|Fig.1: Most of the world's reaction|
to the calling of a sixth crusade.
That said, let's check out the major players of this Sixth Crusade, some of whom may be a little familiar:
Hey, there's Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor! He had so many important things going on that he missed the Fifth Crusade altogether. In 1225, he promised to head the next crusade, mostly because...
Fortunately for al-Kamil, and unfortunately for Frederick, recruitment for the Sixth Crusade was extremely difficult, with even the most God-fearing of Europeans saying, "I think I'll pass being led aimlessly around the desert this time, thank you." When his June 1225 deadline was fast approaching, Frederick asked Honorius for a two-year delay, explaining that the extra development time would make the crusade even better (yeah, like we didn't hear that with Duke Nukem Forever). In addition, Frederick proposed to marry John's daughter, Isabella, in order gain more interest in the crusade by merging the Holy Roman Empire with the Kingdom of Jerusalem. John was hesitant by this plan, not because of the twenty-year age difference between Frederick and his eleven-year-old daughter (ew), but because he feared this would give Frederick leverage to usurp his throne before he even got Jerusalem back. With the Pope's urging, Frederick crossed his heart, hoped to die, and stuck a needle in his eye that he wouldn't betray John like that, and the wedding occurred in November 1225. Of course, before the priest barely finished saying, "...man and wife," Frederick proclaimed himself King of Jerusalem anyway! Ain't he a stinker?
|Fig.2: Look on the bright side, Frederick: the |
Catholic Church has done worse things to
other people than excommunicating them.
Many a man would have returned home and left the crusade for some other poor sap after being excommunicated, but not Frederick. He insisted on going ahead with his plans, even with just half his army and the feeling of literally being damned. To make things worse for him, Isabella died giving birth to a son, so his hold on the throne of Jerusalem was as wobbly as the world's largest Jell-O mold. Add the fact that King John promised the Pope to foil all of Frederick's plans once he got to the Levant, and this was looking to be a pretty crappy crusade (and that's saying something). Frederick finally arrived in Acre in September 1228, just over a decade later than when he originally promised he'd show up during the Fifth Crusade. He was supported by the German and Italian troops he ruled over as Emperor, but was ignored by key groups, such as the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, as well as the lady at the front desk of his hotel when he tried ordering room service. It was hard enough getting anything done on a crusade to begin with, but this situation was unbearable! Finally, a deal was worked out: the Crusaders would not be fighting for Frederick and his claim of Jerusalem, but for God and Christianity. (Isn't that what they were supposed to be doing anyway?)
|Fig.3: Frederick (left) and al-Kamil |
(second left) twenty minutes into their
staring contest, by far the most intense
event of the entire crusade.
Once the Crusaders heard they had just won Jerusalem without having to fight a single battle, they roared with approval. But like with anything that seems too good to be true, smiles faded as folks got around to reading the small print. Christians in Jerusalem protested the stipulation that no defenses could be built, arguing that leaving the city undefended with the enemy just across the Jordan River was like trying to stop an oncoming flood with a pizza cutter. Others pointed out that the truce was only valid with al-Kamil, who was just one of the Muslim rulers who called the Middle East home sandy home. And then there was the fact that Frederick, who agreed to the deal, was still banned from the Catholic faith, and wasn't officially crowned King of Jerusalem yet; he tried to rectify this with a coronation ceremony in March 1229, which representatives of the church and crusading knights refused to attend (and not just because the hors d'oeuvres were subpar at best). When some Crusaders in Acre tried to amass an army and win Jerusalem with violence, as was custom, Frederick marched his loyal German troops in and destroyed all of their weapons. Talk about a killjoy!
|Fig.4: To be fair, Frederick did act a little |
devilish before he got that first cup of coffee
in his system.
In a way, the Sixth Crusade could be seen as a mild success. Christians were able to return to Jerusalem without having to fight a single battle (which they would have lost, let's be honest). By talking with Muslim leaders and working out their differences, Emperor Frederick was able to achieve what several of the previous crusades had failed to do, and without bloodshed to boot! Seen in today's peace-loving, happy-go-lucky, save-the-whales-and-trees-and-crap mentality, this was something to be honored. But back then, when slitting the throat of your enemy was the only way progress could be made, Frederick's actions was nothing more than traitorous and pansy-ish. Fighting and losing was better than scheming and making nice. If there was to be another crusade (and you know there will be), they were going to leave it all on the battlefield like they did in the Fifth Crusade. So stay turned for practically a carbon-copy of the Fifth Crusade! (Good thing that one was successful. Oh wait...)