It happened today - October 30, 2015

It’s important to do the right thing.  But if possible you want to do it in the right way.

You don’t want to cast too covetous eye on the outcome, and become so “pragmatic” that you wind up determining that whatever you think you can smash and grab is what you actually wanted all along. But if it’s worth doing, it’s good to try to do it successfully.

All of which brings me, of course, to the ignominious end of the Seventh Crusade on Oct. 30, 1270. (Or the Eighth – it depends how you count.) I’m not one of those people who opposes the Crusades reflexively as proof that Christians have been attacking Muslims ever since Mohammed’s followers swept out of the desert with fire and sword and, you know, attacked everybody. The Crusades were a counterattack and generally those are allowed. The problem is, they didn’t work.

At first they seemed to be going pretty well. It’s generally agreed that things went completely off the rails in the Fourth Crusade, though, which in 1204 turned aside from the Holy Land to sack Byzantium which was, um, Christian. Somehow the original goal had been lost in those infamous “pragmatic” calculations about where to find allies and money and fame and land instead of boring old liberating Jerusalem.

Not good. But then at some point you quit. Unless you’re Louis IX of France. He just kept on organizing crusades even as other monarchs brushed him off. Well, organizing. I guess in some sense they were organized. But they were never organized in a way that would give a reasonable prospect of success.

Louis himself didn’t so much quit as die of “a flux in the stomach” in August 1270. His forces were then thrashed by the Muslims in Tunisia and staggered away with aching bellies themselves.

Edward son of Henry III of England gave it the old royal try once more, in 1271-72. And he did rather better than Louis IX, in that he won a bunch of battles. But the whole enterprise wasn’t sustainable so he went home to spend time being Edward I of England and dealing with the affairs of his own Kingdom.

Not a bad idea, on the whole. Unlike the Seventh Crusade.