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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 102

king’s engine was kept constantly at work; and directly afterwards, a tower, which had been weakened by a subterranean passage, made by the king’s miners, after repeated blows, fell to the ground with a dreadful crash. The Turks in escaping from the ruins became mingled with our men, who pursued them with slaughter, till they took refuge in the principal tower, having first performed the horrible act of cutting the sinews of their horses, to prevent their being of service to the enemy. The Turks now fled, and our men boldly approached the fort. The first who entered it were Seguin Borret, and his armour-bearer, named Ospiard; the third was Peter of Gascony, and after him, many others, whose names are lost. The banner of Stephen de Longchamp was the first that was raised above the walls; the second was that of the earl of Leicester; and the third, that of Andrew de Chavegui; the fourth was that of Raimund, son of the prince; and then the Genoese and Pisans raised on the wall their standards of various forms. Thus the banners of our men were raised, and those of the Turks thrown down. And now the Turks might be seen flying towards the tower, or falling to the earth, smitten with the sword or transfixed with darts, before they could reach it; all whom our men found still standing their ground on the battlements, they hurled down to the earth below. Sixty Turks were killed in different parts of the fort. Those who had taken refuge in the tower, seeing the slaughter of their troops, and that their place of refuge would be demolished (for, at the instance of the king, men were already setting to work to overthrow it), and that there was no longer any safety in opposing the king, in their extremity, on the Friday before Pentecost, gave themselves up to the royal clemency to be slaves for ever; especially as one of their most powerful admirals, by name Caisac, to whose care the fort had been intrusted, had failed in his promise to give them succour. The fort of Darum being thus taken, nearly forty Christian captives were found there in chains, and were now set at liberty. On the following Saturday night, King Richard caused his men to keep guard over the Turks who still survived in the tower, until the morning, and on the Whitsuntide eve he ordered them to come down therefrom, having their hands tied behind their backs with thongs, so that their limbs became stiff. Their number amounted to 300, besides boys and women. Thus King Richard, with his own soldiers, gained possession of the fort of Darum with great credit, after assaulting it for four days; for our men were very desirous of accomplishing this without the French, in order that they might gain the greater glory.

Chapter XI. - How King Richard gave Count Henry the fort of Darum on his arrival there, and returned to Furbia.

Thus Darum was taken; but meanwhile Count Henry, with the French, and the Duke of Burgundy, were coming in great haste, that they might be present at its capture, but it was already taken. The king received the count on his arrival with special manifestations of joy; and leading him to the fort, gave it over to him, in the presence of all, as the first fruits of the kingdom, which he was to obtain, with the appurtenances thereof, present and future. All remained in the fort of Darum on the great day of the feast of Pentecost. On the Monday after, they placed some of the count’s men as guards in the fort, and set out for Ascalon, passing through the midst of Gaza, till they came to Furbia. Here the king tarried three days, but the rest set out for Ascalon, where the French solemnized the festival of Pentecost.

Chapter XII. - How King Richard, on hearing that Caisac, the admiral, was fortifying the castle of Figs With 1,000 Turks, went thither to storm it, and how the enemy fled at his approach.

One of the king’s spies, in returning to Furbia, from the direction of the castle of Figs, reported that a thousand Saracens, or more, were with the chieftain, Caisac, posted in that fort, and were actively engaged in fortifying it against the Christians, in case they should come to attack it. On hearing this, King Richard started thither immediately, and the army followed him. At nightfall, they stopped at the fort of Reeds, or the "Cane brake of starlings" (cannetum sturnellorum), and at dawn of day set out for the castle of Figs, as they had proposed, but they found no one there save two Turks, whom they took away captive with them, for the Turks had levelled the gates of the fort to the ground, and fled rapidly away on hearing of the approach of King Richard and his army. They were also not a little frightened at the capture of the fort, and the men who were found therein; and mindful of their loss, took precautions lest they should themselves fall into a like predicament. Our men, therefore, finding the fort deserted, mounted the highest of the battlements, and took a survey around, to see if any enemy was in sight, that they might attack him; but not finding any one to fight with, they returned to the house of starlings to spend the night.

Chapter XIII. - How on hearing the news of the disturbed state of his kingdom, through the intrigues of Earl John, his brother, King Richard was much moved, and declared his wish to return home.

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