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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 85

which was necessary for the safety of the pilgrims who passed that way. The king therefore left a garrison in Joppa, with orders that none should leave it besides merchants bringing provisions. The care of the town was deputed to the bishop of Evreux, the count of Chalons, Hugh Ribole, and others. On Wednesday, the feast of All Saints, King Richard was riding in the plains of Ramula, and seeing by chance some Turkish scouts, he attacked them bravely, and put them all to the rout, slaying some of them, and cutting off the head of a noble Turkish admiral: the rest took to flight. The next day was the eve of All Saints, and the army, after a short march, encamped between the forts of Plans and Maen. The Turkish army was then at Ramula, whence they frequently sallied to attack us. The army remained fifteen days or more where they were, during which time the king repaired the fort of Maen, and the Templars rebuilt the fort of Plans, notwithstanding the attacks of the Turks, who one day assailed them with an immense multitude of foot and a thousand cavalry; but the king mounting his horse in haste, and the whole army being roused, the Turks fled, losing twenty in slain, and sixteen taken prisoners. All the king’s attempts to overtake the others were ineffectual; he pursued them till he came in sight of Ramula, and then led back his troops to the camp.

Chapter XXX. - Of the wonderful victory of King Richard and his men, in defending their men-at-arms who were foraging.

On the sixth day after the feast of All Saints, namely, on the day of St. Leonard’s, the esquires and men-at-arms went out to get fodder for their horses and beasts of burthen. The Templars were guarding the esquires whilst they dispersed to find fresh herbage, a duty which sometimes cost them dear, when they acted without much caution. Whilst the Templars were thus engaged, about four thousand Turkish cavalry rushed upon them from Bombrac, in four divisions, and in an instant the Templars were surrounded by a multitude of Turks, which was continually increasing. Acting with promptitude according to the emergency, they dismounted, and, standing back to back with their faces to the enemy, defended themselves bravely. Three of them were slain in a moment, but they still fought bravely, and a fierce conflict ensued, as the Turks assailed them with the utmost fierceness, and tried to take them all prisoners. On a sudden, news of what was going on having been conveyed to the camp, Andrew de Chamgui galloped up to the rescue with fifteen knights in his train, and, attacking the Turks, liberated the Templars from their dangerous position. Andrew bore himself like a brave knight on that day, as well as his companions bore witness: but the Turks were continually receiving reinforcements, and sometimes attacked, sometimes retreated, and the battle still raged, until King Richard, who was busy in rebuilding Maen, heard of the tumult, and sent the count de St. Paul and the earl of Leicester to assist the Templars. With them, also, went William de Cagen and Otho de Pransinges, and the party soon heard the cries of the men-atarms for assistance. Then the king, exhorting the counts to get ready, seized his arms, and followed them as fast as he was able. As the counts were galloping onwards, about four thousand Turks sprang up in four bodies, from the neighbourhood of a certain river, and half of them attacked the Templars, whilst the others assailed the two counts. The count of St. Paul then made an unworthy proposition to the earl of Leicester, that only one of them should fight with the enemy, whilst the other should stand by to assist whenever it might be necessary. The earl of Leicester chose to attack the enemy, not liking to stand by and do nothing. He at once, therefore, charged the enemy, and rescued from their hands two of our men whom they had made prisoners, and by his achievements on that day added greatly to his former reputation. The conflict was raging fiercely when the king came up, and as his retinue wits very small, some of his men said to him, "My lord, we do not think it prudent or possible, with our small body, to resist this great multitude, nor shall we be able to save our men who are fighting with the Turks. It is better to let them perish than to expose your person and all Christendom to certain danger, whilst we have the power of escaping." The king changed colour with indignation at these words. "What!" said he, "if I neglect to aid my men whom I sent forward with it promise to follow them, I shall never again deserve to be called a king." He said no more, but spurring his horse, dashed into the middle of the Turks, overthrowing them on both sides of him, and brandishing his sword, carved his way to and fro among the thickest ranks, slaying and maiming every one he came near. Amongst others, he slew a Turkish admiral, named Aralchais, whom chance threw in his way. In short, the enemy were put to the sword or took to flight, and our men returned with several prisoners to the camp. This success was gained without any help from the French. The same day three Turks, from fear of death perhaps, renounced

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