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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 84

the army. The Turks who are dismantling Ascalon, dare not meet us in the field. I think we should endeavour to save Ascalon, as a protection to the pilgrims who pass that way." The French violently opposed this opinion, and recommended rather that Joppa should be restored, because it furnished a shorter aud easier route for pilgrims going to Jerusalem. The acclamations of the multitude seconded the opinion of the French. Foolish counsel! fatal obstinacy of those indolent men! By providing for their immediate comfort, and to avoid labour and expense, they did what they would afterwards repent of: for if they had then saved Ascalon from the Turks, the whole land would soon have been clear of them. But the cry of the people prevailed, a collection was made, and they immediately began to rebuild the towers, and to clear out the moat of Joppa. The army remained there long, enjoying ease and pleasure; their sins grew daily upon them; women came to them from Acre, to stir up their passions and multiply their misdeeds: the whole people became corrupted, the zeal of pilgrimage waxed cold, and all their works of devotion were neglected.

Chapter XXVII. - How the people returned to Acre, where they spent their time in taverns, and were led back by King Richard to Joppa, where they remained seven weeks.

It was now the end of September, and Joppa partly rebuilt, when the army, issuing from the suburbs, encamped before the fortress of Habacuc; too small an army, alas! for many of them had withdrawn to Acre, where they spent their time in the taverns. King Richard, seeing their idleness and debauchery, sent King Guy to bring them back to the army at Joppa, but very few of them returned, and King Richard was obliged himself to sail to Joppa, where he urged them by exhortations of their duty as pilgrims, and by these means induced many of them to return to Joppa. He also conducted back with him the queens and their females. They now remained seven weeks at Joppa, to assemble and make ready the army, so that when they came together, they formed a much more numerous and efficient body than before.

Chapter XXVIII. - How King Richard went out unadvisedly with only a small escort, and would have been taken by the Turks, if William de Pratelles had not pretended to be the king, and so secured Richard’s escape.

About this time King Richard went out hawking with a small escort, and intending, if he saw any small body of Turks, to fall upon them. Fatigued with his ride, he fell asleep, and a body of Turks rushed suddenly upon him to make him prisoner. The king, awakened at the noise, had hardly time to mount his bay Cyprian horse, and his attendants were still getting on their horses also, when the Turks came upon them and tried to take him; but the king, drawing his sword, rushed upon them, and they, pretending flight, drew him after them to a place where there was another body of Turks in ambush. These started up with speed and surrounded the king to make him prisoner. The king defended himself bravely, and the enemy drew back, though he would still have been captured if the Turks had known who he was. But in the midst of the conflict one of the king’s companions, William de Pratelles, called out in the Saracenic language, that he was the "melech," i.e. the king; and the Turks, believing what he said, led him off captive to their own army. In this skirmish were slain Regnier de Marum, a brave knight, but almost unarmed, his nephew Walter, and Alan and Luke du Stable. At the news of this action our army was alarmed, and seizing their arms, came at full gallop to find the king, and when they met him returning safe, he faced about and with them pursued the Turks, who had carried off William de Pratelles, thinking they had got the king. They could not, however, overtake the fugitives, and King Richard, reserved by the divine hand for greater things, returned to the camp, to the great joy of his soldiers, who thanked God for his preservation, but grieved for William de Pratelles, who loyally redeemed the king at the price of his own liberty. Some of the king’s friends now reproved him for his temerity, and entreated him not to wander abroad alone, and expose himself to be taken by the ambuscades of the Turks, who were especially eager to make him prisoner; but on all occasions to take with him some brave soldiers, and not to trust to his own strength against such numbers. But, notwithstanding these admonitions on the part of his best friends, the king’s nature still broke out; in all expeditions he was the first to advance, and the last to retreat, and he never failed, either by his own valour or the divine aid, to bring back numbers of motives, or if they resisted, to put them to the sword.

Chapter XXIX. - King Richard and his army rebuild the forts of Plans and Maen, and repel the Turks who attack them.

The army seemed now by rest to have recovered their rigour, and a royal order was issued for them to march and rebuild the fortress of Plans,

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