Battle of Mansurah (1250)

The Battle of Mansurah was fought from 8 to 11 February 1250, between Crusaders led by Louis IX, King of France, and Ayyubid forces led by Sultana Shajar al-Durr, vizier Fakhr ad-Din ibn as-Shaikh, Faris ad-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Bunduqdari. It was fought in present-day Mansoura, Egypt. The Crusader force was enticed into entering the town where it was set upon by the Muslim force. The Crusaders withdrew in disorder to their encampment where they were besieged by the Muslims. The Crusaders broke-out and withdrew to Damietta in early April.

Battle of Mansurah
Part of the Seventh Crusade
Battle of Mansurah
Date8–11 February 1250
Result Ayyubid victory[1][2][3]

Ayyubid Sultanate

Commanders and leaders
6,000+ infantry
4,600 cavalry (including Mamluks)[4]
several hundred knights
several thousand infantry
Possibly as high as 15,000 [4]
Casualties and losses
Heavy [5][6] 300 knights, 280 Templars and a larger number of infantry [4][6]


By the mid-13th century, the Crusaders became convinced that Egypt, the heart of Islam's forces and arsenal,[7] 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 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 to recapture Jerusalem. The Crusaders asked the Mongols to become their allies against the Muslims,[8] the Crusaders attacking the Islamic world from west, and the Mongols attacking from the east. Güyük, the Great Khan of the Mongols, told the Pope's envoy that the Pope and the kings of Europe should submit to the Mongols.[9]

The ships of the Seventh Crusade, led by King Louis's brothers, Charles d'Anjou and Robert d'Artois, sailed from Aigues-Mortes and Marseille to Cyprus during the autumn of 1248, and then on to Egypt. 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.[10] Emir Fakhr ad-Din Yusuf, the commander of the Ayyubid garrison in Damietta, retreated to the camp of the Sultan in Ashmum-Tanah,[11] 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.[12] The fall of Damietta caused a general emergency (called al-Nafir al-Am النفير العام) to be declared, and locals from Cairo and from all over Egypt moved to the battle zone.[13][14] For many weeks, the Muslims used guerrilla tactics against the Crusader camps; many of the Crusaders were captured and sent to Cairo.[15] As the Crusader army was strengthened by the arrival of Alphonse de Poitiers, the third brother of King Louis IX, at Damietta, the Crusaders were encouraged by the news of the death of the Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih Ayyub. The Crusaders 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.


The Crusaders approached the battle by the canal of Ashmum (known today by the name Albahr Alsaghir), which separated them from the Muslim camp. An Egyptian showed the Crusaders the way to the canal shoals. The Crusaders, led by Robert of Artois, crossed the canal with the Knights Templar and an English contingent led by William of Salisbury, launching a surprise assault on the Egyptian camp in Gideila, two miles (3 km) from al-Mansurah,[16] and advancing 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 contained the attack and reorganized the Muslim forces. This was the first appearance of the Mamluks as supreme commanders inside Egypt.[17] Shajar al-Durr, who had full control of Egypt, agreed with Baibars' plan to defend al-Mansurah.[18] Baibars ordered the gate be opened to let the Crusaders enter the town. The crusaders rushed in, thinking the town deserted, only to find themselves trapped inside. The Crusaders were besieged from all directions by Egyptian forces and the local population, and they took heavy losses. Robert of Artois, who took refuge in a house,[19][20] and William of Salisbury were both killed along with most of the Knights Templar. Only five Templar Knights escaped alive.[21] The Crusaders retreated to their camp in disorder, and surrounded it with a ditch and wall.


King Louis IX tried to negotiate with the Egyptians, offering the surrender of the Egyptian port of Damietta in exchange for Jerusalem and a few towns on the Syrian coast. The Egyptians rejected the offer, and the Crusaders, struck by disease, retreated to Damietta 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 April 6. 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 Louis's hands.[22][23] Later, when the news of Louis IX's capture and the French defeat reached France, the Shepherds' Crusade movement occurred in France.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jonathan Riley-Smith (2002). The Oxford History of the Crusades. Oxford University Press. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-19-280312-2.
  2. ^ Alexander Mikaberidze (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 562. ISBN 978-1-59884-336-1.
  3. ^ Kenneth Meyer Setton (1985). A History of the Crusades The Impact of the Crusades on the Near East. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-299-09144-6.
  4. ^ a b c Marshall,Christopher, Warfare in the Latin East 1192–1291 p. 149
  5. ^ Christopher Marshall, Warfare in the Latin East, 1192–1291, p. 167
  6. ^ a b Périni,Hardy, Batailles françaises 1ère série pp. 20–25
  7. ^ Toynbee, p. 447.
  8. ^ Runciman, pp. 260–263. D. Wilkinson, Paragraph: The Mongols and the West. See also Franco-Mongol alliance.
  9. ^ The message was handed to the pope's Franciscan emissary Giovanni da Pian del Carpine. The document is preserved in the Vatican secret archive. Archived 2007-02-02 at the Wayback Machine 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.
  10. ^ "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 IX to as-Salih Ayyub - (Al-Maqrizi, p. 436/vol. 1).
  11. ^ Ashmum-Tanah, now town of Dakahlia - Al-Maqrizi, note p. 434/vol. 1.
  12. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 438/vol. 1.
  13. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 446/vol. 1, p. 456/vol. 1.
  14. ^ Ibn Taghri, pp. 102-273/ vol. 6.
  15. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 447/vol. 1.
  16. ^ Gideila and al-Mansurah on map.
  17. ^ Baibars led the Egyptian army at the Battle of La Forbie east of Gaza in 1244. See also Battle of La Forbie.
  18. ^ Qasim, p. 18
  19. ^ Lord of Joinville, 110, part II.
  20. ^ Asly, p. 49.
    Skip Knox, Egyptian Counter-attack, The Seventh Crusade.
  21. ^ According to Matthew Paris, only 2 Templars, 1 Hospitaller and one ‘contemptible person’ escaped. Matthew Paris, Louis IX`s Crusade, p. 14/ Vol. 5.
  22. ^ Lord of Joinville, 170, part II.
  23. ^ False rumours from Egypt: letters from the bishop of Marseille and certain Templars spread the rumour that Cairo and Babylon have been captured and the fleeing Saracens have left Alexandria undefended. - Matthew Paris, note. p. 118 / Vol. 5. Louis IX`s Crusade 1250
  24. ^ Matthæi Parisiensis, pp. 246–253.


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External linksEdit

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