chapter  7
31 Pages

An ally against Islam: the Mongols in the

WithNear East

In the light of their attacks on Latin territory in 1241-4 and in 1259-60, the Mongols had emerged quite simply as the greatest threat confronting Catholic Christendom, so that in 1260 the Frankish leaders at Acre had chosen to cooperate with the more familiar Muslim demon as a means of staving off an attack by Hülegü’s forces. But beginning in 1262, in the wake of the dissolution of the Mongol empire, Hülegü and his successors made a series of overtures designed to gain Latin collaboration in the war against the MamlÑks. These diplomatic contacts, which continued into the early fourteenth century, were made with the popes and with Western European sovereigns, particularly the French and English kings and sometimes also those of Aragon and Sicily.1 Only minimally and rarely did they involve the Near Eastern Franks, who were now a negligible quantity. In any case, the MamlÑk Sultans Baybars (1260-77) and QalÄwÑn (1279-90), informed of these negotiations between their enemies by their highly efficient intelligence network,2 were encouraged to embark on the reduction of the Latin outposts in Syria and Palestine, a process completed in 1291.