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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
our men from the sea, was made; and although the design of our men was defeated on the side of the tower, those to seaward slew an immense number of the enemy. In the end the machines were destroyed by the devouring fire, together with the turret and the galleys in which they were placed, and the upright ladders. The Turks, overcome with excessive joy, laughed with loud shouts, making a mockery of us, and wagging their heads at our misfortune: and the Christians, being disheartened above measure, were not less annoyed by the revilings that were heaped upon
them, than by the losses they had sustained. However, their spirits were raised by the constant arrival of strangers, and they were thus strengthened by the increase of their numbers.
Chapter LX. - The townsmen, with great loss to themselves, burn the batteringram of the archbishop of Besançon, with Greek fire.
Meanwhile, the archbishop of Besançon had caused to be built, with great labour and much expense, a machine to batter down the walls, covered with iron plates, commonly called a battering-ram; because by repeated and frequent blows, after the manner of a ram, it overthrows the most solid walls. Another very strong rain was built by Count Henry; and the other princes and heroes, either singly or conjunctively, had caused to be made different kinds of machines. Some prepared sows(14) of different kinds; others poles; or whatsoever each fancied, or which came first to hand. A day was then appointed for bringing against the walls the instruments that each had prepared. The archbishop brought his machine, like a ceiled house, to strike the walls; it had in front a very long mast of a ship, with its head covered with iron, which was impelled by many men, and then being drawn back again, was levelled with greater force; and thus, by frequent blows, they tried to breach or cast down the city walls. Those who impelled the machine below were secure from all injury that came from above. The Turks defended themselves manfully from the walls, and collected and threw upon it immense heaps of dry wood, to set the machine on fire, while, independently of its being easily assailed by fire, they cast immense masses from the petrariǽ, without ceasing. Last of all, they threw on it Greek fire, and the dry wood having caught, the men in it saw it must be inevitably destroyed, and were obliged, by the intolerable heat, to leave it, and continue their attack with what instruments they could lay hold of. The Turks were indefatigable in their efforts to destroy
(14)Sues rostratas, contos, sues. The sow was a military covering, under shelter of which the assailants made their approaches to the walls of a besieged town.
the machine, by throwing down immense masses on it, or consuming it by means of liquid oil. Great was the contest and show of prowess between the Turks and Christians; the latter strove to extricate the battering-ram, the former to resist their attempts. The fire, once lighted, and fed constantly by the Turks, who spared no material for the purpose, reduced the machine to ashes. The Christians retired, grieving at the failure of their efforts; while the Turks hastened to and fro, with dances and shouting, and thought their deeds incomparable. But they did not insult our adversities with impunity for they lost eighty of their number, and amongst them, a certain renowned admiral, at whose command these things were done; though they concealed their grief, that their loss might escape our notice. Our chiefs, observing that their exertions had not the success they expected, broken down by their misfortunes, determined to take respite for awhile, and relax their efforts.
Chapter LXI. - How a fleet of fifteen ships was sent to the aid of the townsmen, of which several perished.
Meanwhile, soon after the feast of St. Michael, a fleet of fifteen ships arrived from Alexandria, glittering in gorgeous array, and a short distance one from another, they arrived towards dusk, and being driven by a violent wind, were unable to slacken their course. Hence, when they saw our army, they dreaded lest we should go forth to meet them, and they could not avoid us; but the Christians did not venture, as the night was coming on, and the wind high. The fleet, too, having gathered together, made for the chain, with all speed: the three largest ships, of the kind called dromons, came behind; the galleys, which were swifter of motion, went before. They bore down violently into port, and coming into collision with each other, two of them dashed on the rocks, and most of the men on board perished, amidst the shouts and laughter of the Christians, who beheaded some of them that were cast on shore by the fury of the waves. Besides this, they seized upon the largest of the galleys, which was driven by the wind into port, laden with provisions; and having killed the crew, they kept the cargo for themselves. The remainder reached the desired haven, below the
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