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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 6

silently considered in his mind. After a long and deep silence, the king disburdened his indignant lips as follows.

Sect. 23. "O, my soldiers my kingdom's strength and crown who have endured with me a thousand perils, you, who by might have subdued before me so many tyrants and cities, do you now see how a cowardly rabble insults us? Shall we vanquish Turks and Arabs? Shall we be a terror to nations the most invincible? Shall our right hand make us a way even to the ends of the world for the cross of Christ? shall we restore the kingdom to Israel, when we have turned our backs before vile and effeminate Griffones? Shall we, subdued here in the confines of our own country, proceed further, that the sloth of the English may become a by-word to the ends of the earth? Am I not right, then, O my friends, in regarding this as a new cause of sorrow? Truly, methinks I see you deliberately spare your pains, that perchance you may the better contend with Saladin hereafter. I, your lord and king, love you; I am solicitous for your honour; I tell you, I warn you again and again, if now you depart thus unrevenged, the mention of this base flight will both precede and accompany you. Old women and children will be raised up against you, and assurance will yield a double energy to every enemy against the runaways. I know that he who saves any one by constraint, does the same as kill him; the king will retain no man against his will. I am unwilling to compel any one of you to stay with me, lest the fear of one should shake another's confidence in the battle. Let every one follow what he may have chosen, but I will either die here or will revenge these wrongs common to me and you. If hence I depart alive, Saladin will see me only a conqueror; will you depart, and leave me, your king, alone to meet the conflict?"

Sect. 24. The king had scarcely well concluded his harangue, when all his brave and valiant men burst out, troubled only that their lord appeared to mistrust his men. They promise that they will comply from their souls with whatever he shall enjoin; they are ready to penetrate mountains and walls of brass, should he but give a nod: all Sicily, at his command alone, shall be subjected to him by their labour; if he should but desire it, as far as the Pillars of Hercules shall be steeped in blood. As the clamour, hushed by the ruler's gravity, subsided, "I am pleased," said he, "with what I hear; you refresh my spirits by your readiness to cast off your disgrace. And, as delay has always been hurtful to those who are prepared, we must make haste, so that whatever we design may be sudden. Messina shall be taken by me in the first place, the Griffones shall either ransom themselves, or be sold. If King Tancred do not more speedily satisfy me for my sister's dowry and the legacy of King William, which fails to me in right of my father, after the depopulation of his kingdom, he shall be compelled to restore them fourfold. Whatever belongs to the inhabitants shall be a prey for everybody to whom it shall fall; only with my lord the king of the French, who lodges in the city, and with all his followers, shall perfect peace be preserved. Let two thousand bold knights, (7) the choice of the entire army, and a thousand foot, archers, be made ready within two days. Let the law be enforced without remission; let the footman, who flies full speed, lose his foot, the knight be deprived of his girdle. Let every man, according to military discipline, be disposed in line in exact array, and on the third day, at the sound of the horn, let them follow me. I will head them and shew them the way to the city " The assembly separated with the greatest applause; the king, having relaxed the sternness of his countenance, was seen returning thanks for their good-will with his wonted affability of expression.

Sect. 25. it wonderfully fell out that not even the king's enemy could pretend that his cause was unjust. On the third day on which the army was to have been led forth to battle, very early in the morning, Richard, archbishop of Messina, the archbishop of Montreal, the archbishop of Pisa, Margaritus Admiralis, Jordan de Pin, and many other of King Tancred's familiar friends, having taken with them Philip, king of the French, the bishop of Carnot, the duke of Burgundy, the counts of Nevers and Perch, and many followers of the king of France, also, the archbishops of Rouen and Auch, the bishops of Evreux and Bayonne, and all who were supposed to have any influence with the English, came reverently to the king of England, that they might cause satisfaction for

(7) Literally, men who have not their hearts in their boots.

all his complaints to be given to his content. The king, after long and earnest solicitation, is prevailed on by the entreaty of such honourable men, and commits the matter to be settled by their arbitration. They would consider well the enormity of what he had had to brook, and would provide that the satisfaction should be answerable to the offence. Whatever their general deliberation should have determined to be sufficient, would be satisfactory to him, if only, from that very moment, none of the Griffones would lay hands on his men. Those who had come were even more astonished than rejoiced at this unhoped-for clemency, and giving him at once what he had last propounded, they retired from the king's presence, and were assembled at some distance to treat of the rest.

Sect. 26. The king's army having on the previous day been numbered according to the aforementioned order, was with solemn silence in arms before the camp, awaiting the herald, from the rising of the sun, and the framers of the peace, not so easily coming to a determination, had protracted the day till full the third hour, when behold, suddenly and unexpectedly, there was proclaimed by a voice, too distinctly heard, before the gates, "To arms, to arms, men! Hugo Brunus is taken and being murdered by the Griffones, all he has is being plundered, and his men are being slaughtered." The cry of the breach of peace confounded those who were treating for the peace, and the king of France broke forth in the following speech: "I take it that God has hated these men, and hardened their hearts that they may fall into the bands of the destroyer:" and having quickly returned, with all who were with him, to the king's pavilion, he found him already girding on his sword, whom he thus briefly addressed: "I will be a witness before all men, whatever be the consequence, that thou art blameless, if at length thou takest arms against the cursed Griffones." When he had said this, he departed; those who had accompanied him followed, and were received into the city. The king of England proceeds in arms; the terrible standard of the dragon is borne in front unfurled, while behind the king the sound of the trumpet

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