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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 14

 

provisions, and a safe passage through his dominions. The emperor, too credulous, and estimating others by his own knowledge of himself, made a proclamation, in which he threatened all with punishment who, when they entered the territories of the Turks, should commit depredations, or fail to observe the peace which had been concluded. Thus then it happened, that our men passed on without touching the great booty which the sultan had, intentionally, left at the very entrance of his dominions. Alas, how blind are men and ignorant of the future! If they could have foreseen the famine which they were about to suffer, the difficulties of the road, and the deceitfulness of the tyrant! Chance had thrown in their way the means of providing for themselves against these great and imminent dangers. However, our people did not so far listen to the words of that faithless prince, as, neglecting their own security, to march in disorder, or without their arms. When, therefore, they were about to enter Parthia, all of them seized their arms, in number 3,000 knights; of the rest there were about 80,000. There were seven bishops, one archbishop, two dukes, nineteen counts, and three marquises; and this splendid army seemed neither to have had its like before or after. But to prevent disaffection or confusion in so large a mass, the whole army was divided into three bodies - the first was led by the duke of Suabia, the last by the emperor, that in the centre was charged with the care of the sumpter-horses and baggage. The army advanced judiciously arranged, to the delight of the beholder, neither crowded together, nor yet dispersedly, but in bodies; and though there were many officers over each body, yet there was but one commander-inchief. This is the best for a camp, an important circumstance in war: for as an army perishes without a leader, where no one is pre-eminent above the rest, so it is generally inefficient, where there are many leaders who contend for pre-eminence. Happy empire! happy Germany! the parent of so many nations, so many brave warriors of Christ, a source of pride to herself, and destruction to her enemies!

Chapter XXIII. - Of the discomforts which the Christians endured through the sultan, and how they reached Iconium.

Our army, having entered the territories of the Turks, experienced no hostility during several days: the sultan wished by his forbearance to allure them into the heart of his dominions, until want of food and the asperities of the road should give him more ready means of annoying them. That nefarious traitor had seized the rugged mountain-tops, the thickets of the woods, and the impassable rivers; and whilst he professed to observe the treaty which he had made, he opposed arrow and stones to our passage. This was the market and the safe-conduct which he had promised us; such is the faith that must be placed in the unbelievers; they always esteem valour and treachery as equally praiseworthy towards an enemy. Moreover, they avoid, above all things, coming to close quarters and fighting hand to hand; but they shower their arrows from a distance; and with them it is no less glory to flee, than to put their enemy to flight. They attack both extremities of the army, at one time the rear, at another time the van; that, if by any chance they can separate them, they may attack either the one or the other by itself. Night brought with it neither sleep nor rest; for a terrific clamour disturbed the army on every side. A shower of javelins pierced through their tents, numbers of them were slain asleep, and the enemy hung on them so incessantly, that for six weeks, they ate their meals under arms, and slept under arms, without taking off their coats of mail. At the same time they were assailed by such violent hunger and thirst, that when they lost their horses by the chances of war, it was to them a consolation and source of delight, to feed on horse-flesh and drink the blood: in this manner, by the ingenuity which necessity teaches, they found out an additional use for the animals on which they rode. There was a place between high rocks which was rendered so difficult to pass by reason of the steep ascent and the narrowness of the paths, that when the first division of the army, led by the emperor’s son, had passed through, the Turks suddenly rushed from their ambush on the last division, and in their confidence of victory, attacked them with lance and sword. The alarming news was carried to the duke, who returned with headlong haste upon his march, eagerly retracing all the difficulties which he had a little before rejoiced at having surmounted. His rage heeded not danger; his cavalry were made to gallop where they could not even walk. In this manner, whilst he was anxiously and incautiously seeking for his father on every side, and incessantly shouting his father’s name, his helmet was struck off by a stone, and his teeth knocked out, yet he still remained immoveable and unshaken. Happy the son, who, to save his father, was so prodigal of his own life, and exposed himself to so many dangers! As a consolation for the wound which he then received, he retains a lasting

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