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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
In the mean time Christ’s soldiers, who had been conveyed by sea to the succour of the Holy Land, were laying siege to Acre. That the order of the siege may be better understood, we will relate it from the beginning.
Guy, king of Jerusalem, after he had been a year in captivity at Damascus, was released by Saladin on the strict promise that he should abjure his kingdom, and, as soon as possible, go into exile beyond the sea. The clergy of the kingdom determine to release the king from the bond of his oath; both because what is done under compulsion deserves to be annulled, and because the bands of the faithful who were on their way would find in him a head and leader. It was right indeed that art should overreach art, and that the treachery of the tyrant should be deceived by its own example; for one who is faithless in his promises, gives encouragement to similar faithlessness in him whose promise he exacts. The faithless unbeliever, having broken his previous agreement, had extorted from the captive king, after many injuries, an oath that on being restored to liberty he, would go into exile. A sad condition this, of liberty accompanied with exile and the renunciation of a kingdom. But God so ordered it that the counsel of Belial was brought to naught; for the tyrant was baffled in his hopes of retaining the kingdom, and the king was released by the sentence of the clergy from the enormity of his promise. Men also had arrived, who would nobly vindicate the wrongs which had been done to Christ’s cross, distinguished champions, whose devout zeal had stirred them up to bring consolation to thee, O Jerusalem! Behold, the whole world is in arms for thy service, and the word is fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "I will bring thy seed from the north, and from the west I will gather thee together: I will say to the north, Give! and to the south, Do not forbid." Thus, then, when numbers had flocked together to meet the king at Tripoli, the minds of all were inspired with bravery, so that they strove not only to keep what they had retained, but also to recover what they had lost. Moreover, whilst they were remaining at Tripoli, they did not pass the time in idleness; for they assailed the enemies in that neighbourhood, and defeated at one time three hundred, at another time a larger number, with their victorious band. Among the rest was the king’s brother who had lately landed: his name was Geoffrey, and he distinguished himself especially amongst the combatants by his valour, for, in addition to the common cause, which influenced all alike, he was roused to action by his own private wrongs, and the injury which had been done to his brother.
Chapter XXVI. - How the king, arriving at Tyre, is not received by the marquis, but dissembling the insult, proceeds with the men of Pisa, and a small army to Acre, which the Christians besiege by sea and land.
After a while the king assembled his army and proceeded, to Tyre; but, demanding admittance, was refused by the marquis, though the city had been committed to his custody on the condition that it should be restored to the king and the heirs of the kingdom. Not First with this injury, he adds insult to breach of faith, for whenever the king’s messenger, or any pilgrims, endeavoured to enter the town, they were treated harshly, and were in his sight no better than Gentiles and Publicans. But the Pisans, who possessed no small part of the city, would not be induced to consent to his perfidy, but with commendable rebellion stood up for the king’s rights. The marquis directed not only insults, but civil war against them, and they, prudently withdrawing for a time, retired with others from the city to the army. The troops had pitched their camp in an open plain; but none of them were allowed to enter the city, even to buy provisions; and they all found an enemy where they had hoped to find an ally. Whilst these events were going on, the marquis was afflicted by a complaint to which he had long been subject; but, as it chanced to assail him this time with greater violence than usual, he conjectured that he had taken poison. Upon this, he issued a harsh edict against physicians who make potions; innocent men were put to death on false suspicions, and those whose province it was to heal others, now found the practice of their art lead to their own destruction. The king was urged by many to attack the city, but he prudently dissembled his own wrong, and hastily marched, with all the army he could collect, to besiege the town of Acre. There were seven hundred knights, and others more numerous still, collected out of all Christendom; but if we were to estimate the whole army, its strength did not amount altogether to nine thousand men. At the end of August, on St.
Augustin’s day,(12) two years after the city had been taken, they bravely commenced that long and difficult siege which was protracted during two years longer before the city surrendered. The Turks from the battlements of the walls, beheld the army approach, but without knowing who they were,
(12)Aug. 28, 1189.
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