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JOHN LORD DE JOINVILLE Memoirs of Louis IX, King of France

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JOHN LORD DE JOINVILLE
Memoirs of Louis IX, King of France
page 45



A.D. 1248.] SULTAN OF BABYLON POISONED. so mach in Cyprus, that many of our people went to Armenia to seek for profit in these engagements ; but of them we had never after any intelligence. Of the sultan of Babylon* I shall say, that he imagined the king was about to make war on the sultan of Hamault,t his ancient enemy : he was therefore waiting for the king to join his forces against the sultan of Hamault ; but when he perceived that the king did not advance, he departed, and went to lay siege to the city of Hamault, in which the sultan resided. The sultan, thus finding himself besieged, knew not how to act ; for he was aware, that if the sultan of Babylon should remain long, he must conquer and overthrow him. He, however, practised so successfully by gifts and promises with one of the varlets of the chamber of the sultan of Babylon that he poisoned his master. The manner of his doing it was as follows :—The varlet, who in their language is officially called Serais, knowing that the sultan after playing at chess { was frequently used to lie down on mats that were at the foot of his bed, poisoned one of these mats ; and it chanced that the sultan, having thrown aside part of his dress, lay on the mat with his naked legs, and turning about rubbed a sore he had on one of them against the poisoned part. The venom * According to the Arabian Chronicle given to the public by Abraham EcbeUensis, his name waa Saleh Nagem-addim Aiiub, and he was son to the king Alcamel Mahomet, whom Vincent de Beauvais calls Soldanus KiemeL t It should be of Haman. This sultan was lord of Aleppo, as we learn from the monk Aython, ch. 38 and 39, and from Vincent de Beauvaia, I. 32, ch. 89 and 95, wherein he relates also the difference between the two sultans. X This game has been always very much in vogue among the Turks and Saracens, as we learn from Elemacin, 1. 2, ch. 7, from Aython, ch. 53, and from Ducas, in his History, ch. 16. The game has even taken its name from a Turkish or Arabic word Scach, which signifies king, because the principal piece of chess is the king, as is noticed in the Pandect of Leunclavius, n. 1, 102, 179. The Greeks of the.middle ages, and those of the present day, call it Zar€uetov, as Saumaise in his observations on Puny, end Meursius in his Glossary, have observed. Anna Comnena, in the 22nd book of her Alexiade, makes use of this word, and re marks, that it was invented by the Assyrians. See the Chronicle of Hainault, by Jacques de Guyse, vol. i. pp. 53 and 54, and M. Menage in his Glossary of the French Language. Lucanus in Paneg. ad Pisonem has elegantly described the game of chess, and after him Hieronymua Vidas. 2c2


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