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Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land

Chapter XXIX. — Of the many misfortunes which befel the Holy Land, especially through the emperor of Cyprus*

With what expiation do we deem the Holy Land to have been punished, or with what scourge smitten, or of what crime guilty, that so many adversaries should have resisted its succour, whereby assistance should have been so long deferred? Nay, it began to be believed that the cause of its redemption being so long delayed was the wickedness of its defenders; and it is very evident by many proofs that the Divine aid was withheld in consequence of the iniquity of its inhabitants; whence also it happened that the excellent soldiers of France, who were looked forward to as brave allies, were unseasonably taken away in the midst. For why need we speak of the death of the illustrious emperor of Germany, whose end sullied the glory of his former reign? or who could relate the grief felt for the death of the once rich and glorious Henry, king of England? By his money, the city of Tyre was preserved, and by his wisdom and prudence it was hoped that the Holy Land would be recovered lastly, what might we say of the decease of William, king of Sicily, who after he had made all the necessary preparations for his pilgrimage, and had oftentimes sent the wished-for aid, was cut off by sudden death, and closed his career? All these, and many other misfortunes, impeded the recovery of the Holy Land, and each of them was more than enough to injure the cause. But there was one thing above all others, we mean that which concerned the island of Cyprus, from which the land of Jerusalem used annually to gain no small profit; but now, after shaking off the yoke of subjection, it disdained to give it any thing, by the direction of the tyrant of the island, who had usurped the imperial power. Most wicked of all bad men, and surpassing Judas in treachery, and Guenelon in treason, he wantonly persecuted all who professed the Christian religion. He was said to be a friend of Saladin, and it was reported that they had drunk each other’s blood, as a sign and testimony of mutual treaty, as if by the mingling of blood outwardly, they might become kinsmen in reality. This, too, was afterwards evident by certain proofs; for the tyrant, gaining confidence by this step, and setting at nought the subjection which he owed, falsely usurped the name of emperor, and he was accustomed to seize upon every one who put into the island of his own accord, or was driven thereto by the violence of the wind, that he might extract a ransom from the rich, and force the poor to become slaves. When, therefore, he learnt that a strange fleet had arrived, he determined, according to his custom, to seize upon all who were on board, and, having plundered them of their money, to keep them captives.

Fool text of this chronicle you may read here

* Isaac Komnenos (Ισαάκιος Κομνηνός) was the last ruler of Cyprus before the Frankish conquest during the Third Crusade. He was a minor member of the Comnenos family, a great nephew of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180) and a grandson of the Sebastocrator Isaac. He should not be confused with the Byzantine emperor Isaac I Comnenus (ruled 1057 - 1059).

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Created at June 2008