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Richard the Lion-Hearted Conquers Cyprus. Geoffrey de Vinsauf. Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land

Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 54

Chapter XXX. - Of the shipwreck and misfortune of some of our men,and of their capture and imprisonment; also of the attack they made and the victory they gained over the islanders of Cyprus.

On the vigil of St. Mark the Evangelist, a little before sunset, dark clouds covered the horizon, and the spirit of the storm rushed forth, and the violence of the wind disturbed the waters; some of our ships which had been dispersed by the shifting of the winds, while attempting to reach the island of Cyprus before his arrival, were driven by adverse waves and wind on the rocks; and though the sailors used their utmost efforts to resist the wind that assailed them, three of the king’s ships filled and went to pieces, and some of those on board were drowned; but some who had by chance caught hold of the timbers of the ship, were by this means, and not without the greatest toil, from the tossing of the waves, cast on shore naked and penniless. Amongst those who were drowned was Roger, surnamed Malus Catulus, the king’s signet-bearer, and the signet was lost. But on the body being cast on shore by the tide, a man found the signet on him, and brought it to the army for sale; and thus it was redeemed, and restored to the king. As to the sailors who were cast on shore, the inhabitants, under the garb of peace, hailed their coming with joy; and, as if to recruit them, introduced them into a certain fort close by; and all those who put to shore in safety, the Griffons stripped of their arms, and conducted to the same place, asserting that if they entered in arms, they might appear to be spies, or to have intentions of attacking the island, and they would wait until they ascertained the will of the emperor. But our nobles compassionating the shipwrecked men who were detained in custody, sent them clothing and other necessaries. Also Stephen de Turnham, the king’s steward and treasurer, sent them abundance of provisions, which, as they were brought to the entrance of the fort for the captives, were plundered by the Griffons and guards of the city. However they pacified them with specious language, and did not yet show their enmity openly, but they would not set them at liberty until the emperor had been informed of what had happened; meanwhile, they promised with crafty words to supply them with every thing necessary. They then convened the nobles of the land, and entered into counsel to keep captive as many of the pilgrims as they could by stratagem, and then slay them; which when it became known to our men, they shut themselves up of their own accord in the fort, with the intention of defending themselves, and some of them were killed by the natives. Thus, considering that danger really threatened them, they chose to stand the hazard of a battle, rather than die of starvation by falling into the hands of the infidel persecutors of Christians. Therefore, when they had come forth from the fort and reached a certain plain, the natives began to surround and kill them; but though unarmed, they resisted as much as they could, and effected not less slaughter than their adversaries, though they had only three bows to defend themselves with, which they had kept concealed from the natives. There was amongst them one Roger de Hardecurt, who, having found a mare and mounted her, rode down the crowd that opposed him; and also William du Bois, a Norman, and a most skilful archer, scattered first these, then those, by casting darts and arrows at them incessantly. The soldiers who were yet on board, seeing this, came hastily with their arms to their succour; and the Griffons, with their bows and slings, hindered them as much as they could from landing; but by the protection of the Lord they sallied from their ships and came into port unhurt. At last, after the Griffons had been dispersed and were giving way, the pilgrims, coming out of the aforesaid fort, and defending themselves, came in the rear, and made their way to the port, where they found our men, who had disembarked from their ships, fighting with all their might against the Griffons who opposed them. Having thus formed a junction, they dispersed the Griffons, and gained the port of Limozin, in which was the buss of the two queens that had put in before the arrival of King Richard, as has been said before; but owing to their ignorance of the state of the island, and from dread of the cruelty and treachery of the emperor, they had not disembarked.

Chapter XXXI. - Of the arrival of King Richard at Cyprus.

On the same day, towards evening, on which the pilgrims had made their exit from the aforesaid port, viz. on a Thursday, the emperor of Cyprus, who had been informed of their arrival, came to the city; and when the pilgrims made complaint of the injuries they had received, the emperor promised every kind of satisfaction, and agreed to restore the money taken from the shipwrecked men; and they also obtained entrance and egress into and from the city of Limozin, on condition of a mutual exchange of four men as hostages. Meanwhile, the emperor gave orders that the warriors of all his empire should be assembled, and a mighty army formed. The day after his arrival, the emperor sent a crafty message to the two queens, bidding them put to shore for greater security, and go about as they pleased without fear of molestation or ill-treatment from his people; and on their refusing, he sent them the next day, under pretence of paying them respect, bread and ram’s flesh and wine from the vineyards of