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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
haste that some of them were wrecked, but those that carried provisions were saved. Whereupon the besieged, overcome with excessive joy, as if their wishes had been gratified, testify their deliverance by howling in loud tones to the music of cymbals and pipes; they hoped by these rejoicings to confirm the belief that they had not sustained any loss.
Chapter XXXVIII. - How Saladin, having collected the armies of his kingdom together, attacks our men, who by their bold resistance force him to retire in confusion.
Meanwhile, Saladin, having gathered together the forces of all Asia, from the Tigris as far as India, as well as from the parts between the Tigris and Euphrates, and thence to the southern districts, led them forth to war.
From Africa too, there came countless tribes; the Nadabarǽ, Gǽtulians, and Numidians, and from the scorching south, the people named Moors or Mauritanians, from the Greek word mauros, which means black. Thus two divisions of the globe attacked the third; against both of which Europe entered into conflict, the only one of them which acknowledged the name of Christ. Most of these troops served Saladin as stipendiaries; so that the money which had been raised was no longer sufficient for their pay. For by common agreement the barbarians decreed that whoever died, should leave the third of his property to the defenders of the law. Some, however, served for nothing as a sort of pilgrimage, and instead of performing the ceremonies of the law, went to fight against the Christians. The pouring out, therefore, of these multitudes from all parts, gave the king excessive joy; and falling on our men boldly, he hoped either to carry them all away captive, or to exterminate them with the edge of the sword. And if we read that Darius king of the Persians fought with seven hundred thousand men, we may judge of the multitude on the present occasion; for his army could be numbered, but this army none could count. That large plain, stretching from sea to sea, over which they were spread far and wide, would not hold so many thousands; and had the ground been itself much more extensive, it would have been narrow compared with the numbers engaged. The Christians, though pressed by the townsmen on one side and by the enemy on the other, stood their ground manfully; and having placed guards at the trenches, repelled the assaults of both. The attack commenced on the Saturday of Pentecost, and continued for eight days, the great slaughter on both sides bearing witness to the fury of the combat. Our men found the holidays no holidays; but their resolute valour strengthened them to the confusion of the foe; and He who ordained of old the Apostles to prophecy, now inflamed his soldiers to battle. All had strict charge not to go beyond the camp; for there was no need to go in search of an enemy, when one was at their doors. And so great was the multitude which came to attack, that darts thrown at random were not without effect; nor did any take aim, when the crowded squadrons afforded so many objects to wound. On the eighth day, a blow from a sling killed one of the sultan’s sons, whose death put a stop to the attack which had begun, and terrified the hostile army.
Very many of them, therefore, returned to their own land in great dread of coming in contact with the Christians, who had resisted so great a multitude so boldly.
Chapter XXXIX. - Further of the famine among the citizens and of the succours by the galleys.
Meanwhile, hunger afflicts the townsmen sorely, but the south wind brings them supplies of corn from the sultan in Egypt. The vessels were five and twenty in number; of the three largest of these, two were run aground, while attempting to push through between the Tower of Flies and the adjacent rock; the third got into port unhurt; for our galleys had turned them from their intended course; but one of ours, in its hasty pursuit of the enemy, struck on a rock and was dashed to pieces.
Chapter XL. - Of the misfortunes of our men, arising from a battle begun without the counsel of their chiefs.
As time wore on, and our army had enjoyed a long repose, the common soldiers, desirous of a change, began to tax the chiefs with sloth; and all excited with one wish, each encourages his fellow to battle. Their indignation is excited by the proximity of the heathen camp; the greedy are encouraged by the prospect of spoil, and the honour of victory inflames the warlike. They therefore enter into a tumultuous plot, and with eager heat, prepare unanimously for battle, without asking the consent of their chiefs. The latter endeavour, as far as possible, to check the rash daring of the people, and the patriarch forbids them under pain of anathema from provoking the enemy, and incurring the dangers of a battle, without consulting their chiefs; but neither the dissuasions of these, nor the threats of the others, availed; for fury overcame counsel, violence reason, and order yielded to multitudes; whichever way the vulgar are impelled, they
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