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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
Chapter XIX. - How the emperor Frederic Barbarossa assembled his army throughout Hungary.
This letter of the proud and faithless tyrant, with its absurdities, the magnificent emperor treated with contempt; and, filled with indignation worthy of a prince, prepared all his forces for the war. The princes of all the empire followed him, and when they were met at Mayence, according to the imperial edict, all of them joined with one acclaim in taking the vow of so noble a pilgrimage. This was the Lord’s doing, of Him whose inspiration bloweth where it listeth, who inclines the hearts of men at his will. For these great princes were neither allured by a desire of vain glory, nor induced by bribes or entreaties, but solely by desire of the heavenly reward: by the Lord, and the Lord alone, were they led to buckle on their armour for this warfare. For the loftiness of the heavenly wisdom had provided that, as they were enlisted of their own free will, they rendered a service agreeable to God, and the imperial magnificence was accompanied by a train of worthy followers. Thus, then, led by the Holy Spirit, they flocked together on every side; and whoever could have seen so many nations and princes under one commander, must have believed that the ancient glory of Rome was not yet departed. In this army of Christ were pontiffs, dukes, earls, marquises, and other nobles, without number: for if we were to recapitulate their names and territories, the writer would become tedious, his reader be disgusted, and his plan of brevity be overthrown. It was determined by a prudent counsel that no one should go on this expedition whose means could not provide him with supplies for one year. A large number of carriages were constructed for the use of the pilgrims who should be sick, that they might neither give trouble to the sound, nor be left behind and perish. It had long been a question whether the mass of the army should proceed by sea or land. But it seemed that any number of ships, however large, would be insufficient to transport so great a multitude. The emperor, therefore, urging on the task which he had undertaken, determined to march through Hungary, and so, though he was the last sovereign who took the vow of pilgrimage, he was the first to carry it into effect.
Chapter XX. - Bela, king of the Hungarians, receives the king hospitably.
The king of the Hungarians, Bela by name, came out with joy to meet the emperor. He was a man endowed by nature with many good qualities; tall in stature, of a noble countenance, possessing a combination of virtues, and worthy of the highest panegyric; who, if he had no other merit, would be thought worthy of sovereignty by his dignified appearance. He received Christ’s army with hospitality, met them in a triumphant procession, and followed them with good will, testifying by his deeds the fervour of his friendship. The people in large numbers, burning with their sovereign’s example, contemplate the sacred army and are eager to enlist; they look forwards to the prizes of the combat, and fear no dangers: at once they form the wish, they take the vow, and follow with the army, so that it is evident the workings of Holy Inspiration knew no impediment or delay. Crossing the Danube they reached the furthest passes of Bulgaria, where Huns, Alans, Bulgarians, and Pincenates rushed suddenly from their ambush upon the Lord’s host, encouraged to the attack by the rugged and inaccessible nature of the ground.
Chapter XXI. - How Frederic, having crossed the Danube, found the Huns and Alans hostile to him.
The outlet from Bulgaria into Macedonia is fortified on both sides by high rocks, covered with thorns and bushes, through which wind narrow and rugged paths. To these the inhabitants have added lofty artificial defences. These passes were seized by the nations before mentioned, who had been sent for this purpose by the wicked emperor Conrad, that they might destroy the army, or at least stop its further approach. Our soldiers, however, courageously overcame both the enemy and the road, and passing through Macedonia, arrived at Philippopolis, a city which had before been called Pulpudeba, but took the name of Philippopolis in honour of the Roman emperor Philip, who first of all the emperors became a Christian, and by the profession of the Christian faith conferred
additional lustre upon the imperial dignity. The Greeks, hearing of the approach of the Latin army, deserted the city, fearing where there was no need of fear; for which their only reason was that they feared all whom they did not love: for the pilgrims had not come to plunder others, as they had sufficient of their own; nor had they taken arms against the faithful,
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