Post-classical history

Forbie, Battle of (1244)

A battle fought on 17 October 1244 at Forbie (Harbiyah) near Gaza by the Franks of Jerusalem, who were allied with the Ayyûbids of Damascus, Kerak, and Homs, against the Ayyûbids of Egypt. It was considered the worst Frankish defeat since Hattin (1187).

The battle resulted from disputes among the Ayyûbids after the death of Sultan al-Kāmil (1238). His son al-‘Ādil II was recognized in Egypt, while another son, al-Salih Ayyûb, seized Damascus, which was soon taken from him by his uncle al-Sālih Ismā‘īl.

After al-‘Ādil had been deposed, Ayyûb was able to install himself in Egypt and plan the reconquest of Damascus. This led to a coalition between Ismā‘īl of Damascus, al-Nāsir Dâwûd of Kerak, al-Mansûr Ibrāhīm of Homs, and the Franks, that was determined to prevent the unification of Damascus and Egypt under one ruler. Ayyûb allied himself with the Khwāriazmians, a people displaced from Iraq by the Mongol offensives. In 1244 the Khwāriazmians captured Jerusalem and joined Ayyûb’s troops near Gaza, where they made contact with the Franks and their allies on 17 October. Contrary to the advice of their allies, the Franks, following the leadership of Count Walter of Jaffa, attacked because they outnumbered their opponents, but were defeated. There were more than 5,000 Frankish casualties (among them the archbishop of Tyre and almost all participating members of the military orders), and 800 prisoners were taken to Egypt. Patriarch Robert of Jerusalem reported the defeat to the West.

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