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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
Lombards, now seeing that the attack had become serious, and that they were besieged in earnest, resisted with all their might, and occupying the battlements of the walls, they hurled down stones and javelins from bows and slings like showers of rain; and impeded their assailants in every way they could, either to put an end to their assaults, or cause them to be less formidable; and thus at the commencement of their impetuous defence, they did much hurt to our men, killing some, bruising others, wounding and shattering the limbs of many; for by the shower of darts, javelins, and stones that were thrown at us, we lost, besides others, three knights, Peter Tireprete, and Matthew de Saulcy, and Radulph de Roverei. Indeed, if they had had the true faith of Christ in them, and a due regard for justice, they might have made a great slaughter of our men, and might have conquered by their numbers; but their arrogance and dishonesty deservedly proved hurtful to them, who had wrought such injury without a cause; for the number of the citizens and others who defended the city was said to exceed fifty thousand. You might there see men making most valorous attacks to force an entrance, some showering darts, and others assaulting the gates; while our galleys from seaward occupied the port opposite the palace, and blockaded the city: but the king of France hindered them from entering the
port, and some were destroyed in the attempt. But, on the land side, where the king of England was, a man remarkable for his skill in arms, the attack was closely pressed; some essayed to cut the fastenings of the gates, and not succeeding, they ascended a high hill, close by the city, and by means of a postern, which King Richard, on the second day of his arrival, when going round the walls to reconnoitre with two companions, had observed to be neglected by the citizens, they forced an entrance with great boldness and violence, and having broken down the gates, they admitted the rest of the army into the city. Then they slew or made captive all citizens they met who resisted them, and entered the city in a body; and many, as well Lombards as our men, fell in that conflict. For the citizens, not daring to oppose us as we were now entering and occupying the city, threw down darts from the tops of houses and battlements of towers, and tried in every manner they could to annoy us from the solers, in which they had taken refuge. But our men now marched through the captured city as victors, preceded by King Richard, who was the first in every attack: by his own daring example, he at once gave courage to his own men, and carried dismay amongst the foe. About ten thousand men marched in after him, and plundered the whole city. There you might hear horrible clamours, in a variety of confused tones, on the one side, of our men, urging on the pursuit, on the other, of the flying Lombards, screaming for fear, while they redoubled their blows, and mowed down those who met them with their swords, like corn. When our men entered the houses, the Lombards threw themselves from the house-tops and the solers, rather than fall into the hands of their enemies; conscious that by their own inhospitality they had forfeited all claim to mercy. The city was now subdued by force, and no one appeared to make further resistance; what need we say more? King Richard captured Messina by one assault, in less time than a priest could chant the matin service. Many more of the citizens would have fallen, had not King Richard, with an impulse of generosity, ordered their lives to be spared. But who could reckon the sum of money which the citizens lost? All the gold and silver, and whatsoever precious thing was found became the property of the victors. They also set fire to, and burnt to ashes, the enemy’s galleys, lest they should escape, and recover strength to resist. The
victors also carried off their noblest women. And lo! after this action had been performed, the French suddenly behold the ensigns and standards of King Richard floating above the walls of the city; at which the king of France was so mortified, that he conceived that hatred against King Richard which lasted during his life, and afterwards led him to the unjust invasion of Normandy.
Chapter XVII. - How the king of France being displeased that the standards of the king of England only should be placed on the city walk, King Richard, humbling himself, allowed the standards of both to be placed there together.
The king of France, jealous of the successes of the king of England, and misliking his high spirit, very much grieved that be should not have the glory which the other had gained by the force of his own greatness; for, contrary to the conditions of mutual agreement, and while the army was in the greatest danger, and a great slaughter going on before his eyes, he proffered not a helping hand to the king of England against an obstinate foe, as he was bound by the treaty of alliance. Nay, he resisted as much as be could, and kept him a long time from occupying the entrance of the city where he himself abode. The city being taken, as we said before, and the banners of King Richard planted on the walls, the king of France, by the
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