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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 33

chain, in safety; and when the townsmen saw them, they went out with numberless lamps, and received them with much pomp into the city, overjoyed at their arrival. Afterwards, their numbers being thus augmented, they turned out of the town those of their men who were less fit for fighting, lest their numbers should consume their provisions and strength; and so the time was protracted.

Chapter LXII. - How, on our men being set in battle array under the command of Archbishop Baldwin against Saladin, Saladin flies to the mountains.

The common men now murmured at the inactivity of the chiefs, and the continuance of a fruitless blockade, and grew weary of the siege: and when the chiefs had considered for some time what had best be done, the result was, that the enemy on the outside should be challenged to a general engagement; for if the hostile army gave way, the city would more easily be assaulted and stormed. On the morrow of St. Martin’s, therefore, our chiefs led out their troops in order of battle into the plain, in the cold rays of a winter’s sun; and when we saw them come forth, with their various standards, the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the others, their number, valour, and varied costumes, created in us mixed sentiments of admiration, confidence, and pleasure. The clergy claimed no small share of military glory; for abbots and prelates led their own troops, and fought manfully for the faith, joyfully contending for the law of God. Among and above the others, the venerable Archbishop Baldwin distinguished himself; and although his advanced age might have inclined him to inactivity, the perfection of his virtues made up for the defect of nature. Raising the standard on which was inscribed the name of the glorious martyr Thomas, he found for it a meet and worthy company; for two hundred knights and three hundred followers served in the pay of the holy man. He himself, with the duke of Suabia, and Theobald, count of Blois, had charge of the camp; and having performed the duties of the patriarch, who was ill in bed, he blessed and gave absolution to the army as it went forth. Nor could the noble bishop of Salisbury endure to be absent from the fray, but he performed the duties of a soldier in the field, a leader in the camp, and a pastor in the church. Towards sunset, when the army had advanced and pitched their tents, the townsmen came into the vacant space, and burst upon the baggage to plunder it; but our men received them manfully, and putting them to flight, saved their friends without sustaining any loss. At night, the sultan ordered all his tents and property to be carried to the mountains; and what could not be moved in time was burnt. It was the part of a spirit conquered and hesitating, thus declining battle on the plain, to destroy his own property, change his position, and retreat to the mountains. When fe found a spot not easy of access, he halted; and sent out an overwhelming number of infantry and bowmen to check those who should pursue, that at least he might annoy from above, those whom he feared to engage at close quarters. Our men, therefore, cheated of their battle in the plain, and unable to follow the foe up the precipitous road, returned equally without hurt and without glory.

Chapter LXIII. - How the Turks fought with a party of our men, who had gone out to Caiffa for provisions, and were returning, and how they yielded.

After this, hearing that provisions, of which they were much in want, might be procured at Caiffa, the army proceeded in that direction; but when they came to a place called Recordana, behold the Turks suddenly rushing down, made a fierce attack on them, taking them for fugitives; some of them threw their darts, others pressed on with their spears; one party made loud shouting, another blew their trumpets like horns, to frighten those who were flying. Our men, having pitched their tents in the plain that night, kept quiet till morning; and then they saw the Turks in vast numbers surrounding them on all sides. Our men terrified at such a multitude, having taken up their arms, and put themselves in army, went forth in battle array to meet them; yet the Turks did not venture to attack, but gave way as our men came on, although their own numbers were countless. Having heard that there were no provisions at Caiffa, as they supposed, for the Turks had carried them all away, our men returned towards Acre in order of battle. The Turks constantly harassed them on the road, but they sustained little loss from their attacks. At a certain river, however, which flows from thence to Acre, near a fountain, there was a severe engagement, and great slaughter of noble steeds, before the armies were separated; our army now proceeded on one side of the stream, while the other was occupied by the enemy, who were constantly engaged in throwing missiles, and threatening them without ceasing, as well as harassing them in the rear. They harassed our men much, for the foot followers and bowmen, who occupied the rear of our army, were forced to keep facing about and discharging arrows at their pursuers without

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