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GEOFFREY VINSAUF Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land

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Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page 13

but only to crush the errors of an infidel race. But the ancient and inexorable hatred which the Greeks entertained of old against the Latins, had been handed down by the tenacity of ages to their posterity. If a motive or reason of this enmity be sought - "It were no wrong, if it a plea had found." Yet this may, perhaps, be urged as an excuse, that whereas the Latins were flourishing in arts and arms, they themselves were altogether ignorant and unwarlike: this gives a motive to their enmity, and they pine with jealousy at the prosperity of others. They are a perfidious race, a wicked generation, and utterly degenerate: the more illustrious they once were, the more signal is their degradation; their gold is converted into dross, their wheat into chaff their purity to filth, their glory to corruption. The old Greeks attempted and achieved much, both in arts and arms; but all their zeal for virtue has chilled in their posterity and has passed over to the Latins, so that where once were fountains there now are rivulets, or rather, dry and exhausted channels. Their virtues have found no heirs, but their crimes many; they still retain the deceit of Sinon, the falseness of Ulysses, and the atrocity of Atreus. If I be asked concerning their military science, this turns on stratagems rather than on battles; if concerning their good faith, the man should beware who has them for his friends, though their hostility can do him no harm. That nation, unable to impede the march of our army at the aforesaid passes, did what lay in their power to do it: all the natives fled to the mountaintops and carried with them every comfort which we could have bought of them for money, leaving their empty houses without an article of furniture in them to our army that was approaching. The emperor indeed, on the plea of peace, had already sent forwards the bishop of Munster, with some other princes, to Constantinople; but the wicked and cruel tyrant cast them into prison, daring to violate the sanctity of an ambassador, which, even among barbarians, has been respected from all antiquity by the sanction of usage and the laws of honour. Afterwards, however, influenced more by fear than a regard for right, he released the ambassadors from prison; for he feared the destruction of his capital if he should not speedily pacify our wrath. It would have been right, indeed, that the city should have been razed, even to the ground; for, if we believe report, it was polluted by new mosques, which its perfidious emperor allowed to be built, that he might strengthen the league which he had entered into with the Turks. The season of the year was now ripening towards autumn, and the constellation Libra was balancing the day and night in nearly equal lengths. The magnificent emperor of the Romans marched to take up his winter-quarters at Adrianople, which he found empty and deserted by its inhabitants. Here he took up his position, and waited for the season when he should lead his army forwards.

Chapter XXII. - Of the emperor Frederic’s wintering in Greece, and of the peace between him and the emperor Isaac: of the deceitful embassy sent to him by the sultan of Iconium, and of his passage through St. George’s Arm.

The duke of Suabia, son of the emperor, fearing lest ease should produce luxury, and luxury generate indolence, determined to find employment for the army during the inactivity of winter; and for this purpose, he formed a plan to storm a fortress which was situated at no great distance from the aforesaid city. The Greeks had assembled together in it, trusting in its fortifications, that they might from thence direct their schemes against the Latins; but in this expectation they were confounded, for they were speedily defeated and vanquished, thrown into chains and kept prisoners. When the Byzantine emperor heard of these things, he feared that something still worse would happen; and, apprehending the destruction of all his empire, he hastily sent ambassadors to our emperor, promising hostages for peace, a market for the sale of provisions, and ships to transport all who wished to cross. The emperor, although many of them thought it dangerous to make peace at all with a tyrant, yet preferred to accept the offered treaty rather than longer delay his expedition. And now that Easter was approaching, he crossed over the narrow sea, generally called by the name of "St. George’s Arm." Although but a narrow strait, this sea enjoys no little reputation, because it washes so great a city, and flows between the two divisions of the world, Asia and Europe. The sultan of Iconium, a deceitful man, and thirsting after Christian blood, under a fraudulent pretext professed friendship towards us, and concealing the malignant venom of his heart, sought thereby to destroy us when off our guard. He had sent frequent messengers to the emperor, whilst still in Greece, entreating him to cross over; and whilst he accused the Greeks and their prince of treachery, he promised that he would be a devout and faithful servant to the Christians, and that he would place himself and all that he had at their disposal, and furnish to all of them a market to buy

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