sultan of Egypt in a great battle and Cairo had been betrayed into his hands. Later, when the news of the French defeat and the capturing of Louis IX reached France, a rather hysterical movement known by the name Shepherds' Crusade occurred in France.
According to medieval Muslim historians, between fifteen and thirty thousand of the French fell on the battlefield and thousands were taken prisoners. Louis IX of France was captured in the nearby village of Moniat Abdallah (now Meniat el Nasr), chained and confined in the house of Ibrahim Ibn Lokman, the royal chancellor, and under the guard of a eunuch named Sobih al-Moazami. The king's brothers, Charles d'Anjou and Alphonse de Poitiers, were made prisoners at the same time, and carried to the same house with other French nobles. The sultan provided for their subsistence. A camp was set up outside the town to shelter the rest of the prisoners. Louis IX was ransomed for 400,000 dinars. After pledging not to return to Egypt, Louis surrendered Damietta and left for Acre with his brothers and 12,000 war prisoners whom the Egyptians agreed to release. His queen, Marguerite de Provence, who meanwhile gave birth to a child who was called Jean Tristan (John Sorrow), and who was suffering from nightmares, left for Acre a few days earlier.
The battle of Al Mansurah was a source of inspiration for writers and poets of that time. One of the satiric poems ended with the following verses: "If they (the Franks) decide to return to take revenge or to commit a wicked deed, tell them :The house of Ibn Lokman is intact, the chains still there as well as the eunuch Sobih". —from stanza by Jamal ad-Din ibn Matruh. 
The name of Al Mansurah (Arabic: "the Victorious") that dates from an earlier period was consolidated after this battle. The city still holds the name of Al Mansurah today, as the capital of the Egyptian governorate, Daqahlia. The National Day of Daqahlia Governorate (capital Al Mansurah) on February 8, marks the anniversary of the defeat of Louis IX in 1250. The house of Ibn Lokman, which is now the only museum in Al Mansurah, is open to the public and houses articles that used to belong to the French monarch, including his personal thirteenth century toilet.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
The Seventh Crusade's defeat in Egypt in 1250 marked a turning point for all the existing regional parties. Egypt again proved to be Islam's citadel and arsenal. Western kings, with exception of Louis IX, lost interest in launching new crusades. The Seventh Crusade was the last major crusade against Egypt and the crusaders never could recapture Jerusalem.
Shortly after the defeat of the Seventh Crusade, the Ayyubid Sultan Turanshah was assassinated at Fariskur and the Mamluks, those who defended Al Mansurah and prevented Louis IX from advancing to Cairo, grabbed power in Egypt ending the Ayyubid rule in that country. The map of power of the southern and eastern Mediterranean basin became divided among four main dominions. Mamluk Egypt, Ayyubid Syria, Franks of Acre with their Christian strongholds on the Syrian coast and the Levantine Christian Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. While the Ayyubids of Syria clashed with the Mamluks of Egypt and turned to enemies, the Franks and the Cilician Armenians in addition to the Principality of Antioch formed a western Christan alliance.
- Setton, Kenneth p. 494.
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- The message was handed to the pope's Franciscan emissary Giovanni da Pian del Carpine. The document is preserved in the Vatican secret archive. You must say with a sincere heart: "We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength". You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy." —Letter from Güyük to Pope Innocent IV, 1246. Lord of Joinville, pp. 249-259.
- "As you know I am the ruler of the Christian nation I do know you are the ruler of the Muhammadan nation. The people of Andalusia give me money and gifts while we drive them like cattle. We kill their men and we make their women widows. We take the boys and the girls as prisoners and we make houses empty. I have told you enough and I have advised you to the end, so now if you make the strongest oath to me and if you go to christian priests and monks and if you carry kindles before my eyes as a sign of obeying the cross, all these will not persuade me from reaching you and killing you at your dearest spot on earth. If the land will be mine then it is a gift to me. If the land will be yours and you defeat me then you will have the upper hand. I have told you and I have warned you about my soldiers who obey me. They can fill open fields and mountains, their number like pebbles. They will be sent to you with swords of destruction." Letter from Louis IV to as-Salih Ayyub - (Al-Maqrizi, p. 436/vol.1).
- Ashmum-Tanah, now town of Dakahlia - Al-Maqrizi, note p. 434/vol. 1.
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- Gideila and Al Mansurah on map.
- Baibars led the Egyptian army at the Battle of La Forbie east of Gaza in 1244. See also Battle of La Forbie.
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Skip Knox, Egyptian Counter-attack, The Seventh Crusade.
- According to Matthew Paris, only 2 Templars, 1 Hospitaller and one ‘contemptible person’ escaped. Matthew Paris, LOUIS IX`S CRUSADE, p. 14/ Vol. 5.
- Turanshah did not go to Cairo, he was enthroned in al-Salihiya and went straight to Al Mansurah. - Al-Maqrizi, pp. 449-450/ vol. 1.
- Matthew Paris, LOUIS IX`S CRUSADE, p. 108 / Vol. 5.
- Al-Maqrizi, p. 446/vol. 1.
- Lord of Joinville, 170, part II.
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Abu al-Fida, pp. 66-87/year 648H.
Ibn Taghri, pp.102-273/ vol.6
- Though Louis IX, a king, was treated well, he was chained and put under the guard of a slave which was not the custom.
- Many prisoners were executed. Al-Maqrizi, p. 455/ vol.1.- Ibn Taghri, pp. 102-273/vol. 6. - The number 12,000 included prisoners from older battles. Al-Maqrizi, p. 460/ vol.1
- "This news [the arrest of her husband Louis] terrified her so much, that every time she fell asleep in her bed, she fancied that her room was all filled with Saracens, and she would scream out, "Help! help!" - ( Lord of Joinville, 201 / Chapter XVII ).
- Both Louis IX and his son Jean Tristan died in Tunis in 1270 during the Eighth Crusade,
- Al-Maqrizi, p. 460/ vol. 1.
- Al Mansurah was originated by al-Kamil in 1219 as his camp during the siege of Damietta (Fifth Crusade). Skip Knox, Mansourah, The Seventh Crusade. It was named al-Madinah al-Mansurah (the victorious town). Al-Maqrizi, al-Mawaiz wa al-'i'tibar, p. 373/ vol.1
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