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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 304



Duke of Austria remained with a company of German crusaders, and the next year, when a reinforcement arrived, King Jean de Brienne with the Templars and Hospitallers, decided to transfer the seat of war to the dominions of Melech Camel, the youngest son of Saphadin and Elsie-bede. Damietta was considered the key of-Egypt, and thither the crusaders sailed in the month of May, A.D. 1216. A gallant band, selected from every nation in the army, led the assault against the citadel on St. Bartholomew's day. The garrison defended themselves with valor, but finally capitulated, and the rest of the city was looked upon as an easy conquest. It was at this time that the Counts La Marche and Sev-ers arrived at the bead of the French division of the cru-sade, but notwithstanding this new importation of knightly valor, the siege of Damietta went on but slowly. The legate of the pope advanced a claim to the office of com-mander-in-chief in right of his spiritual superiority ; the Syrian Christians rallied around their King Jean de Bri-enne, and the French would yield obedience to none but their native leaders. Thus the captured castle of Damietta became a very Babel, from the confusion of tongues. Sev-enteen months were passed in furious attacks and idle skirmishes. The Saracens fought many well-contested bat-tles with the Christians in their camp, but the issue of most of these conflicts was disastrous to the Moslems. While the valiant Melech Camel was thus engaged in the gallant defence of his dominions, the death of Saif-Ed-din deprived him of the counsels and assistance of the most successful chieftain that ever ruled the East. When the news of the sad event reached Egypt, the sub-jects of the Sultan withdrew from their allegiance and joined the standard of a young Emir who attempted to make the sufferings of his country the means of his own aggrandizement. Melech Camel, obliged to escape for safety, fled over to Arabia, and thence directed his course toward Syria. Passing through El-akof, or territory of the winding sands, he came to the valley of Kadesh, where he 318 HEROINES OF THE CRUSADES.


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