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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 45

Chapter XIII. - With what show, first the king of France, then the king of England, arrived in Messina.

It is a general custom, that when any particular king or prince of the earth, conspicuous for his glory, might, and authority, comes forth in public, his appearance of power shall not fall short of that with which he is actually invested, - nay, it is but right and becoming that the greatness of a king should be shewn in his display and the homage which is paid him; for a common proverb says, "Such as I see you are, I esteem you." Moreover the general style and manner is taken from the disposition of the chief. When, therefore, the king of France, of so high renown, whose edict so many princes and nations obeyed, was known to be entering the port of Messina, the natives, of every age and sex, rushed forth to see so famous a king; but he, First with a single ship, as if to avoid the sight of men, entered the port of the citadel privately, while those who awaited him along the shore conceived this to be a proof of his weakness, and spoke upbraidingly of him as one not likely to be the performer of any great actions who thus slunk from the eye of man; and being frustrated in their hopes of seeing him, they returned indignant to their homes. But when the report was spread of the arrival of the noble-minded king of England, the people rushed out eagerly to behold him, crowding along the shore and seating themselves wherever they were likely to catch a glimpse of him. And lo! they beheld the sea in the distance covered with innumerable galleys; and the sound of trumpets and clarions, loud and shrill, strike upon the ear! Then, as they approached nearer, they saw the galleys as they were impelled onward, laden and adorned with arms of all kinds; their pennons and standards floating in countless numbers in the breeze in good order and on the tops of their spears; the prow of the galleys distinguished from each other by the variety of the paintings, with shields glittering in the sun, and you might behold the sea boiling from the number of oarsmen who plied it, and the ears of the spectators rang with the peals of the instruments commonly called trumpets, and their delight was aroused by the approach of the varied crowd, when lo! the magnificent king, accompanied by the crowd of obedient galleys, standing on a prow more elevated and ornamental than the others, as if to see what he had not seen before, or to be seen by the crowds that densely thronged the shore, lands in a splendid dress, where the sailors whom he had sent before him, and others of his equipage, receive him with congratulations, and bring forward the chargers and horses which had been committed to their care for transportation, that he and his suite might mount. The natives crowd round him on all sides, mixed with his own men, and followed him to his hostel. The common people conversed with each other in admiration of his great glory; and agreed that he was worthy of empire, and deserved to be set over nations and kingdoms, "for the fame of him which we had before heard fell far short of the truth when we saw him." Meanwhile the trumpets blew, and their sounds being harmoniously blended, there arose a kind of discordant concord of notes, whilst the sameness of the sounds being continued, the one followed the other in mutual succession, and the notes which had been lowered were again resounded.

Chapter XIV. - What injuries our men suffered at Messina: at the hands of the Lombards.

When the Griffons saw the kings land in such strength, their arrogance was in part checked, for they perceived that they were their inferiors in valour and appearance; but the Lombards(16) ceased not contumaciously to menace and revile our men and to provoke them by insults, threatening even to attack our camp, to slay us and plunder our goods. They were excited by jealousy on account of their wives, with whom some of our men had talked, more for the purpose of irritating their husbands than with the intention of seducing them. From this quarrel and through envy, the Lombards were aroused, together with the commune(17)

(16)It is probable that Vinsauf calls this portion of the population Lombards, because they were occupied in mercantile pursuits. They were not, of course, Lombards by nation.
(17)It is hardly necessary to state that the commune was the corporate body of the city, probably jealous of their municipal privileges, which the crusaders perhaps had infringed.

of the city, and were always hostile to us as far as they could, chiefly because they had learnt from their ancestors that they had been subdued by us of yore; whence they did them as much annoyance as they could, at the same time heightening the battlements of their towers, and deepening the fosses that surrounded them. To irritate our men still more, they provoked them by repeated revilings and insulted them with contumelies.

Chapter XV. - How, owing to a loaf of bread which was sold by a woman, a fight took place between us and the Lombards.

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