The Fifth Crusade - Toward Egypt

1218-1222. This crusade is not included in many histories where only seven is mentioned. It was an attempt at the conquest of Egypt, based on the sound theory that this was the center of Moslem strength. The fortress of Damietta on the Nile captured in 1219, surrendered in 1222. The Jerusalem vestiges of the "True Cross" was a sort of consolation concession on the part of the victor, the fragments of which were supposed to be in Rome. It was supposed that the marvelous wood possessed a secret power of vegetation, and that its substance, though continually diminished, still remained entire and unimpaired.

The fifth crusade was conducted by the king of Hungary. Two hundred thousand Franks landed at the eastern mouth of the Nile. Having obtained some important successes, their cause was ruined by the arrogance and presumption of the papal legate Cardinal Pelagius, who assumed direction of the army.

St. Francis of Assisi came to Egypt to try to convert the Egyptian sultan to Christianity. Francis was unsuccessful in his efforts, but the sultan was sufficiently shaken by the progress of the Crusaders to offer the return of Jerusalem in exchange for Damietta. This was a bargain which the papal legate disdainfully and unwisely refused, in the belief that the emperor Frederick was on the way with reinforcements and would rather wait than deal with the Sultan. Again western stupidity would triumph over reason.. They purchased some trivial concessions, by evacuating all their conquests. Help did not arrive and the Franks found themselves surrounded, evacuated Dalmietta, sailed for Palestine and home.
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