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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 40

themselves to the performance of so pious and so necessary a work; proving to them that they would deservedly be the happier for undertaking the mission at once, in fervent zeal and without delay. Yea, their journey would be the more praiseworthy, and their endeavours many times more excellent, in behalf of a place, though desolate, yet rendered holier by the divine mystical promise, and which was consecrated by the nativity, dwelling, and passion of our Lord. Moreover, it was distinguished, by the divine choice, from every other nation; and being his dwelling, ought to be snatched from the heathen, of whom the Lord had said, "that they should not enter into His Church." They hastened, therefore, with ready zeal and pious emulation to take the cross at the hands of the clergy; so that the question was, not who should take it up, but who had not already done so. The voice of song was now silenced, the pleasures of eating and luxurious habits were abandoned, the quarrels of disputants quieted; new peace was made between old enemies, causes of litigation were settled by mutual agreement, and for this new ground of quarrel, every one who had cause of dispute, even for long-standing enmity, was reconciled to his neighbour. What need is there to say more? By the inspiration of God, all were of one accord, for one common cause led them to undertake the labour of this pious pilgrimage.

Chapter III. - How Henry, king of England, and Philip, king of France, with an immense multitude, took up the cross between Gisors and Trie.

Richard, then count of Poitou, was the first to take up the cross, and an immense multitude with him; but they did not set out on their pilgrimage, owing to some delay, occasioned by a dispute between Philip, king of France, and Henry, king of England, the father of Count Richard. An inveterate dispute had excited them to international war, as it had done their ancestors, the French and Normans, from an inexorable and almost uninterrupted feud. The archbishop of the land of Jerusalem, that is of Tyre,(15) was earnest to effect a reconciliation between them, and had fixed the day they were to meet, to take up the cross, at a place between Gisors and Trie. The aforesaid archbishop had come on a mission to animate the faithful, and obtain assistance for the deliverance of the Holy Land, having been specially sent to the king of England, the fame of whose virtues was spread far and wide above all the other kings of the earth, on account of his glory, riches, and the greatness of his power. On that day, after many plans

(15)This was William of Tyre, the author of the well-known history of the earlier period of the Crusades.

had been proposed, and much spoken on either side, they both came finally to the determination that each of them should take up the cross, and depart from his land, it appearing to each a safe precaution against the one invading the kingdom of the other, while absent, for neither would venture to go unless the other went also. At length, these conditions having been, with some difficulty, agreed on, the two kings exchanged the kiss of peace, and assumed the cross with the blessing of the archbishop, and with them an immense number of both nations, partly from the love of God and for the forgiveness of their sins, partly from respect for their king; and so great was the multitude that took up the cross on that day, that the people, from the crush and intolerable heat (for it was summer) nearly fainted. The delay in entering upon their march must be reprehended; it was the work of the enemy of the human race, whose interest it is to foment discord, and excite inexorable enmity, and by whose instigation, the altercation between the kings was revived, and the seeds of discord sown from a very light occasion, that by their diabolical superstition neither was inclined to forego, lest, as it were, his fame and honour should be derogated thereby; as if it were abject and mean to yield obedience to justice and right.

Chapter IV. - Henry, king of England, dies.

The death of Henry, king of England, put an end to these dissensions, and the vow of making the crusade, which he had deferred fulfilling while in safety, after a lapse of time, could not be performed, by the intervention of his death. As a vow must be entirely voluntary, so when taken, it must irrefragably be discharged; and he who binds himself by a vow is to be condemned for the non-performance of it, as he could not have made it lawfully, but of his own accord and free-will. Now King Henry died on the day of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, in the year of our Lord 1189, and was buried at Fontevrault.

Chapter V. - How Richard, count of Poitou, was crowned king of England.

Therefore in the same year, after the death of his father, Richard, count of Poitou, having arranged his affairs in Normandy, in about two months crossed over to England, and on St. Giles’s day he was received at

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