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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 8th, 1250 - The Battle of Mansura

Conflict: The Seventh Crusade

Combatants: French Crusaders v. Egyptian Moslems

Location: Egypt

Outcome: Moslem victory


In 1244, when word of the fall of Jerusalem to Moslems reached France, King Louis IX (later St. Louis) declared an new Crusade to free the city. An army of 40,000 men, mostly French, sailed for Cyprus in 1248. When the army left Cyprus and marched south it met stiff resistance along a canal north of the village of Mansura.


After two months of lingering, on February 8th of 1250, Louis ordered an assault on the Egyptian village. While he dispatched one arm of knights under his brother, Robert Artois, to left, Louis sent a second contingent of knights riding east to ford the canal and take the Moslems on their flank. Robert, however, zealously charged ahead without waiting for the second contingent of knights to arrive. The French cavalry charged boldly into the Moslem camp and drove them back into Mansura. But once in the village, Artois' knights became easy targets for Moslem archers on the rooftops. Robert Artois and nearly his entire squadron were destroyed.


With the enemy now fully alert, Louis struggled to seize and hold a bridgehead on the canal. By the time this was achieved, night had fallen and one third of Louis' knights were dead. The French Crusaders now no longer had the forces or willpower to advance into Mansura.


Battle of Mansura by an unknown artist

Saint Louis IX by El Greco

Points of Interest:

  • By April of 1250, the Egyptians had cut Louis' lines of communication and the Crusaders had to withdraw from the Mansura bridgehead.

  • Louis and his troops were unable to extract themselves from Egypt and surrendered. Louis paid a ransom of 800,000 gold pieces and returned the port city of Damietta to the Egyptians.

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Sources:


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.


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