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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 50

place, with a splendid company of his nobles. And when they had met according to appointment, each was exceedingly rejoiced at the arrival of the other, and strove to shew every mutual civility, and they entered into a treaty of friendship; by which they bound themselves to preserve peace between each other, and having exchanged gifts of royal magnificence, they concluded the ceremony in a becoming manner, and separated, King Tancred returning to Palermo, and King Richard to Messina.

Chapter XXIII. - How King Richard bestows most ample gifts on his soldiers and others who had been impoverished by his stay there.

Meanwhile, the soldiers, who had been at great expense during the summer while the aforesaid troubles and disturbances were going on, liked not so long, so idle, and so useless a delay. For they considered that their brethren in Christ were constantly engaged in contests at the siege of Acre, and that they had already spent the greater part of their substance, and had even been compelled to restore what they acquired by plundering the captured city. King Richard, being moved by the prevalence of complaints of this kind, with royal munificence bestowed gifts on all that needed it, beyond their expectation, so that each one was most sufficiently enriched according to his rank. The knights were amply relieved by these gifts, whether of gold or silver, or any other kind; and even noble women of Palestine, who had been deprived of their inheritance and exiled, both widows and virgins, were bountifully enriched. King Richard thus obtained the gratitude and favour of all, for he gave the foot-soldiers and attendants of inferior rank a hundred sols at least. The king of France, also allured by his example, bestowed very many gifts on his own men. Hence fresh joy reigned among the people, and those who had been broken down by sorrow were raised up by such generous magnificence.

Chapter XXIV. - Of the great feast given by King Richard at Mategriffin, on Christmas Day, to which he invited the king of France and all his people, and of his splendid gifts.

The great festival of Christmas was at hand, kept with the greater solemnity as it was the more needful for the redemption of the human race. In honour of this festival, King Richard invited, with all respect, the king of France to dinner, and by the public crier called upon every soul to pass that day with him in joy and gladness. At his courteous request, the king of France came with an innumerable band of nobles, and a crowd of others. He labours not much who compels a willing person; and we cannot suppose many were absent from King Richard’s feast. They were, therefore, received with honour into the castle of Mategriffin, which he had built against the will of the natives, and where every one sat down according to his rank. Who could count the variety of dishes which were brought in, or the different kinds of cups, or the crowds of servants in splendid attire? which, if any one wishes to do, let him measure in his mind the magnanimity of King Richard, and then he can understand the kind of feast which would be prepared. You might have seen there nothing unbecoming or inapposite - nothing which was not of value and commendable; for the dishes and platters on which they were served were of no other material or substance than gold or silver, and all the vessels were of wrought gold or silver, with images of men and beasts worked thereon with the chisel or the file, and adorned with precious stories. Moreover, their joyous countenances were conspicuous above all, and gave a grace to the festival; and the guests were entertained with the cheerfulness of the entertainers over and above the variety and abundance of meat and drink. After the feast was at an end, King Richard set before the king of France the most beautiful cups, and gave him his choice in honour of the occasion, and gave to each of the nobles presents according to his rank; for like Titus, with whose hand he lavished his wealth, he thought that the day was lost on which he happened to have given nothing.

Chapter XXV. - How the Pisans and the Genoese attack the guards of King Richard’s fleet.

It happened at that time that some Pisans and Genoese, heated with wine, and disturbed by some cause or other, attacked the guards of King Richard’s fleet in a hostile manner, and from the vehement nature of their assault a great number were killed on both sides. On the morrow, as if grieving that they had not wrought their full malice the day before, they returned to the attack, and while they were fiercely engaged, King Richard came upon them hastily, and with difficulty restraining the combatants, forced them to separate.

Chapter XXVI. - Of the arrival of Queen Eleanor and Berengaria, the future wife of King Richard, and of the departure, first, of the king of France, and then of the king of England, for the Holy Land.

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