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The Eighth and Ninth Crusades

This map is part of a series of 12 animated maps showing the history of Crusades.

During the 1260s, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars threatened what remained of the Crusader states and successive popes called for a crusade.

In early 1270, King Louis IX of France decided to return to the East, though some Western lords were wary of such a venture.

In July, the Crusader troops were in Sardinia, then led by Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily and brother of Louis IX. On his arrival, the French king announced that the first target of the crusade was the city of Tunis, not the Holy Land.

The reasons for this choice are still debated today. Perhaps the idea was to force  the Sultan of Tunis to convert so as then to attack Egypt, or perhaps it was to enable Charles of Anjou to extend his authority to the south of the Mediterranean.

The crusaders reached the African coast on 18 July and quickly seized the city of Carthage.

But Tunis was heavily fortified and the Sultan had no intention of converting nor of surrendering. The siege dragged on in the intense summer heat. Various diseases plagued the crusaders and the king himself died on 25 August.

Charles of Anjou, who had arrived the day before with reinforcements, managed to defeat the Tunisian army, forcing the Sultan to negotiate.

An agreement was reached on 30 October. The Sultan paid a hefty indemnity and promised to pay a regular tax to the King of Sicily and to allow Christian merchants to trade freely in his kingdom. The crusaders  vacated the plain of Tunis on 11 November.

Upon learning of Louis IX’s death, Baibars resumed his attacks on the county of Tripoli. He took Chastel Blanc, then the powerful fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, and laid siege to Tripoli.

It was then that Prince Edward of England, who had taken the cross a few months earlier, arrived in the East. This ninth crusade is traditionally regarded as the last crusade in the East.

As soon as he arrived, Edward sent ambassadors to Abaqa Khan, the Mongol master of Baghdad, to arrange an alliance against the Mamluks.

In October 1271, Abaqa sent several thousand horsemen to Aleppo. At the same time, Edward led his troops towards Qadun. The plan was to force the Mamluk troops to split up.

But the Mamluks did not take the bait. The Mongols plundered the Aleppo region but were reluctant to engage in battle with the troops that Baibars had gathered around Damascus and eventually retreated.

The army that Edward led was too weak to besiege a city. After a few manoeuvres, it retreated to the coast.

Edward managed to negotiate with Baibars, who agreed to a ten-year truce to the Crusader states. The young English prince was thus able to return to the West in late September 1272. His crusade had had no military effect, but it did give the Crusader states a reprieve. It was not until 1291, twenty years later, that the Mamluks finished recapturing the entire Syrian coast.