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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 63

By the conjunction of the retinues of the two kings, an immense army of Christians was formed: with the king of France, who had arrived on the octaves of Easter, there came the count of Flanders, the count of St. Paul, William de Garlande, William des Barres, Drogo d’Amiens, William de Mirle, and the count of Perche; and with them also came the marquis, of whom we have before spoken, and who aspired to be king of Jerusalem. But why should we enumerate them singly? There was not a man of influence or renown in France who came not, then or afterwards, to the siege of Acre. And on the following day of Pentecost, King Richard arrived with an army, the flower of war, and upon learning that the king of France had gained the good-will and favour of all, by giving to each of his soldiers three aurei a month, - not to be outdone or equalled in generosity, he proclaimed by mouth of herald, that whosoever was in his service, no matter of what nation, should receive four statute aurei a month for his pay. By these means, his generosity was extolled by all, for he outshone every one else in merit and favours, as he outdid them in gifts and magnificence. "When," exclaimed they, "will the first attack take place, by a man whom we have expected so long and anxiously? A man, by far the first of kings, and the most skilled in war throughout Christendom? Now let the will of God be done, for the hope of all rests on King Richard." But after some days’ sojourn, the king was afflicted with a severe illness, to which the common people gave the name of Arnoldia, which is produced by change of climate working on the constitution. But for all that, he caused petrariǽ and mangonels to be raised, and a fort in front of the city gates; and spared no pains to expedite the construction of machines.

Chapter V. - How, while King Richard was sick, the king of France assaulted Acre vigorously; and how the Turks, upon Saladin attacking our trenches without, made a vigorous resistance, and set the king’s machines on fire, upon which the king fell sick.

The king of France, not liking the delay in commencing the attack, sent word to King Richard, that a favourable opportunity now offered itself; and he also warned, by voice of herald, the army to prepare for an assault. But King Richard had signified his inability hitherto to attend to his duty, both on account of indisposition, and because his men were not yet come; though he hoped that they would arrive in the next fleet of ships, and would bring with them materials for the construction of machines. The king of France not thinking fit to desist, on that account, from his purpose, commanded an assault to be proclaimed, by voice of herald, throughout the army. Therefore, on the Monday after the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the king of France, having erected his machines, gave orders to his men to arm. Then might have been seen a countless multitude of armed men, worthily equipped; and so many coats of scale armour, gleaming helmets, and noble chargers: with petitions and banners of various workmanship, and soldiers of tried valour and courage, as never had been seen before. Having placed men to defend the trenches against the threatened attack of Saladin from without, the army approached the walls of the city, and commenced a most vigorous assault, by casting darts and stones from arbalests and machines, without ceasing. When the Turks who were shut up in the city saw this, they raised a tumultuous clamour, and shouted to the skies; so that it resembled the crash in the air caused by thunder and lightning; for some had this sole duty - to beat basins and platters; to strike timbrels; and by other means, to make signal to Saladin and the army without; in order that they might come to their succour, according to agreement. And when the Turks from without saw and heard this, they gathered in a body; and collecting every material within their reach to fill up the ditch, they essayed to cross over, and attack our men, but failed in effecting their object. For Godfrey of Lusignan, a man of the most approved valour, opposed them, and drove them back from the barricades, which they had already seized upon, above our men; and he slew ten of them with an axe he carried in his hand, in a most glorious manner; and none be smote escaped; nay, he took some alive; for such was his courage and activity, that no one since the time of those famous soldiers, Roland and Oliver, could lay claim to such distinction, from the mouth of all, as himself. Our men regained the barricades but with much labour and difficulty; for the Turks kept pouring in, and by their obstinate persistence, made the issue a long time doubtful. So severe and insupportable was the struggle, and so horrible the clamour of the conflict, that the men who were making the assault on the city, and were intent on filling up the trenches, were forced to retire, and give up the attempt, for they were not able to carry on the assault, and at the same time defend their camp from the Turks without. And many of the French perished by the darts cast from the arbalests, the throwing of stones, and the pouring

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