The Fall of Tripoli was the capture and destruction of the Crusader
County of Tripoli
County of Tripoli (in what is modern-day Lebanon), by the
Muslim Mamluks. The battle occurred in 1289 and was an important event
in the Crusades, as it marked the capture of one of the few remaining
major possessions of the Crusaders. The event is represented in a rare
surviving illustration from a now fragmentary manuscript known as the
'Cocharelli Codex', thought to have been created in Genoa in the
1330s. The image shows the countess dowager
Sibylla of Armenia and
Barthélémy Mansel, Bishop of Tortosa (granted the apostolic seat in
1278) sitting in state in the centre of the fortified city, and
Qalawun's assault in 1289, with his army depicted massacring the
inhabitants fleeing to boats in the harbour and to the nearby island
of St Thomas.
Crusader battles in the
Period post First Crusade
Jaffa and Tyre
Period post Second Crusade
Period post Sixth Crusade
End of the
Crusader states in the Levant
Krak des Chevaliers
2 The siege
The County of Tripoli, though founded as a Crusader State and
predominantly Christian, had been a vassal state of the Mongol Empire
since around 1260, when Bohemond VI, under the influence of his
father-in-law Hethum I, King of Armenia, preemptively submitted to the
rapidly advancing Mongols. Tripoli had provided troops to the Mongols
for the 1258 sack of Baghdad, as well as for the 1260 Mongol invasions
of Syria, which caused even further friction with the Muslim world.
After the destruction of Baghdad and the capture of Damascus, which
were the centers of the
Ayyubid caliphates, by the Khan
Hulegu, Islamic power had shifted to the Egyptian Mamluks based in
Cairo. Around the same time, the Mongols were slowed in their westward
expansion by internal conflicts in their thinly spread Empire. The
Mamluks took advantage of this to advance northwards from Egypt, and
re-establish dominion over Palestine and Syria, pushing the Ilkhans
back into Persia. The Mamluks attempted to take Tripoli in the 1271
siege, but were instead frustrated in their goal by the arrival of
Prince Edward in Acre that month. They were persuaded to agree to a
truce with both Tripoli and Prince Edward, although his forces had
been too small to be truly effective.
The Mongols, for their part, had not proven to be staunch defenders of
their vassal, the Christian state of Tripoli. Abaqa Khan, the ruler of
the Ilkhanate, who had been sent envoys to Europe in an attempt to
Franco-Mongol alliance against the Muslims, had died in 1282.
He was succeeded by Tekuder, a convert to Islam. Under Tekuder's
Ilkhanate was not inclined to defend vassal Christian
territories against Muslim encroachment. This enabled the Mamluks to
continue their attacks against the remaining coastal cities which were
still under Crusader control.
Tekuder was assassinated in 1284 and replaced by Abaqa's son Arghun,
who was more sympathetic to Christianity. He continued his father's
communications with Europe towards the possibility of forming an
alliance, but still did not show much interest in protecting Tripoli.
However, the Mamluks continued to expand their control, conquering
Margat in 1285, and
Lattakiah in 1287.
Qalawun still had an official truce with Tripoli,
but the Christians afforded him an opportunity to break it. The
Christian powers had been pursuing an unwise course. Rather than
maintaining a united front against the Muslims, they had fallen into
bickering among themselves. After Bohemond VII's premature death in
from 1287, his sister Lucia of Tripoli, living in Apulia with her
husband Narjot de Toucy (died 1293), rightfully should have succeeded
him. Two other sisters, Isabelle (who died young) and Marie (m.
Nicholas II of Saint Omer), had predeceased him. His mother Sibylla
of Armenia however, attempted to reappoint the Bishop of Tortosa
Barthélémy Mansel to rule on her behalf. According to the 'Templar
of Tyre', the knights "learned that she was going to summon the bishop
of Tortosa, with whom they had conflict and contention and great
disagreement. ...They resolved not to tolerate this, and they went to
the princess...and told her that the bishop was their enemy, and that
they would not have him to rule over them at this time." Sibylla
ultimately was unsuccessful because Lucia arrived to claim leadership.
After Bohemond VII's death in 1287, his mother the dowager countess
Sibylla of Armenia attempted to appoint the Bishop of Tortosa
Barthélémy Mansel to ruler on her behalf.
The knights and barons united in 1288 to countermand the Bohemond
family's dynastic claims and replace it with a republican style
commune under the leadership of Bartolomeo Embriaco of Giblet, Lord of
Besmedin in Jubail. They petitioned Genoa for support. The Genoese
consuls agreed, on the condition that they receive larger quarters in
the old part of Tripoli and increased residency privileges. Benedetto
Zaccaria (c.1235-1307), an adroit Genoese merchant magnate was
seconded to Tripoli to negotiate terms. Benedetto had no scruples
about brokering secret and conflicting compacts. He persuaded Lucia to
extend Genoa's concessions, on the threat, according to the Templar of
Tyre, of bringing out fifty galleys from Genoa and assuming control
himself. Bartolomeo also secretly negotiated with Lucia, agreeing
to recognise her title provided she accept the authority of the
commune and not grant the Genoese any additional concessions. When the
arrangements between Lucia and Benedetto became public, concern was
voiced about the unfair advantage of Genoese maritime trading
operations in the region. The 'Templar of Tyre' reports that "two
people went down to Alexandria" to apprise the sultan that the
Genoese, if left unchecked, would potentially dominate the
obstruct or eliminate
Mamluk trade: "the Genoese will pour into
Tripoli from all sides; and if they hold Tripoli, they will rule the
waves, and it will happen that those who will come to
be at their mercy ... This thing bodes very ill for the merchants who
operate in your kingdom". The communication produced an immediate
effect. With an excuse to break his truce with Tripoli, Qalawun
embarked on military preparations to attack Tripoli.
Qalawun started the siege of Tripoli in March 1289, arriving with a
sizable army and large catapults. In response, Tripoli's Commune and
nobles gave supreme authority to Lucia. In the harbor at the time,
there were four Genoese galleys, two Venetian galleys, and a few small
boats, some of them Pisan. Reinforcements were sent to Tripoli by the
Knights Templar, who sent a force under Geoffrey of Vendac, and the
Hospitallers sent a force under Matthew of Clermont. A French regiment
was sent from Acre under John of Grailly. King
Henry II of Cyprus
Henry II of Cyprus sent
his young brother Amalric with a company of knights and four galleys.
Many non-combatants fled to Cyprus.
The Mamluks fired their catapults, two towers soon crumbled under the
bombardments, and the defenders hastily prepared to flee. The Mamluks
overran the crumbling walls, and captured the city on April 26,
marking the end of an uninterrupted Christian rule of 180 years, the
longest of any of the major Frankish conquests in the Levant.
Lucia managed to flee to Cyprus, with two Marshals of the Orders and
Almaric of Cyprus. The commander of the Temple Peter of Moncada was
killed, as well as Bartholomew Embriaco. The population of the
city was massacred, although many managed to escape by ship. Those who
had taken refuge on the nearby island of Saint-Thomas were captured by
the Mamluks on April 29. Women and children were taken as slaves, and
1200 prisoners were sent to
Alexandria to work in the Sultan's new
In the area of Tripoli, only the fief of
Gibelet (modern Byblos)
remained free from
Mamluk conquest, for about 10 more years.
Tripoli was razed to the ground, and
Qalawun ordered a new Tripoli to
be built on another spot, a few miles inland at the foot of Mount
Pilgrim. Soon other nearby cities were also captured, such as Nephin
and Le Boutron. Peter of
Gibelet kept his lands around
Byblos) for about 10 more years, in exchange for the payment of a
tribute to the Sultan.
Two years later Acre, the last major Crusader outpost in the Holy Land
was also captured in the Siege of Acre in 1291. It was considered by
many historians to mark the end of the Crusades, though there were
still a few other territories being held to the north, in Tortosa and
Atlit. However the last of those, the small Templar garrison on the
island of Ruad was captured in 1302 or 1303 in a siege. With the Fall
of Ruad, the last bit of Crusader-held land in the
Levant was lost.
^ K. Eubel, ed. Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I Monasterii,
sumptibus et typis librariae Regensbergianae,  1913, 92. On
Mansel genealogy see W. H Rudt de Collenberg, "A Fragmentary Copy of
an Unknown Recension of the 'Lignages d'Outre-Mer' in the Vatican
Library", English Historical Review, 98/ 387 (1983), 320-5.
^ British Library Additional MS 27695 f. 5.
(accessed 14 April 2017); Faunce, The Cocharelli Codex, Chapter 8.
^ Grousset, p.727
^ Tyerman, p.817
^ Faunce, The Cocharelli Codex, Chapter 8.
'^ Cited in P. F. Crawford, The 'Templar of Tyre' Part II of the
'Deeds of the Cypriots,
Crusade Texts in Translation London: Ashgate,
2003, 467: 96. Also see Runciman, The Kingdom of Acre, 404-5.
^ Faunce, The Cocharelli Codex, Chapter 8.
^ On these dealings see the 'Templar of Tyre', 468-72, 96-8.
^ Runciman, p.405
^ 'Templar of Tyre', 473-4, 98-9.
^ Runciman, p.406
^ Tyerman, p.817: "Tripoli followed in 1289, after 180 years of
uninterrupted Christian rule, the longest of any of the major Frankish
^ Runciman, p.407
^ Jean Richard, p. 475
Crawford, P. F., The 'Templar of Tyre' Part II of the 'Deeds of the
Crusade Texts in Translation London: Ashgate, 2003.
Faunce, R., "The Cocharelli Codex. Illuminating Virtue: A
Fourteenth-century Father's Counsel to his Son", PhD The University of
Eubel, K. ed., Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, Monasterii,
sumptibus et typis librariae Regensbergianae,  1913.
Richard, J., Histoire des Croisades, ISBN 2-213-59787-1
Richard, J., The
Crusades c.1071-c.1291, trans. J. Birrell, Cambridge
University Press, 1999.
Rudt de Collenberg, W. H., "A Fragmentary Copy of an Unknown Recension
of the 'Lignages d'Outre-Mer' in the Vatican Library", English
Historical Review, 98/ 387 (1983), 311-327.
Runciman, S., A History of the Crusades, III: The Kingdom of Acre and
Crusades Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-14-013705-X
Tyerman, C., God's war: A New History of the Crusades, Belknap Press
of Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN&