The Crusades – Part VIII

March 5, 2015

I. Origin of the Crusades;

II. Foundation of Christian states in the East;

III. First destruction of the Christian states (1144-87);

IV. Attempts to restore the Christian states and the crusade against Saint-Jean d’Acre (1192-98);

V. The crusade against Constantinople (1204);

VI. The thirteenth-century crusades (1217-52);

VII. Final loss of the Christian colonies of the East (1254-91);

VIII. THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY CRUSADE AND THE OTTOMAN INVASION

Grand master & senior Knight Hospitallers

Grand master & senior Knight Hospitallers

The loss of Saint-Jean d’Acre did not lead the princes of Europe to organize a new crusade. Men’s minds were indeed, as usual, directed towards the East, but in the first years of the fourteenth century the idea of a crusade inspired principally the works of theorists who saw in it the best means of reforming Christendom. The treatise by Pierre Dubois, law-officer of the crown at Coutances, “De Recuperatione Terræ Sanctæ” (Langlois, ed., Paris, 1891), seems like the work of a dreamer, yet some of its views are truly modern. The establishment of peace between Christian princes by means of a tribunal of arbitration, the idea of making a French prince hereditary emperor, the secularization of the Patrimony of St. Peter, the consolidation of the Orders of the Hospitallers and Templars, the creation of a disciplined army the different corps of which were to have a special uniform, the creation of schools for the study of Oriental languages, and the intermarriage of Christian maidens with Saracens were the principal ideas it propounded (1307).

Saint Francis of Assisi with the Sultan Al-Kamil

Saint Francis of Assisi with the Sultan Al-Kamil

On the other hand the writings of men of greater activity and wider experience suggested more practical methods for effecting the conquest of the East. Persuaded that Christian defeat in the Orient was largely due to the mercantile relations which the Italian cities Venice and Genoa continued to hold with the Mohammedans, these authors sought the establishment of a commercial blockade which, within a few years, would prove the ruin of Egypt and cause it to fall under Christian control. For this purpose it was recommended that a large fleet be fitted out at the expense of Christian princes and made to do police duty on the Mediterranean so as to prevent smuggling. These were the projects set forth in the memoirs of Fidentius of Padua, a Franciscan (about 1291, Bibliothèque Nationale, Latin MSS., 7247); in those of King Charles II of Naples (1293, Bib. Nat., Frankish MSS., 6049); Jacques de Molay (1307, Baluze, ed., Vitæ paparum Avenion., II, 176-185); Henry II, King of Cyprus (Mas-Latrie, ed., Histoire de Chypre, II, 118); Guillaume d’Adam, Archbishop of Sultanieh (1310, Kohler, ed., Collect. Hist. of the Crusades, Armenian Documents, II); and Marino Sanudo, the Venetian (Bongars, ed., Secreta fidelium Crucis, II). The consolidation of the military orders was also urged by Charles II. Many other memoirs, especially that of Hayton, King of Armenia (1307, ed. Armenian Documents, I), considered an alliance between the Christians and the Mongols of Persia indispensable to success. In fact, from the end of the thirteenth century many missionaries had penetrated into the Mongolian Empire; in Persia, as well as in China, their propaganda flourished. St. Francis of Assisi, and Raymond Lully had hoped to substitute for the warlike crusade a peaceable conversion of the Mohammedans to Christianity.

Blessed Raymond Lully, T.O.S.F.

Blessed Raymond Lully, T.O.S.F.

Raymond Lully, born at Palma, on the Island of Majorca, in 1235, began (1275) his “Great Art”, which, by means of a universal method for the study of Oriental languages, would equip missionaries to enter into controversies with the Mohammedan doctors. In the same year he prevailed upon the King of Majorca to found the College of the Blessed Trinity at Miramar, where the Friars Minor could learn the Oriental languages. He himself translated catechetical treatises into Arabic and, after spending his life travelling in Europe trying to win over to his ideas popes and kings, suffered martyrdom at Bougie, where he had begun his work of evangelization (1314). Among the Mohammedans this propaganda encountered insurmountable difficulties, whereas the Mongols, some of whom were still members of the Nestorian Church, received it willingly. During the pontificate of John XXII (1316-34) permanent Dominican and Franciscan missions were established in Persia, China, Tatary and Turkestan, and in 1318 the Archbishopric of Sultanieh was created in Persia. In China Giovanni de Monte Corvino, created Archbishop of Cambaluc (Peking), organized the religious hierarchy, founded monasteries, and converted to Christianity men of note, possibly the great khan himself. The account of the journey of Blessed Orderic de Pordenone (Cordier, ed.) across Asia, between 1304 and 1330, shows us that Christianity had gained a foothold in Persia, India, Central Asia, and Southern China.

Bl. Odoric of Pordenone, O.F.M. preaching in China. Drawing on silk.

Bl. Odoric of Pordenone, O.F.M. preaching in China. Drawing on silk.

By thus leading up to an alliance between Mongols and Christians against the Mohammedans, the crusade had produced the desired effect; early in the fourteenth century the future development of Christianity in the East seemed assured. Unfortunately, however, the internal changes which occurred in the West, the weakening of the political influence of the popes, the indifference of temporal princes to what did not directly affect their territorial interests rendered unavailing all efforts towards the re-establishment of Christian power in the East. The popes endeavoured to insure the blockade of Egypt by prohibiting commercial intercourse with the infidels and by organizing a squadron for the prevention of smuggling, but the Venetians and Genoese defiantly sent their vessels to Alexandria and sold slaves and military stores to the Mamelukes.

Philip IV of France

Philip IV of France

Moreover, the consolidation of the military orders could not be effected. By causing the suppression of the Templars at the Council of Vienne in 1311, King Philip the Fair dealt a cruel blow to the crusade; instead of giving to the Hospitallers the immense wealth of the Templars, he confiscated it. The Teutonic Order having established itself in Prussia in 1228, there remained in the East only the Hospitallers. After the capture of Saint-Jean d’Acre, Henry II, King of Cyprus, had offered them shelter at Limasol, but there they found themselves in very straitened circumstances. In 1310 they seized the Island of Rhodes, which had become a den of pirates, and took it as their permanent abode. Finally, the contemplated alliance with the Mongols was never fully realized. It was in vain that Argoun, Khan of Persia, sent the Nestorian monk, Raban Sauma, as ambassador to the pope and the princes of the West (1285-88); his offers elicited but vague replies. On 23 December, 1299, Cazan, successor to Argoun, inflicted a defeat upon the Christians at Hims, and captured Damascus, but he could not hold his conquests, and died in 1304 just as he was preparing for a new expedition. The princes of the West assumed the cross in order to appropriate to their own use the tithes which, for the defrayal of crusade expenses, they had levied upon the property of the clergy. For these sovereigns the crusade had no longer any but a fiscal interest. In 1336 King Philip VI of France, whom the pope had appointed leader of the crusade, collected a fleet at Marseilles and was preparing to go to the East when the news of the projects of Edward III caused him to return to Paris.

Orhan of the Ottoman Empire from 1327 ‒ 1359, son of Osman I.

Orhan of the Ottoman Empire from 1327 ‒ 1359, son of Osman I.

War then broke out between France and England, and proved an insurmountable obstacle to the success of any crusade just when the combined forces of all Christendom would have been none too powerful to resist the new storm gathering in the East. From the close of the thirteenth century a band of Ottoman Turks, driven out of Central Asia by Mongol invasions, had founded a military state in Asia Minor and now threatened to invade Europe. They captured Ephesus in 1308, and in 1326 Othman, their sultan, established his residence at Broussa (Prusa) in Bithynia under Ourkhan, moreover, they organized the regular foot-guards of janizaries against whom the undisciplined troops of Western knights could not hold out. The Turks entered Nicomedia in 1328 and Nicæa in 1330; when they threatened the Emperors of Constantinople, the latter renewed negotiations with the popes with a view towards the reconciliation of the Greek and Roman Churches, for which purpose Barlaam was sent as ambassador to Avignon, in 1339. At the same time the Egyptian Mamelukes destroyed the port of Lajazzo, commercial centre of the Kingdom of Armenia Minor, where the remnants of the Christian colonies had sought refuge after the taking of Saint-Jean d’Acre (1337). The commercial welfare of the Venetians themselves was threatened; with their support Pope Clement VI in 1344 succeeded in reorganizing the maritime league whose operations had been prevented by the war between France and England. Genoa, the Hospitallers, and the King of Cyprus all sent their contingents, and, on 28 October, 1344, the crusaders seized Smyrna, which was confided to the care of the Hospitallers. In 1345 reinforcements under Humbert, Dauphin of Viennois, appeared in the Archipelago, but the new leader of the crusade was utterly disqualified for the work assigned him; unable to withstand the piracy of the Turkish ameers, the Christians concluded a truce with them in 1348. In 1356 the Ottomans captured Gallipoli and intercepted the route to Constantinople.

A group of Janissaries, who were This was the enslaving of non-Muslim boys, notably Catholics, as Jews and children from Turkicish families were never subject to this slavery.

A group of Janissaries. This was the enslaving of non-Muslim boys, notably Catholics, as Jews and children from Turkish families were never subject to this slavery.

The cause of the crusade then found an unexpected defender in Peter I, King of Cyprus, who, called upon by the Armenians, succeeded in surprising and storming the city of Adalia on the Cilician coast in 1361. Urged by his chancellor, Philip de Méziéres, and Pierre Thomas, the papal legate, Peter I undertook a voyage to the West (1362-65) in the hope of reviving the enthusiasm of the Christian princes. Pope Urban V extended him a magnificent welcome, as did also John the Good, King of France, who took the cross at Avignon, 20 March, 1363; the latter’s example was followed by King Edward III, the Black Prince, Emperor Charles IV, and Casimir, King of Poland. Everywhere King Peter was tendered fair promises, but when, in June, 1365, he embarked at Venice he was accompanied by hardly any but his own forces. After rallying the fleet of the Hospitallers, he appeared unexpectedly before the Old Port of Alexandria, landed without resistance, and plundered the city for two days, but at the approach of an Egyptian army his soldiers forced him to retreat, 9-16 October, 1365. Again in 1367 he pillaged the ports of Syria, Tripoli, Tortosa, Laodicea, and Jaffa, thus destroying the commerce of Egypt. Later, in another voyage to the West, he made a supreme effort to interest the princes in the crusade, but on his return to Cyprus he was assassinated, as the result of a conspiracy.

Alexandrian Crusade, October 1365 and was led by Peter I of Cyprus against Alexandria.

Alexandrian Crusade, October 1365 and was led by Peter I of Cyprus against Alexandria.

Meanwhile the Ottomans continued their progress in Europe, taking Philippopolis in 1363 and, in 1365, capturing Adrianople, which became the capital of the sultans. At the solicitation of Pope Urban V, Amadeus VII, Count of Savoy, took the cross and on 15 August, 1366, his fleet seized Gallipoli; then, after rescuing the Greek emperor, John V, held captive by the Bulgarians, he returned to the West. In spite of the heroism displayed during these expeditions, the efforts made by the crusaders were too intermittent to be productive of enduring results. Philippe de Méziéres, a friend and admirer of Pierre de Lusignan, eager to seek a remedy for the ills of Christendom, dreamed of founding a new militia, the Order of the Passion, an organization whose character was to be at once clerical and military, and whose members, although married, were to lead an almost monastic life and consecrate themselves to the conquest of the Holy Land. Being well received by Charles V, Philippe de Méziéres established himself at Paris and propagated his ideas among the French nobility.

Mahdian Crusade 1390: The Crusade-fleet with her leader, the Duke of Bourbon, and the Oriflamme.

Mahdian Crusade 1390: The Crusade-fleet with her leader, the Duke of Bourbon, and the Oriflamme.

In 1390 Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, took the cross, and at the instigation of the Genoese went to besiege el-Mahadia, an African city on the coast of Tunis. In 1392 Charles VI, who had signed a treaty of peace with England, appeared to have been won over to the crusade project just before he became deranged. But the time for expeditions to the Holy Land was now passed, and henceforth Christian Europe was forced to defend itself against Ottoman invasions. In 1369 John V, Palæologus, went to Rome and abjured the schism; thereafter the popes worked valiantly for the preservation of the remnants of the Byzantine Empire and the Christian states in the Balkans.

King Sigismund of Hungary during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. Painting by Ferenc Lohr. Main hall of the Castle of Vaja.

King Sigismund of Hungary during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. Painting by Ferenc Lohr. Main hall of the Castle of Vaja.

Having become master of Servia at the battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Sultan Bajazet imposed his sovereignty upon John V and secured possession of Philadelphia, the last Greek city in Asia Minor. Sigismund, King of Hungary, alarmed at the progress of the Turks, sent an embassy to Charles VI, and a large number of French lords, among them the Count of Nevers, son of the Duke of Burgundy, enlisted under the standard of the cross and, in July 1396, were joined at Buda by English and German knights. The crusaders invaded Servia, but despite their prodigies of valeur Bajazet completely routed them before Nicopolis, 25 September, 1396.

Battle of Nicopol, Bayezid ordering the dismembering and massacre of the Christians.

Battle of Nicopol. Bayezid ordering the dismembering and massacre of the Christians.

The Count of Nevers and a great many lords became Bajazet’s prisoners and were released only on condition of enormous ransoms. Notwithstanding this defeat, due to the misguided ardour of the crusaders, a new expedition left Aiguesmortes in June, 1399, under the command of the Marshal Boucicault and succeeded in breaking the blockade which the Turks had established around Constantinople. Moreover, between 1400 and 1402, John Palæologus made another voyage to the West in quest of reinforcements.

LOUIS BRÉHIER (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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