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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 11

 

enumerate those who are leagued with you to come against us, and you name them and say - the king of this land and the king of that land - this count and that count, and such archbishops, marquises, and knights. But if we wished to enumerate those who are in our service, and who listen to our commands, and obey our words, and would fight for us, this is a list which could not be reduced to writing. If you reckon up the names of the Christians, the Saracens are more numerous and many times more numerous than the Christians. If the sea lies between us and those whom you name Christians, there is no sea to separate the Saracens, who cannot be numbered; between us and those who will come to aid us, there is no impediment. With us are the Bedouins, who would be quite sufficient singly to oppose our enemies; and the Turkomans, who, unaided, could destroy them: even our peasants, if we were to bid them, would fight bravely against the nations which should come to invade our country, and would despoil them of their riches and exterminate them. What! have we not on our side the warlike Soldarii by whom we have opened and gained the land, and driven out our enemies? These, and all the kings of Paganism will not be slow when we shall summon them, nor delay when we shall call them. And whenever your armies shall be assembled, according to the import of your letter, and you shall lead them, as your messenger tells us, we will then meet you in the power of God. Nor will we be satisfied with the land which is on the sea-coast, but we will cross over with God’s good pleasure, and will take from you all your lands, in the strength of the Lord. For if you come, you will come with all your forces, and will be present with all your people, and we know that there will remain none at home to defend themselves or fight for their country. And when the Lord, by his power, shall have given us victory over you, nothing will remain for us to do but freely to take your lands, by His power, and with His good pleasure. For the union of the Christian faith has twice come against us in Babylon; once at Damietta, and again at Alexandria: it was also in the coast of the land of Jerusalem while in the hand of the Christians, in the land of Damascus, and in the land of the Saracens; in each fortress there was a lord who studied his own interests. You know how the Christians each time returned, and to what an issue they came. But these our people are assembled together with their countries, and the Lord has associated with us countries in abundance, and united them far and wide under our power: Babylon, with its dependencies, and the land of Damascus, and Jerusalem on the sea-coast, and the land of Gesireh with its castles, and the land of Roasia with its dependencies, and the land of India with its dependencies by the grace of God, all this is in our hands, and the residue of the Saracenic kings is in our empire. For if we were to command the illustrious kings of the Saracens, they would not withdraw themselves from us. And if we were to admonish the caliph of Bagdad (whom God preserve) to come to our aid, he would rise from the throne of his great empire, and would come to help our excellence. We have obtained, also, by the virtue and power of God, Jerusalem and its territory; and of the three cities which still remain in the hands of the Christians, Tyre, Tripoli, and Antioch, nothing remains but that we should occupy them also. But, if you wish for war, and if God so will of his good pleasure that we occupy the whole land of the Christians, we will meet you in the power of the Lord, as is written in this our letter. But, if you ask us for the boon of peace, you will command the warders of the three places above mentioned to deliver them up to us without resistance; and we will restore to you the holy cross, and will liberate all the Christian captives who are in all our territories; and we will be at peace with you, and will allow you to have one priest at the sepulchre, and we will restore the abbeys which used to be in the time of Paganism,(10) and will do good to them, and will permit the pilgrims to come during all our life, and we will be at peace with you. But if the letter which came to us by the hand of Henry be the letter of the king, we have written this letter for answer, and may God give us counsel according to his will.

(10)This letter has evidently been translated out of the original Saracenic with reference to Christian notions: a Saracen would hardly have described his own faith by the word "paganism."

This letter is written in the year of the coming of our prophet Mahomet 584, by the grace of the only God. And may God save our prophet Mahomet and his race, and may he save the salvation of our Saviour, illustrious Lord, and victorious King; the giver of unity; the true word; the adorner of the standard of truth; the corrector of the world and of the law; sultan of the Saracens and Pagans; the servitor of the two holy houses, and of the holy house of Jerusalem; the father of victors; Joseph the son of Job; the reviver of the progeny of Murmurǽnus!(11)

(11)It is hoped the reader may possess some clue to the meaning of this elegant rhapsody the translator has given these titles as literally an possible, and does not venture on a word of comment.

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