Previous First Next
Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
The night after the landing of the Frisons and Danes, James d’Avennes reached the desired shore, a man endowed with threefold qualifications, - in counsel a Hector, in arms an Achilles, and in honour surpassing Regulus. He pitched his camp opposite the tower they call the Cursed (Maledicta), and a little further on lay the Templars; still the greater part of the city was not besieged, but there was a free communication open to the enemy. Our men, anxious as to their movements, liked not this freedom of entrance and exit; but the extended circuit of the walls and the paucity of soldiers allowed not of a continued blockade. They therefore divided their forces into troops, and by turns watched the approaches of the city in arms; and thus, for some days, obstructed the passage of those who would go out. The Turks, however, issuing from city and camp, and having collected their strength from all quarters, attacked our men and prevailed; for a divided line of battle is easily broken through, and scattered strength quickly yieldeth. On that day the Hospitallers were on guard, and on giving way, were relieved by the Templars, who checked the enemy, and hindered them, though pressed severely, from bursting into the camp. Moreover, day by day the army of the faithful increased; and a multitude of ships coming together, struck no small terror into the
Mahometan army. But Saladin, by means of a fiction, lessened the fears thus excited, asserting that the Christians took away their ships by night, and brought them back again at dawn of day as if they were newly arrived, for the purpose of making a display of strength. He himself was not, however, ignorant of the real state of the case, and grieved bitterly at our daily increase of strength; but, dissembling the cloud on his mind under a haughty aspect, he exhibited a calm and fearless countenance.
Chapter XXIX. - Of the arrival of the French, English, and Germans.
Very many indeed had already come from the kingdom of France; and amongst others the bishop of Beauvais, a man more devoted to the camp than the closet, and one who gloried in warfare and strove to be like Turpin if he could but find a Charles. There is a part of France called Champagne; and though the whole country is famous for the pursuit of arms, this one, by a sort of privilege of chivalry, excels and surpasses the rest. Hence its warlike youth marching out in power displayed the strength which it had exercised in the gymnasium with greater boldness against the foe; and having laid aside the playful game of battle, they turned their bellicose spirits to the realities of war. So, indeed, English as well as French are led on by the warmth of their devotion, so that not waiting for their own kings they march forward to perform their duty to the King of kings. From Germany, also, there came an illustrious and powerful man, whom in their language they call Landgrave;(13) which, according to the sense of the word, appears to mean count of the land, as if so entitled par excellence. He persuaded the marquis, who had a difference with King Guy, to repair to Acre, though at first he had declined to do so on account of the disagreement. We know that the rules of history sometimes require us to commit to writing, seriatim, the names of the chiefs who assist in the management of affairs, to which, indeed, they themselves, in a sort of itch
(13) This was Lewis III., landgrave of Thuringia, who had accompanied or followed the emperor to the crusade.
for glory, sometimes lay claim; whilst, on the other hand, the fastidious reader may think the work too long in this particular, and so reject a narrative which runs to wearisomeness. We therefore will be as brief as possible in enumerating the chiefs. But when the course of affairs shall offer an opportunity, we will mention the illustrious actions of each. After the numbers of the faithful were considerably increased, and when the army was fitter for setting about its arduous undertaking, it was unanimously determined to attack the neighbouring camp of the unbelievers. A certain mount stood opposite to Mount Turon, which we have before described; here the enemy had pitched their pavilions, and a large intervening space of plain presented far and wide an area well adapted for battle. Hither the army descended from the camp to the plain; and there being put in array, were divided into troops so that the lightarmed soldiers with the bowmen and arbalesters went first; next to them followed the body of the army, glittering with horses, arms, and the various insignia of war. Their countenance and bearing indicated the disposition of their minds; the faithful had recourse to prayer, whilst the enemy trembled. There were those who, abandoning themselves to excessive exultation at the sight of the battle-array, presumed to say, - "What power shall prevail, what multitude shall withstand us? Let the Lord assist neither us nor our adversaries; the victory rests in our own valour." Certainly a most impious and utterly detestable sentiment, for it
Previous First Next
* * *