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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 123

the Saracens, were now behind them. When therefore these came up, the others blamed them for their neglect, and told them once more to make haste on before, and do as they had been instructed. The messengers went on with all speed to Jerusalem, and found about 2,000 Turks, or more, encamped without the city. They inquired for Saphadin, and when they had found him, they explained what had happened, and he, rebuking them smartly, said it was evident that they did not value their lives a rush, as they had come into the middle of a hostile army without passport or safeguard of any kind. It was now sunset, and the other pilgrims came up, not knowing what they ought to do, and having no arms to defend themselves. The Turks grinned and frowned on them as they passed, and it was manifest by their looks what enmity they harboured in their hearts, for the face is after the index of the mind; and our men at that moment were so confounded that they wished themselves back again at Tyre, or even Acre, which they had just left. Thus they passed the night, near a certain mountain, in a state of great alarm.

Chapter XXXII. - How the Turks wished to take vengeance on our pilgrims, but Saladin and his chiefs would not allow it.

The next day certain of the Turks appeared before Saladin, and earnestly entreated of him that they might be allowed to take vengeance on the Christians who were now in their power, for the death of their friends, fathers, brothers, sons, and relations who had been slain, first at Acre, and afterwards at other places, now, as they said, that they had so good an opportunity. Saladin sent for the Turkish chiefs to consult about this request, and Mestoc, Saphadin, Bedridin, and Dorderin were speedily in attendance. When the subject was placed before them, it was their unanimous opinion that the Christians should have leave to come and go, without injury or hinderance. "For," said they to Saladin, "it would be a deep stain upon our honour, if the treaty which has been made between you and the king of England should, by our interference, be broken, and the faith of the Turks for ever afterwards be called in question." In consequence of these observations, Saladin gave orders immediately that the Christians should be taken care of, and escorted to the city and back again without molestation. To discharge this commission, Saphadin was at his own request deputed; and under his protection the pilgrims had free access to the Holy Sepulchre, and were treated with the greatest liberality, after which they returned joyfully to Acre.

Chapter XXXIII. - Of the second company of pilgrims who went to Jerusalem, escorted by Ralph Teissun.

On their return, the second company of pilgrims stationed between the castle of Arnald and Ramula, set forth, led by Ralph Teissun. Now Saladin, as we have before stated, had posted his men to keep diligent guard over the roads whenever any of the pilgrims were on their way to Jerusalem. In consequence of this precaution, we travelled freely and unmolested, and crossing the hill country, arrived at the Mountain of Delight, where, seeing in the distance the city of Jerusalem, we knelt down and gave humble thanks to God, as is the custom of pilgrims. From the same spot we saw also Mount Olivet; after which all advanced with joy, and those who had horses rode forward with speed, that they might the sooner gratify their desire of saluting the Holy Sepulchre. Moreover, as those horsemen who had gone before told us, Saladin allowed them to see and kiss the true Cross of our Lord, which formerly had been carried to battle. But we who were on foot, and came in the last, saw what we could, viz.: in the first place we saw our Lord’s monument, where oblations were made: but, as the Saracens took these away, we did not offer much, but gave part to the French and Syrian slaves, whom we there saw in servitude, labouring in the duties assigned to them. From thence we proceeded to Mount Calvary, where our Lord was crucified, and where there was a stone in which our Lord’s cross had been fixed in Golgotha. When we had kissed this with reverence, we proceeded to the church built on Mount Sion, on the left side of which was the place from which Mary, the Holy mother of God, passed from this world to the Father. This spot we saluted with tears running down our cheeks, and then hastened to see the holy table at which Christ condescended to eat bread. This also we kissed fervently, and then we all departed together, in haste; for it was no longer safe for us to go anywhere, except in a body, on account of the treachery of the unbelievers, for the Turks had secretly strangled three or four of our men who had strayed into the passages of the crypts. From thence we hastened to the sepulchre of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, in the middle of the valley of Jehoshaphat, near Siloe, and kissed it with devout and contrite hearts. After which, with minds not altogether free from apprehension, we entered the vaulted chamber in which our Lord and

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