Category Archives: Crusades

Game of Mamluk Thrones, 1290-1330

The Mamluks governed based on competence, in a time when governance was always based on inheritance. They didn’t come up with a framework for peaceful transfers of power or group selection of the leader. Instead, they functioned like a monarchy … Continue reading

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The Last of the Templars, 1307

By the end of the 13th century, the Order of Knights of the Temple had received so much property as charitable gifts that they were wealthier than many kings. A large number of their members were involved not in protecting … Continue reading

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The Eighth and Ninth Crusades, 1270-2

The Mamluk Sultan Baybars had a field day in the Holy Land during the 1260s. War between Venice and Genoa had drawn the remaining Crusader towns into war with each other, exhausting the region one more time. Mamluk forces, which … Continue reading

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The Reconquista in Spain, 1236-1265

The Reconquista moved into final stages when King Ferdinand III of Castile and Toledo inherited the kingdoms of Leon and Galicia, in 1230. He was the wealthiest, most powerful Spanish king yet: he married first a princess from the Hohenstaufen … Continue reading

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Hulegu Khan and Goliath’s Well, 1260

Möngke Khan died in 1259. The Mongolian procedure for selecting a new Great Khan was not an automatic succession by Möngke’s son, but a massive family gathering called a kurultai. The kurultai was usually organized with an obvious purpose by one … Continue reading

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The Mamluk Revolution, 1250

Under the last real Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih, the Mamluk corps was built up to unprecedented size and strength. They were a neat solution to a political problem because as slaves, they did what they were told, but as people with … Continue reading

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The Saint and the Seventh Crusade, 1248-50

Of course, the Pope called a new crusade. But Europe was in bad shape for a Crusade. In the Sixth Crusade, the King of Hungary had led, but now Hungary was in ruins. Europe’s bad boy Frederick was not only … Continue reading

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Sack of Jerusalem, 1244

When the Mongols invaded the land of Khwarezmia, south of the Aral Sea, they sent a wave of ferocious refugees who had been the toughest kids on the block until the Mongols showed them up. Bands of Khwarezmian fighters went … Continue reading

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The Battle on the Ice: 1242

The Mongols had not touched the city-state of Novgorod, as it was just out of range to north and west. In this period, the region is known as the Novgorod Republic. Novgorod was ruled by a Prince who was appointed or … Continue reading

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The Barons’ Crusade, 1239-1241

Historians who later numbered the Crusades did something very odd at this point. Emperor Frederick II’s peaceful negotiation for a ten-year control of Jerusalem was the Sixth Crusade, but when that time ran out and a new army came to … Continue reading

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