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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 14

Sect. 61. That night the king remained peaceably in the castle; and his newly-sworn vassal flying, retired to another castle, and caused the whole of the men of that land, who were able to bear arms, to be summoned to repair to him, and so they did. The king of Jerusalem, however, that same night, landed in Cyprus, that he might assist the king and salute him, whose arrival he had desired above that of any other in the whole world. On the morrow, the lord of Cyprus was sought for and found to have fled. The king, seeing that he was abused, and having been informed where he was, directed the king of Jerusalem to follow the traitor by land with the half of the army, while he conducted the other part by water, intending to be in the way, that he might not escape by sea. The divisions reassembled around the city in which he had taken refuge, and he, having sallied out against the king, fought with the English, and the battle was carried on sharply by both sides. The English would that day have been beaten, had they not fought under the command of King Richard. They at length obtained a dear-bought victory, the Cypriote flies, and the castle is taken. The kings pursue him as before, the one by land, the other by water, and he is besieged in the third castle. Its walls are cast down by engines hurling huge stones; he, being overcome, promises to surrender, if only he might not be put in iron fetters. The king consents to the prayers of the supplicant, and caused silver shackles to be made for him. The prince of the pirates being thus taken, the king traversed the whole island, and took all its castles, and placed his constables in each, and constituted justiciaries and sheriffs; and the whole land was subjected to him in every thing just like England. The gold, and the silk, and the jewels from the treasures that were broken open, he retained for himself; the silver and victuals he gave to the army. To the king of Jerusalem also he made a handsome present out of his booty. And because Lent had already passed, and the lawful time of contract was come, he caused Berengaria, daughter of the king of Navarre, whom his mother had brought to him in Lent, to be affianced to him in the island.

Sect. 62. After these things, having taken again to the ships, whilst sailing prosperously towards Acre, he falls in with a merchant ship of immense dimensions, destined by Saladin to the besieged, laden with provisions and full of armed soldiers. A wonderful ship, a ship than which, with the exception of Noah's ark, we do not read of any being greater. The intrepid king here rejoices, because everywhere he meets with a fit object for valour; he, first of his warriors, having summoned to his, the galleys of his followers, commences the naval action with the Turks. The ship was fortified with towers and bulwarks, and the desperate fought furiously, because "the only hope for the conquered is to have nothing to hope for." The assault was dreadful and the defence stout; but what is there so hard, that the sturdy man who stoutly perseveres shall not subdue? The followers of Mahomet (13) are vanquished: that ship, the queen of ships, is shattered and sunk, as lead in the mighty waters, and the whole property perished with its possessors. The king, proceeding thence, came to the siege of Acre, and was welcomed by the besiegers with as great joy as if it had been Christ that had come again on earth to restore the kingdom of Israel. The king of the French had arrived at Acre first, and was very highly esteemed by the natives; but on Richard's arrival he became obscured and without consideration, just as the moon is wont to relinquish her lustre at the rising of the sun.

Sect. 63. Henry, count of Champagne, whose whole store that he had brought both of provision and money was now wasted, comes to his king. He asks relief, to whom his king and lord caused to be offered a hundred thousand of Paris money, if, in that case, he would be ready to pledge to him Champagne. To that the count replied, "I have done what I could and what I ought; now I shall do what I am compelled by necessity. I desired to fight for my king, but he would not accept of me, unless for my own; I will go to him who will accept me: who is more ready to give than to receive." The king of the English, Richard, gave to Henry, count of Champagne, when he came to him, four thousand bushels of wheat, four thousand bacons, and four thousand pounds of silver. So the whole army of strangers out of every nation under heaven bearing the Christian name, who had already assembled to the siege long before the coming of the kings, at the report of so great a largess, took King Richard to be their general and lord; the Franks only who had followed their lord remained with their poor king of the French.

Sect. 64. The king of the English, unused to delay, on the third day of his arrival at the siege, caused his wooden fortress, which he had called "Mate Grifun," when it was made in Sicily, to be built and set up, and before the dawn of the fourth day the machine stood erect by the

(13) Mocomicelæ.

walls of Acre, and from its height looked down upon the city lying beneath it; and there were thereon by sunrise archers casting missiles without intermission on the Turks and Thracians. Engines also for casting stones, placed in convenient positions, battered the walls with frequent volleys. More important than these, sappers making themselves a way beneath the ground, undermined the foundations of the walls; while soldiers bearing shields, having planted ladders, sought an entrance over the ramparts. The king himself was running up and down through the ranks, directing some, reproving some, and urging others, and thus was he everywhere present with every one of them, so that whatever they all did, ought properly to be ascribed to him. The king of the French also himself did not lightly assail them, making as bold an assault as he could on the tower of the city which is called Cursed.

Sect. 65. The renowned Carracois and Mestocus, after Saladin the most powerful princes of the heathen, had at that time the charge of the besieged city who, after a contest of many days, promised by their interpreters the surrender of the city, and a ransom for their heads; but the king of the English desired to subdue their obstinacy by force; and wished that the vanquished should pay their heads for the ransom of their bodies, but, by the mediation of the king of the French, their life and indemnity of limbs only was accorded them, if, after surrender of the city and yielding of every thing they possessed, the Holy Cross should be given up.

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