Fifth Crusade (1217 to 1221)

Time had come for the conquering of the mighty Ayyubid state in Egypt so that the Crusaders could reclaim the Holy Land, which included Jerusalem. In this article, you will learn about significant people and events regarding the Fifth Crusade.

The Fifth Crusade started out as Pope Innocent III and his successor Pope Honorius III organized another round of crusading armies. They appointed Leopold VI of Austria and Andrew II of Hungary to lead the conflict against Muslim forces. Later on, others would join the fighting, including a mixed army of Flemish, Dutch, and Frisian soldiers under the command of William I, Count of Holland. A lack of supplies would lead to the forced retreat of many Crusaders , just after they were successful in occupying the port of Damietta. The Fifth Crusade also saw a horrific attack led by Sultan Al-Kamil, which resulted in the loss of countless crusaders. In the end, the army would surrender and a peace agreement would be drawn up.

In the Beginning

Ever since 1208, Innocent III had already set the wheels in motion for another crusade. He wished to see the destruction of the Ayyubid Empire and to recapture Jerusalem. In 1213, the Pope issued the papal bull, which called for all Christians to join in the new crusade.

Commander Spotlight: John of Brienne

By marriage, French nobleman John of Brienne became John I (the King of Jerusalem), and was later asked if he’d like to become John I the Latin Emperor of Constantinople. During the Fifth Crusade, he was a well-known figure. Despite his warnings, Pelagius of Albano took command for himself and ignored John and insisted on advancing from Damietta. Pelagius refused favorable terms set by the sultan and when it was too late, the consequences had already been set into motion. After the failed Crusade, King John later traveled to the West to gain assistance for his kingdom.

Highlights of the Fifth Crusade

Other commanders that took part in the Fifth Crusade include Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor or King of the Romans, who ruled from 1220 until his death in 1250), Leopold VI, Pedro de Montaigu, and Hermann von Salza.

32,000 men fought on the side of the Crusaders during the fifth wave of conflict.

Oliver of Cologne attempted to get Germany and Hungary to join the Fifth Crusade by preaching the word. As a result, Emperor Frederick II attempted to join in 1215, which was of interest to the last monarch Innocent who wanted him to join. However, Innocent died in 1216 and after his succession, the new Pope (Honorius III) barred Frederick from participating. The new Pope gained the assistance of king Andrew II of Hungary, who had the largest royal army in the history of the crusades , offering up 20,000 knights and 12,000 castle-garrisons.

Robert of Courcon preached the message of the Fifth Crusade to France, but not many French knights agreed to join. This is because they were already engaged in battle for the Albigensian Crusade against the heretical Cathar sect located in southern France.

In the End

The Fifth Crusade was a key victory for the Muslims. After the Crusaders were forced to surrender to Sultan Al-Kamil, he agreed to an eight-year peace agreement between the Ayyubid Empire and European kingdoms. Damietta was given back to Al-Kamil and in return, captured crusaders were released. In the peace treaty, Al-Kamil also agreed to return a piece of the true cross. Later on, it was revealed that Al-Kamil did not possess this artifact.