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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 44


While the crowd of pilgrims, who came in constantly from all quarters, was incautiously hastening to cross the bridge over the Rhone, a part of it gave way under their weight, with those who were on it, and, as it was of considerable elevation, about a hundred men fell into the water, which was very violent, and its course rapid, and owing to its depth, it was difficult for any who had fallen in to get out alive. But they who fell in cried out loudly, and implored assistance; and, wonderful to relate, though exhausted, they all escaped save two, who were drowned, and experienced death of the body, though they live spiritually in Christ, in whose service they were. Those who came behind were embarrassed by their numbers, as each sought his own way or means of crossing the Rhone; but they were thrown into despair by the breaking down of the bridge, which seemed to cut off their hopes of reaching the other side. On learning this, King Richard, whose constancy was never shaken, relieved their anxiety by causing a bridge to be made, by collecting as quickly as possible a number of boats together, such as the urgent necessity of the case should suggest; and so they crossed over, after some delay and difficulty. This accident caused a delay of three days to the king and his army: one part then proceeded to the nearest port, Marseilles; part went to Venice; part to Genoa, or Barlata, or Brundusium; and very many set out for Messina, the port where the two kings were to meet. Three days afterwards, the king departed, and on the same day the bridge was broken up. From Lyons we crossed by Vicaria near Alba Ripa, thence to Mount Galonte, afterwards to St. Bernard of Rumaux, then by Valence, afterwards by Ariola, after that to Valois, thence to St. Paul of Provence; we afterwards passed through Mount Drague and Orenge, and then crossing Mount Sorgre, we came to Dompas, near Avignon, then by Tenaiz, then by Salus and Marignan near the sea, and thence to Marseilles, where we stayed three weeks; then we embarked the day after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first year of King Richard’s coronation, and passed between two islands, of which Sardinia, one of them, was on our right, Corsica, the other, on our left: here there is a great strait of the sea. We then passed between two burning mountains, one called Vulcano, the other Strango, and by Farus, a very perilous stream, and then arrived at the city of Messina, where the fleet of King Richard lay, which he sent forward, as we have said before.

Chapter XI. - Of the city of Messina, and of the queen, sister to King Richard, and of her dowry from Tancred.

You must know that the city of Messina is filled with abundance of good things; its situation is pleasant and very agreeable; it lies on the confines of Sicily and Rasa, which was said to have been given to the famous Agoland, for his services. Thus the city of Messina stands the first in Sicily for affluence and wealth; but its inhabitants are a wicked and cruel race. Their king, Tancred, was very rich in every kind of wealth, which his predecessors, from the time of Robert Guiscard, had amassed. At the same time, the queen of Apulia, having lost her husband, William, was staying at Palermo; for King William had died without an heir, and his queen with her dowry was in ward of the same King Tancred, who had succeeded King William on the throne. This dowager queen was sister to Richard, king of England, who taking up her cause, forced King Tancred to give condign satisfaction, over and above the dowry that was due to her.

Chapter XII. - Of the injuries which the Griffons at Messina did to our men before the arrival of King Richard.

The noble fleet of the king of England, as we have said before, waited here the arrival of their sovereign, - a fleet wonderful for its numbers, complement, and the splendour of its array, and the like of which none was ever seen fitted out with such labour, and so numerous, besides the various classes of men that belonged to it, stationed on the shore in pavilions and tents of different forms; for they kept apart from the city, until the arrival of King Richard, on account of the overbearing insolence of its citizens. For this wicked people, commonly called Griffons, many of whom are of Saracen extraction, hostile to our men, annoyed them by repeated insults, by pointing their fingers into their eyes, and calling them stinking dogs, and mocking them in many other ways, privately killing some of them, and throwing others into the sewers, of which crime many of them were afterwards convicted. In this manner they upbraided our men, and shewed their hatred by doing them every ill turn they dared; and if our men attempted to resist, or retaliate, they threatened to drive them entirely from their city, being strangers, and no match for them in numbers or strength; but the citizens acted in this without foresight, for they forgot that their king was coming.

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