The Battle of El Mansurah - 8th February 1250


Fierce fighting in the town of El Mansurah

After the losing the city of Jerusalem a second time in 1244, Pope Innocent IV requested yet another crusade to try and recapture the holy city. King Louis IX of France gave the idea his full backing and began to assemble what would be known as the Seventh Crusade. Louis was supported by his two brothers, Robert d'Artois (appointed his second in command), and Charles d'Anjou; he was also joined by an English contingent led by William of Salisbury as well by the Holy Orders of the Knights Templar and Knights Hosptillar. In their planning they decided that the power base of the Muslim forces was Egypt, and that rather than attack Jerusalem again they should attack Egypt and Cairo and in doing so destroy the Muslim armies at the source.

After making diplomatic arrangements with the Mongols, an invasion of Egypt was agreed; the Seventh Crusade would attack the Muslim forces in Egypt while the Mongols attacked the Muslim's eastern forces in Turkey, Syria and Persia.

The Crusade initially went to plan, the christian forces landed near Damietta and local forces fled before they arrived at the town, although Louis's army was harassed by Muslim skirmishers their advance to Cairo continued without any great events. In fact they received only good news as they marched, being reinforced by Louis's third bother, Alphonse de Poitiers, and receiving the news that Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih Ayyub had died.

As they progressed towards Cairo their route was blocked by a canal near the town of El Mansurah, The Muslim army was camped on the opposite side outside the town, and were quite relaxed in the belief that the canal was impassable and the crusaders were now stuck.

However a local sold information to the crusaders of a ford downstream that was passable at this time of year. With a Vanguard force of 1500 knights, including 300 Knights Templar and William's English knights, Robert d'Artois made a secret crossing under strict orders from Louis not to attack the Muslim army, but instead protect the canal bank while more crusaders crossed and a temporary bridge could be assembled.


Suggested initial set-up for the Battle of El Mansurah

ORDERS OF BATTLE


We are suggesting a scale of 1-50 men as this is quite a large battle' but you can adapt these to suit your favorite rules.


CRUSADER ARMY

VANGUARD

Robert d'Artois - Vanguard commander, veteran, experienced, impetuous

French Knights (900 men) 18 figures - extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

William of Salisbury - sub-commander, veteran, experienced, tactician, steady

English Knights (300 men) 6 figures - extra heavy armoured cavalry, disciplined, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Guillaume de Sonac (Grand Master of the Temple Knights) - sub-commander - veteran, elite, disciplined, inspirational leader

Kinghts Templar (300 men) 6 figures - extra heavy armoured knights, veteran, elite, disciplined, excellent fighters, stubborn, lance, shield heavy armour

MAIN FORCE

King Louis IX - Commander-in-Chief, veteran, experienced, tactician

Knights (700 men) 14 figures - extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Knights Hospitaller (300 men) - 6 figures - extra heavy armoured knights, veteran, elite, disciplined, excellent fighters, stubborn, lance, shield heavy armour

Spearmen (1000 men) 20 figures - heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, spear and shield

Crossbowmen (2000 men) 40 figures - heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, crossbow

Alphonse de Poitiers - sub-commander - veteran, elite, disciplined, inspirational leader

Knights (900 men) 18 figures - extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Spearmen (1000 men) 20 figures - heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, spear and shield

Crossbowmen (2000 men) 40 figures - heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, crossbow


AYYUBID ARMY

Fakhir-ad-Din-Yusuf - Commander-in Chief - experienced, veteran, steady

Toassin Cavalry (1000 men) - 20 figures - armoured cavalry, trained, veteran, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Turcoman Cavalry (500 men) - 10 figures - light cavalry, skirmish order, trained, steady, javelins, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) - 20 figures - medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, spear, shield

Baibars - sub-commander - veteran, ferocious fighter, inspirational leader, elite

Mamluk Guard Cavalry (600 men) - 12 figures - armoured cavalry, veteran, elite, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Kipchack Mamluk Cavalry (1000 men) - 20 figures - light cavalry. open order, trained, veteran, steady, javelins, bow, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) - 20 figures - medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, bow, shield

Sudanese Archers (1000 men) - 20 figures - light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, steady, bow, shield

Sudanese Spearmen (1000 men) - 20 figures - light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, spear or javelins, shield

Faris-ad-Din-Aktai - sub-commander - experienced, impetuous, nervous

Turcoman Cavalry (500 men) - 10 figures - light cavalry, skirmish order, trained, steady, javelins, shield

Toassin Cavalry (1000 men) - 20 figures - armoured cavalry, trained, veteran, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Sudanese Archers (1000 men) - 20 figures - light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, steady, bow, shield

Sudanese Spearmen (1000 men) - 20 figures - light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, spear or javelins, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) - 20 figures - medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, javelins, shield

ADDITIONAL CITIZEN FORCES INSIDE THE TOWN

Militia/Citizens (1000 men) - 20 figures - light infantry, open order. militia, untrained, unpredictable, half armed bow, half armed javelins or slings


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Having crossed the canal, Robert d'Artois decided to disregard his brother's orders and instead attacked the Ayyubid camp immediately. Both the Templar's Grand Master and William of Salisbury tried to persuade him otherwise, but asserting his authority and claiming that they would dishonor the cross by not attacking, he led an all out charge on the camp.

The Ayyubids were taken totally by surprise and the crusaders inflicted heavy casualties, killing Fakhir-ad-Din-Yusuf in the attack. In panic the Ayyubids fled to El Mansurah with Robert and his knights in hot pursuit, however once inside the walled town the knights found themselves trapped and fighting for their lives. The narrow streets hampered their movement and citizens took to the roof tops throwing clay tiles and rocks down onto the knights below. The Muslim army rallied and overwhelmed Robert's men, killing Robert himself, as well as William of Salisbury and the Grand Master of the Templars. Only five Templar knights and less than fifty other knights escaped the massacre and out of the town.

Meanwhile Louis had been moving the remainder of his army across the canal and was furious at Robert's attack. His force was little more than half across when the survivors returned, this time with the Ayyubids in hot pursuit.

Louis made a defensive crescent formation protecting the ford and a hastily assembled bridge while the remainder of his men crossed the canal, all the while under repeated attacks. It was only when the crossbowmen (who were at the rear) crossed the canal, that Louis was able to put up a defense strong enough to force the Ayyubids back.

During the night the Muslims returned and made several ferocious night-assaults on the crusaders bridgehead, inflicting casualties and terror throughout the ranks. After regrouping and resting the Ayyubids attacked again two days later, once more being fought back, but now losses on the crusader army were mounting. A third of all the knights were now dead, half had no horses left alive, and the contingents from the Holy Orders had been wiped out.

The battle was a disaster for the crusaders; unable to advance or retreat Louis's army stood it's ground but eventually began to fall to disease as well as being surrounded by an Egyptian flotilla sent down the canal. Surrendering to the Ayyubids, all those who were sick or weak were massacred (about 7,000 men), the remainder (including Louis IX King of France) were held prisoner until he was able to secure release with a ransom payment of over one million gold bezants. Once released, Louis remained in Outremer for several more years but was unable to muster any realistic fighting force and the Seventh Crusade came to an end.


ADDITIONAL RULES FOR WARGAMERS

'll note that we have left it up to you to decide if the vanguard should charge straight in to Ayyubid camp, or follow orders. If it does charge in then the Ayyubids should all be classed as disorganised and/or demoralised to reflect their surprise and rout to El Mansurah.

If the crusader player decides not to instantly attack then we would suggest each game turn a D6 is rolled by the Ayyubid player, on a 6 they become alerted and can deploy, otherwise the crusaders can keep crossing the canal unobserved. Maybe after three game turns of crossing if a 6 has not been rolled, allow a 5 or 6 then 4,5,6 etc to reflect the growing noise and dust clouds that must have developed. making their presence more obvious.

If alerted by a successful dice roll the Ayyubids will no longer be disorganised/demoralised, but can deploy in good order.











© 2019 Little Corpral