By Mark Kodama
Madam Eglantyne, the Believer
The Knights of Acre
He was not afraid to die for Christ. At long last, crashed rather than conquered by spears, stones and lances, he sank to the ground and joyfully passed to heaven with the martyr’s crown, triumphant. It was indeed a gentle death with no place for sorrow, when one man’s sword had constructed such a great crown for himself from the crowd laid all around him. Death is sweet when the victor lies encircled by the impious people he has slain with his victorious right hand.
The Tale of Jakelin de Mailly
There was a Knight, a most distinguished man,
Who from the day on which he first began
To Ride abroad had followed chivalry,
Truth, honor, generousness and courtesy,
He had done nobly in his sovereign’s war
And ridden into battle, no man more,
As well in Christian as in heathen places,
And ever honored for his noble graces.
- Call to Arms
Good Christian Knights and believers
Heed the call of Urban,
And the Byzantine emperor,
To free the Holy Land,
Of the Saracens and their men
Crusaders freed Jerusalem.
For two hundred years Christ’s rule reigned,
In the Holy City.
Military orders sustained
And made the Near East free.
For Christian peoples’ salvation.
From Islamic domination,
Many Mohamed Muslim men,
Took Christian citidels,
Including good Jerusalem.
The port Tripoli fell.
Only holy Acre stood tall,
Protected by crenellated walls.
The Templars and Hospitallers,
Answered calls to arms,
Their grand masters and commanders
Gathered without fear of harm.
The Germanic Teutonic knights
Were ready for the fight.
The lepers of Saint Lazarus,
Brought all their fighting men.
The knights of Saint John courageous
Were few but stalwart men.
The English and French had their regiments
At hand to man the battlements.
Pope Nicholas called for a crusade
Ten Thousand mercenaries,
Did as good Pope Nicholas bade.
They sailed from Italy,
Gathered with their Christian brethren
At Acre in the holy land.
These Italian mercenaries,
Found themselves without pay,
So upon Muslim adversaries
They did savage and slay.
They killed Saracen merchants dead.
Upon stolen riches they fed.
Knights of military orders
Arrested those in charge.
Restored the rampant disorder.
Arrested offenders at large.
Muslims left Acre in a flood.
Asked the Sultan to avenge the blood.
William de Beaujeu, grand master
Of the Templars quickly sent,
His men to avert disaster.
To Cairo the men went.
To negotiate a peaceful resolution,
And avoid bloody retribution.
The Mameluke Sultan Qalawun,
Led the Muslim forces,
Infantry as vast as the sun,
Skilled warriors on horses.
He demanded one gold coin per head.
And those responsible for the dead.
When William advocated those terms,
The knight was shouted down,
Called a coward and roundly spurned,
Those citizens soon found,
Not only was good William wise,
His heart was greater than theirs many times.
The Sultan Qalawun gathered
An army great in Cairo,
Then set out into the desert.
The sultan fell sick though.
Before he died and passed away,
He made his first son Khalil pray.
Khalil vowed to bring Acre’s fall.
Before his father’s last breath.
To bring down the city’s walls.
To avenge his subjects’ deaths.
To drive the Franks into the sea.
To make Mohamed’s land free.
William sent an embassy to treat for terms,
Khalil threw them in prison,
Their corpses to be food for worms.
The time for peace had run.
Khalil said to prepare for war.
The Franks would soon hear the lion’s roar.
- The Siege
The Sultan summoned his emirs,
Of Damascus and Hama,
To assemble their best soldiers
And meet him at Acre.
The emirs gathered their forces
Artillery, foot and horses.
The Sultan Khalil’s armed forces
Two Hundred Thousand strong,
Sixty thousand mounted on horses
In serpentine columns long.
One hundred forty thousand foot
In suicide squads hard put.
One hundred wooden siege engines
Were built and hauled in train,
Towers covered in animal skin,
Through the mountain terrain.
Mangonels and battering rams,
Were brought from distant lands.
The Crusader soldiers waited,
Outnumbered ten to one.
The Christians seemed to be fated
To total oblivion.
The Christian soldiers manned the walls
And bravely answered the Lord’s call.
King Henry II of Cypus,
Lord Almaric, his brother,
Nominally led the defense
Of Acre Outremer.
King Henry was the titular
Crusader state ruler.
Pragmatic William de Beaujeu
Commanded the Templars.
His marshall was Peter de Severy
A moral man if ever.
The two prepared for a last stand
In the last stronghold of the land.
Jean de Villiers, the Grand Master
And Mathew de Claremont
Led the brave knight hospitallers,
Men difficult to surmount.
Othon de Grandson led the English knights,
Jean de Grailly led the French in the fight.
Saracen soldiers did surround
The city’s double walls.
Their giant mangonels did pound
With hundred weight stone balls.
The largest mangonel was the Furious.
The second was named Victorious.
The knights launched their boats upon sea,
And attacked the Saracens,
Camped upon the beach.
Shot arrows at the men
And stones with their catapult,
With devastating result.
A storm dispersed the Frankish fleet.
Destroyed their mangonel,
Forced their ships to retreat,
Many good men did the storm kill.
Their bodies washed upon the shore.
Their bones sank to the ocean floor.
William de Beaujeu led his knights
Against the Muslim flank.
They were repulsed in furious fight.
Many died of note and rank.
The Saracens gathered the dead
They tied to horses their severed heads.
Hospitaller Jean de Villier,
Commanded a night raid,
By dawn of the new day,
A heavy price they paid.
The knights retreated within the walls,
Many brave knights did fall.
King Henry II of Cyprus,
Brought one thousand new men
To shore up flagging defenses
Against the Saracens.
The King was welcomed with a cheer
From the defenders waiting on the peer.
The King sent his ambassadors,
To see the great Sultan.
Khalil demanded surrender.
The crusaders leave the holy land.
The Defenders answer with stone shot.
Khalil threatened to kill the lot.
III. The Fall
Great kettle drums on Camel’s backs,
Loud cymbals and trumpets,
Signaled the Saracen attack
To Crusaders on the parapet.
The besiegers and defenders,
Invoked God’s aid against the other.
Catapults shot into air
Napalm in ceramic pots.
The walls did break and tear,
The barbican flaming hot.
Many brave crusaders remains
Were found charred by flaming rain.
They broke through Saint Anthony’s Gate.
But they were driven back
Many Muslims met their final fate,
From the Hospitaller counterattack.
Michel de Clarmont killed many
A Saracen adversary.
Women and children left by boat,
Rich families left too.
For victory seemed remote.
Many men bade adieu
To their wives and children,
And to the life that might have been.
The besiegers shot burning arrows,
That lit the night afire.
And turned the Accursed Tower
Into a flaming funeral pyre.
Sappers dug underground
And there by brought the tower down.
Suicide teams entered into the breach,
Overwhelmed the defenders,
And killed all within reach
Greek fire turned men into cinders.
The Muslims thereby entered the city.
And pushed defenders to the sea.
William de Beaujeu, the Templar
and Jean de Villier,
Grand master of the Hospitallers
Brave Peter de Severy,
And Marshall Michel de Claremont,
Called those retreating to account.
These brave knights tried to recapture
The Accursed Tower
De Villier and de Claremont
Called to fleeing soldiers.
“Fools, you are not hurt. Shame on you.
By Faith of Christ, to battle with you.”
The other towers began to fall.
The besiegers opened the gates,
Saracen soldier scaled the walls,
Into the city they did penetrate.
William de Beaujeu was hit by a dart.
Dying he was carried away by cart.
Brave Italian mercenaries,
Called to Beaujeu to stay.
“Do not leave our city,
Or our defense will fall away.”
“Can’t you see,” Beaujeu said.
“That I am already dead.”
Jean de Villier, the hospitaller,
Wounded in the back,
Was taken against his orders,
To a ship, his back black,
With dried blood. The peers
Were filled with those trying to flee.
Brave Michel de Claremont
Led his knights to the square.
For their final account.
They died brave and fair.
And were killed to a man,
Martyrs to the Holy Land.
Sir Jean de Grailly and the French
The King and Othon de Grandson,
Piled enemy bodies in a trench.
But the fight couldn’t be won.
Though they and their men fought bravely,
They retreated and put to sea.
The lepers of Saint Lazarus,
All perished in the fight.
A model of self sacrifice,
So too died the Teutonic knights.
All fled to the Templar fortress.
While refugees sailed to Cyprus.
Towns people attempted to flee,
Tried to board ships at the quay.
Boats sank into the sea,
Greatly overcrowded were they.
Saracens slaughtered those as they waited.
They’re ascension to heaven was fated.
Women and children left behind
Were taken in by the Templars,
The best hope of mankind.
Walls studded with four towers,
Protected their walled headquarters,
Complete with living quarters.
The Templars loaded in their galleys,
Their relics and treasures,
Women, children and then put to sea,
Their true Christian measure.
Badly wounded Templar knights.
All the same stayed for the final fight.
As the ships hoisted their sails.
Remaining Templars cheered
To the last man without fail,
Though their fate sealed.
And these knights were left bereft
Facing almost certain death
Khalil demanded surrender.
Peter de Severy,
The Templar Marshal commander,
Though Khalil agreed to terms,
His treachery the Templars would learn.
When Peter let the Saracens,
Into their castle walls,
They molested women, children,
Sparing none at all.
The angry Templars shut their doors.
And slaughtered their foes on the floor.
Khalil requested a parlay,
Peter and a few friends,
Left to hear what they had to say.
Peter, his men met their end.
The sultan had the leaders seized
Cut off their head while on their knees,
The Saracens then stormed the fort
Sappers dug beneath their walls,
Undermining the walls support,
The attackers penetrated the hall,
Precipitated the castle’s fall
On attackers and defenders all.
Thus, their religious devotion,
Led to their mutual destruction.
Friend and foe buried together
In the Templar fort by the harbor.
All devoted martyrs for God,
Sacrifices for their Jihad.