Previous First Next
Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
and every thing succeeded to his wishes. Elevated with his proud triumphs, he talked in magnificent terms of the law of Mahomet, and pointed to the result of his enterprise as a proof that it was superior to the law of Christ. These insolent vaunts he often threw out in the presence of the Christians, one of whom, well known to him for his loquacity, on a certain occasion, inspired by the Almighty, turned him into ridicule by the following reply: "God, who is the father of the faithful, judging the Christians worthy of reproof and correction for their crimes, has chosen thee, O prince, as his agent in this matter: thus sometimes a worldly father in anger seizes a dirty stick out of the mire, wherewith when he has chastised his erring sons, he throws it back among the filth where be found it."
Chapter XVII. - First of Richard, earl of Poitou, then of Henry, king of the English, and of Philip, king of the French.
Whilst these things were done in Palestine, the archbishop of Tyre had embarked on ship-board, and already reported to Christendom the news of this great calamity, and the affliction of so small a kingdom was felt as a calamity over many countries. Fame had carried to the ears of all the kings, and of all the faithful, that the inheritance of Christ was occupied by the heathen: some were affected to tears by the news, and some were stimulated to vengeance. First of all, Richard the brave earl of Poitou, assumed the cross to revenge its wrongs, and took the lead of all, inviting others by his example. His father Henry, king of England, was now declining in years; yet the young man was not deterred by either his father’s advanced age, or his own right to the throne, or the difficulties of so long a voyage: no arguments could deter him from his purpose. The Almighty, to reward the valour of this brave man, whom he had chosen to be the first inciter of the others, reserved him, after the other princes were dead or returned to their own country, to achieve his great work. Some time after, Philip, king of France, and Henry, king of England, take the cross at Gisors, followed by the nobles of both kingdoms, with numbers of the clergy and laity, - all, with equal aspirations, bent upon the same design. So great was the ardour of this new pilgrimage, that it was no longer a question who would take the cross, but who had not yet taken it. Several persons sent a present of a distaff and wool to one another, as a significant hint that whosoever declined the campaign would degrade himself as much as if he did the duties of a woman: wives urged their husbands, mothers their sons, to devote themselves to this noble contest; and they only regretted that the weakness of their sex prevented themselves from going also. The renown of this expedition spread so extraordinarily, that many migrated from the cloister to the camp, and exchanging the cowl for the cuirass, shewed themselves truly Christ’s soldiers, and quitting their libraries for the study of arms. The prelates of the churches publicly preached to one another the virtue of abstinence, admonishing all men that, laying aside all extravagance in eating and
dress, they should refrain from their accustomed luxuries. It was agreed also both among nobles and bishops, by common consent, that to maintain the pilgrims who were poor, those who remained at home should pay tithes of their property; but the flagitious cupidity of many took advantage of this to lay heavy and undue exactions upon their subjects. In those days William, king of Sicily, yielded to the lot of mortality; and his death was the cause of so much the greater sorrow to all the faithful, because he had always been prompt and ready to lend assistance to the Holy Land.
Chapter XVIII. - The emperor of the Romans (Frederic Barbarossa) takes the cross.
In process of time, Frederic, the Roman emperor, assumed the insignia of the holy pilgrimage, and displayed, both outwardly in his dress, and inwardly in his heart, the form of a true pilgrim. So great a king, whose empire was bounded on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, on the north by the Northern Ocean, whose glory was augmented by continual victories, whose fortune had experienced no check, resigns every pleasure and blandishment of the world, and humbly girds on his sword to fight for Christ. His bravery, especially in his declining years, is no less to be wondered at than praised; for though he was an old man and had sons, whose age and valour seemed better adapted to military service, yet esteeming them insufficient, he took upon himself the charge of defending Christianity; but when his sons urged him to let them. discharge the task which he had undertaken, either in his stead or in his company, he left his eldest son to govern his empire, and the younger, whom he had created duke of Suabia, he took with him on the expedition; and because the imperial majesty never assails any one without sending a defiance, but
Previous First Next
* * *