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

 
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GEOFFREY VINSAUF
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page 15

mark of it; for whenever he opens his mouth, the bare gum testifies the glory of his victory. At last, after many severe attacks, the army arrives at Iconium, where that wicked traitor had shut himself within the walls of the city: our soldiers pitched their tents at no great distance, uncertain what new disaster the morrow might bring with it. It was now about the end of Whitsuntide, and that same night so violent and sudden a storm burst upon them, that its fury was felt even within the camp. In the morning, when the clouds were dispersed, the sky became clear, and behold! the Turkish army appear around on every side with trumpets, drums, and horrid clang, ready to attack. They had never before been seen in such multitudes, nor could they have been conceived to have been so numerous. If any one should read that there were three hundred thousand or more of them, it was only an estimate of the amount, for it was impossible to number them. All this multitude had been roused to arms by the sultan’s son Melkin, who wished to anticipate his father-in-law Saladin’s victory, and, trusting in the number and valour of his men, was confident of success. Meanwhile the sultan had ascended a lofty tower, where he sat in expectation, eyeing the country beneath him and the armies that were ready to engage, and hoping in a short time to see accomplished what his sanguine mind had promised. The emperor, seeing some of his men alarmed at the unusual multitude of the enemy, displayed the confidence of a noble chieftain, and raising his hands to heaven, gave thanks to God in the sight of all, that the inevitable necessity was at length arrived for that combat which had so long been deferred by the flight of the enemy. At these words, all were inspired with fresh ardour, as they looked on the emperor’s placid countenance; and one old man, weak though he was, supplied an incentive of valour to many who were young and strong. What God is so great as our God? All that multitude who were so sure of victory that they brought chains with them rather than swords, were overthrown in a moment: and at once the city was taken and occupied, and the enemy without vanquished; everywhere were blood and death, and heaps of slain, their number impedes their flight, and they fall by those very means on which they had counted for triumph. The battle is now fought hand to hand; the bows are snapped asunder; the arrows no longer fly, and they have scarcely room to wield their swords. Thus everything is thrown into confusion by the multitude, and what our enemies intended for our ruin, turns out to our greater glory; the flying war, which had been waged among brambles and the gorges of rocks, is now carried on in a fair and open field; the Christians satiate their fury, which had so often been put forth in vain. The Turks experience, against their will, how well their enemies can fight hand to hand whom they had so often provoked at a distance. This splendid victory was not granted unworthily by the Divine excellence to His faithful servants: for they observed chastity in the camp, and discipline when under arms: in all, and above all, was the fear of the Lord; with all was the love of their neighbour; all were united in brotherly affection, as they were also companions in danger. The sultan, when the city was taken, seeing that there remained to him only the tower in which he was, sent hastily to the emperor, throwing all the blame upon his son, and professing his own innocence; promising, moreover, as much gold as he should demand, and whatsoever persons he should name as hostages for his observance of the treaty. The emperor, alas! too easy, accepted what was offered and gave what was asked: in this less worthy of praise, because he let go that man of blood and treachery whom he had almost in his possession, when it would have been more honourable to slay him than to keep alive so great an enemy to the Christian name. The hostages were given and the treaty confirmed; but the wickedness of that malignant traitor did not rest there; for, whilst the Christians were continuing their march far beyond Iconium, he attacked them, sometimes by ambuscade, sometimes openly in the field. The hostages were asked what this meant, and they told a falsehood which suited their own purpose: they said that the Turks were a wild race whom no one could govern; that they wandered about with no fixed habitation, having no property of their own, and always trying to obtain that of others either by robbery or theft. They attacked us however less boldly, knowing that many of their men had fallen, for, by a moderate computation, 22,000 of the Turks had been slain in former conflicts.

Chapter XXIV. - How the Emperor Frederic, arriving in Armenia, is drowned in the river Selesius, and his son, the duke of Suabia, takes the command of the army.

The victorious army now enters the Armenian territories all rejoice at having quitted a hostile kingdom, and at their arrival in the country of the faithful. But, alas! a more fatal land awaits them, which is to extinguish the

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