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The Sixth Crusade (1228 to 1229)

Involving Cyprus and the Near East, the Sixth Crusade began in 1228 when the Crusaders aimed to regain control of Jerusalem. Seven years had passed after the failed Fifth Crusade. When compared to other Crusades, there was less fighting involved. In fact, many people didn’t even consider this event a true crusade. Thanks to the efforts of Louis IX and Frederick, the actions that took place during this time frame earned attention from historians.

Highlights of the Sixth Crusade

During the Sixth Crusade, the following events took place:

Frederick II was the Holy Roman Emperor at the time of the Sixth Crusade and participated heavily in the Fifth Crusade. He sent troops from Germany, but he didn’t directly accompany the army. Choosing to ignore the urgings of Honorius III and Gregory IX, Frederick instead promised to participate in a crusade following his coronation as emperor in 1220.

Finally, in 1227, Frederick took his army to sea to reach the capital of what then stood of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, an epidemic forced Frederick to go back to Italy. Because of this, Gregory, who was the new pope, believed this was the right time for him to excommunicate Frederick for not following through with his vow to participate in a crusade.

Although Frederick pleaded with the pope (in vain) not to excommunicate him, he was denied the request, but still set sail for the Holy Land. First, Frederick sailed to Cyprus. At the time, his intentions were to make his mark on the kingdom, but when he arrived, he was treated with nothing but kindness. However, a dispute between John of Ibelin and Frederick broke out. Frederick claimed that John was in power illegitimately, which was false. In the end, the relationship between the crusaders and the powerful Ibelins soured, and this ally was no longer a possibility.

Commander Spotlight: John of Ibelin

Known as the Old Lord of Beirut, John of Ibelin earned a reputation as a powerful crusader noble that lived during the 13th century. Out of all the influential members of the Ibelin family, he is one of the best known. Since he was the son of Balian of Ibelin and Maria Comnesa , the queen consort of Jerusalem, he enjoyed a close link with nobility associated with Cyprus and Jerusalem. Before the age of 20, John was appointed constable of Jerusalem and within only a few years, he became the lord of Beirut. During this position, he rebuilt the city after Saladin’s conquest. The grand Ibelin family palace was constructed at this time.

Another position that he served was as regent for two of his young relatives, including Queen Isabella’s daughter Maria of Montferrat (from 1205 to 1210). Starting in 1228 until Henry I of Cyprus came of age, John was known as regent. A man of many principles, John was born to be a natural leader of the Christian barons in the Holy Land. Standing his ground, he was strong enough to resist Frederick II in Cyprus and opposed the imperial forces until Henry was old enough to claim the responsibility.

In the End

Jerusalem was peacefully surrendered to Frederick II. However, this victory would lead to the spark that added fuel to the fiery tensions between the Holy Roman Empire and Crusader States. The territorial changes that took place after the Sixth Crusade ended with Jerusalem, Nazareth, Sidon, Jaffa, and Bethlehem being relinquished to the Crusaders. Temple Mount was still in the possession of the Muslims.