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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 34

intermission. On the following night they pitched their camps close by the stream, and had very little rest, but much anxiety; for they were obliged either to drive off the enemy, who attacked them openly, or watch against hidden ambuscades; for it was not so much by constant, as continued, attacks, that the enemy tried to annoy them with injuries, or provoke them with jeers. There was a bridge over the river, which it was necessary for us to pass, but which was occupied by the Turks before our arrival; this they had not had time to break down, as they intended, but closing together, they placed themselves in the middle of it to check our advance; but when our men saw that nothing but absolute force would remove them, Godfrey of Lusignan, the king’s brother, with five other chosen knights, made a fierce attack upon them, and put them to flight in a moment, and by the same assault threw thirty of them into the river, never more to rise, for they were drowned; thus they gained a free passage across the river in spite of all opposition, and returned to the siege of Acre.

Chapter LXIV. - With what guiles the marquis espoused the wife of Reinfred, who was yet alive, in order to gain the heirship of the kingdom.

Now the marquis, having for some time aspired to the glory of reigning, on seeing a way open to his wishes, made himself confident of obtaining the kingdom, if he could supplant the wife of Reinfred; to this end he strained every effort, and put in practice every art. But adopting an underhand policy, he complained of the condition of the kingdom, that the king was not able to manage affairs, that he was reigning without right, now his wife was removed, and that another daughter of King Amalric still survived. He first set forth these matters among the people, but he sedulously courted the chiefs also, enticing these with gifts, and binding others by the tie of kindred; and all he either allures by his bland manners, or obliges by his gifts, or gains over by his promises. It was easy for so active a man, surpassing Sinon in devices, Ulysses in eloquence, and Mithridates in variety of tongues, to gain all his wishes, armed as he was with such cunning; but forasmuch as the Church forbade the bonds of marriage to be broken asunder, the crafty man found out a new charge to take away the wife of Reinfred; for the chiefs persuaded him that she could be separated from her husband without violation of the law, as having married when too young, and without consent. But Reinfred himself had conceived the hope of gaining the kingdom in the right of his wife - a person more akin to a woman than a man, effeminate in manner and loose in language, and to whom that verse of Virgil applies, "While Nature doubts, if boy or girl be made, You’re born, fair boy, to be a pretty jade." For one day, when, at the mandate of the chiefs, Reinfred had brought forward his wife, he lost his bride and his kingdom together by the arts of the marquis. Oh wickedness worthy of the satirist’s pen and of tragic declamation! For if we condemn the rape of Helen, the present deed is much more base, and its injustice greater: for Helen was stolen, surreptitiously stolen, in the absence of her husband, whereas this one was violently withdrawn in his presence. But that the act might lose the infamy of its wrong, the girl is given into the keeping of a sequestrator, while the judgment of the clergy is sought for a divorce. The marquis, therefore, tampered with the clergy by gifts and wiles; he sounded all those whom he believed agreeable to his purpose and effects, by immense largesses and the fascination of gold, to corrupt their judicial impartiality. The report of so great a wickedness was carried to the ears of the most sacred metropolitan of Canterbury; it arouses his innocence to astonishment, and inflames the anger of the defender of the law. While he performed with due rigour the duties of the patriarch, who, as we said, was sick, the friends of the marquis tried to quash the verdict which was to be given, under the pretext of appeal. Three of his chief favourites were Reginald, lord of Sidon, Pagan, of the castle of Caiffa, and Balisantus; and there would have been a fourth, the count of Tripoli, had he not gone away, who would have formed this consummate council of iniquity. For in them, as in an abode of wickedness, were united the treachery of Judas, the cruelty of Nero, the impiety of Herod, and all that the present or olden times regarded as abominable and wicked. Now, Balisantus, on Amalric’s death, had married his wife, this damsel’s mother; and she, having imbibed from her childhood the lowest Grecian morals, had a husband similar to herself in cruelty, levity, and faithlessness. The marquis wins them both over by presents aud promises, to persuade the girl to prefer a complaint, that she had married Reinfred against her will, that she had always opposed it, and that the marriage could not stand, because she had never given her consent. This plot is entirely successful, and the woman easily changes her

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