Previous First Next
Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
added to the horrors of the impending famine, and want is always felt more severely by those who have been brought up in affluence. Why need we say more? A moderate measure of wheat, which a man could carry under his arm, was sold for 100 aurei, a chicken for twelve sols, and an egg for six deniers. By these examples, the rates of all other kinds of provisions may be imagined. The army then cursed the marquis for withdrawing their means of support, and because through him they stood in danger of starvation.
Chapter LXVIII. - How our men, while perishing of famine, ate the dead bodies of their horses, with their intestines.
Famine, as we have said, urges to the commission of crimes, and yet pardonable ones, for the Lord created all things for man, and gave them into his hands to be of service to him, that man should not perish while beasts lived; they therefore slew valuable horses, and without taking off the skins of some of them, ate horse-flesh with joy; even the intestines were sold for ten sols. And wherever it was known a horse was killed, they crowded to it one before the other to buy or steal, and like birds of prey to a corpse, so the starving soldiers rushed in troops to a dead steed, that they might devour the bodies of those that once carried them; and thus the animals who once carried them on their backs were in turn carried themselves; the dead horse sold for more than a living one, and the words of the evangelist seemed to apply to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles are gathered together;" saving the mystical interpretation, from the dignity of which we do not wish to derogate. None of the intestines of the slain horses were rejected, owing to the pressure of the famine, and the most worthless part was valued at a high rate: they ate up the head with the intestines, so that after all was consumed, nay, devoured with avidity, they licked their fingers with a relish, that while any thing remained, it might be removed with the tongue rather than wiped away with a napkin. Hence they held the marquis in detestation for depriving them of the means of subsistence, since by his means they had been defrauded of their food, and stood in danger of starvation.
Chapter LXIX. - How he who had some food ate it secretly.
In progress of time, the famine increased exceedingly for want of provisions, and if any one had any thing appertaining to food, he hid away secretly for his own use that which was enough for more than once, in order that it might not be taken away from him by force; and thus it happened that little was exposed for sale, and whatsoever they had they
did not distribute for common use, but the poor man was everywhere in want. Hence their detestation of the marquis for depriving them of the means of subsistence, as by his means they were deprived of food, and stood in danger of starvation.
Chapter LXX. - How those who were once delicate ate grass.
Wherever by chance grass was discovered growing, it was greedily devoured by men who once were brought up delicately, men of high rank and the sons of great men; they fed on grass like beasts, that the violence of famine might be extinguished by such food, whence many, led to reason by necessity, planted herbs fit for eating and good for driving away the pangs of hunger; and such as they once despised and believed not fit for human use, the greatness of the famine made now most sweet to the starving. Oh! then, the voice of the people, cursing the perfidy of the marquis! because he cared not for the misery of a starving people.
Chapter LXXI. - How they perish from rain and hunger.
Moreover, owing to the great quantity of rain that fell, a certain very severe disease spread among the men: for unusual showers, by their constant and continuous fall, had such an injurious effect upon the soldiers, that, with the excess of the affliction, their limbs becoming swollen, the whole body was affected as with the dropsy, and from the violence of the disease, the teeth of some of them were loosened and fell out. O the lamentations of each of them! O the sorrow of all! while those who were safe grieved for the sufferings of their comrades, and day by day saw the funerals of their friends, for every day they performed the rites of a thousand who had perished. Some, however (but they were few), recovered from their disease, and becoming more eager after food, regained health only to suffer the excessive miseries of famine. O, then, the voice of the people, cursing the perfidy of the marquis, for he cared not for the sufferings of the perishing people!
Chapter LXXII. - How our starving men fought at the oven.
Wherever it was known that bread was baking at the oven, there was a concourse of the people crying out and saying, "Here is money; we will
Previous First Next
* * *