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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
think rashness a virtue, and that to be the best which is the object of their wishes; and not weighing the issue of things, they reject him who chideth, and despise him who ruleth. Therefore, on St. James’s-day, a mournful and
unpropitious one, the ill-fated crowd of common soldiers burst forth; they go forth in arms, it is true, but they oppose themselves without precaution against the coming danger; a fine body of young men, indeed, distinguished for bravery, and that would yield to no victor, had it had a head, or used counsel in its darings, or been as fond of battle as it was of booty. Bat the army had no leader; every one was his own soldier and guide; they scarcely paid attention to or followed their proper standards; many ran before them, and thought more of the booty than the battle in which they were to perish. The Mahometans, when they saw the crowd coming forth, whether from fear or design, gave way a little, and as they did not gather up their baggage, they left their tents behind, rich with various things. But under the declivity of an adjacent mount they collected their lost courage, and stopped, while they sent spies to discover the object at which our men aimed, and why they had come forth. Tecadin, the sultan’s grandson, at that time had pitched his tent opposite the camp of Himbert; he was a man of active spirit and bold in arms, but of exceeding wickedness and implacable cruelty, and he hated above all things the name of Christian. Hither the aforesaid multitude hastened; hither the lust for plunder urges every one, and they, who were eager after the spoil, explored not the ambuscades that lay around. Many glutted their appetite with the abundance of food they met with, and having relinquished their arms, lay down in over security, as if they had been invited to a feast. The Turks, having learnt what was going on, soon poured in on all sides, and shouting with a terrible noise, as is their wont, gained an easy victory over a scattered and stupefied foe. No one dreamt of fighting, every one thought of flight; but being on foot, laden with arms, and exhausted with thirst and heat, they could not escape when pursued by an active and mounted enemy. In all directions they were routed, and thrown into confusion; no quarter was given, nor a captive taken; fury could not satisfy its appetite, and anger recalls the sword, which the weariness of the striker had for a moment laid aside. Wherever fear urged any one, he was sure to meet with death; an inevitable fate threatened one and all. The foe and slaughter presented themselves on all sides; numbers were wounded, and four thousand are reckoned to have been slain. Though they heard the tumult,
and saw the slaughter, the chiefs pretend to be ignorant of it; hard-hearted, inhuman, and impious, certainly they were, who saw their brethren butchered before them, and offered no assistance to them when perishing, whose only crime was the leaving the camp against orders. At length, when others hesitated from sloth, rather than from anger, Ralph de Hauterive, archdeacon of Colchester, came to the assistance of those who were suffering and succoured them when on the point of falling. He was a man of handsome form and figure, and merited a twofold laurel for his excellence in both kinds of warfare being illustrious for his knowledge, and famous in arms. He met with a glorious and happy end, after performing many remarkable actions in the siege in which he was then engaged. The townsmen on seeing the success of their friends, issued out boldly, and went so far as to attack and overthrow some of the nearest tents.
Chapter XLI. - Of the ships and succours which came to our men.
After this sad slaughter had been brought about, by which our strength was considerably diminished, fortune smiled more favourably; and the west wind setting in brought some vessels laden with soldiers. Meanwhile the barbarian fleet, mixing itself secretly with ours, got forward, and imitating the language and ensigns of the Christians, made a sudden and unexpected approach to the city.
Chapter XLII. - What men and warriors of the higher and lower grades of the laity and clergy came to our succour.
When, therefore, our men were utterly purified by the constant fire of tribulation, and the heavy trials which penetrated them to the very soul, the Lord regarded them, and withdrew them from the scourge, for He deserteth not those who hope in Him, and He grieved over them, and brought them powerful allies from the uttermost parts of the earth, illustrious men, mighty in battle, who not only made up for the past valour of the lost army, but also augmented it by numerous additions. Amongst the first that landed was Count Henry of Troyes, count of Champagne,
with a powerful body of soldiers. There came, also, many others in succession, whose names are given as they arrived. They were: Theobald, Count of Blois, who died within three months after his arrival; next came
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