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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 62

Book III

Chapter I. - Of the arrival of King Richard at Acre.

Thus, after his success by sea, King Richard hastened with joy and alacrity, and with all his suite, towards Acre, whither his eager wishes carried him; and the next night, with the aid of a prosperous gale, the fleet anchored off Tyre. In the morning they weighed anchor, and hoisted sail, and soon afterwards passed Candalion, of which we have before spoken; and going by Casella Ymbrici, the high tower of Acre came in sight, and then, by little and little, the other fortifications of the city. Around it the besiegers lay in countless multitudes, chosen from every nation throughout Christendom and under the face of heaven, and well fitted for the labours and fatigues of war; for the city had now been besieged a long time, and had been afflicted by constant toil and tribulation, by the pressure of famine, and every kind of adversity, as we have before described. Moreover, beyond the besiegers, was seen the Turkish army, not in a compact body, but covering the mountains and valleys, hills and plains, with tents, the colours of whose various forms were reflected by the sun. They saw, also the pavilion of Saladin, and his brother Safahadin’s tent, and that of Kahadin, the mainstay of Paganism; he was watching the parts to seaward, and planning constant and vigorous attacks upon the Christians. King Richard beheld and computed all their army; and when he arrived in port, the king of France and a whole army of natives, and the princes, chiefs, and nobles, came forth to meet him and welcome him, with joy and exultation, for they had eagerly longed for his arrival.

Chapter II. - Of the joy, songs, and processions which took place on account of King Richard’s arrival.

On the Saturday before the festival of the blessed apostle Barnabas, in the Pentecost week, King Richard landed at Acre with his retinue, and the earth was shaken by the acclamations of the exulting Christians. The people testified their joy by shouts of welcome and the clang of trumpets; the day was kept as a jubilee, and universal gladness reigned around, on account of the arrival of the king, long wished for by all nations. The Turks, on the other hand, were terrified and cast down by his coming, for they perceived that all egress and return would be at an end, in consequence of the multitude of the king’s galleys. The two kings conducted each other from the port, and paid one another the most obsequious attention. Then King Richard retired to the tent previously prepared for him, and forthwith entered in to arrangements about the siege; for it was his most anxious care to find out by what means, artifice, and machines, they could capture the city without loss of time. No pen can sufficiently describe the joy of the people on the king’s arrival, nor tongue detail it; the very calmness of the night was thought to smile upon them with a purer air; the trumpets clanged, horns sounded, and the shrill intonations of the pipe, and the deeper notes of the timbrel and harp, struck upon the ear; and soothing symphonies were heard like various voices blended in one; and there was not a man who did not, after his own fashion, indulge in joy and praise; either singing popular ballads to testify the gladness of his heart, or reciting the deeds of the ancients, stimulating by their example the spirit of the moderns. Some drank wine from costly cups, to the health of the singers; while others mixing together, high and low, passed the night in constant dances. And their joy was heightened by the subjugation of the island of Cyprus by King Richard; a place so useful and necessary to them, and one which would be of the utmost service to the army. As a further proof of the exultation of their hearts, and to illumine the darkness of the night, wax torches and flaming lights sparkled in profusion, so that night seemed to be usurped by the brightness of day, and the Turks thought the whole valley was on fire.

Chapter III. - How the Pisans gave themselves up to King Richard, and how the Turks challenged us to battle.

The Pisans, admiring the glory and magnificence of King Richard, came before him and did him homage, and took the oath of allegiance that they submitted voluntarily to his authority and service. But the cunning Turks envied the honour paid him, and some of them, either to feign the assumption of fresh boldness on his arrival, or to provoke a speedy encounter, one Sunday morning exposed themselves to attack outside our camp, wandering up and down as if for the sake of exercise, and throwing their darts at random; and at times they seemed to threaten to cross the ditch in numbers, and annoyed our men, irritating them to a contest unceasingly.

Chapter IV. - Of the gifts of the two kings to their needy soldiers, and of the sickness of King Richard.

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