The Last Crusader Stronghold of Acre Falls To The Mamluks

Today on May 18, 1291, the Siege of Acre finally comes to an end as the last Crusader stronghold falls to the Mamluks.

The Siege of Acre, also known as the Fall of Acre, was one of the most important battles of the entire crusader period. Two centuries earlier, Pope Urban II formally commissioned the First Crusade into the Holy Land. In total, nine crusades were launched to secure prominent religious cities across the Middle East, especially Jerusalem. In 1104, the Europeans conquered the vital port city of Acre for the first time. But it would end up changing hands many times throughout the crusader period. In 1187, Saladin easily recaptured Acre after annihilating the Christian army at the Battle of Hattin. However, it was again re-captured by King Guy of Jerusalem after receiving reinforcements from Richard the Lionheart.

Following another century of Crusader rule, they found themselves under siege yet again by Mamluks of Egypt. The situation in the Levant became dire for the Crusaders. The Kingdom of Jerusalem had all but completely fallen apart, and Acre now represented the last stronghold. The Knights Templar selected Acre as their new headquarters and luckily spent decades improving its defenses. The city was now heavily fortified by two lines of thick walls and twelve towers. However, they simply did not have enough soldiers to man the ramparts properly. The defenders issued several warnings to Europe seeking assistance but were mostly ignored. King Edward I of England was the only monarch to respond by sending a small group of knights.

On April 5, 1291, a massive army under the Mamluk Sultan, Al-Ashraf Khalil, began the Siege of Acre. The two forces clashed several times, and the Mamluks turned to bombarding the city’s fortifications. After a month, the towers started to cave in one-by-one. On the morning of May 18, Khalil ordered an all-out attack. His soldiers easily crashed through breaches in the walls. King Henry II and the remaining Crusader commanders hastily fled the city on the ships remaining at the port. The battle turned into chaotic fighting in the streets. Within days, all remaining pockets of resistance were defeated, and Acre was forever lost.

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