Despite this, Llull suffered more defeats than victories. If one thinks of his repeated visits to the Curia under five popes, of his appeals to the general chapters of the Franciscans and Dominicans and to a whole series of kings and republics, the results were relatively slight. The only events worthy of mention were the foundation of a college for missionaries in Majorca (an institution which did not last: Miramar), Llull’s personal entitlement to preach in the synagogues and mosques of the Crown of Aragon, and his influence upon Canon XI of the Council of Vienne, a decree which only received a very incomplete implementation. Phillip the Fair’s vow in Vienne to lead a great crusade himself, such as Llull had dreamt of, was never carried out.
If we examine Llull’s works, we can see that he was perfectly aware himself of his lack of success. In Sicily, in 1314, two years after the Council of Vienne had ended, Llull decided not to start out again on the round of visits he had so frequently made to the courts of popes and kings. He could see very clearly how little profit he had drawn from all such activities and stated in the Liber de civitate mundiwith reference to himself, that ‘frequently he had been mocked, beaten and treated as a madman (phantasticus)’. But he did not despair. He returned to North Africa for the third time to see if he could ‘win the Saracens over to the Catholic faith’. The choice of Tunis was not as arbirtrary as it might seem. Twenty-one years previously, in 1293, Llull had been expelled from the city, but at this point Tunis had a prince who depended in part upon Catalan auxiliaries and had been promising James II of Aragon that he would convert. In addition, when he travelled from Sicily to Tunis, on what was to prove his last journey, he was carrying letters of recommendation from James II to the sultan; he was around 84 years old.