|Fig.1: Europe just couldn't wait to add another one of these to its list of "Reasons Why the Rest of the World Thinks We're Jerks."
As always, let's check out the major players of Crusade #5:
Pope Innocent III was embarrassed by the overall lack of direction of his Fourth Crusade. He decided that the papacy would take more control over this next crusade, which should mean that the Pope's supposed infallibility would wane if it ended up failing. I guess that's not how Catholicism works...
King Andrew II of Hungary decided that his country needed a little more publicity, and led the largest single army in the history of the Crusades (over 30,000 men). Looks like someone wasn't praised enough as a child...
Duke Leopold VI of Austria also took time out of posing for awkward family pictures to lead an army into the Holy Land.
John of Brienne was King of Jerusalem, which, in 1213, did not actually include the city of Jerusalem. Just go along with it.
Al-Kamil was the nephew of Saladin, and divided rule of Muslim Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine (where Jerusalem was actually ruled) with his brothers, al-Mu'azzam and al-Ashraf. The look on his face demonstrates the excitement he felt that another crusade was on its way.
Finally, there's the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II. He made the vow that he would commit himself to a crusade, but wait, I guess he's not available right now. I suppose we'll check in on him later.
|Fig.2: Yeah, I don't understand
what's so appetizing about it either...
The crusaders were now at another crossroads. King John knew if they attacked Jerusalem and were successful, the troops would consider the job done and hightail it back to Europe; this would leave the city undefended and allow the Muslims to literally waltz right back in (they've been taking dance lessons). If they wanted to be successful in the long-term, they had to attack the center of Ayyubid power in Egypt. So in July 1218, the Crusaders marched into the Nile Delta and besieged the coastal city of Damietta, with the intention of using it as a stepping stone to the capital of Cairo. When al-Kamil found out about this, he delivered his patented eye roll. He was already dealing with rebellions within his own realm because many subjects found him too edgelordy to be a good ruler, and had no desire to brood over the Crusaders as well. Al-Kamil decided to propose a deal: if the Crusaders left Egypt, he would return Jerusalem into Christian hands and promise not to attack for eight years. To sweeten the deal, he even promised to throw in a fragment of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified if they agreed in the next ten minutes (a value of $19.99, absolutely free)! King John was ready to accept the deal, until...
|Fig.3: "Sometimes when we touch, the
honesty's too much..."
Pelagio proposed a march south to attack al-Kamil's camp outside of Mansurah, just to give the troops something to do. King John disagreed, thinking it was a waste of time and energy, but the relationship between the two was strained to the point where Pelagio threatened excommunication the next time John even breathed funny. So in July 1221, a Crusader force of at least 15,000 left Damietta set up camp along the Nile River. Unbeknownst to them, this was just before the river's annual flooding season, and it might have actually been safer to snuggle up with the Ayyubid soldiers for the night than to park right on the beach. Doubly unbeknownst to them, al-Kamil was joined by his brothers, and the Ayyubid force heavily outnumbered and surrounded the Crusaders. Not that the Muslim troops really needed to do much: on the morning of August 26, 1221, al-Kamil ordered the destruction of the dams that held the rising waters of the Nile in check, and the Crusaders woke up to quite a soggy breakfast (thus the mnemonic device to help remember the cardinal directions was born). Pelagio, who was trained to save souls and not drowning bodies, begged King John to take back command, and apologized for crossing his eyes and making a face every time he talked. John saw no alternative other than to surrender to the Ayyubids after hardly a battle.
|Fig.4: Maybe the Crusaders would have
fought better if their helmets had eye-
holes or something.
And so the Fifth Crusade ended with nothing gained. As is typical with an unsuccessful crusade (or should I just say "crusade"?), the blame was flung around everywhere, from the initial leaders' premature departure, to the deep divisions within the armies, and to Pelagio's decision to let al-Kamil's deal go belly-up (along with many of the Crusader troops). But the one who received the brunt of the criticism was a guy who didn't even show his face in the Holy Land: Emperor Frederick, who woke up from his afternoon nap after the crusade was over saying, "Jerusa-who?" Of course, he would eventually feel the need to make up for his absence on...you guessed it...a brand new crusade. As al-Kamil said in his deadpan voice, "Oh, goody goody gumdrops."