The Crusader Period – part C

1231 – Riccardo Filangieri, envoy of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, assembles the knights of the nobility and the bourgeois founders of the commune of Acre in order to demonstrate the importance and standing of the Supreme Court sitting in Acre 70.

1234 – A great fire destroys the monastic quarter 71.

1235 – Rabbi Yitzhak son of Rabbi Shem-Tov arrives in Acre from Spain. Rabbi Moshe son of Hasdai from the city of Regensburg, Germany, also comes to Acre.

1236 – Members of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Ransom of Captives (i.e., from the hands of the Moslems), founded in Marseilles, France, settle in Acre.

1239 – The French knight Geoffrey de Sargines arrives in Acre and remains there for some 30 years. Among other positions, he serves as commander of a body of French knights of the Crusader Kingdom 72.

1242 – An armed conflict breaks out between the Templars and the Hospitallers in Acre. As a result, the Hospitallers Order loses prestige in the city 73.

1244 – The document “Ruga Firmus” includes a chapter concerning the properties of the Venetian quarter.

1245 – Merchants from the city of Ancona in Italy receive an exemption from customs duties on their trade in Acre 74.

1249 – The “Inventory of the Assets of the Genoan Commune (in Acre)” is published by the notary Castellius de Pexano 75. A severe storm damages dozens of craft in the harbor; most sink 76.

1250 – Rabbi Yitzhak ben Shmuel of Acre is born in the city, one of the greatest of its sages in the latter part of the Crusades. He apparently lives in Acre until 1291 when he is taken captive by the city’s conquering Mamluks. He succeeds in surviving his captivity and is reported to be in Italy in 1301. He dies in Toledo, Spain, in 1340 at the age of 90.

1252 – Merchants from Messina (Sicily) are awarded an exemption from customs duties on their commerce in Acre 45a.

1250–1254 – King Louis IX of France, known as Saint Louis, spends these years in Acre and builds a massive wall around the montmusard quarter.

1250 – The French historian John, Lord of Joinville, sojourns in Acre together with his king, Louis IX. John compares Acre and the behavior of its Christian inhabitants to Sodom (and Gomorrah). 77

1251 – A conflict breaks out in Acre between the Venetians and Genoans there.

1252 – The Crusader city of Acre appears in great detail in the map of Matthew Paris, including the Montmusard quarter, the Italian quarters, and the Christian military Orders. Matthew was an English Benedictine monk who lived in Paris and wrote and illustrated many works. In this year, merchants from Messina, Sicily, receive an exemption from customs duties for trading in Acre. 78 Over a period of two years, King Louis IX of France builds a double wall around the Monmizar quarter. 79

1253 – Gaulatros II is the Bishop of Acre, to be followed by Fiorenzo (Florentius).

1254 – King Louis IX leaves Acre on his way back to France. 80 Bretons purchase a building in Acre.

1254–1267 – The Wars of Mar Saba (San Sabas) is the collective name for a series of intermittent local wars that break out between the autonomous communes of the Venetians (aided by the Pisans) and the Genoans in Acre. The Genoan quarter is destroyed, and only in 1275 do the Genoans return to Acre. The Genoan quarter is captured in 1258, to be returned only in 1288. San Sabas is the name of a building from before the Crusader period that is located on the northeast edge of today’s port (possibly at the site of the Ptolemais restaurant). Its control turns into a bone of contention and bitter conflicts between the communes. 81

1256 – Italian Crusaders remove two carved columns from a Byzantine church in Acre and send these to St. Mark’s Square in Venice. 82

1257 – Emigrants from Ancona, Italy, settle in Acre. There is a war between the autonomous communes of Marseilles and Montpellier in Acre. Fiorenzo (Florentius) is the Bishop of Acre.

1258–1270 – Rabbi Yaakov, by profession a collector of charitable donations, among whose clients is the yeshiva (Talmudic academy) in Acre, arrives in the city. 83

1259 – The Mongols arrive in the region around Acre but do not conquer the city.

1260 – Rabbi Yechiel of Paris immigrates (“ascends”) to Acre and establishes a yeshiva, “Midrash haGadol de Paris,” wherein congregate a number of his students from the yeshiva he founded in Paris. Rabbi Yechiel dies in 1270 (approx.). Schwarzfuchs raises doubts whether Rabbi Yechiel himself founded the yeshiva, or that perhaps it had been his son or one of his students 84. Shor points out that perhaps Rabbi Yechiel drowned in the sea in 1257 on his way to the Land of Israel and the yeshiva was established by his son Yaakov 85. Also in this year, an additional group of French rabbis immigrate to Acre and settles here. The Spanish Kabbalist Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia likewise immigrates to Acre in this year.

1263 – Baibars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt and Syria, reaches as far as the gate of Acre’s walls, destroys one of its towers but withdraws. Between 1263 and 1269, Baibars makes additional attacks on Acre yet does not succeed in conquering it.

1264 – An Eastern Christian named Tzelivah draws up a will in Acre, from which it can be learned that a Christian mission was active in Acre. Moslems, generally impoverished, such as male and female slaves, some of them Mamluks, listen to sermons and as a result are baptized as Christians 86. The Pope Urban IV mentions in a letter that poor Jews also come to Acre to convert to Christianity 87.

1266 – âåéììîåñ Gugliemos II is the Bishop of Acre.

1267 – The Ramban, Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (also known as Nahmanides), head of the Jewish community of Barcelona, comes to Acre and establishes a Beit Midrash, a center for Torah study. (This possibly refers to the Beit Midrash founded by Rabbi Yechiel of Paris). The Ramban completes his commentaries on the Torah while in Acre. Acre has a large and well-established Jewish community comprising Jews from both the East and the West 24a.

1268 – The Italian traveler Marco Polo, his father and his uncle, arrive in Acre on their return journey from the Far East. They stay in Acre for two years.

1270–1291 – A student of the Ramban writes the book úåöàåú àøõ éùøàì (Totsaot Eretz Israel) and organizes several journeys through the Land of Israel, most departing from Acre as their point of origin 88.

1275–1291 – In the scriptorium of Acre, which was established by King Louis IX (later St. Louis) of France, fifteen French manuscripts are written, most having secular subjects. The most important of these is äúð”ê ùì äàøñéðàì Jaroslav Folda sojourns in Acre during these years and writes essays about the city.

1281–1283 – Al-Mansour Seif al-Din Qalawun, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, signs treaties with the Hospitallers and other Crusader groups in Acre. These treaties delineate the domains of influence and ownership of lands and agricultural facilities throughout the Galilee and the Carmel. In addition, these treaties include the obligatory and reciprocal rights and obligations of nationals, pilgrims, and merchants, whether Christian or Moslem, in the Galilee and the Carmel 89.

1283 – The Christian traveler Burchard of Mount Sion (a moniker found in later manuscripts about him 24a) visits Acre and notes the moral decline there. He may have belonged to the Dominican monastery in the city 90. Hailing from the German city of Magdeburg, he is possibly an emissary of Rudolph I, King of Germany. Fidenzio of Padua describes the Franks in Acre as a rabble, among whom are manymurderers, adulterers, thieves, and robbers 45a.

1285 – Rabbi David, grandson of the Rambam, arrives from Egypt and settles in Acre. Marinus Sanudus visits Acre; he presents to the Pope a plan to re-conquer the Holy Land 91.

1286 – Henry II is crowned king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (also King of Cyprus) and resides in Acre. He is the last of the Crusader kings in the Land of Israel. Shortly before the conquest of Acre by the Mamluks, he goes to Cyprus and thus survives 92. A protracted conflict, mainly around the Acre port, breaks out between the Genoans and the Pisans with their Venetian henchmen 93.

1285-1288 – Rabbi Shlomo Petit, one of the leading Kabbalists of Acre, son of Rabbi Shmuel of France, opposes the writings of the Rambam. He sentences the Rambam’s Guide for the Perplexed to be burned and he even leaves for Europe to recruit supporters to ban the books of the Rambam. Because of this he is excommunicated and expelled by the Exilarch of Damascus.

1288/9 – The Dominican Crusader and missionary Ricoldo Pennini (Ricoldo of Montecroce) from Florence leaves for the East as a preacher on behalf of the Pope, Nicholas IV. Ricoldo stays in Acre for some time 94.

1290 – The last Patriarch (Bishop) of Nazareth dies in Acre after moving there following his city’s conquest. Part of his gravestone is preserved and can be seen in the Crypt of the Crusader building complex. The Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Demetrius, built south of Burj al-Sultan prior to 1212, is destroyed by the rise in sea level.

1290 (or earlier) – Rabbi Shmuel (Shlomo) Shekayal (“who exists for us”), a copyist from Provencal, stays in Acre and copies missives of the Rambam 24a.

1291 – At the beginning of May, seaborne Crusader reinforcements arrive in Acre, led by Henry II of Cyprus, king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Acre is conquered by the Mamluks led by al-Malik al-Ashraf Salāh al-Dīn Khalil ibn Qalawūn; the Franks, the last of the Crusaders, leave the Templar citadel. The end of the city comes on May 18, 1291. Drori notes that the siege on Acre lasted forty days and the city was bombarded by 92 cannons 95. Acre, along with Safed, is one of two independent kingdoms. The Dominican Nicholas of Hanapes is the last Patriarch (Bishop) to serve in Acre. During the Mamluk siege he meets his death by drowning in the sea 96. Rabbi Yitzhak of Acre is saved from the Mamluk massacre of Acre. The grandson of the Ramban is present in Acre.

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