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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 53

of its fury, we did all we could to guard against the dangers of the place, and pass over the waves that boiled and foamed around. The royal ship was always in advance, and when the king lifted his eyes, he saw beneath a calm sky, a very large ship of the sort called a buss (buza) bearing down, which was returning from Jerusalem. The king, therefore, speedily sent men to inquire for intelligence concerning the siege of Acre, from those who were in the ship; who replied that the king of France had already arrived at Acre in safety, and was diligently employed in making machines, until the arrival of the king of England. The king of France had put into the port of Acre on the Saturday of Easter week, and was applying all his energies to the taking of the city. He had therefore caused petrariǽ to be erected, and placed near the tower Maledictum, as well as other machines for throwing down the walls, for the king of France lay on the side near to that tower. By means of filling up and treading in the trenches, and bringing machines and petrariǽ for casting stones, the wall was in part broken down; but not long afterwards, the machines were attacked and burnt to ashes by the exertions of the Turks. When King Richard heard all these things from the aforesaid sailors, the buss passed on its way, and he made all his arrangements in high spirits; and as the wind was not fair, he beat about, and toiled much to master its uncertainty; but the fleet, from the adverse gales, and the rising and falling of the waves, was forced back, and driven into the open sea. However, the buss from Lyons, in which the queens were, first put into the port of the city of Limozin, in the island of Cyprus; though they did not come to the land, but dropped their anchors at some distance out at sea.

Chapter XXIX. - Of the many misfortunes which befel the Holy Land, especially through the emperor of Cyprus.

With what expiation do we deem the Holy Land to have been punished, or with what scourge smitten, or of what crime guilty, that so many adversaries should have resisted its succour, whereby assistance should have been so long deferred? Nay, it began to be believed that the cause of its redemption being so long delayed was the wickedness of its defenders; and it is very evident by many proofs that the Divine aid was withheld in consequence of the iniquity of its inhabitants; whence also it happened that the excellent soldiers of France, who were looked forward to as brave allies, were unseasonably taken away in the midst. For why need we speak of the death of the illustrious emperor of Germany, whose end sullied the glory of his former reign? or who could relate the grief felt for the death of the once rich and glorious Henry, king of England? By his money, the city of Tyre was preserved, and by his wisdom and prudence it was hoped that the Holy Land would be recovered lastly, what might we say of the decease of William, king of Sicily, who after he had made all the necessary preparations for his pilgrimage, and had oftentimes sent the wished-for aid, was cut off by sudden death, and closed his career? All these, and many other misfortunes, impeded the recovery of the Holy Land, and each of them was more than enough to injure the cause. But there was one thing above all others, we mean that which concerned the island of Cyprus, from which the land of Jerusalem used annually to gain no small profit; but now, after shaking off the yoke of subjection, it disdained to give it any thing, by the direction of the tyrant of the island, who had usurped the imperial power. Most wicked of all bad men, and surpassing Judas in treachery, and Guenelon in treason, he wantonly persecuted all who professed the Christian religion. He was said to be a friend of Saladin, and it was reported that they had drunk each other’s blood, as a sign and testimony of mutual treaty, as if by the mingling of blood outwardly, they might become kinsmen in reality. This, too, was afterwards evident by certain proofs; for the tyrant, gaining confidence by this step, and setting at nought the subjection which he owed, falsely usurped the name of emperor, and he was accustomed to seize upon every one who put into the island of his own accord, or was driven thereto by the violence of the wind, that he might extract a ransom from the rich, and force the poor to become slaves. When, therefore, he learnt that a strange fleet had arrived, he determined, according to his custom, to seize upon all who were on board, and, having plundered them of their money, to keep them captives.

Chapter XXX. - Of the shipwreck and misfortune of some of our men,and of their capture and imprisonment; also of the attack they made and the victory they gained over the islanders of Cyprus.

On the vigil of St. Mark the Evangelist, a little before sunset, dark clouds covered the horizon, and the spirit of the storm rushed forth, and

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