“When our men laid siege to the city, this tower was the most strongly defended of all; whence they called it the Accursed Tower.”
Wilbrand van Oldenberg, visitor to Acre, 1211 CE
In 1291 CE the fortified, strategically commercial port city of Acre, on the northern coast of Israel, was the last Crusader stronghold in the Middle East when Muslim forces gradually began to take back the region. A key figure in the campaign to recapture the city was the “astute and successful general” Qalawun, a Mamluk sultan of Egypt. Favoring diplomacy over battle, Qalawun had no choice but to attack after Christian knights, bored with peace, had broken a treaty and began “indiscriminately [killing] without pity all the Saracens [as they referred to Muslims] they came across,” including merchants and peasants. This was enough for Qalawun, who “had both religious and economic reasons for snuffing out the last remnants” of the crusader presence. Yet he died before Acre finally fell to his son, Khalil. Crowley provides background on the decades leading up to the siege for a detailed treatment of the Western Crusades’ final chapter.