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History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
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§ 58. The Last Stronghold of the Crusaders in Palestine.


With Louis the last hope of Christian tenure of any part of Palestine was gone. At his death the French army disbanded.

In 1271 Edward, son and heir of Henry III. of England, reached Acre by way of Tunis. His expedition was but a wing of Louis’s army. A loan of 30,000 marks from the French king enabled him to prepare the armament. His consort Eleanor was with him, and a daughter born on the Syrian coast was called Joan of Acre. Before returning to England to assume the crown, he concluded an empty treaty of peace for ten years.

Attempts were made to again fan the embers of the once fervid enthusiasm into a flame, but in vain. Gregory X., who was in the Holy Land at the time of his election to the papal chair, carried with him westward a passionate purpose to help the struggling Latin colonies in Palestine. Before leaving Acre, 1272, he preached from Ps. 137:5, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." His appeals, issued a day or two after his coronation, met with little response. The Council of Lyons, 1274, which he convened, had for its chief object the arrangements for a Crusade. Two years later Gregory died, and the enterprise was abandoned.

In 1289 Tripoli was lost, and the bitter rivalry between the Military Orders hastened the surrender of Acre, 1291,482482    For a contemporary description of Acre, see Itin. regis Ricardi, I. 32.d. The Templars and Hospitallers escaped. The population of sixty thousand was reduced to slavery or put to the sword. For one hundred and fifty years Acre had been the metropolis of Latin life in the East. It had furnished a camp for army after army, and witnessed the entry and departure of kings and queens from the chief states of Europe. But the city was also a byword for turbulence and vice. Nicolas IV. had sent ships to aid the besieged, and again called upon the princes of Europe for help; but his call fell on closed ears.

As the Crusades progressed, a voice was lifted here and there calling in question the religious propriety of such movements and their ultimate value. At the close of the twelfth century, the abbot Joachim complained that the popes were making them a pretext for their own aggrandizement, and upon the basis of Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:24, he predicted a curse upon an attempt to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. "Let the popes," he said, "mourn over their own Jerusalem—that is, the universal Church not built with hands and purchased by divine blood, and not over the fallen Jerusalem."483483    Com. in Jerem., see Neander, Ch. Hist., IV. 189 sqq., Engl. trans.ist of matters to be handled at the Council of Lyons, 1274, felt obliged to refute no less than seven objections to the Crusades. They were such as these. It was contrary to the precepts of the New Testament to advance religion by the sword; Christians may defend themselves, but have no right to invade the lands of another; it is wrong to shed the blood of unbelievers and Saracens; and the disasters of the Crusades proved they were contrary to the will of God.484484    Mansi, XXIV. 111-120.

Raymundus Lullus, after returning from his mission to North Africa, in 1308, declared485485    Contemplations of God. See Zwemer, Life of Raymund Lull, 52, 149.d knights that have gone to the Promised Land with a view to conquer it, but if this mode had been pleasing to the Lord, they would assuredly have wrested it from the Saracens before this. Thus it is manifest to pious monks that Thou art daily waiting for them to do for love to Thee what Thou hast done from love to them."

The successors of Nicolas IV., however, continued to cling to the idea of conquering the Holy Land by arms. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries they made repeated appeals to the piety and chivalry of Western Europe, but these were voices as from another age. The deliverance of Palestine by the sword was a dead issue. New problems were engaging men’s minds. The authority of the popes—now in exile in Avignon, now given to a luxurious life at Rome, or engaged in wars over papal territory—was incompetent to unite and direct the energies of Europe as it had once done. They did not discern the signs of the times. More important tasks there were for Christendom to accomplish than to rescue the holy places of the East.

Erasmus struck the right note and expressed the view of a later age. Writing at the very close of the Middle Ages making an appeal486486    Enchiridion militis christiani, Methuen’s ed. 1905, p. 8 sq. said, "Truly, it is not meet to declare ourselves Christian men by killing very many but by saving very many, not if we send thousands of heathen people to hell, but if we make many infidels Christian; not if we cruelly curse and excommunicate, but if we with devout prayers and with our hearts desire their health, and pray unto God, to send them better minds."487487    No appellation was too degrading to give to the enemies of the cross. The most common one was dogs. The biographers of Richard I. have no compunction in relating in one line gifts made by Saracens and in the next calling them dogs. See Itin. Ricardi, etc. So Walter Map says sepulchrum et crux Domini praeda sunt canum quorum fames in tantum lassata fuit et sanguine martyrorum, etc., Wright’s ed., I. 15, p. 229.



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