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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 41

Westminster, with a ceremonious procession; and three days afterwards, viz., on the 3rd of September, the day of the ordination of St. Gregory the pope, which was a Sunday, he was solemnly anointed king by the imposition of hands, by Archbishop Baldwin, in virtue of his office, who performed the service, assisted by many of his suffragans. At his coronation were present his brother John, and his mother Eleanor, who, after the death of King Henry, had been, by the command of her son Richard, the new king, released from prison, where she had been ten years; and there were also present counts and barons, and an immense crowd of men and soldiers; and the kingdom was confirmed to the hands of King Richard. On the 3rd day of September, in the year of our Lord 1189, Richard was anointed king, on a Sunday, with the dominical letter A., viz., in the year after leap year. Many were the conjectures made, because the day above that was marked unlucky in the calendar; and in truth it was unlucky, and very much so to the Jews of London, who were destroyed that day, and likewise the Jews settled in other parts of England endured many hardships. Having therefore celebrated the occasion by a festival of three days, and entertained his guests in the royal palace of Westminster, King Richard gratified all, by distributing money, without count or number, to all according to their ranks, thus manifesting his liberality and his great excellence. His generosity, and his virtuous endowments, the ruler of the world should have given to the ancient times; for in this period of the world, as it waxes old, such feelings rarely exhibit themselves, and when they do, they are subjects of wonder and astonishment. He had the valour of Hector, the magnanimity of Achilles, and was equal to Alexander, and not inferior to Roland in valour; nay, he outshone many illustrious characters of our own times. The liberality of a Titus was his, and, which is so rarely found in a soldier, he was gifted with the eloquence of Nestor and the prudence of Ulysses; and he shewed himself pre-eminent in the conclusion and transaction of business, as one whose knowledge was not without active good-will to aid it, nor his good-will wanting in knowledge. Who, if Richard were accused of presumption, would not readily excuse him, knowing him for a man who never knew defeat, impatient of an injury, and impelled irresistibly to vindicate his rights, though all he did was characterized by innate nobleness of mind. Success made him better fitted for action; fortune ever favours the bold, and though she works her pleasure on whom she will, Richard was never to be overwhelmed with adversity. He was tall of stature, graceful in figure; his hair between red and auburn; his limbs were straight and flexible; his arms rather long, and not to be matched for wielding the sword or for striking with it; and his long legs suited the rest of his frame; while his appearance was commanding, and his manners and habits suitable; and he gained the greatest celebrity, not more from his high birth than from the virtues that adorned him. But why need we take much labour in extolling the fame of so great a man? He needs no superfluous commendation, for he has a sufficient meed of praise, which is the sure companion of great actions. He was far superior to all others both in moral goodness, and in strength, and memorable for prowess in battles, and his mighty deeds outshone the most brilliant description we could give of them. Happy, in truth, might he have been deemed had he been without rivals who envied his glorious actions, and whose only cause of enmity was his magnificence, and his being the searcher after virtue rather than the slave of vice.

Chapter VI. - How King Richard, having arranged the affairs of his kingdom, celebrated the Nativity of Christ at Liuns, in Normandy, and how, by agreement, he and the king of France met on the feast of St. John the Baptist at Vezelai. After the coronation-feast was ended, as we before said, King Richard arose in his father’s stead, and, after having received the oath of allegiance from the nobles, as was the custom, in the form of homage, and each having submitted to his sovereignty, he left London and went round his country; and afterwards he set out on a pilgrimage to St. Edmund, whose festival was at hand; thence he went to Canterbury, and at his command some bishoprics, which, having become vacant, had been kept so by the king his father, were filled up, and, with the approval of the king, the following were installed bishops: Richard the treasurer, of London; Godfrey de Luci, of Winchester; Hubert Walter, of Salisbury, William de Longchamp, of Ely, whom the king also made his chancellor and justiciary of all England. In like manner, also, the king caused bishops to be ordained to the vacant bishoprics in his other territories. Having prepared every thing necessary for his journey, and having set the kingdom of England in order as far as time permitted, he returned to Normandy without delay, and kept the festival of the Nativity of Our Lord at Liuns; for his intention of setting out upon his journey and the fulfilment of his vow made him

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