Seventh Crusade, 1248-1254
Disastrous French crusade, led by Louis IX, a reaction to the loss of Jerusalem (1244) to the Moslems for the final time. The crusade was aimed at Egypt, the main Muslim power in the area. Louse sailed in 1248, wintered on Cyprus, before moving against Damietta at the mouth of the Nile, which they occupied with ease at the start of June, causing a panic amongst the Egyptian army. However, Louis then decided to wait until the autumn to avoid the heat of summer, and the inundation of the Nile, but this delay was of more advantage to Sultan Malik-al-Salih, who before his death late in the year was able to restore the effectiveness of his army. The Crusaders slowly marched towards Cairo, but were stopped near Mansura, on the Ashmoun Canal, at the same point where the Fifth Crusade had come to a halt. The Egyptians had some 70,000 men, while the crusade had only started with 60,000. For two months the two armies faced each other across the canal, Louis attempting to build a causeway, while the Egyptians simply dug away the far bank, widening the canal. The deadlock was broken by the battle of Mansura (8 February 1250). Using a ford four miles up the canal, Louis managed to get his cavalry across the river. The Egyptians were completely surprised, but the commander of the advance guard, Louis's brother Robert of Artois, disobeyed his orders, which were simply to hold the canal bank opposite the causeway until the main body of the army could cross over. Instead, he charged into the town of Mansura, and was killed along with most of his cavalry. Louis now found himself faced with the entire enemy army, and only the eventual arrival of the infantry across a makeshift bridge prevented his death or capture. The crusaders now had a bridgehead across the canal, but were too weakened to hold it, and Louis was forced to order a retreat back to Damietta. Through March 1250 his army retreated under pressure, until the Egyptians were ready to attack. Finally, at the battle of Fariskur (6 April 1250), the Egyptians broke the French infantry, now representing the vast majority of the crusaders. Louis was captured, and only released in May after agreeing to pay a 800,000 gold livre ransom. While the few remaining crusaders returned to France, Louis sailed to Acre where he engaged in four years of fruitless diplomacy, before finally abandoning the crusade and returning to France.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (24 March 2001), Seventh Crusade, 1248-1254, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_crusade7th.html