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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

 
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Richard of Devizes
Chronicle
page 21

obstinacy, but to follow up the doctrine of our faith. For we believe that the spirits of the unavenged wander for ever, and that they are deprived of all rest. But what did the rashness and timidity of the devoted profit them? being vanquished by force, and constrained by fear to surrender, they were punished with a more lenient death than they had expected. And yet, oh! shame on the Gentiles! their spirits wandered unavenged! I swear to you by the Great God, that if, after he had gained Acre, he had immediately led his army to Jerusalem, he would not have found even one of our people in the whole circuit of the Christians' land; on the contrary, we should have offered to him inestimable treasure, that he might not proceed, that he might not prosecute us further.

Sect. 92. "But, thanks be to God! he was burdened with the king of the French, and hindered by him, like a cat with a hammer tied to its tail. To conclude, we, though his rivals, see nothing in Richard that we can find fault with but his valour; nothing to hate but his experience in war. But what glory is there in fighting with a sick man? And although this very morning I could have wished that both you and he had all received your final doom, now I compassionate you on account of your king's illness. I will either obtain for you a settled peace with my brother, or at the least a good and durable truce. But until I return to you, do not by any means speak of it to the king, lest, if he should be excited, he may get worse, for he is of so lofty and impatient a disposition, that, even though he should needs presently die, he would not consent to an arrangement, without seeing the advantage on his side! " He would have spoken further, but his tongue, languishing and failing for sorrow, would not continue his harangue, So with his head resting in his clasped hands he wept sore.

Sect. 93. The bishop of Salisbury, and such of the most trusty of the king's household as were present, who had secretly deliberated with him upon this subject, reluctantly consented to the truce which before they had determined to purchase at any price, as if it had been detested, and not desired by them. So their right hands being given and received, Saffatin, when he had washed his face, and disguised his sorrow, returned to Jerusalem, to Saladin. The council was assembled before his brother, and after seventeen days of weighty argument, he with difficulty succeeded in prevailing on the stubbornness of the Gentiles to grant a truce to the Christians. The time was appointed and the form approved. If it please King Richard, for the space of three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours, such a truce shall be observed between the Christians and the Gentiles, that whatever either one party or the other in anywise possesses, he shall possess without molestation to the end; it will be permitted during the interval, that the Christians at their pleasure may fortify Acre only, and the Gentiles Jerusalem. All contracts, commerce, every act and every thing shall be mutually carried on by all in peace. Saffatin himself is despatched to the English as the bearer of this decree.

Sect. 94. Whilst King Richard was sick at Jaffa, word was brought him that the duke of Burgundy was taken dangerously ill at Acre. The day was the day for the king's fever to take its turn, and through his delight at this report, it left him. The king immediately with uplifted hands imprecated a curse upon him, saying, "May God destroy him, for he would not destroy the enemies of our faith with me, although he had long served in my pay." On the third day the duke died; as soon as his decease was known, the bishop of Beauvais, having left the king with all his men, came in haste to Acre; the French out of all the towns assembled before him, all but Henry, count of Champagne, King Richard's nephew by his sister. And the bishop, being made their leader and bully, set forth a proclamation and commanded them all to return home.

Sect. 95. The fleet was made ready, and the glorious prince retreating with his cowardly troop, sails over the Etruscan Sea. Having landed on the German coast, he spreads abroad among the people, during the whole of his journey, that that traitor the king of England, from the first moment of his arrival in Judea, had endeavoured to betray his lord the king of the French to Saladin; that, as soon as he had obtained Tyre, he caused the marquess to be murdered; that he had despatched the duke of Burgundy by poison; that at the last he had sold generally the whole army of the Christians who did not obey him; that he was a man of singular ferocity, of harsh and repulsive manners, subtle in treachery, and most cunning in dissimulation; that on that account the king of the French had returned home so soon; that on that account the French who remained had left Jerusalem unredeemed. This report gained strength by circulation, and provoked against one man the hatred of all.

Sect. 96. The bishop of Beauvais, having returned to France, secretly whispered in the king's ear, that the king of England had sent assassins to France who would murder him. The king, alarmed at that, appointed, though against the custom of his country, a chosen body-guard; he further sent ambassadors to the emperor of Germany with presents, and carefully persuaded his imperial majesty to a hatred of the king of England. So it was enjoined by an imperial edict, that all cities and princes of the empire should take the king of the English by force, if by chance in his return from Judea he should happen to pass through their countries, and present him to him alive or dead. If any one spared him, he should be punished as the public enemy of the empire. All obeyed the emperor's charge; and especially that duke of Austria whom the king of England had dismissed at Acre.

Sect. 97. Henry, count of Champagne, now the only one of the French nobles left in Judea, returned to the king of the English, to Jaffa; and when he announced to him both the death of the duke of Burgundy and the departure of the French, the hope of the king so revived, that he presently experienced a perfect convalescence with a healthy perspiration; and having resumed his strength of body more by the high temper of his mind than by repose or nourishment, he issued a command through the whole coast from Tyre to Ascalon, that all who were able to serve in the wars should come to the service at the king's charges. There assembled before him a countless multitude, the greater part of whom were foot; which being rejected, as they were useless, he mustered the horse, and scarcely found five hundred knights and two thousand shield-bearers whose lords had perished. And not mistrustful on account of their small number, he being a most excellent orator, strengthened the minds of the fearful in a seasonable harangue. He


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