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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
depict the various incidents of the battle and the divers modes of death; but we are obliged to be brief, and must say, not how, but what occurred. Saladin ordered the bodies of the Christians to be collected and cast into the river which flowed near; that, being carried down by the current, the sight of them might occasion terror, or becoming decomposed they might infect the water.
Chapter XXXI. - How our men, increasing in number daily, suffer severely from the Turks while occupied in carrying a trench round the city.
After this, our chiefs, thinking it best to abstain for the present from open war, occupy themselves in strengthening their camp, and carry round an embankment of turf, with deep ditches from sea to sea, for the protection of the tents; while the marquis and the Hospitallers boldly seized upon the space free from siege, and thus the city was blockaded by sea and by land. While our men were thus sedulously employed in making the trenches, the Turks harassed them incessantly, and one party relieving another continued to annoy them from morn till night. It was necessary, thus, that one part of our men should defend the other while at work from their attacks. Such as we thought worth while to bear with, we did, without returning them, although the air was darkened with their missiles and darts, which exceeded all computation. Our men, however, worked away with their utmost endeavour and the Turks lamented their progress. You might see in their frequent encounters, now these now those (according to the chances of war) overthrown and borne down. While our men were thus for a considerable time struggling, the Lord above grieved over them,and by strengthening and increasing our numbers from day to day, deserted not altogether those who trusted in him. There came together, therefore, from different parts of the world, princes, dukes, counts, besides many of inferior degree; whose names were the Count of Ferrara, Nargenot du Bourg, Anselm de Montreal, Geoffrey de Grenville, Otho de la Fosse, William Goez, the Viscount de Chatellerauld, the Viscount de Turome, the Chastellan of Bruges, the Archbishop of Pisa, also the Count Bertulf, the Count Nicholas of Hungary, the Count Bernard, the Count Jocelyn, the Count Richard of Apulia, the Count Alebrand, Engelran de Vienne, Hervey de Gien, Theobald de Bar, the Count John of Loegria, another Count John of Seis, with a nephew of the king of Denmark. There came also some chiefs of the Danes, with 400 of their countrymen. At the same time came Guy de Dampierre, the bishop of Verona, and a few Roman citizens. All these, and a great many future martyrs and confessors, were added to the number of the faithful. Martyrs truly they were, a great part of whom died
in a short time by the stench of the dead bodies which corrupted the air, and by the fatigue of constant watchings; while others were overcome by the injuries they received, as neither rest nor breathing time was allowed them, for the Turks harassed without intermission those who were working at the ditch, and reduced their spirits by unexpected attacks, until it was at length completed. They then made an attempt to relieve the city from the threatened blockade.
Chapter XXXII. - The description of the city of Acre and the places round about it.
We do not think it foreign to our purpose to give at times, as the order of our matter requires, the description of places, in order that a city, so famous for its magnificence, as well as the various incidents of war, may gain additional celebrity by our labours. For if a ten years’ war made Troy celebrated; if the triumph of the Christians made Antioch more illustrious, Acre will certainly obtain eternal fame, as a city for which the whole world contended. In the form of a triangle, it is narrow on the western side, while it extends in a wider range towards the east, and full a third part of it is washed by the ocean on the south and west. The port, which is not so convenient as it should be, often deceives and proves fatal to the vessels which winter there: for the rock which lies over against the shore, to which it runs parallel, is too short to protect them from the fury of the storm. And because this rock appeared a suitable place for washing away the entrails, the ancients used it as a place for offering up sacrifices, and on account of the flies which followed the sacrificial flesh, the tower which stands above it was called the Tower of Flies. There is also a tower called the Cursed, situated on the wall which surrounds the city; and if we are to credit common report, it received its name because it is said that the pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed his Lord, were made there. The city, then named Ptolemais, was formerly situate upon Mount Turon, which is close to the city, whence, by an error of antiquity, some call Acre Ptolemais. There is a hill called the Mosque, near Mount Turon, where the ancients say is the sepulchre of Memnon; but by whose kind offices he was brought
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