The Lord of Beirut appeared to have his opponent, the Imperial Marshal Riccardo Filangieri on the run. Filangieri had lifted the siege of Beirut citadel in order to withdraw his forces to Tyre. But the triumph was short-lived, and the wheel of fortune spun again.
Meanwhile, however, the arrival of the "naked" king on a borrowed horse sent shock waves through Acre. Not only did Beirut rapidly muster what men he had, but he was accompanied by the Lords of Sidon, Caesarea, and Caiphas as well as Eudes de Montbeliard. Sidon and Montbelliard had earlier served as Imperial regents and were considered neutral in the conflict. Their presence is a reminder that, despite what blame the Cypriots bore for carelessness, the attack occurred during peace negotiations. International custom -- even in the 13th century -- precluded hostilities during negotiations. Sidon and Montbeliard's presence with Beirut indicates non-partisan condemnation of the attack.
The distance from Acre to Casal Imbert is just over 8 miles. As Beirut advanced, he started to encounter men fleeing from Casal Imbert. They cleared the road to make way for the advancing men under Beirut, but a sergeant with Beirut offered to search among the fleeing men for Beirut's sons. Beirut told him not to bother because his sons, he said, would not dare to run so far -- or at least not in a direction where they might run into him!
A little farther along the road, they encountered a sergeant who had been surprised at Casal Imbert. Weeping, he reported that "all" Beirut's sons had been killed in the engagement. Beirut answered, "And what of this? Thus should knights die defending their bodies and their honor."
By the time Beirut and the men with him reached Casal Imbert, the Imperial forces were already withdrawing with their booty -- prisoners, horses, arms and equipment. The Cypriot survivors of the battle were clustered atop a nearby hill, some riding bareback, most still in their nightclothes and haphazardly armed, but apparently preparing to charge the retreating enemy.
Beirut put an immediate end to that nonsense and started taking stock of his losses instead. His second son Baldwin was perilously wounded; his nephew John likewise. His son Hugh was completely missing, but he was later found in the town defending himself inside a house, the carcass of his horse on the street outside. Roughly 30 Cypriot knights were dead or captured, and "most" of their horses were gone. Thirty knights may not sound like many, but at this point that represented nearly ten percent of the knights King Henry had brought with him from Cyprus. Perhaps most significantly, the Genoese ships which had been provided to support the operation against Tyre had apparently also been seized by Filangieri's men.
In short, the Ibelins had just suffered a dramatic setback. Flushed with a sense of triumph, Filangieri made the dramatic strategic decision to strike at Cyprus. Just as he had struck at the city of Beirut while the Lord of Beirut was on Cyprus, he now struck at Cyprus while the entire Cypriot host was in Syria.
The story of the struggle between Beirut and Filangieri continues next week. Meanwhile, these events are depicted in detail in: