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Ruad was the bridgehead of the Franks for an attempt at a coordinated offensive with the Mongols.
1300-1301 operations from Ruad and Mongol offensives under Ghazan's general Kutluka.

The Siege of Arwad or Siege of Ruad took place around 1302[1] on the island of Arwad on the Syrian coast. When the garrison fell, it marked the fall of the last Crusader outpost on the coast of the Levant. The island had been used as a staging area by the Crusader forces from the island of Cyprus, in an attempt to retake the city of Tortosa. The Knights Templar had set up a permanent garrison on the island in 1300, but the Egyptian Mamluks besieged the island, and starved them out. When the Templars attempted to surrender, the Mamluks reneged on their agreement, killing most of the garrison's staff, and taking dozens of the knights prisoner and sending them to Cairo, where they eventually died due to ill-treatment. After the fall of Ruad, the Crusaders were never able to regain any foothold on the mainland.

Contents

Background

The Crusaders had been steadily pushed back by the Muslims for the previous 200 years. When Jerusalem was lost, the Crusaders moved their headquarters to the coastal city of Acre, which they held for a hundred years, until the Fall of Acre in 1291. They then moved their headquarters north to Tortosa, but lost that too in the same year, forcing them to relocate their headquarters offshore to the island of Cyprus. The Cypriots, including King Henry and members of the three military orders (Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller and Teutonic Knights), attempted to retake Tortosa in 1300. They ferried troops to the tiny island of Ruad, just off the coast from Tortosa, in preparation for a seaborne assault on the city, in concert with a land-based attack by the Mongols.[2] However, the Mongols did not show up as planned, and the bulk of the Crusader forces returned to Cyprus, having accomplished little except some ineffectual raids. When the Mongols arrived a few months later, they too could do little but launch some raids before withdrawing.

Siege

The Knights Templar attempted to create a permanent base on Ruad, and were even granted ownership of the island by the Pope. Their base included 120 Templar knights, 500 bowmen and 400 men and women serving the garrison, all under the command of Barthélemy de Quincy, Marshal of the Order of the Knights Templar.

In 1302, the Mamluks sent a fleet of 16 ships from Egypt, to Tripoli, from which they besieged the island.[3] They disembarked in two points and set up their own encampment. The Templars fought the invaders, but were eventually starved out. Brother Hugh of Dampierre negotiated a surrender to the Mamluks on September 26, under the condition that they could safely escape to a Christian land of their choice. However when the Templars began to emerge, the Mamluks did not respect the agreement, and combat ensued. Barthélemy de Quincy was killed in the conflict, all the bowmen and Syrian Christians were executed, and dozens of the surviving Templar knights were taken as prisoners to Cairo, where they died of starvation after years of ill-treatment.[4]

The Cypriots had been assembling a fleet to rescue Ruad, which set out from Famagusta, but did not arrive in time.[3]

Aftermath

Ruad was the last Christian settlement in the Holy Land. The Mongols did return in 1303 in great strength, with 80,000 troops in combination with the Armenians, but were unable to make headway. The Franks from Cyprus did continue to engage in some naval attacks along the Syrian coast, destroying Damour, south of Beyrout.[5] However the Mongol forces, led by Ghazan's generals Mulay and Kutlushah, along with their Armenian vassals, were defeated at the Battle of Homs on March 30 1303, and at the decisive Battle of Shaqhab, south of Damas, on April 21 1303.[6] It is considered to be the last major Mongol invasion of Syria.[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Jackson, p. 171
  2. ^ "From 1299, Jacques de Molay and his Order fully committed, with the other Christian forces of Cyprus and Armenia, to a reconquest of the Holy Land in liaison with the offensives of Ghazan, the Mongol khan of Persia; the occupation of Ruad for two years, on the Syrian coast near Tortosa, must be understood in this perspective, and would even add, in this perspective only." Alain Demurger, p.139
  3. ^ a b Barber, The New Knighthood, p. 294
  4. ^ "Nearly 40 of these men were still in prison in Cairo years later where, according to a former fellow prisoner, the Genoese Matthew Zaccaria, they died of starvation, having refused an offer of 'many riches and goods' in return for apostatising" The Trial of the Templars, Malcolm Barber, p.22
  5. ^ Demurger, "Jacques de Molay", p.158
  6. ^ Demurger, p. 158
  7. ^ Nicolle, p. 80

References

  • Demurger, Alain, 2007, "Jacques de Molay", Payot
  • Barber, Malcolm, The Trial of the Templars
  • Barber, Malcolm, The New Knighthood
  • Jackson, Peter, Mongols and the West

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