Fifth Crusade 1217 – 1221 – Assault on Damietta

The 5th Crusade started in 1217 and lasted until 1221.

The Third Crusade and the fourth Crusade had been a disaster and it was hoped that the fifth Crusade would be more successful.

The same Pope Innocent lll who had ordered the fourth Crusade started the fifth Crusade as well, however he was well aware of the mistakes made during the fourth Crusade and was determined that this would not happen again.

To achieve his aim Pope Innocent lll was insistent that the 5th Crusade would be controlled by the church and not by kings, so that the church would have full control over the 5th Crusade.

Pope Innocent and the Fifth Crusade in 1213

As in previous Crusades the goal of the 5th Crusade was to return the Holy lands and the city of Jerusalem to Christian rule.

However there was little enthusiasm for the fifth Crusade because of the disastrous 2nd, 3rd and 4th Crusades, Christian people had enough of crusades and did not want to take part in any future Crusades.

The Pope decided to offer rewards to Christian people who would take part in the fifth Crusade.

The Pope also asked people who are unable to make the journey to fast and pray for a positive outcome for the fifth Crusade.

Unfortunately for Pope Innocent III, he died before his plans could be accomplished and the fifth crusade mission was taken up by the new Pope ‘Honorius’ who had replaced him.

Fifth Crusade Damiate Capture

The Fifth Crusade Capturing Damiate During the 5th Crusade

The 5th Crusade Plan

The Fifth Crusade was yet another attempt to recapture the Holy land, the plan was to attack the Ayyubid state in Egypt first and to try and divide the Egyptian people.

The Fourth Crusade had been a disaster and due to a severe breakdown in discipline in which the European crusaders attacked their fellow Byzantine Christians, this served to divide the Christians and strengthen the ties between the Egyptian people that had been previously fragmented, now Egypt was as united as ever.

The Egyptians now controlled Jerusalem and had captured much of the land that Christians in previous crusades had fought for and won.

The Fight against the Ayyubids

The armies of the 5th Crusade set of for Acre in 1217, at this time John of Brienne was the ruler of Jerusalem Kingdom and Prince Bohemund IV ruled the kingdom of Antioch.

The crusaders would join forces with their armies in the fight against the Ayyubids state of Egypt.

The Crusaders were making good progress when they were joined by the armies from Germany and Holland, this strengthened their resolve to conquer the Holy Lands and retake Jerusalem.

Oliver of Cologne, the count of Holland and William I were united in their attempt to conquer Egypt.

They also had another ace up their sleeve when the persuaded allied Seljuk Sultan of Rum to join them, he would be give them more attacking options and would work his way from the North to fight the Egyptians.

Assault on Damietta

In the summer of 1218, during The Fifth Crusades, the crusaders launched their assault on Damietta, which was a strategically important Egyptian settlement.

The crusaders caught the Sultan Al-Adil by surprise, however the city survived and the invading crusaders were repelled.

The crusaders of the The Fifth Crusade were determined and resolute and continued to attack for several months and there were thousands of lives lost before the battle for Damietta was finally to come to it’s conclusion.

The Crusaders found a wealth of treasure, gold, silver, jewels etc. and this inspired them to continue their march towards Cairo, this would be the last thing in their way and they could then march onto Cairo, then nothing would stand between them and Jerusalem.

Fifth Crusades Knights

Fearless Knights of the Fifth Crusades

Trapped by the Flooded Nile

Al-Adil planned to resist the crusaders of The Fifth Crusade a few miles outside of Damietta

The crusaders had received word of the Sultans location, However there was to be no resistance from the Egyptians who were shocked by the size of the Christian army as it marched towards them, many fled in fear for their lives towards Cairo and the famous Nile river.

The crusaders of the Fifth Crusade quickly followed the Egyptian forces but did not anticipate that the Nile which had become flooded would halt their progress and trap them.

The Christian armies retreat

The Christian armies of The Fifth Crusade with little back up provisions including food became demoralized and started to retreat as they had nowhere to go.

As the Christian armies retreated they were attacked and they lost a lot of men, however they caused the Egyptian soldiers many problems even though they were on the run.

The Crusaders would eventually agree to return Damietta to the Sultan after they were finally captured, and this brought an end to the fifth Crusade.

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