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History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
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§ 57. St. Louis and the Last Crusades. 1248, 1270.


Literature. —Jehan de Joinville, d. 1319, the next great historical writer in old French after Villehardouin, companion of St. Louis on his first Crusade: Hist. de St. Louis, 1st ed. Poitiers, 1547; by Du Cange, 1668; by Michaud in Mémoires à l’hist. de France, Paris, 1857, I. 161–329, and by de Wailly, Paris, 1868. For other edd. see Potthast, Bibl., I. 679–681. Engl. trans., M. Th. Johnes, Haford, 1807, included in Chronicles of the Crusades, Bohn’s Libr. 340–556, and J. Hutton, London, 1868. Tillemont: Vie de St. Louis, publ. for the first time, Paris, 1847–1851, 6 vols.—Scholten: Gesch. Ludwigs des Heiligen, ed. by Junkemann and Janssen, 2 vols. Münster, 1850–1855.—Guizot: St. Louis and Calvin, Paris, 1868.—Mrs. Bray: Good St. Louis and his Times, London, 1870.—Wallon: St. Louis et son Temps, 3d ed. Tours, 1879. — St. Pathus: Vie de St. Louis, publiée par F. Delaborde, Paris, 1899.—F. Perry: St. Louis, Most Christian King, London, 1901.—Lane-Poole: Hist. of Egypt in the M. A., N. Y., 1901.


One more great Crusader, one in whom genuine piety was a leading trait, was yet to set his face towards the East and, by the abrupt termination of his career through sickness, to furnish one of the most memorable scenes in the long drama of the Crusades. The Sixth and Seventh Crusades owe their origin to the devotion of Louis IX., king of France, usually known as St. Louis. Louis combined the piety of the monk with the chivalry of the knight, and stands in the front rank of Christian sovereigns of all times.469469    "Piety was his ruling passion." Guizot, p. 117. De Joinville frequently calls him "the good king" and Matthew Paris "that most Christian king."eviate from his faith and in patient resignation under the most trying adversity. A considerate regard for the poor and the just treatment of his subjects were among his traits. He washed the feet of beggars and, when a Dominican warned him against carrying his humility too far, he replied, "If I spent twice as much time in gaming and at the chase as in such services, no man would rise up to find fault with me."

On one occasion, when he asked Joinville if he were called upon to choose between being a leper and committing mortal sin, which his choice would be, the seneschal replied, "he would rather commit thirty mortal sins than be a leper." The next day the king said to him, "How could you say what you did? There is no leper so hideous as he who is in a state of mortal sin. The leprosy of the body will pass away at death, but the leprosy of the soul may cling to it forever."

The sack of Jerusalem by the Chorasmians,470470    See the account in a letter from the prelates of the Holy Land in Matthew Paris, an. 1244. The invaders were called Tartars by Robert, patriarch of Jerusalem, in his letter to Innocent IV. Röhriclit, Reg. regni Hier., p. 299. Ascalon. It was just one hundred years since the news of the fall of Edessa had stirred Europe, but the temper of men’s minds was no longer the same. The news of disasters in Palestine was a familiar thing. There was now no Bernard to arouse the conscience and give directions to the feelings of princes and people. The Council of Lyons in 1245 had for one of its four objects the relief of the holy places. A summons was sent forth by pope and council for a new expedition, and the usual gracious offers were made to those who should participate in the movement. St. Louis responded. During a sickness in 1245 and at the moment when the attendants were about to put a cloth on his face thinking he was dead, the king had the cross bound upon his breast.

On June 12, 1248, Louis received at St. Denis from the hand of the papal legate the oriflamme, and the pilgrim’s wallet and staff. He was joined by his three brothers, Robert, count of Artois, Alphonso, count of Poitiers, and Charles of Anjou. Among others to accompany the king were Jean de Joinville, seneschal of Champagne, whose graphic chronicle has preserved the annals of the Crusade.471471    Joinville, accompanied by twenty knights, joined the king at Cyprus. He was a man of religious fervor, made pilgrimages to all the shrines in the vicinity of his castle before his departure, and never failed in his long absence to confine himself to bread and water on Fridays (History, an. 1250). One of his paragraphs gives a graphic insight into the grief which must have been felt by thousands of Crusaders as they left their homes for the long and uncertain journey to the East. It runs: "In passing near the castle of Joinville, I dared never turn my eyes that way for fear of feeling too great regret and lest my courage should fail on leaving my children and my fair castle of Joinville, which I loved in my heart."ad been made on a large scale for their maintenance. Thence they sailed to Egypt. Damietta fell, but after this first success, the campaign was a dismal disaster. Louis’ benevolence and ingenuousness were not combined with the force of the leader. He was ready to share suffering with his troops but had not the ability to organize them.472472    Joinville speaks of Louis having "as much trouble in keeping his own people together in time of peace as in the time of his ill fortunes."an. 1249.473473    Within a stone’s throw of the king’s tent were several brothels. A curious punishment was prescribed by the king for a knight caught with a harlot at Acre. Joinville, pt. II. an. 1250, Bohn’s trans. 484.

Leaving Alexandria to one side, and following the advice of the count of Artois, who argued that whoso wanted to kill a snake should first strike its head, Louis marched in the direction of the capital, Cairo, or Babylon, as it was called. The army was harassed by a sleepless foe, and reduced by fevers and dysentery. The Nile became polluted with the bodies of the dead.474474    See the appalling description of Joinville, an. 1249.eep.

The king’s patient fortitude shone brightly in these misfortunes. Threatened with torture and death, he declined to deviate from his faith or to yield up any of the places in Palestine. For the ransom of his troops, he agreed to pay 500,000 livres, and for his own freedom to give up Damietta and abandon Egypt. The sultan remitted a fifth part of the ransom money on hearing of the readiness with which the king had accepted the terms.

Clad in garments which were a gift from the sultan, and in a ship meagrely furnished with comforts, the king sailed for Acre. On board ship, hearing that his brother, the count of Anjou, and Walter de Nemours were playing for money, he staggered from his bed of sickness and throwing the dice, tables, and money into the sea, reprimanded the count that he should be so soon forgetful of his brother’s death and the other disasters in Egypt, as to game.475475    Joinville, an. 1250. of Blanche, his mother, who had been acting as queen-regent during his absence, induced him to return to his realm.

Like Richard the Lion-hearted, Louis did not look upon Jerusalem. The sultan of Damascus offered him the opportunity and Louis would have accepted it but for the advice of his councillors,476476    Joinville, an. 1253. sail from Acre in the spring of 1254. His queen, Margaret, and the three children born to them in the East, were with him. It was a pitiful conclusion to an expedition which once had given promise of a splendid consummation.

So complete a failure might have been expected to destroy all hope of ever recovering Palestine. But the hold of the crusading idea upon the mind of Europe was still great. Urban IV. and Clement III. made renewed appeals to Christendom, and Louis did not forget the Holy Land. In 1267, with his hand upon the crown of thorns, he announced to his assembled prelates and barons his purpose to go forth a second time in holy crusade.

In the meantime the news from the East had been of continuous disaster at the hand of the enemy and of discord among the Christians themselves. In 1258 forty Venetian vessels engaged in conflict with a Genoese fleet of fifty ships off Acre with a loss of seventeen hundred men. A year later the Templars and Hospitallers had a pitched battle. In 1263 Bibars, the founder of the Mameluke rule in Egypt, appeared before Acre. In 1268 Antioch fell.

In spite of bodily weakness and the protest of his nobles, Louis sailed in 1270.477477    Joinville declined the king’s appeal to accompany him, and advised against the expedition on the ground of the peaceable state of France with the king at home, and of the king’s physical weakness which prevented him from wearing armor or sitting on horseback long at a time.478478    Since 1881 a dependency of France.ples, who was bent upon forcing the sultan to meet his tributary obligations to Sicily.479479    The sultan had agreed to pay yearly tribute to Roger II. In the treaty made at the close of the expedition, he agreed to make up the arrearages of tribute to Charles. out. Among the victims was the king’s son, John Tristan, born at Damietta, and the king himself. Louis died with a resignation accordant with the piety which had marked his life. He ordered his body placed on a bed of ashes; and again and again repeated the prayer, "Make us, we beseech thee, O Lord, to despise the prosperity of this world and not to fear any of its adversities." The night of August 24 his mind was upon Jerusalem, and starting up from his fevered sleep, he exclaimed, "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! we will go." His last words, according to the report of an attendant, were, "I will enter into thy house, O Lord, I will worship in thy holy sanctuary, I will glorify Thy name, O Lord."480480    M. Paris, an. 1271ody was taken to France and laid away in St. Denis.481481    The question whether the king’s heart was deposited in the Sainte Chapelle at Paris or not, led to a spirited discussion in 1843. See Letronne, Examen critique de la découverte du pretendu coeur de St. Louis faite a la Sainte Chapelle le 15 Mai 1843, Paris, 1844; Lenormant, Preuves de la découverte du coeur de St. Louis, Paris, 1846.



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