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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 51


Therefore, in the year of our Lord 1191, with the dominical letter E, after the stormy months of the more idle season of winter, when brighter days were coming on, the people, who were wearied with slothful delay, hailed with joy the arrival of the season for navigation; for the kings had stayed in the city of Messina from the feast of St. Michael until after Lent. They therefore held a conference about the transportation of their men, alleging the inconvenience of further delay, both on account of the presence of fine weather, and because their means would fail if spent in useless idleness, and because their friends at Acre were suffering from want of them, and they were grieved at having given them such tardy help. While, therefore, each was preparing to proceed on his journey, couriers arrived who informed Richard that his mother Eleanor was hastening after him, and having completed her journey, was close at hand; and that she was bringing with her the noble damsel, daughter of the king of Navarre, named Berengaria, the intended wife of King Richard. A long time previous, while yet count of Poitou, he had been charmed by the graces of the damsel and her high birth, and felt a passion for her; on which account her father, the king of Navarre, had committed her to the care of King Richard’s mother to be carried to him, in order that he might marry her before crossing the sea as he intended. All rejoiced at their coming. Meanwhile the king of France, having made ready with all his equipment, taking advantage of a favourable wind, set out with all his fleet, on the Saturday after the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and King Richard accompanied him some way in his galleys, with his noblest peers. But he himself was not ready to cross the sea, for he had not yet collected all his transport-ships; and he thought that they were not sufficiently provisioned: moreover, he had heard that his mother was coming with the illustrious Berengaria. When, therefore, he had let the king of France go on his voyage in peace, crossing past the Faro he came to Risa, where he heard that the queen his mother and Berengaria were, and having taken them on board with great joy, he returned to Messina; where having stayed a short time, he let his mother depart, and committed to her the care of his kingdom, together with Walter, archbishop of Rouen, as we have said before, a man of great virtue. And with them returned Guilbert de Gascuil, by whose treachery the king of France afterwards gained possession of the celebrated castle of Gisors, situated in a very strong position on the confines of France and Normandy, which had been committed to his safekeeping. But King Richard retained with him the aforesaid damsel, whom he was about to marry. Queen Eleanor returned by Bourges, and thence to Salerna, and thus to Normandy. But King Richard, having furnished himself with every thing necessary for the voyage, prepared, according to agreement, to follow after the king of France as quickly as be could; and appointed Robert de Torneham to conduct and take care of the fleet. He sent forward his betrothed, with his sister the dowager queen of Sicily, in advance, in one of the ships which are commonly called dromons, keeping a course direct to the east; he had also placed some knights on board, and a numerous retinue of servants, for their comfort and safekeeping. These kind of vessels are slower than others, on account of their burthen, but of stronger make. The multitude of the galleys remained immoveable, until the king, having dined, on account of the annoyances which had happened, bade farewell, with all his army, to the natives, and was on the point of setting out and committing himself to favourable winds and the waves of the sea. Then the whole multitude of ships was launched into the sea, impelled by numerous oarsmen. The city of Messina might justly boast that so great a fleet had never in past ages quitted those shores; and that they never will see there such a one again. Therefore, on the seventeenth day after the departure of the king of France, i.e. on the Wednesday after Palm Sunday, King Richard followed with a numerous fleet of ships, and passing amid the Faro with a fair breeze, some by sailing, some by rowing, they came out into the deep, - the dromons, however, keeping them in the rear as Richard had planned, in order that, as far as it was possible to avoid it, they should not part company, unless they were accidentally separated by the tides; while the galleys purposely relaxed their speed and kept pace with the ships of burthen, to guard their multitude and protect the weaker.

Chapter XXVII. - Of the winds that were at one time calm, at another agitating the sea, and the dangers which King Richard sustained as far as Crete, and from Crete to Rhodes. The wind all at once began to fall gradually, so that the fleet was compelled to remain motionless at anchor between Calabria and Mount Gibello; but on the morrow, i. e. the day of the Lord’s Supper, He who withdraws and sends forth the winds from his treasuries, sent us a wind

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