The Eighth Crusade (1270)

Before returning home after the Seventh Crusade, Louis established a standing French garrison at Acre, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. While many considered Louis a saint, his crusade was ultimately a failure. He enjoyed increasing fame, which placed him in better favor than the Holy Roman Emperor when he came home. In 1270, he attempted another crusade, but this too, was not a success.

Overall, the Seventh Crusade ended in a significant victory for the Muslim. About 50,000 gold pieces equal to the entire annual revenue of France was paid to get King Louis and thousands of his troops back after they were captured and defeated by the Egyptian army led by the Ayyubid Sultan Turanshah.

The Eighth Crusade (1270)

When it comes to the Eighth Crusade, there is usually controversy surrounded its legitimacy and whether or not it was simply part of the Seventh. In 1270, the King of France, Louis IX launched this crusade , still reeling from the failure of his last attempt. He had grown increasingly concerned with the events taking place in Syria, where the Mamluk sultan Baibars had made it a habit to attack what was left of the Crusader states.

A war that broke out between Venice and Genoa (which lasted from 1256 to 1260) provided Baibars with the opportunity to capture cities left vulnerable by the fighting. By the time 1265 had arrived, Baibars had claimed Haifa, Toron, Nazareth, and Arsuf. The nominal king of Jerusalem (Hugh III of Cyprus) reached Acre to defend the city, while Baibars marched towards Armenia, which was under Mongol control at the time.

Louis called for a new crusade in 1267, but he did not receive an overwhelming response. He even got the cold shoulder from Jean de Joinville, the chronicler who accompanied Louis on the Seventh Crusade. At the suggestion of his brother, Charles of Anjou, he agreed to first attack Tunis, which would provide him with a strong base for when he was ready to attack Egypt.
The King of Sicily, Charles, was also interested in lands of the Mediterranean and agreed to help.

Louis reached the coast of Africa in 1270. It was July and he had chosen a rather unpleasant time of the year to make his arrival. The majority of his army got sick because the drinking water was not of good quality. Even his son John Sorrow died in the beginning of August. Three weeks later, Louis was taken by ‘flux of the stomach’ and died one day after Charles arrived. Charles proclaimed Louis’ son Philip III the new king, but the boy was too young to rule, so Charles was deemed the leader of the crusade.

Disease played an important role in the Eighth Crusade, which forced the crusaders to end their siege of Tunis. The army retreated by the end of October and an agreement was signed with the sultan, where the Christians gained free trade with Tunis. A place to live was guaranteed for the monks and priests in the city. This allowed them to view the crusade as a partial success.