A major event depicted on a grand scale: the capture of the Egyptian city of Damiate in the Nile Delta. This expedition was part of the fifth crusade (thirteenth century), undertaken chiefly by Dutch and Frisian ships. The objective was to open up the route to Jerusalem. A vessel from Haarlem, recognizable by the (old) city arms, using a saw under the keel, succeeds in sawing through the chain that is shutting off the harbour. The notion that Haarlem played such a heroic role is now considered to be a myth – not least because it is technically extremely difficult to cut through a great harbour chain with a sailing ship. The painting was made for the headquarters of the Haarlem Calivermen civic guard, specifically to hang over the mantelpiece in the Council of War Chamber.