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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 20

placed the issue of the battle in man and not in the Deity, when man can do nothing without God; which, indeed, the issue of affairs proved by sad experience. The Turks stood resolute for the defence of their camp but when our men approached nearer, they opened the body of their infantry who stood first, and boldly charged the enemy with their horse. The unbelievers were put to flight, and abandoned their camp; the Christians desisted from the pursuit, and were eager after the spoil; the cords of the pavilions were cut, and the tent of the sultan himself was seized upon by the fiery Count de Bar. Meanwhile, an immense multitude of the enemy burst out from the city, and marching from that part which was not besieged, proceeded towards the mountain by a circuitous path. Indeed, they purposely marched by a tortuous circuit, that while our men were in doubt whether they meant to attack the camp or the army, they might fall suddenly upon the latter, and close them in from the rear. The Templars, inferior to none in renown, devoted to slaughter, had by this time burst through the enemies’ squares, and, if the remainder of the army had pressed on in pursuit, they would that day have been the fortunate conquerors as well of the city as of the battle; but when the Templars in their ardour had advanced too far in following up their fortune, they were suddenly attacked by the townsmen; and although multitudes overcame them, it was not without great slaughter of their own men that the enemy triumphed. There Gerard de Riddeford the master of the Templars, of whom we have made mention before, was slain; happy he on whom the Lord conferred so great glory, that he should gain the laurel which he had earned in so many wars, and be admitted into the fellowship of martyrs. In another part, while the Germans were too eagerly bent upon plunder, the old deceiver offered to their view a horse escaping; and seeing them pursue him in a crowd, the rest supposed that they were running away. By this slight but fatal accident the whole army was thrown into a panic, and all turned their thoughts to flight. At the same time, a new rumour increased their fear: for there was a cry that the townsmen had gone forth to plunder the baggage. The army was at once thrown into confusion; the battalions dispersed, and abandoned their standards; even the commanders fly headlong, and scarce any have courage to resist.

Chapter XXX. - The flight and slaughter of the Christians.

The Turks, on seeing the confusion of the Christians, wondered at the circumstance, but were ignorant of the cause; and having regained the victory unexpectedly, they turned their horses and resumed the courage which they had more from use than nature, yielding to those who pressed, and pressing on those who yielded; for they will fly from those who attack, and pursue those who fly. In this lamentable and disastrous tumult, Andrew de Brienne, while calling upon his comrades to resume the battle, was slain by the Turks who were pursuing; this man was so superior to all the other Frenchmen, that they awarded him the crown of chivalry, while others were First to strive for the honour of being second to him. His brother, the Count de Brienne, though he had seen him fall, passed him as he lay on the ground, and though called upon, feared to stop, and, like a coward, left him to his fate. Different from this was the conduct of a soldier, who, seeing James d’Avennes thrown from his horse, gave him the one on which he was escaping, and nobly by his own death saved the life of his lord. King Guy, also, was on the point of being slain by the foe, had not the marquis come to his assistance, who forgot the wrongs he had received from him, to discharge the duties of humanity, though to one undeserving of it, and rescued him from destruction. Geoffrey, the king’s brother, seeing the army in confusion, and all hastening to fly, at last abandoned the care of the camp which he had undertaken to defend; and, anxious for his brother’s safety, rushed forward to arrest the fugitives. O miserable change of affairs! the Christians had gone forth with confidence they return in confusion; they had marched in order - they return in disorder; victorious, they had routed the foe - yet they run back vanquished. Alan’s presumption at length acknowledged what man and what man’s strength can effect, if it rely not on the Lord’s right hand; for he powerfully works victory amongst his own people, who gives confidence to the warrior, and a crown to the victor. Our men had presumed on their own strength, they believed no enemy could be found who could put them in fear, and yet they found that enemy too near them, for they lost one thousand five hundred men. There was a knight named Ferrand, who having been left behind naked and nearly lifeless, after lying hid amongst the slain, returned by night to the camp, but was so disfigured by his wounds, that he could not be recognized by his friends, and with difficulty gained admission. The license of the poet or a lengthy dissertation might

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