Siege of Damietta (1218–1219)

Crusaders attack the tower of Damietta in a painting by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen.

The Siege of Damietta of 1218 was part of the Fifth Crusade. The city, under the control of the Ayyubid sultan Al-Kamil, was besieged in 1218 and taken by the Crusaders in 1219.

At the beginning of the Fifth Crusade, it was agreed that a force would attempt to take the Egyptian port city of Damietta, located at the mouth of the river Nile. The Crusaders then planned to use this city as a launching point for the southern portion of a pincer attack upon Jerusalem from Acre and Suez. Control over the area would also provide wealth to finance the continuation of the crusade, and reduce the threat from the Muslim fleet.[1]


In March 1218, the Crusader ships of the Fifth Crusade set sail to the port of Acre. In late May, the forces assigned to besiege Damietta set sail. The first ships arrived on May 27th, although the main leaders were delayed by storms and further preparations. The crusading force included a group of Knights Templar, Knights of St. John Hospitaller, fleets from Frisia and Italy, and troops amassed under numerous other military leaders.[2]