Lord Edward’s crusade

Delice Bette | June 28, 2023


The Crusade of Prince Edward (August 1270 to April 1272) was the last “armed pilgrimage” sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church to the Holy Land. The crusade was led by Crown Prince Edward Plantagenet, later King Edward I of England.

Prince Edward originally intended to participate in the crusade of the French King Louis IX the Saint (Seventh Crusade). However, after the latter died during the siege of Tunis on August 25, 1270, and the French crusader army then set out on the march back to its homeland, Edward led his English contingent further into the Levant. Thus, especially in the historical literature of the German-speaking world, his crusade is often considered a part of the Seventh Crusade. In English and French literature, on the other hand, it is listed as a separate enterprise and counted here as the ninth crusade.

The goal of the crusade was to relieve the few remaining Christian crusader states, which had been facing incessant attacks from the Egyptian-Syrian Mamluk Sultan as-Zahir Baibars since 1263 and had already lost several castles and cities to him, especially Antioch (1268). Sultan Baibars was about to eliminate the last remnants of the Christian rule in the Holy Land established as a result of the First Crusade (1099).

Since the Mamelukes under Baibars attacked the Christian possessions in the Levant from 1263, Pope Clement IV had preached the Crusade throughout Europe. After the Templar castle of Safed fell in 1266 and the crusade appeals met with little response, in the fall of 1266 he commissioned Ottobono Fieschi, whom he appointed papal legate for England, to preach there for a new crusade. However, while in March 1267 the French king Louis IX took a crusading vow with his sons, Ottobono’s call for a new crusade was initially met with rejection during the parliament at Bury St Edmunds. This was mainly due to the long lasting Second War of the Barons, the rebellion of a noble opposition against King Henry III, which could only be finally ended in 1267. Finally, on June 24, 1268, during another parliament in Northampton, Ottobono was able to convince the heir to the throne Edward, his brother Edmund, Henry of Almain, Earl Warenne, the Earl of Gloucester, William de Valence and other barons to also take a crusading vow. As early as 1250, Edward’s father Henry III had taken a crusading vow, which he had not yet honored. In 1268, the king still hoped that he would be able to fulfill his vow, but in the end even his two sons, Edward and Edmund, set out on crusade in his place, which even the pope viewed critically in view of the continuing tense situation in England.

Not only the recruitment of soldiers, but also the financing of the Crusade was not easy in England, which had not yet recovered from the consequences of the War of the Barons. In 1268 Henry III began negotiations with Parliament to finance the Crusade. Only after long negotiations was the tax of a twentieth on movable property approved in 1270. In the meantime, Edward had to borrow about £17,500 from the French king to finance the crusade. Although a number of Scottish barons, such as Robert de Brus, also participated in the crusade, the attempt to levy a tax for the crusade in Scotland as well failed due to the opposition of King Alexander III. In the end, the English crusading army remained small. It consisted of several contingents recruited by several high noble leaders in exchange for pay. The core of the army was made up of knights from Edward’s household. In July 1270, he concluded treaties with 18 barons, who provided a total of 225 knights. Edmund of Lancaster, for example, received 10,000 marks (over £6666) for his contingent of 100 knights, as well as the ships needed for the crossing, while William de Valence received 2000 marks (over £1333) for 19 knights. Because of the different contingents, the number of crusaders cannot be precisely quantified, but the army was certainly not much larger than 1000 men.

Most of the knights who wanted to join the crusade had fought on the king’s side in the War of the Barons, and many were among the friends or retainers of the heir to the throne. Since the defeated supporters of the rebels had been imposed heavy fines by the victorious royal party, only a few former rebels tried to win the favor of the heir to the throne as crusaders, including Nicholas Seagrave and John de Vescy. Not all barons, however, who had taken a crusading vow were able or willing to fulfill it. These included Robert Burnell, who was one of the most important members of the government during the absence of the heir to the throne. Personal conflicts also kept some barons away. William de Munchensi, for example, refused to go to the Holy Land with William de Valence, his bitter opponent during the Civil War. However, Munchensi was so convinced of the crusade idea that he donated the handsome sum of 1000 marks (over £666) to the Holy Land in his will. Others had personal reasons. For example, the poet Walter of Bibbesworth writes that Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln did not want to leave the country for love of a lady. The powerful Earl of Gloucester, who had fallen out with Edward, had also taken a crusading vow, but was now reluctant to fulfill it. Only Richard of Cornwall, during the Easter 1270 Parliament, was able to get Gloucester to z

The journey to the Holy Land

In August 1269, Edward traveled to Paris to consult with Louis IX about the organization of the crusade. They planned for the English army to join the French crusader army in southern France in the summer of 1270. When Edward finally set out with his army in the summer of 1270, he crossed the English Channel, crossed France, and reached Aigues-Mortes on the French Mediterranean coast in late September 1270. However, the French crusader army had left for Tunisia several months earlier. Edward and his small fleet initially sailed to Tunis as well, but there he learned that the French king had died of dysentery and that his heir was also ill. Charles of Anjou, the king’s brother, had therefore begun negotiations with Muhammad I al-Mustansir, the emir of Tunis, which led to a truce on November 1. Edward, to his indignation, had to accept that the crusaders should withdraw to Sicily, where Charles of Anjou had ruled as king for several years. From there they planned to sail on to Palestine in the spring of 1271. However, the French were deprived of their leader after the death of their king and, after retreating to Sicily, abandoned the crusade. Edward, too, considered breaking off during his wintering in Sicily. He had first heard, after his departure, in a letter from England dated February 6, 1271, the news of the serious Erk

Fighting in the Holy Land

At that time, Baibars was besieging the important port city of Tripoli. Previously, he had led a successful campaign against the Crusader states, during which he had captured, among others, the Krak des Chevaliers and the castle of Blanche Garde. After learning of Edward’s arrival in Acre, he broke off the siege of Tripoli and concluded a ten-year separate peace with Bohemund VI of Antioch-Tripoli. On June 12, 1271, Baibars passed Acre with his army threatening, but marched on toward Egypt. According to several English chroniclers, the arrival of the English had saved Acre from conquest by the Mamelukes, while according to Arab sources Baibars had not planned a major attack. Edward had previously contacted the Mongol Ilchan Abaqa to form an alliance with him against the Mamelukes. However, faced with a vastly superior Muslim army in front of Acre, he had to realize that he had little chance of a major success with his small army. Even a relief of the besieged Montfort Castle, located about 15 km northeast of Acre, was not possible, so that the garrison had to surrender on June 23. Finally, at the end of June, the British made a push for the castle of St.-Georges-de-Lebeyne in Galilee, located about 25 km east of Acre. In the process, they suffered major casualties from the heat and from spoiled food, but the enterprise did not achieve military success.

Baibars had attempted to attack Cyprus with a fleet in the summer of 1271, but this had failed completely. In the fall, he moved with a large army to Syria and drove out the Mongol general Samagar, who had advanced as far as Aleppo and devastated large regions. The Mongols retreated again behind the Euphrates. However, due to continuous rain, an advance by Baibars from Damascus against Acre failed.

Armistice and assassination of Eduard

After the retreat of the Mongol allies, further fighting against the superior Mamelukes was futile. In May 1272, in Caesarea, Hugh III agreed to a ten-year truce with Baibars. Edward was disappointed and even angered by the end of hostilities. While his brother Edmund of Lancaster and other crusaders left for England again as late as May, Edward remained in the Holy Land until September 1272. Perhaps he hoped that new battles might break out, but he probably needed to recover from the aftermath of an assassination attempt on his life. In this, in June, a suspected assassin had tried to murder him with a poisoned dagger. The assassin had apparently been familiar to Eduard, as he had granted him a private conversation. However, Eduard was able to fend off the attack and kill the assailant, but in the process he was wounded in the arm. When the wound became infected, an English doctor cut the affected flesh from the arm. Since the assassin was dead, the motives for the attack could not be determined.

The return journey

On September 24, 1272, Edward finally left Acre and began his journey home. Shortly after reaching Trapani in Sicily, he first learned that his eldest son John had died in August 1272. Then, a little later, he learned that his father had also died on November 16, 1272. Nevertheless, now that he was his heir and successor, he did not immediately return to England, but traveled leisurely north through Italy. While there, he visited Pope Gregory X, with whom he obtained the excommunication of Guy de Montfort, the murderer of Henry of Almain. In May 1273 Edward was in Reggio. Via Parma and Milan, he continued over the Col du Mont Cenis to Savoy, where he visited Count Philip I, an uncle of his mother. At the end of July 1273 he arrived in Paris, where he paid homage to King Philip III of France for his French possessions. In early August 1273, he traveled to Gascony, which was part of his kingdom, where he quelled the revolt of the powerful noble Gaston de Béarn. The latter had originally intended to join the crusade as well, but then he had cancelled his participation. It was not until late spring 1274 that Edward left Gascony and reached England again on August 2.

For the Crusader States

Except for the truce of 1272, Edward’s crusade had not achieved any major successes. Restitution of the cities and castles lost to Baibars in the previous years had to be renounced, so only the possessions of the crusader states at the time of Edward’s arrival in May 1271 could be held. These were the coastal cities of Acre, Beirut, Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli and Gibelet. But given the military superiority of the Mamelukes, the continued existence of the Christian dominions in the Orient henceforth depended solely on the goodwill of the Sultan of Cairo. The call of Pope Gregory X, whom Edward had met in Acre in 1271, at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 for another crusade had no effect. The truce of Caesarea was not broken by the Christians. The main guarantor of this was Charles of Anjou, who took over the rule of Acre in 1277 and maintained good contacts with the Mamelukes. In 1283 it was extended for another ten years, but in the wake of the Sicilian Vespers, Christian Outremer lost its last notable protector in 1282. In August 1290, Italian crusaders broke the truce when they committed a massacre of Muslim merchants in Acre. The Mamelukes struck the final blow in retaliation, capturing Acre, the last bastion of the Crusaders, in 1291.

For England

Eduard had had to run up heavy debts for the almost unsuccessful venture, and during his long return journey he had to take out further loans. In total, his debts are said to have amounted to around £100,000 on his return.

The joint crusade, of which there are extensive contemporary accounts, had created new bonds among the participating barons or strengthened existing contacts. John de Vescy, Luke de Tany, Thomas de Clare, Geoffrey de Geneville, Robert de Tibetot and William de Valence served Edward faithfully throughout their lives. This had a lasting influence on English politics and administration in the late 13th century. Edmund of Lancaster, who also served his brother faithfully throughout his life, probably acquired the nickname Crouchback as a result of the crusade. In Acre, Eleanor of Castile had become the mother of a daughter named Joan of Acre after her birthplace.

Edward hoped for a long time to be able to undertake another crusade, despite the poor success and considerable cost of the crusade. In 1287 he took another crusading vow, but the situation in England prevented his departure. In 1292 he sent an envoy to the Ilchan Arghun in Persia. He hoped to form an alliance with the Mongols against the Mamelukes to relieve the crusader states. The leader of the legation was the knight Geoffrey of Langley, who had already been part of Edmund of Lancaster’s contingent in 1271. Langley reached Tabriz, but there he learned that the Ilchan had died. Without having accomplished anything, Langley had to return to England. With the conquest of Acre in 1291 and the expulsion of the crusaders from Palestine, Edward’s crusade plans had finally become obsolete.


  1. Kreuzzug des Prinzen Eduard
  2. Lord Edward’s crusade
  3. Dabei zählt der Kreuzzug von Damiette als separater fünfter, der Kreuzzug Friedrichs II. als separater sechster und die Kreuzzüge Ludwigs IX. als siebter und achter Kreuzzug.
  4. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3, S. 68.
  5. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3, S. 71.
  6. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3, S. 126.
  7. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3, S. 81.
  8. Avner Falk, A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996), p. 434; Brooks Robards, The Medieval Knight at War (Barnes & Noble, 1997), p. 111.
  9. ^ Avner Falk, A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996), p. 434; Brooks Robards, The Medieval Knight at War (Barnes & Noble, 1997), p. 111.
  10. ^ A Manual of Church History, Albert Henry Newman, p. 461
  11. ^ Michael Lower, The Tunis Crusade of 1270: A Mediterranean History (Oxford University Press, 2018), p. 76.
  12. ^ a b Lower 2018, p. 104.
  13. ^ a b c Lower 2018, pp. 174–76.
  14. Видимо, гребцы, моряки и воины были также убиты, что означает тысячи убитых
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