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The Fifth Crusade (The Crusades)

The Fifth Crusade was the attempt to recover the Holy Land by first conquering the powerful Ayyubid state in Egypt. After the disaster of the Fourth Crusade, where not only did the crusaders not reach the Holy Land, but also attacked their fellow Christians, Egypt was as united as ever. They now had Jerusalem and most of the land that was previously held by the Christians.

In 1213, Pope Innocent III called a new crusade. However, most of the Christian leaders were busy fighting each other and his request fell in deaf ears: The Christians didn't want another defeat (following the Second, Third and Fourth Crusades' failure). He found another way to launch a crusade, by appealing to the regular Christian citizens who were idle. In turn, he offered indulgence for every Christian who joined the Fifth Crusade or indirectly helped the cause, by paying for example.

The Crusaders left for Acre in 1217 and joined John of Brienne, ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and Prince Bohemund IV of the Kingdom of Antioch to fight against the Ayyubids state of Egypt.

After some success in the Holy Lands, a large army from Germany and Holland prepared to reach the Holy Land and help re-capture Jerusalem. Oliver of Cologne and the count of Holland, William I, arrived to conquer Egypt. They allied with the Seljuk Sultan of Rum, who would help them attack the Egyptians from the north.

In June, 1218, the crusaders attacked Damietta, an important Egyptian settlement. The Sultan Al-Adil was unprepared, but the city resisted the crusaders. It took the crusaders several months and thousands of lives to enter Damietta, but once they did they looted it for several days finding enough loot to inspire them to attack Cairo next, their only obstacle to a powerless Egypt and an open road to Jerusalem.

Al-Adil was awaiting the crusaders just a few mile away from Damietta where he planned to resist them. The crusaders, who had an enormous army, received news of the sultan's location and proceeded the attack. The Egyptians, seeing the size of the Christian army, fled closer to Cairo and next to the Nile river. The crusaders were now pursuing the Egyptians and didn't carry enough provisions. Their careless leaders forgot to take the Nile flood into account. Almost upon reaching Cairo, the crusaders, who were marching next to the Nile, were trapped behind a canal that was now flooded. The Christians sounded the retreat and the tired and hungry Christians marched home as the Egyptians attacked. Only brave soldiers prevented the Christian army from being completely annihilated. The sultan captured the army and demanded to have Damietta back, the garrison agreed and so ended the Fifth Crusade.

The Fifth Crusade was the last crusade organized by the church where different nations fought jointly to recover the Holy Land. The
Sixth Crusade was the next attempt to fight the Muslims.

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