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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 64



ever witnessed. "When my companion, the good Sir Walter, saw tbis shower of fire, he cried out, " Gentlemen, we are Greeks by, Callinicus the architect, a native of Heliopolis, a town in Syria, under Constantinns Barbaras ; and likewise because the Greeks were for a long time the only people who preserved the use of it, which they very rarely communicated to any of their allies. Anna Comnena says, that tbis fire was made with pitch and other gums from trees, mixed with sulphur, and the whole ground together. Abbon, in the first book of the Wars of Paris, has given the composition of it in these verses : " Addit eia oleum, ceramque, picemque ministrana, Mixta aimai liquefacta foco ferventia valde, Quas Denis cervice comas uruntque trahuntque." The author of the History of Jerusalem, p. 1167, makes oil a part of the composition : at least, he names it," oleum incendarium, quod ignem Graecum vocant." It may perhaps be naphtha, which Procopius, in the fourth book of the War of the Goths, ch. 11, says, the Greeks call Μηδιιας tXaiov, and the Medes naphtha, which Lambecius, in his observations on Codinus, thinks should be corrected to Μηοιας cXatov, oil of Media, and that for this reason the same Greeks have given to thia artificial fire the name of ΜηΟικον wop, which is met with in Cinnamus, p. 308, and in Codinus, p. 7 of the royal edition. There are others, however, who imagine naphtha was called Μηίιιας tXaior, or wop, because Medea, according to Pliny (1. 2, ch. 105), burnt ber husband Jason with this fire. Whatever may be thought of this, Procop-us, in the part quoted, informs us, that in the composition of this artifidai fire, there was a mixture of naphtha with sulphur and bitumen. Vanoccio BinD goccio, in the tenth book of his Pyrotechny, chap. 9, has described all the materials that form part of the artificial fireworks which the Greeks made use of to burn the vessels of their enemies. The Greeks made use of this fire when at sea, in two ways ; first by fire-ships filled with this fire, that were floated among the enemies' fleet, and thus set them on tire. Fire-ships were used before the time of the emperor Constantinus Barbatus, for Theophanes informs us, p. 100, that under the empire of Leon le Grand, Genserìe, king of Africa, burnt with vessels that were filled with dry wood and other combustibles, and which be floated down the stream, the whole of the Grecian fleet. Secondly, by artificial fires on the prows of these vessels, placed in large tubes of copper, through which they blew them into the enemy's ships. With regard to the use of the Greek fire in buttles on land, it was different, for soldiers were then supplied with copper tubes, and blew it through them on their enemies.—See Anna Comnena, in the 13th book of her Alexiade. Sometimes they threw sharp bolts of iron, covered with tow, well oiled and pitched, with which they set fire to the engine*. Joinville speaks of the fire, " and they opened a very quick fire upon us with balls made of the Greek fire." Sometimes tbis fire was put into phials and pots, and it was also discharged from perrieres and crossbows. Albert d'Aix, 1. 7, ch. 5, remarks, that " hujus ignis genua aqua erat inextinguibile but there were other materials by which it


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