messengers from Joppa entered, and tearing their garments, related to the king how the enemy had taken Joppa, all but the citadel, in which the remnant were besieged, and unless he should render them speedy assistance, they would all be involved in one common fate, according to the conditions which had been entered into with Saladin. The king hearing of the danger to which the besieged were exposed, and pitying their condition, interrupted the messengers: "As God lives," said he, "I will be with them, and give them all the assistance in my power!" The words were hardly out of his mouth, before a proclamation was made that the army should be got ready. But the French would not vouchsafe even to honour the king with an answer, exclaiming proudly that they should never again
march under his command; and in this they were not disappointed, for they never again marched under anybody’s command, for in a short time they all miserably perished. Meanwhile, however, the soldiers of all nations, whose hearts God had touched, and the sufferings of their fellowcreatures excited to compassion, hastened to set out with the king; namely, the Templars, the Hospitallers., and several other valiant knights, all of whom marched by land to Cǽsarea; but the noble king trusting for his safety to his own valour, embarked on board his fleet of galleys, which were equipped with every thing that could be necessary. With him were the earl of Leicester, Andrew de Chaveguy, Roger de Satheya, Jordan de Humez, Ralph de Mauleon, Achus de Fay, and the knights of Pratelles, companions of the king together with many others of illustrious names, besides Genoese and Pisans. Those who went by land to Cǽsarea, halted there some time for fear of an ambuscade, which they heard had been laid by Saladin for all such as should pass that, way; and there was no better way for them to go by, on account of the son of Arcisus, who guarded the maritime district between Cǽsarea and Arsur: and besides this, a contrary wind arose, which detained the kings ships three days at Cayphas, where they had put in. The king, vexed at this delay, exclaimed aloud, "O Lord God, why dost thou detain us here? consider, I pray thee, the urgency of the case, and the devoutness of our wishes." No sooner had he prayed thus, than God caused a favourable wind to spring up, which wafted his fleet before it into the harbour of Joppa, in the midst of the night of Friday immediately preceding the Saturday on which they had agreed to surrender, and all of them would have been given over to destruction. Alas, for the perfidy of that wicked race! Early on the morning of that day, which was the day of St. Peter ad vincula, the besieged were importuned by the Turks to fulfil the conditions of the truce. They accordingly began at the ninth hour to pay in part the bezants which they had promised; when the wicked Turks, behaving worse than brute beasts, and with no feeling of humanity about them, cut off the heads of those who paid them the money; and thus seven of them had already perished, and their heads were thrown into a ditch. But those in the town who were still alive, discovering the treachery, were struck with terror, and began to send forth cries of
lamentation and distress. Seeing certain death before them, they bent their knees, and confessed their sins to one another, thinking no longer of their lives which were doomed, but of their souls; whilst to delay their fate for some few moments longer, - for who is there that does not fear death? - they fled up the fortress as far they were able, and there awaited the stroke of martyrdom, shedding tears, and supplicating the mercy of the Almighty, who at length was appeased, and deigned to listen to their petition: their deliverer was already come, his fleet was riding in the harbour, and his soldiers were eager to land for their rescue!
Chapter XV. - Of the fierce conflict by which the king recovered the castle of Joppa, and liberated the besieged.
The Turks, discovering the arrival of the king’s fleet, sallied down to the seaside with sword and shield, and sent forth showers of arrows: the shore was so thronged with their multitude that there was hardly a foot of ground to spare. Neither did they confine themselves to acting on the defensive, for they shot their arrows at the crews of the ships, and the cavalry spurred their horses into the sea to prevent the king’s men from landing. The king, gathering his ships together, consulted with his officers what was the best step to take. "Shall we," said he, "push on against this rabble multitude who occupy the shore, or shall we value our lives more than the lives of those poor fellows who are exposed to destruction for want of our assistance?" Some of them replied that further attempts were useless, for it was by no means certain that any one remained alive to be saved, and how could they land in the face of so large a multitude? The king looked around thoughtfully, and at that moment saw a priest plunge into the water and swim towards the royal galley. When he was received on board, he addressed the king with palpitating heart and spirits almost