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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
always gives notice of war to his enemies, a herald is dispatched from the emperor to Saladin, calling upon him to give full satisfaction to Christendom, which he has injured, or, failing to do so, to prepare himself for war. The Epistle of Frederic to Saladin.
23 Frederic, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, ever august, the magnificent triumpher over the enemies of the empire, and the fortunate governor of the whole monarchy, to the illustrious Saladin, formerly govern or of the Saracens. May he take warning from Pharaoh, and touch not Jerusalem! The letters which your devotion sent to us a long time ago, on weighty and important matters, and which would have benefited you if reliance could have been placed on your words, we received, as became the magnificence of our majesty, and deemed it meet to communicate by letter with your greatness. But now that you have profaned the Holy Land, over which we, by the authority of the Eternal King, bear rule, as guardian of Judea, Samaria, and Palestine, solicitude for our imperial office admonishes us to proceed with due rigour against such presumptuous and criminal audacity. Wherefore, unless, before all things, you restore the land which you have seized, and give due satisfaction, to be adjudged according to the holy constitutions, for such nefarious excesses, that we way not appear to wage unlawful war against you, we give you, from the first of November, a period of twelve months, after which you shall experience the fortune of war, in the field of Zoan,(9) by the virtue of the vivifying cross, and in the name of the true Joseph. For we can scarcely believe that you are ignorant of that which all antiquity and the writings of the ancients testify. Do you pretend not to know that both the Ǽthiopias, Mauritania, Persia, Scythia, Parthia, where our general Marcus Crassus met with a premature death, Judea, Samaria, Maritima, Arabia, and Chaldǽa, also Egypt, where, shame to say! a Roman citizen, Antony, a man endowed with signal virtues, passing the bounds of temperance, and acting otherwise than as became a soldier sent from so great a state, submitted to the unchaste love of Cleopatra - do you pretend not to know that Armenia, and other innumerable countries, have been subject to our sway? This is well known
(9)The allusion is to Psalm lxxviii. 12. The emperor seems to mean that he will attack Saladin in Egypt.
to those kings in whose blood the Roman sword has been so often steeped; and you, God willing, shall learn by experience the might of our victorious eagles, and be made acquainted with our troops of many nations - the anger of Germany - the untamed head of the Rhine - the youth from the banks of the Danube, who know not how to flee - the towering Bavarian Ñ the cunning Suabian - the cautious Franconian - Saxony, that sports with the sword - Thuringia - Westphalia - the active Brabantine - the Lorrainer unused to peace - the fiery Burgundian - the nimble mountaineer of the Alps - the Frison with his javelin and thong - the Bohemian ever ready to brave death - Bolonia fiercer than her own fierce beasts - Austria - Byria - Ruwennia - Istria - Rocumphia - Illyria - Lombardy - Tuscany - the march of Ancona - the resolute Venetian and the Pisan sailor - and lastly, also, you shall assuredly be taught how our own right hand, which you suppose to be enfeebled by old age, can still wield the sword upon that day of reverence and gladness which has been appointed for the triumph of Christ’s cause. We think it right to insert in our history the letter which Saladin sent in reply to the foregoing. The proud boasting of the tyrant, which he had conceived in his opposition, is sufficiently manifest in it. However, we give it in the simple form of words in which it was written, without changing a syllable of it. To the great king, his sincere friend, the illustrious Frederic, king of Germany: - In the name of God the merciful: by the grace of the one God, the powerful, the surpassing, the victorious, the everlasting, of whose kingdom there is no end. We give continual thanks to Him, whose grace is over all the world: we pray that he may pour out his inspiration over all his prophets, and especially on our teacher, his messenger the prophet, Mahomet, whom he sent to teach the true law, which he will make to appear above all laws, But we make it known to the sincere and powerful king, our great, amicable friend, the king of Germany, that a certain man, named Henry, came to us,
professing to be your envoy, and he gave us a letter, which he said was from your hand. We caused the letter to be read, and we heard him speak by word of mouth, and to the words which he spake by word of mouth we answered also in words. But this is the answer to your letter: - You
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