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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 88

drowned the horses, and spoiled all their biscuit and bacon. The armour and coats of mail, also, were so rusted, that the greatest labour was necessary to restore them to their former brightness: their clothes were dissolved by the wet, and the men themselves suffered from the unwonted severity of the climate. Under all these sufferings, their only consolation arose from their zeal in the service of God, and a desire to finish their pilgrimage. To this end each contributed his share of provisions for the siege, and they came together with joy prepared for any pilgrimage. Even those who were sick in bed at Joppa, were carried in litters, so great was their wish to see Jerusalem. A large number of them, also, were influenced by a desire to see our Lord’s tomb, and this was their only hope under their great sufferings. But the Turks, paying no regard to these convoys of the sick, lay in wait for them and killed both them and their bearers, looking on them all as enemies alike. But, surely, these are all to be accounted martyrs, and there is this consolation for them, that though the Turks slew them with evil intentions, yet they suffered but for a moment, and gained the reward of a long service.

Chapter XXXV. - How the army prepare with joy to march on Jerusalem, neglecting the advice of the Templars and other wise men who dissuaded them.

The army now rejoiced that they should soon set eyes on our Lord’s sepulchre; and all began to brighten up their armour, their helmets and their swords, that there might not be a single spot to spoil their brightness. In short, all were most eager for the enterprise, and boasted that not all the power or assaults of the hostile Saracens should prevent them from accomplishing their plighted vow. But the wiser ones did not acquiesce in these views; for the Templars, Hospitallers, and Pisans, who had sharper eyes on the future condition of that land, dissuaded King Richard from marching at present to Jerusalem, lest, whilst they were besieging Saladin and the garrison of that city, the Turkish army, which was without among the mountains, might attack our men by surprise, and so place them between the attacks of the garrison from within, and the Turkish army from without: and even if they should take the city, it would be necessary to garrison it with some of their bravest troops, which could hardly be done, in consequence of the people’s eagerness to complete their pilgrimage and return each to his own home, for they were now all tired out with the privations and disturbances which they had suffered. For these reasons, they advised that the siege should be delayed, and the army be kept together, because their vow would not have been accomplished; for if they could once fulfil their pledge, the army would at once be dissolved. But the advice of the Templars was not listened to.

Chapter XXXVI. - How King Richard, concealing his troops near the Castle of the Baths, surprised and slew the Turks on his march towards Jerusalem.

It was now the beginning of a new year, A. D. 1192, being leap-year, and having D for its Dominical letter. On the third day after our Lord’s circumcision, the army, bent on their march, were assailed by a multitude of Turks who had lain in ambush during the night near the fort des Plans among the bushes on the line of their route. The two foremost of our men were instantly slain; but God had already prepared to avenge their death, for King Richard had been apprised of the ambuscade, and advanced with all speed in the morning, hoping to rescue the advanced guard. But the Turks who had beheaded them, recognizing the king’s banner, took to flight, being about a hundred in number, of whom seven were either killed or taken prisoners by the king in the pursuit. Eighty of the Turks fled towards Mirabel, and were speedily overtaken by the king, who, seated on his bay horse, a charger of incomparable swiftness, slew two of them before any of their friends could assist them. In this skirmish were Geoffrey de Lusignan and some others, who either slew or made prisoners twenty Turks, and if they had pursued them further, there is no doubt that they would have taken many more.

Book V.

Chapter I. - By the advice of the Templars, though much against the inclinations of the army, the march to Jerusalem was abandoned until the walls of Ascalon should first be rebuilt.

In the year 1192, not many days after the feast of the Epiphany, the councillors of the army, joining with them some of the more discreet of the natives, again consulted about the march to Jerusalem. The Hospitallers, Templars, and Pisans, urged, as before, that the city of Ascalon should first be rebuilt as a check on the Turkish convoys between Babylonia and Jerusalem. To this the majority of the council gave their assent, that Ascalon should be rebuilt to check the arrogance and impede the free

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