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3: The Mongols and the Crusader King (1240s to 1260s CE)

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    A Crusader King Engages in Diplomacy:

    Typically global history books stress that the Mongol empire, once established, fostered diversity, practiced religious tolerance, and established peace which enabled long-distance trade along the silk roads (the pax mongolica). However, to the Ayyubid (and later Mamluk) rulers and their subjects, as well as other groups such as the Khwarizmians and "Assassins," the Mongols' advance caused fear and displacement. The same held true for the remnants of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Holy Land, which faced multiple threats in the form of the displaced Khwarizmians (who sacked Jerusalem in 1244) and Ayyubid rulers. In response to the news of the fall of Jerusalem, Louis IX, king of France, began organizing a crusade at the same time that Innocent IV was sending out further missions to various Mongol rulers.

    The Dominican Andrew of Longjumeau had already been employed on a diplomatic mission to eastern Christian churches and Mongol rulers by Pope Innocent IV, returning with letters by 1247. Andrew appears to have accompanied Louis IX on his first crusade as an interpreter and missionary. While stopping at the island of Cyprus in 1248 to provision his crusader fleet, Louis IX was approached by messengers, David and Mark, perhaps eastern Christians, sent with a letter written in Persian by scribes in the entourage of the Mongol general Elijidei. The Latin translation of that letter offered to ally with Louis IX against Muslim Ayyubid rulers, wishing Louis IX success in his planned campaign against the Ayyubids in the Holy Land and Egypt.

    Oral messages carried by David and Mark were even more encouraging. Elijidei and the Mongol khan Güyük had converted to Christianity and intended to help Christians retake Jerusalem. Perhaps the messengers or their audience were tempted to align these two Mongol rulers with the legendary far eastern Christian king Prester John. These representatives also appear to have hinted that Eljigidei planned to capture Baghdad in retaliation for the Khwarizmians' capture of Jerusalem and may have suggested that Louis IX and his army attack Egypt to prevent its armies from assisting the caliph of Baghdad. Louis IX promptly dispatched a return delegation headed by the veteran Andrew of Longjumeau, complete with lavish gifts (see below) and letters, to pursue a possible alliance.

    Meanwhile, Louis IX had led a disastrous crusade to Egypt. He and a considerable portion of the crusader army were taken prisoner by the sultan of Egypt, who was soon himself murdered in a coup led by individuals who would go on to found the Mamluk sultanate (the Mamluks would eventually conquer the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem).

    After his wife Marguerite (Margaret) paid a staggering ransom to free the captive crusaders, Louis IX took the remnants of his army to see what he could do to stabilize the position of the crusader settlements in the Holy Land. It was at this point that Andrew returned to find Louis IX in Caesarea (after his failed campaign in Egypt), with discouraging news. By the time Andrew had reached Elijidei’s camp, Güyük was dead, and the succession had teetered between Ӧgӧdei and Batu. Elijidei had sent Andrew further East to the Mongol court, where Güyük’s widow, Oghul Qaimish, then acting as regent, was headquartered. Perhaps to boost her prestige, she had treated Louis IX’s letter and gifts (described in the text below) as a formal act of submission to Mongol rule, and had sent Andrew back with her own letter requiring Louis IX’s personal submission and the payment of a yearly tribute.

    The original overture from Eljigidei may have been intended to prevent Louis IX's crusading army from heading towards previously Christian-dominated territories recently subjected to Mongol rule. For example, Louis IX had already sent troops to assist the Christian prince of Antioch (in Asia Minor) against the Turks, and some of Louis' men had proceeded as far as Cilician Armenia. Although further envoys were sent, notably one mission headed by William of Rubruck (who later drafted a written report for the pope and Louis IX around 1255 CE), the reports these missions sent back only served to further undermine hopes raised by the Prester John legend of potential Mongol assistance against the Muslims. Louis was profoundly disappointed by the results of the expedition, but would continue to receive more letters from other Mongol rulers in the 1260s. The prospect of a Christian-Mongol alliance against the Khwarizmians and the Ayyubids (and later the Mamluks) provided too tantalizing for Christian rulers to resist.

    Extract from Jean de Joinville:

    When Louis IX organized his first crusade, he was accompanied by his loyal subject Jean de Joinville, whose memoirs or "Life" of Saint Louis were written while Louis IX was in the process of being canonized as a saint. The short extract reproduced below has been adapted from The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville. A New English version, by Ethel Wedgwood (London: J. Murray, 1906), pp. 58-9, 249-59, 301-3. Slight alterations have been made to modernize the prose. Jean reports the visit in Cyprus and his description of the Mongols is probably based on information from Andrew of Lonjumeau.

    Questions to Consider:

    What image of the Mongols is being presented in this text? How does this image compare to the Mongols’ self-perception in the Secret History?

    Which elements of Mongol society did Joinville (or Andrew of Longjumeau) find most shocking? How and why were these elements shocking?

    Compare Joinville's description of Mongol culture to that in Matthew Paris. What similarities and differences do you notice? Make a list.

    How were Christian perceptions of the ways in which alliances worked different than or similar to those of the Mongols in the Secret History?

    What hopes might be raised by Joinville's account?

    What was the content of the letter sent back to Louis IX? What image of the Mongols did it present and what reservations about alliances might it raise?

    Extracts from Jean de Joinville’s Life of Saint Louis:

    While the king was delayed in Cyprus, the great king [khan] of the Tartars sent messengers to him, greeting him courteously, and bearing word, among other things, that he was ready to help him conquer the Holy Land and deliver Jerusalem out of the hand of the Saracens [Muslims].

    The king [of France] received them most graciously, and sent in reply messengers of his own, who remained away two years, before they returned to him. Moreover the king [Louis] sent to the king of the Tartars by the messengers a tent made in the style of a chapel, which cost a great deal, for it was made wholly of good fine scarlet cloth. And to entice them if possible into our faith, the king caused pictures to be inlaid in the said chapel, portraying the annunciation of Our Lady, and all the other points of the Creed. [1]

    These things he sent them by two preaching friars [Dominicans], who knew Arabic, in order to show and teach them what they ought to believe. The two friars got back to the king just when the king's brothers returned to France, and found the king at the time when he had left Acre (where his brothers parted from him) and was at Caesarea, fortifying it,—there being no peace nor truce with the Saracens.

    How the king of France's messengers were received, I shall tell you, just as they told it themselves to the king; and in their story you will hear many strange things, which I will not relate now, for it would break too much into the subject in hand [....]

    While the king was fortifying Caesarea, the messengers from the Tartars returned; and we will tell you what news they brought. I told you before, how while the king was delaying in Cyprus, there came to him messengers from the Tartars, and gave him to understand, that they would help him to conquer the kingdom of Jerusalem from the Saracens. The king sent them in return messengers of his own, and by these messengers he sent them a chapel, which he had caused to be made for them of scarlet cloth; and to lure them to our faith, he caused to be figured in the chapel all our creed,—the Annunciation of the Angel, the Nativity, the Baptism with which God was baptized, and all the Passion, and Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost; together with chalices, books, and all that is needful for singing mass; and two preaching friars [Dominicans] to sing masses before them.

    The king's messengers put in at the port of Antioch, and from Antioch to the great Tartar king [khan] they found it a full year's journey, riding ten leagues each day. They found all the land subject to the Tartars, and many cities which they had destroyed, and great piles of dead men's bones. They inquired, how they [the Tartars] had arrived at such a height of power, by what means so many men were dead and overthrown; and the manner of it was as they [later] related to the King.

    The Tartars, they said, had their origin in a great sandy plain, where nothing good grew. This plain began at certain marvelous great rocks, that lie at the end of the world towards the East; which rocks no man has ever crossed, as the Tartars testify; and they said that it was there that the race of Gog and Magog [2] were confined, who are to come at the end of the world, when Antichrist will come to destroy it.

    In this plain lived the race of the Tartars, and were subject to Prester John, [3] and to the emperor of the Persians, [4] whose land adjoined his, and to several other infidel kings to whom they paid tribute and service each year for the pasturage of their flocks; for they lived by these alone.

    This Prester John, and the emperor of Persia, and the other kings held the Tartars in such contempt, that when they brought them their tribute, they would not admit them to their faces, but used to turn their backs on them.

    Among them was a certain wise man, who traveled all through the plains, and talked to the wise men of the plains and the camps, and showed them in what slavery they were living, and begged them all to take counsel together, how they might escape from the bondage in which they were held. Finally he persuaded them to meet together one and all, at the end of the plain, close to Prester John's land, and explained the matter to them; and they replied that, if he would plan, they would act.

    Then he told them, that they would be unable to carry out any enterprise, unless they had a king and lord over them. And he taught them in what way they must get them a king, and they obeyed him. And it was in this way:—There were fifty-two tribes and each tribe was to bring him an arrow inscribed with their names; and by the consent of the whole people, it was agreed that these fifty-two arrows should be laid before a child of five years old, and the one which the child should pick up first, out of that tribe they should take a king.

    When the child had lifted one of the arrows, the wise man made all the other tribes withdraw, and it was so arranged, that the tribe from whom a king was to be chosen, should choose from amongst themselves fifty-two of the wisest and best men they had. When they were chosen, each of them brought to the place an arrow marked with his name, and it was agreed that he whose arrow the child should pick up, the same should be king. And as chance had it, the child picked up the arrow of that very same wise man who had taught them. The people were so delighted, that everyone rejoiced exceedingly.

    He made them be silent, and said to them: "Sirs, if you wish me to be your king, you must swear to me by Him who made heaven and earth that you will keep my commandments.” And they swore it. The ordinances he gave them were designed to keep the people at peace; and were formed in this way: that no man should steal his neighbor's goods, neither should any man strike another, unless he wished to lose his hand; neither should any man consort with his neighbor's wife nor daughter, unless he would lose his hand or his life. Many other good ordinances he gave them with a view to peace.

    After he had ordered and marshaled them, he said to them: “Sirs, the most powerful enemy that we have, is Prester John; and I command you that tomorrow you should be all prepared and ready to attack him, and if it happens that he defeats us,—which God forbid, let each one shift for himself. And if we defeat him, my orders are that the slaughter continue for three days and three nights; and let no man be so bold as to lay his hand on any spoils, nor withhold it from killing. For when we have secured victory, I will divide the spoil among you so well and fairly, that every man shall be well content.” To this they all agreed.

    The next day, they attacked their enemies, and by God's will, defeated them. All those whom they found armed for defense, they slaughtered, every one, and those whom they found in a religious dress, —priests and other orders,—these they did not slay. The rest of the people in Prester John's land, who were not in the fight, all made submission to them.

    One of the princes of one of these tribes was lost for three months, during which time they had no tidings of him, and when he returned, he was neither hungry nor thirsty, and thought that he had only been absent an evening at most. The story that he brought back was as follows: that he had come to a very high hill, and on the top had met with the most beautiful people that he had ever seen, the best dressed, the best adorned. On the summit of the hill, he saw a king sitting, fairer than all the rest, better clad and better adorned-upon a throne of gold. On his right sat six crowned kings, richly adorned with precious stones; and as many more on his left.

    Close behind him at his right hand there kneeled a queen, who was telling and imploring him to consider his people. To his left was a very handsome man who had two wings that shone like the sun, and all about the King was a throng of beautiful folk with wings. The king called this prince and said to him: “You have come from the Tartar camp." And he replied, “Sir, that is so." "You will go from here to them, and will tell them that you have seen me, the Lord of heaven and earth; you will command them to give thanks to me for the victory that I gave them over Prester John and his people. Tell them, moreover, from me, that I give them power to put all the earth in subjection under them." "Sir," said the Prince "how will they believe me?" "You will command them to believe you by this sign; that you will give battle to the emperor of Persia, who will fight against you with three hundred thousand men-at-arms and more. Before you go to fight with him, you should request your king to give you the priests and men of religion, whom he took in the battle; and that which these men will testify to you, you should firmly believe, you and your people."

    "Sir," he said, "I cannot find my way, unless you give me a guide." Then the King turned to a great host of knights, so well armed that they were a wonder to behold, and he called, and said, "Come here, George," [5] and the one he called came and kneeled down. And the King said to him, "Arise, and guide me this man to his dwelling in safety." And he did so in an instant.

    So soon as his people saw him, they held a great celebration, and all the army likewise, past telling. He asked the great king for the priests, and he gave them to him; and this prince and all his people received their teachings with such a good grace that they were all baptized. After these things, he picked three hundred men-at-arms, and had them confessed and equipped, and went forth to fight the emperor of Persia, and overthrew him and drove him from his kingdom; and he came fleeing as far as the kingdom of Jerusalem; and this was the emperor who overthrew our people and took prisoner Count Walter of Brienne.

    The people of this Christian prince were so numerous, that the King's messengers told us, that they had in their camp eight hundred tented wagons. Their food was as follows: they ate no bread, but lived on meat and milk. Horseflesh is their best meat, and they put it to steep in sauces and then to dry, until it can be cut like black bread. [6] The best and strongest drink they have is mare's milk fermented with herbs. [7] The great king of the Tartars received the present of a horse laden with flour that had come from a distance of three months' journey, and he gave it to the king's messengers.

    There are many Christian peoples among them, who profess the Greek faith, both those of whom we have spoken and others. These they send against the Saracens [Muslims] when they wish to make war on them; and when they have to do [battle] with Christians, they send Saracens [Muslims] against them. Women of all sorts that are childless go into battle with them; and they give soldier's pay to the women too, just the same as to the men, according to their strength. Moreover the king's messengers said that the soldiers, male and female, used to eat together in the houses of the rich men to whom they belonged; and the men did not dare to meddle in any way with the women, because of the law that their first king gave them.

    They brought all sorts of meats into the camp. They eat everything. Those women that have children, carry them from place to place, tend them, and prepare the food for those that go into battle. The raw meat they put between their saddles and their horse cloths, and when the blood is well out of it, they eat it quite raw. What they cannot eat, they throw into a leather bag; and when they are hungry, they just open the bag, and eat the stalest first. For this reason, I saw a Khwarizmian, one of the Persian emperor's followers, who used to keep guard over us in prison, and whenever he opened his bag, we used to hold our noses, for we could not endure the stench that came out of the bag.

    Now let us return to our subject and tell, how, when the great king of the Tartars had received the messengers and the gifts, he sent to fetch several kings, under safe-conduct, who had not yet come to his mercy; and had the chapel pitched for them to see, and said to them as follows: "Sirs, the King of France has submitted himself to us, and behold! Here is the tribute that he sends us, and unless you come to our mercy, we will send for him to destroy you." Many there were, who, for fear of the king of France, came to throw themselves on that king's mercy.

    They gave the king's messengers letters from their great king to the king of France, which ran as follows: "A good thing is Peace; for in a land of peace, those that go on four feet, eat the grass of the field in peace; and they that go on two, plow the land from which all good things in peace proceed. This is meant as a warning for you, for you cannot obtain peace except from us, and king such-an-one and such-an-one (naming many), all of them have we put to the sword. Therefore we command you to send us so much of your gold and of your silver each year, so that you may keep our friendship. And if you do not, then will we destroy you and your people, even as we have done to those whom we have named." And know that the king [Louis] was very sorry that he had ever sent [messengers and letters] to them [....]

    [In 1254 CE], while the king was fortifying the city of Sajetta, there came merchants to the camp, who told us and related how the king of the Tartars had taken the city of Baghdad with the Saracen pope, who was lord of the town, and whom they called "the Caliph of Bagdad." The manner in which they captured the city of Baghdad and the Caliph was related to us by the merchants, and it was as follows. When they had laid siege to the Caliph's city, the Tartar king sent him word that he was ready to make a marriage between their children, and the Caliph's counselors advised him to agree to the marriage. Then the Tartar king sent him word, that he must send him as many as forty persons from among his counselors and the chief men, to swear to the marriage, which the Caliph did.

    Again the Tartar king desired him to send forty of the richest and best men that he had; and the Caliph did so. A third time he sent word to him to send forty of the very best he had; and he did. When the Tartar King saw that he had got into his possession all the leading men of the town, he thought within himself, that the common people in the town would not be able to defend themselves without a leader. He had all the six score [120] men beheaded; and then stormed the town, and took it and the Caliph with it. In order to cloak his treachery, and throw on the Caliph the blame of the town's capture, he had the Caliph seized and put into an iron cage; and had him starved, as far as one can starve a man without killing him; and then sent to ask him, whether he were hungry. The Caliph said: "Yes," and no wonder.

    Then the Tartar king caused a great platter of gold to be brought to him, heaped with jewels and precious stones, and said to him, "Do you recognize these jewels?" And the Caliph said, "Yes, they were mine."—Then he asked him if he were very fond of them. He answered: "Yes." "Since you like them so well," said the Tartar king, "Come, take whichever you would, and eat." The Caliph answered that it was impossible, because they were not food for eating. Then the king of the Tartars said to him, "Now you may see in this bowl where your defense lay. For had you parted with some of your golden treasure, it would have been your defense against us, if you had only spent it; whereas now it fails you at your [time of] greatest need."

    [1] These images appear to have been woven or embroidered into the tent chapel, serving the same instructional purpose as stained glass windows in cathedrals.

    [2] Gog and Magog were savage peoples said to have been enclosed by Alexander the Great behind a mountain range. At the end times they would be unleashed, creating chaos before the arrival of Antichrist.

    [3] For Prester John, see the introduction to the Mongols' Secret History.

    [4] That is, the ruler of the Khwarizmians in Persia.

    [5] This is a reference to Saint George, whom the papal representative and preacher Odo of Chateauroux claimed was a model crusader. George was often reported as appearing with a heavenly army in assistance of Christians fighting their enemies.

    [6] The process described presumably created a product similar to salted beef, prosciutto, or beef jerky.

    [7] Koumiss or fermented mare's milk was a staple of the Mongols' diet.

    The Context for Mongol-Christian Negotiations in the 1260s:

    During Louis IX's and Jean de Joinville's lifetimes, Latin Christendom and those living in the East faced difficult choices. Should they ally with various Muslim rulers against the as yet to be determined extent of Mongol ambition and power, or risk an alliance with one or more Mongol rulers against various rivals in the East and northern Africa?

    As Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, Mӧngke (r. 1251–1259), appointed Hülagü as leader of Mongol forces in the near East. Hülagü promptly expelled the Nizaris ("Assassins") from Persia and captured and sacked the cosmopolitan city of Baghdad with the assistance of eastern Christian rulers, including Hetoum of Armenia and his son-in-law, Bohemond VI of Antioch. The fact that Hülagü had executed the Ayyubid caliph of Baghdad, had married a Nestorian Christian and had many other Christians in his court (including the military commander Kitbuqa), had promised toleration for eastern Christians, and had promised to return any holy places his armies conquered to Christians raised hopes among some Christians of Mongol assistance against rising political and religious power, the Mamluk sultanate. Nonetheless, as the letter of the Templar commander Thomas Bernard illustrates below, many in various religious and ethnic communities regarded the advance of the Mongols with trepidation.

    Pause and Consider:

    The two images below both treat Mongol sieges of Nizari fortresses. The first was an illustration created to accompany a history of the East composed by the Armenian Christian monk Hayto (Hetoum) for western Christian audiences around 1307 CE. The second is a much later picture (c. 1596) derived from a manuscript from northern India celebrating the exploits of past Mongol rulers (including Chinggis Khan) for Mughal Indian rulers.

    How are these sieges represented and why?

    Are viewing audiences meant to sympathize with the besieged Nizaris or the attacking Mongol forces?


    Mongolian siege of the Nizari fortress of Gerdkuh. Hayton of Corycus, Fleur des histoires d'orient. Bibliothèque nationale de France. MS Nouv. acq. fr. 886, fol. 21v. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


    "Hülagü Khan Destroys the Fort at Alamut," page From a Chinghiz-Nama Manuscript designed by Basawan, colored by Nand Gwaliori (North India, Mughal, Akbar period), ca. 1596, opaque watercolor and ink on paper, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The Rise of the Mamluks:

    Mӧngke's premature death in 1259 CE meant that Hülagü withdrew to Persia; only a small Mongol army remained under the general Kitbuqa. As the Mongols' empire began to splinter, the Mongol khans of Persia found themselves wedged between the Golden Horde to the Far East and the Mamluks in Egypt. As a result, the Il-khans of Persia reopened diplomatic channels with western rulers, promising conversion to Christianity, and the restoration of Jerusalem to Christian rule. They did so hoping to profit from a western crusade being planned to counter Mamluk advances in Syria. Despite the Mamluks' initial rise to power in Egypt, the formal submission of the crusader states of Antioch and Tripoli to Mongol rule and the Mongols’ openly declared ambition of annexing both Syria and Egypt meant that Latin settlers continued to avoid allying with the Mongols against the Mamluks. The direct consequence was that the Mamluks routed Kitbuqa’s army at the battle of 'Ain Jalut (1261 CE).

    Under the powerful Mamluk sultan Baibars (r. 1260–1277), the Mamluks seized control of former Ayyubid possessions in Syria and began to pick off remaining Latin Christian cities and fortifications. The Mamluks also allied with Batu’s Muslim brother Berke, khan of the Golden Horde, who had become a public adversary of the Christian Hülagü after 'Ain Jalut. Caught between the Mamluks and the Golden Horde, Hülagü approached various Christian rulers for alliances. However, previous Mongol invasions of eastern Europe and their clear ambitions to expand in the Near East meant that the popes and other secular and religious rulers mistrusted the Mongols' overtures. When Hülagü entered Syria with his armies in 1257, Pope Alexander IV exhorted all Christians to oppose him and rebuked those who assisted Hülagü's advance. By 1260, some crusaders had arrived in the Holy Land with the intention of defending it against the Mongols.

    Hülagü nonetheless continued diplomatic negotiations with Pope Urban IV and the kings of Europe. Both he and his son Abagha (r. 1265–1282), suggested joining forces against the Mamluk sultanate. However, despite Baibars' victories in Syria and Lesser Armenia, and the fact that the Mongols' appear to have offered something closer to a treaty among equals and even potential conversion to Christianity, the Mongols' prior manifestoes on world domination meant that their overtures were met with considerable scepticism. In 1267 and 1268, Abagha went so far as to suggest forcing the Mamluks to fight on two fronts by coordinating a Christian crusade with a Mongol offensive in Mesopotamia, with the return of the reconquered Holy Land to Latin control as the proposed reward. He may have hoped to benefit from Louis IX's second crusade (1267-70), which for complicated reasons targeted the Muslim ruler of Tunis in North Africa instead. However, when other Latin Christians responded in favor of the proposal in 1269, Abagha proved unable to assist the crusaders, including those participating in the crusade of Prince Edward (later Edward I, king of England) of 1271–1272, intended to stall Baibars' advances in Syria.

    The Master of the Templar Order writes to the Templars in England, 1261 CE:

    Introductory note:

    In response to newsletters such as that of Thomas Bernard reproduced below, Alexander IV wrote letters stressing the peril posed by of the Mongols' conquests in the Near East and eastern Europe. Alexander IV also commanded that provincial councils be assembled with representatives of church and secular leaders and the populace to suggest strategies and forms of assistance. In England, the archbishop of Canterbury and a papal representative summoned leaders to a council in London (1261), which may have mandated emergency prayers and processions and certainly sent representatives to Rome with the council's proposals. In response, King Henry III wrote to Alexander IV, promising to aid the anti-Mongol efforts but also protesting that the council had excluded royal or noble representatives and had passed measures which undermined the laws, liberties, and customs of his kingdom. Henry's letter may never have been sent (and Alexander was dead before it would have reached Rome), but it provides evidence for the kinds of tensions which prevented effective countermeasures to the Mongols' growing power.

    Due to copyright restrictions the letter printed below has been freshly retranslated from the Latin version published in The Annals of Burton, in H. R. Luard, ed., Annales monastici, 5 vols., Rolls Series, 36 (London, 1866-1869), 1: 491-95. Those wishing to consult further documents may turn to Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell, eds., Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (Philadelphia, 2013), pp. 306-47 and Peter Jackson, ed., The Seventh Crusade, 1244-1254: Sources and Documents (Ashgate, 2009).

    Questions to Consider:

    According to Thomas Bernard, what is the effect of the advance of the Mongols and Mamluks in the Near East?

    What are some problems which keep the military orders from being able to defend the Holy Land?

    What counter-measures or solutions does Thomas Bernard suggest to solve these problems?

    What forms of rhetoric does Thomas Bernard use to persuade his audience to act?

    Who does Thomas Bernard praise or blame? How does he defend his organization (the Templars) against potential criticism?

    The Letter:

    Brother Thomas Bernard, humble master, by divine grace, of the impoverished militia of the Temple, [1] greetings and genuine esteem to his brother Amadeus [literally: loved by God], the beloved, devout, and prudent great leader of the houses of the Temple in England. [2]

    Although now for many years past we have repeatedly written to you in our usual way [and] in advance of the dread and terrible arrival of the little-known Tartars, now there is no more reason to hide their deeds under a bushel basket [Matthew 5:15; Luke 11:33], because those who were once outside now hammer at the gates. [3] For this very reason we should instead vividly depict their astonishing and wondrous exploits. By these [the Mongols] Christendom overseas [4] is afflicted by the sword; it is beaten by force from the outside, while from the inside excessive fears and anguish generate disorder.

    And so it is that, strengthened by such an unbelievable and impressive power and number, these same people [the Mongols] subject provinces to their rule indiscriminately and with such great ease that no one can withstand their forces. The Lord [God] customarily purifies his people with scourges, by situating them in the evil path of this type of pestilence, and perhaps he allowed this [to happen] so that his people might be restored to heart. For as the prophet David says, the Lord’s judgments are an [impenetrable] abyss for many [Psalm 35:7]. However, after conquering the Persians, Medes, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turks, Armenians, Georgians, and countless other peoples, and through an unanticipated opportunity, [5] having unexpectedly seized Baghdad, that great and extremely powerful metropolis, their swords' mouths have in addition savagely devoured the body of the caliph, that is the Saracens' pope, and the lords and leaders of that same [city], along with their children and innumerable households and [many] others living in that very metropolis.

    Moreover, in the county called Rochas, they also most powerfully subjugated to themselves Haman, la Chamele [Camela], Caesarea majora, and various fortifications, cities, provinces, and territories belonging to the Old Man of the Mountain [leader of the Nizari], [including] Harran, Hassar, and other local fortifications. And recently, near Ephesus, they ferociously besieged the county of the lord of Aleppo. And because of this, the people of Antioch were terrified that a sudden disaster might befall them, particularly because the city of Antioch not be held by any means because its defenses were unsuitable. With the agreement and authority of Lord H., its noble ruler, [6] they sent distinguished messengers [to the Mongols] with diverse presents of great worth, that is, Preachers [Dominicans], Minorites [Franciscans], Jacobites, Greeks, and religious men, [and] his [the lord's] bailiff and constable, so that [the Mongols'] leader might at least spare them from bloodshed and permit them to [continue to] exist, [albeit] wretchedly, under tribute and the slavery of subjection. Their [the Mongols'] war-leader and lord Halan [7] gave [these messengers a] kind hearing and granted their petitions. They nevertheless dreaded that, contrary [to what he promised], the worshippers of Christ might be parceled out to others under him [to rule]. May this not be the case!

    In fact, after the messengers [were sent] on the expedition mentioned above, Halan commanded his men to encircle the city of Aleppo and to assault it simultaneously with with different types of siege machines and with undermining and cats [8] and other things necessary for this kind of enterprise. Within five days, they violently broke into that city, [and] not without an immense slaughter of the Saracens [Muslims]. Because their numbers were so great, their army demolished the city's walls within one day, and they assailed the fortress situated in that very city terribly with their men and machines.

    However, this garrison had been reinforced by the sultan of Aleppo and Damascus [9] with a hundred and fifty mounted warriors to withstand [the Mongols]. When he heard of his city's unexpected fall, petrified and vanquished by terror alone, he withdrew with swift retreat from Damascus, and with some [of his] men, made the crossing near our castle called Saphet [Safad]. From there, not without danger, he made his way toward Gaza. In fact, because of the situation [of Aleppo], others were [also] plunged into panic and despair. The entire populace of that same city and land, after seeing their lord and commander take flight with no one in pursuit, were conquered without a fight, even when no one was terrorizing them yet or hurling them into hysteria. Abandoning their own, they took flight in a sudden and insane way. They were so great a crowd that no individual turned their glance towards another: not parents to children, husbands to their wives, sibling to sibling, the lowly to the lofty, those with power to the powerless, and vice versa. No one could be found who would provide assistance or aid to the falling, because they believed that there was no place they could reach where they could find any comfort from such an oppressive fear and terror. And so the powerful in [the kingdom of] Damascus were left without defense, subjugated to the Tartars.

    In addition, as witnessed by public report, the prince of Antioch [Bohemond] mentioned above made an arrangement with the lord of the Tartars [Hülagü] about Tripoli and the remainder of his territories after the [same] form of [arrangement granted to] the city and territory of Antioch, according to the advice of the king of Armenia [Hetoum I]. In preparation for those present terms, as truthful assertion relates, it was proposed that the prince should visit the same lord of the Tartars in person or at least by [sending] distinguished representatives carrying with them expensive gifts. As you certainly well know, altogether, in the lands on this side of the [Medierranean] sea the cities of Acre and Tyre, and seven of our [military orders'] houses and three castles—two in Antioch and one castle of the house of the Teutons [11] in Apolitana, and two in the province of Jerusalem, and two by the hospital of Saint John, [and] one castle of the house of the Teutons in the land of Tripoli—were strengthened to withstand these very Tartars according to the ability that the Lord gave us. We resolve, with God's help, to manfully defend these same [fortifications] for the work of Christendom to the end, to the very last intermission. [12]

    However, unless the Lord mercifully spares them, we cannot see how other regions and places can be held, due to the [relatively] small numbers of Christians and their lack of force. No matter how much we may pursue this business, solicitously and assiduously, it will play itself out according to the means and malice of the times. We cannot entirely know what additional types of scourges, tribulations, hardships, and demands--of what measure the eye has not seen nor the ears heard--(1 Corinthians 2:9), we may be forced to withstand. And because so importance a matter allows no delay, we decided to send in person our beloved brothers before the proper [sailing] season, in a type of galley which could not hold a large group of messengers (which [perhaps] more suited this business). [We sent] our brother Stephen to the region of Spain, and a certain Hospitaller [13] to the region of France, and a third high-ranking member of the Teutons [Teutonic Order] to the region of Alemannia. [10]

    They carried letters from us and from the lord legate and from the Christian community overseas. In these [letters] we conveyed more full information to your excellence, and we seek more intently and implore with humble prayers and implore you in many ways by the blood Jesus Christ shed, to fix the eyes of piety and compassion on the region made particularly holy by his [Christ's] own blood, that after hearing the letters and those matters explained by the brothers and messengers mentioned above, you would eagerly grant timely and suitable advice about so important a matter, according to the ability that the Lord grants you. Understand as a certainty, that unless we receive aid from these very regions [Iberia, France, and Alemannia] swiftly and to such a extent that we may withstand the attack and whirlwind of so great a horde, no middle ground will remain; their rule will subject all Christendom overseas.

    For this reason, your wisdom ought to know that . . . in addition to fortifying our castles and the city of Acre, our house [the Templar order], which answers in service to more important causes, has and is shouldering such heavy burdens of expenses that, as is well known, it remains in a very perilous state. Unless it is assisted with timely and suitable aid (through the foresight of you and other faithful persons), we will be forced to either cease defending the Holy Land altogether or to alienate a considerable quantity of the possessions and alms of our house in the overseas region, resulting in no small harm and scandal to our house. Such is the evil of the times, that in these days (due to the Tartar scourge and the absence of the Genoese and other merchants from Acre) that in those very regions we cannot obtain loans of money either at interest or through [pledging] securities. Yet, on the other hand, because of the defenses we mentioned, it has become necessary for us to incur expenses four times larger than usual. For we cannot retain hired men unless they also receive their livelihood, and what wage is equal to the risk of their dying? [14]

    Is there, in this world, any ruler who, without considerable sacrifice, could keep seven key castles defendable and properly fortified against this incredible horde, and, at the same time, also bear the accumulated costs incurred by those things done for the defense of as great a city as Acre (which falls on us, for the most part), a city which serves as a solitary refuge for all Christendom on this side of the sea? Certainly we do not believe so. [15]

    Oh, that we could find merchants and other lenders who would hand over money to us in return for our mortgaged church ornaments, that is, crosses, chalices, thuribles, and everything else in our houses! [16] For in this state of emergency, in no way do we seek to spare our own body. On the contrary, we and our honorable religious house retain a firm and great desire to pay nature's debt to defend the Christian faith. May the Lord in his mercy spare our souls! We are not worried about worldly possessions.

    In addition, we are petitioning the lord king of England, with great entreaty of prayers, and also the queen, that she personally would beseech the king, [17] that he would assist us in his mercy with a loan, made out in his name, which would relieve our house of the lack of ten thousand marks of silver. For this very purpose, we command you to persistently petition the king as solicitously and assiduously as you can, until you have obtained this particular type of favor from him, [and to] write back to us about your action on this and other matters. Written in Acre, the fourth day of the month of March, in the year of our Lord 1261.


    [1] That is the master or general commander of the Templars, a military order vowed to fight in defense of the Holy Land and other territories in the East under Latin Christian rule. Thomas was probably writing from the Templars' headquarters in the city of Acre.

    [2] Amadeus is the commander general of the various branches of the Templar order in England. Houses of Templars were established as a network meant to funnel resources towards the defense of Christian-occupied territories. For this reason, the Templars managed extensive estates and established sophisticated banking practices to enable the transfer of money over long distances.

    [3] Thomas notes here that this is not a general update but an urgent appeal for immediate assistance.

    [4] That is, territories ruled by Latin Christians and their allies in the Near East.

    [5] "Unexpected opportunity"can also be translated as "sudden overthrow" or "misfortune." This reflects Thomas Bernard's ambivalent feelings regarding the Mongols' capture of Baghdad, an immensely cosmopolitan and cultured city.

    [6] Despite the erroneous initial ‘‘H.,’’ this refers to Bohemond V, prince of Antioch (1233–1252).

    [7] Hülagü.

    [8] Cats were a type of siege engine, a bit like a shed on wheels, designed to shield attackers from whatever defenders threw down from the walls.

    [9] An-Nasir Yusuf, ruler of Aleppo (1236–1260), Damascus (1250–1260), and Baalbek. For his fate, see Hülagü's letter below.

    [10] "Alemannia" refers to the German-speaking regions of medieval Europe.

    [11] The Teutonic order was another powerful international military order.

    [12] In others words, they will defend them as long as humanly possible.

    [13] The Hospitallers were another military order with extensive military and religious responsibilities.

    [14] The author is well aware of extremely complex financial conditions in his lands and the difficulty of hiring mercenaries, as well as the risks they faced.

    [15] The several mentions of Acre were prophetic. The city fell in 1291 to the Mamluks.

    [16] It was common in times of emergency for churches and monastic houses to pawn their valuable altar ornaments made of gold and silver or use them as security for a loan. Thomas Bernard is stressing that the Templars are ready and willing to do this.

    [17] Henry III, king of England and his wife, Eleanor of Provence.

    A Letter from Hülagü, Il-Khan of Persia, to Louis IX of France, 1262

    Introductory Note:

    In 1262, Hülagü, then il-khan of Persia, sent letters to Louis IX, king of France, Pope Urban IV (1261–1264), and other western rulers. In 1274, Hülagü's son and successor Abagha sent a similar delegation to the Second Council of Lyons (1274); his representatives mentioned Hülagü's earlier letters and their drafter, Richard, but claimed that Hülagü's messengers had been intercepted by Manfred, the illegitimate son of Frederick II, who had been at war with the papacy. However, it appears that at least one messenger, John the Hungarian, somehow reached Urban IV bearing an official letter from Hülagü and additional orally transmitted messages too sensitive to entrust to writing.

    A version of a similar letter claiming to be addressed from Hülagü to Louis IX was preserved by a fourteenth-century scribe and is translated below. Whether or not the letter reached its intended audience (Louis IX and his court) is open to debate, although some historians believe that the letter did reach Louis IX in Paris. Perhaps written not long after the battle of 'Ain Jalut (1261 CE), the letter uses a strange mix of flattery and threats to urge Louis IX to use a French fleet to keep the Mamluks from escaping by ship from a planned Mongol advance in Syria. The editor of the letter, Paul Meyvaert, suggests that the letter was drafted in Latin by Richard, a trusted official who worked for both Hülagü and his son Abagha. A Latin Christian who served at least two Mongol rulers, Richard composed and copied other letters intended for western audiences, perhaps because he was familiar with Latin letter-writing conventions and rhetoric.

    Due to copyright restrictions the letter published below has been freshly retranslated from the Latin version published by Paul Meyvaert, "An Unknown Letter of Hülagü, Il-Khan of Persia, to King Louis IX of France," Viator 11 (1980), 245-59, at 252-59. Those wishing to consult further documents may turn to Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters and James M. Powell, eds., Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187-1291 (Philadelphia, 2013), pp. 306-47 and Peter Jackson, ed., The Seventh Crusade, 1244-1254: Sources and Documents (Ashgate, 2009).

    Questions to Consider:

    How does the writer of the letter use rhetoric to persuade Louis IX to assist the Mongols? What arguments does he use?

    Does the writer use threats or flattery or both? Find specific examples. Which might have been most persuasive?

    What recent events does the letter writer mention and why does he mention them?

    Based on previous dealings with the Mongols and their reputation (see chapters 1 and 2), what might the response of Louis IX have been?

    Compare this letter to that of Güyük in 1245. What is different and what is similar?

    Text of the Letter:

    [A formal greeting to Louis IX, the intended recipient of the letter, appears to have been omitted by the scribe who copied the letter].

    Some time ago, God spoke through prophets with our ancestors about these last days and through many and various ways. He communicated with our grandfather, Chinggis Khan, through his blood relation Teb Tngri (whose name means "God's prophet"), miraculously revealing to him the events of future times. He revealed [these] by telling the Teb Tngri mentioned above: "In the skies I alone am the all-powerful God, and I appoint you ruler over all peoples and realms, and you will become ruler of the whole world, such that you will 'uproot and demolish, scatter and destroy, build up and plant' [Jer 1:10]. [18] And so I announce to you that you must make my commission to you known to every generation, language, and tribe in the north, south, east, and west. And you must declare it in every single area of the entire earth where rulers or kings govern, officials rule, and lordship is enforced and wherever horses' hooves fall, ships sail, messengers arrive, and letters are read, so that those with ears may listen, those listening may understand, those understanding might believe. In fact, any person who does not believe in my divine commission should contemplate how those who refuse to believe in my mandates will later be brought low."

    However, we, Hülagü Khan, commander of the Mongol army by the power of the eternal heaven, that is, of the living God, by God's mercy the dedicated devastator of Saracens (a faithless people), a well-intentioned defender of the Christian faith, a zealous vanquisher of enemies, and the trustworthy and loyal friend of his allies, the illustrious king of the Franks, Louis [IX], and also the princes, dukes, counts, barons, knights, and others, convey our greetings to each and every individual in the whole realm of France. We proclaimed the revelation mentioned above and made these things known to you so that you might decide, without hesitation, to become our allies. For we are implementing the mandate of the living God. If you considered it with full attention (as you should), you would understand that our power was granted by the Lord Messiah himself (that is, the living God). However, so that we have not, perhaps, caused a message of this kind to be written to you with no [desired] result, we will outline briefly a few of the many things which in our times, not so very long ago, happened to those of our adversaries who did not believe in our mandates, or rather the mandates of the living God.

    For our majesty decided to to begin by publicizing the divine mandate to the kings and rulers of the East, that is, to the rulers of the Kästimi, the Naiman, the Merkid, of Kirgis, of the Nangyaz, the Kitai, the Kangut, the Tӧbed, the Uihur, of Quamul, of Ulbäri, to the leader of the Quarasan, to the sultan of the Persians, to the leaders of the Cumans, and also to the kings and sultans, princes and leaders of the southern region (that is, to those ruling India and the surrounding lands), and also to the rest [of these rulers] and innumerable other [rulers], whose names would nauseate [you] if we cataloged them in writing. [19]

    In resistance to the divine mandate, they scornfully opposed the lordship God granted to us, and in their pride, confiding in their own armed forces, they were not afraid, in the least bit, to draw up their battle lines against us in combat. And so that we might keep or account of these matters brief; we exterminated and slaughtered these noxious pests. We forcefully assaulted their kingdoms, possessions, cities, and fortresses, and laid each and every one of them waste as we so wished. However, some of their more eminent men, encouraged by our benevolence, allied themselves to our majesty in a friendly way. These we spared, [together] with all those who looked to them for guidance, and those who were more powerful rejoiced that they were allowed to remain where they were without any hesitation on our part.

    Meanwhile, in other intervening years, the power of the living God paved the way toward the eastern regions; we sent a resolution first to the sultan of the Assassins, [20] that is, the murderer of the circumcised. And we warned him that after first contemplating the nature of our authority, he should quickly subject himself to us. However, he instead foolishly chose to do battle with us; he trusted in their fortresses constructed on the peaks of the highest mountains, and considered himself to possess a vast army and ample provisions. But we blotted out the name of Rukn-ad-din [Khurshah] from this world, together with all his generation, and his most mighty fortresses as well. That is, we razed to the ground the fortress of Maimundiz, the fortress of Alamut, and each and every [other] fortress, nearly one hundred and fifty [fortresses in all].

    And once this had been done, we conveyed the same mandate to the kings and rulers of the circumcised, and in the same way we caused the destruction of fourteen kings and princes who were reported to have disobeyed us, with all their men. As a matter of fact, after these things had been accomplished and some time had gone by, we were pleased to convey the original mandate, as detailed above, to the caliph of Baghdad. He showed no hesitation at all in despicably boasting about himself, professing most firmly that he was most certainly the pope, the head of the world, for the people of the aforementioned Muhammad, that most wicked pseudo-prophet, and that he personally was the all-powerful creator of this Muhammad and his entire people, that he had created the heavens and the earth and everything contained in these. And so he decided to war against us rather than graciously submitting to our mandate; he trusted in the greatness of his nobility, and his limitless riches, innumerable fortresses, and the extremely powerful hosts of his armies. However, [we chose] to openly war against him in order to subdue other rebels. By the might of the all-powerful God, by our reckoning, we slaughtered two thousand thousands [2,000,000] of soldiers from his forces, even excluding other [casualties]. [There was] a multitude of these beyond number.

    We ordered a certain patriarch of the Nestorians, [21] with his bishops, monks, priests, clerics, and all of these same Christians who lived in the city of Baghdad (mentioned above), to be separated out from the Saracens, one by one. We commanded that they be given greater possessions [than before] and be allowed to live in that city undisturbed and without harm to their possessions.

    After we [caused] the sultan of Aleppo and Damascus to be hanged, his terrified successor conveyed to us his desire to become our subject. Satisfied by his submission, we sent officials to the same [ruler and] throughout his lands and golden tablets with privileges inscribed on them; these were a token of our greater preferment. Nonetheless, within a short time, goaded on by fate's influence, he broke his binding promise and contradicting himself, proved himself our enemy. For this reason, when this same person fled, we zealously attacked his territories and fortresses and destroyed the cities of Aleppo and Damascus, Haman, Haniz, Baalbek, Harran, and Baya. [22] After capturing him mid-flight, we ordered his [severed] head to be hung above city of Tabriz's gate as an lesson for other traitors.

    John of Hungary has made it known to us, without any uncertainty, that some Latin slaves had traveled to the Holy Land for the sake of devotion, [to fight] against the infidels on behalf of the holy city of Jerusalem. [23] And we believe that your lordship should know that through this same John, we ensured that they were restored to their former free state. In addition, as you ought to know, our excellency is not [entirely] ignorant of the fact that, although the western Christians have ever so many kings, you, however, excel all the others by the splendor of your outstanding zeal; it is such that, of everyone considered worthy of the name "Christian," you are the most thoroughly intent on salvation. For as a token of our particular friendship, in honor of the most all-powerful and living God, you took care to send to our predecessor, Güyük, by your faithful messengers, a portable chapel dedicated to the divine name as a special refreshment, [24] even though we had not already sent our emissaries to you.

    If, as we mentioned, at that time, you were not yet intent, in any way, on those things which were [later] communicated by us [through these emissaries], you were much more focused on the rest [of these matters], because we have taken care to visit Your Majesty not only through letters, but also by our trustworthy emissaries. Because we have experienced your friendship previously, we do not cease to trust that you desire to renew such an alliance with us by recreating a stronger bond between us. We also wanted to reveal ourselves in a friendly way to your lordship. At first we thought the highest priest, the pope, was the king of the Franks or the emperor. But after conducting a more careful investigation, we understand that he is a holy man praying devotedly to God on behalf of all peoples; on this earth he takes the place of the Lord Messiah himself, son of the living God, and he is the head of all those believing in Christ and calling on him. Once we understood these things, we ordered the holy city of Jerusalem, held for so long by sacrilegious people, to be restored to him, with all the other things pertaining to that entire kingdom [of Jerusalem], through our faithful and devoted servant, John the Hungarian, a follower of the Christian faith described above. And we know, without any doubt, that this news has already reached your ears on various occasions.

    However, because it is our custom to retreat, most willingly, to the cooler areas in the snowy mountains during the summer's heat, after the cities of Aleppo and Damascus described above had been laid waste, and both supplies and forage were exhausted for the most part, it pleased us to withdraw to the mountains of Greater Armenia for a short time. And we dispatched a few of our men to the aforementioned regions to destroy the remainder of the Assassins’ fortresses, where they were stealthily hiding after realizing the scarcity of their surviving numbers. When, like mice, those Babylonian dogs crept out of their holes, our men attacked them. However, because they had been deceitful about obeying our commands and had invaded the possessions of the Franks [Latin Christians], some of our men, as their offenses deserved, were gnawed to pieces by these same mice. [25] The vengeance inflicted on those faithless men did entirely displease us, nor did it even cause detectable damage to us. However, we intend to fulfill completely and within a short time our plan against the aforementioned Babylonian dogs of an infidel kind, just as we also [will enact our] plan against other rebels.

    Nonetheless, because, as we understand it, if they are attacked by land, they [the Mamluks] might find a refuge by the waters of the sea, we have taken care to encourage Your Eminence to exert your [naval] power from the opposite quarter on the shores of the [Mediterranean] sea. For by your dutiful preparations you might stop the aforesaid infidel dogs, enemies both to us and to you, with armed ships in the sea, and you could ensure that the aforementioned refuge was blocked. Otherwise, due to a lack of sea defenses, they may be able to escape our assaults through various means.

    May you prosper in the Lord Messiah, that is, in the living God, without end in eternity. If it pleases you, make known your intentions on these and other matters with timely dispatch, through your special emissaries [sent] together with ours. Written in the city of Maragheh in the tenth year of Hülagü's reign, in the Year of the Dog, on the tenth day of the month of April.


    [18] Traditionally this verse was applied by western Latin Christian authors to the powers granted to papal representatives (legates). The Mongols' use of it to apply to themselves would have been surprising for western audiences.

    [19] For other lists of Mongol victories, see George D. Painter, ‘‘The Tartar Relation,’’ Excursus B, in R. A. Skelton, T. E. Marston, G. D. Painter, eds., The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation (New Haven CT, 1965), esp. 104–106.

    [20] The Nizaris, named the "Assassins" by Latin Christians, were an Isma'ili sect with adherents in northern Syria and Palestine. After Latin settlers established themselves in the Near East, they became alternately targets for ‘‘assassination’’ or potential allies with the Nizaris against other competing powers in the region. The "circumcised" refers to Jews and/or Muslims and some groups of eastern Christians who practiced circumcision. The Nizaris quickly became the stuff of legend, particularly the leader of the Syrian branch, who became known as "the Old Man of the Mountain." However, when the Nizaris came under threat from the Mongols, as a minority Muslim sect, they received little help from other Muslim powers. The chronicler Matthew Paris claimed they sent ambassadors to western European leaders requesting assistance before Hülagü captured the Nizari fortress of Alamut in Persia and other strongholds in 1256. The Syrian Nizaris lost the castle of Masyad to the Mongols in 1260 and their remaining holdings to the sultan Baibars in 1272. Matthew Paris' account is in Giles, Matthew Paris’s English History, 1:131–132, 312–314; 3:449–552. See also J. J. Saunders, "Matthew Paris and the Mongols," in T. A. Sandquist and M. R. Powicke, eds., Essays in Medieval History Presented to Bertie Wilkinson (Toronto, 1969), 116–132; Farhad Daftary, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis (London, 1994).

    [21] There were many Nestorian Christians living in Mongol-occupied territories.

    [22] The Hebrew chronicler Bar Hebraeus mentions Harran, Baklash, Hama, and B’elbek (Baalbek?)-Harim as among the cities conquered by Hülagü in 1260. E. A. Wallis Budge, trans., The Chronography of Gregory Abu’l Faraj, the Son of Aaron, the Hebrew Physician, Commonly Known as Bar Hebraeus (London, 1932).

    [23] The letter writer may be referring to Latin crusaders who had been taken captive and sold into slavery.

    [24] When Louis IX landed at Cyprus in 1248, he had received messengers from the Mongol commander Eljigidei, who hoped for Louis' assistance against the Muslims. Because Elijidei's messengers claimed that the Great Khan Güyük had converted to Christianity, Louis had sent a return delegation carrying with it a portable tent chapel made of scarlet cloth.

    [25] The scribe may be referring to the Mongol general Kitbuqa’s capture of Sidon and his later defeat by a Mamluk army at 'Ain Jalut.

    3: The Mongols and the Crusader King (1240s to 1260s CE) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.