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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 46

 

By chance one day it happened that one of our men was bargaining with a woman about a new loaf which she offered for sale; and while they were conversing together and he threatened to have the loaf weighed, the woman, because he would not give her the price she asked, flew into a great passion and insulted him with contumelious and wicked language, and scarcely restrained her hands from striking him or tearing his hair. Immediately a concourse of the citizens flocked together at the noise of the abusive woman, who seized hold of the man and beat him unmercifully; and after tearing out his hair and injuring him in many other ways, they trod him under foot and left him for dead. When complaint was made, King Richard begged for peace and friendship, asserting that he had come in peace, and that he had set out merely to perform a pilgrimage; and he desisted not from praying for peace, until each party, having given a promise to that effect, returned quietly to their abodes.

Chapter XVI. - How the Lombards attacked King Richard’s men, and how King Richard besieged, assaulted, and stormed the city, and raised his standard on the towers, which gave umbrage to the king of France, who was preparing to assist the Lombards.

But by means of that old enemy of the human race, whose part it is to disturb peace and excite sedition, the dispute was renewed on the morrow, so that a more destructive altercation arose between the citizens and the pilgrims. Meanwhile the two kings had a conference with the justiciaries of Sicily and the chief citizens, to treat of peace and security; when behold, a cry arose that the natives were already slaying the men of the king of England; which when the king minded not, chiefly because the Lombards asserted that it was not true, there came a second messenger announcing that the natives had attacked the pilgrims. The Lombards, who had been in the same conflict, persuading him that it was not so, thought to circumvent the king by falsehood: when a third messenger rushed in headlong, exclaiming that such peace was not to be approved of when the sword was actually banging over their necks. Then the king, hastening without delay from the said conference, mounted on horseback, and went out with the design of putting a stop to the quarrel and making peace between the wranglers. There were two Lombards, very cunning and deceitful, at whose instigation the mob of the city had been excited against the pilgrims; who, to conceal their craft by a lie, asserted that they had come thence, and that no harm had been done: their names were Jordan Luppin and Margarit. When King Richard arrived at the spot, the two parties were already at blows, and strove no longer with words, but with fists and bludgeons; and the Lombards now inflamed with rage, instead of yielding to the king’s endeavours to separate the combatants, attacked him with contumelious and profane railings; whereupon he, irritated by their mockeries, took up arms, and besieged them in their city. The French, meanwhile, doubtful what their lord the king would do, ran about in search of him here and there; when they saw him come hastily from the place of conference and enter the palace in which he was lodged. There was a general commotion in the city; every one seized upon what came to hand, and they talked boastingly of defending themselves to the last. The Lombards went to the king of France to implore his aid and assistance, offering to give themselves and their property into his power and will, if he would relieve their city from the assaults of the king of England, and take it into his own subjection. The king of France immediately took up arms, and as we were told by one who knew the truth, answered that he would rather assist the Lombards than the men of the king of England, although he was bound to him by his oath, and had pledged his honour to give him aid and to be faithful to him everywhere. The gates of the city being closed and guards placed along the battlements, there arose a clamour, tumult, and commotion from the assaulters without; while those within ran to arms and seized whatever weapons fury supplied them with to defend themselves. The French having joined themselves with the Lombards, they were animated with one purpose, and acted together as one body. But those without knew not that their associates had thus become their adversaries. Some Lombards had gone out before the gates of the city were shut, to attack the hostel of Hugh le Brun, and obstinately persevered in fighting. The king of England, hearing of it, turned his course thither, and when they saw him coming, they took hastily to flight and were scattered in a moment, like sheep before wolves; after which, their attacks and revilings ceased. The king pursued them as far as a postern of the city, which they made for, not daring to look at, much less resist, him, though the king is said to have had only twenty men when he first attacked them. He slew some of them, however, as they entered the postern. The

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