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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
which continued the whole day, not too strong, but impelling the fleet at a moderate speed; but after that it abated altogether on the following night. But on Holy Friday, a contrary wind arising, drove it back to the left, and the sea being very much agitated thereby, boiled up from the very depths, while the waves beat together, and the storm increased; the roar of the dashing waves, and the ships creaking with the violence of the wind, struck all with no small terror, and from the excessive fury of the latter, all management of the ships was at an end; for no pilot could steer them while tossing to and fro in such a manner. They were borne hither and thither; their line was broken, and they went different ways. The crews committed themselves to the guidance of the Lord, despairing of earthly aid; but as far as human weakness permitted, we determined to bear all things with
patience, under the eye of our Saviour, who on that day had suffered so undeserved a death for our sakes. And as the ships were tossed to and fro, and dispersed divers ways, men’s stomachs began to feel a qualm, and were affected by a violent nausea; and this feeling of sickness made them almost insensible to the dangers around; but towards evening, it grew by degrees calm, and the fury of the winds and waves abated. A favourable wind now springing up, according to our wishes, and the sailors having recovered their strength and confidence, we strove to keep a direct course for our voyage. King Richard, unmoved amid this state of confusion, never ceased to animate those who were dispirited, and bid them take courage, and hope for better fortune; moreover he had as usual a very large waxlight in a lantern, hoisted aloft in his ship to give light to the rest of the fleet and direct them in their way. He had on board most experienced sailors, who did every thing which human art could do to oppose the fury of the winds. All, therefore, as far as they could, followed the light burning in the king’s ship. The king remained stationary some time to collect his fleet, which congregated together by seeing the light, so that the king resembled a hen gathering together her chickens. After that, we started with a favourable wind, and sailed along, without obstacle or injury, on the Saturday of the Passover, as well as on the day of the festival, and until the following Wednesday. That day we came in sight of Crete, where the king put in to repose and collect his fleet. When the ships had come together, twenty-five were found missing, at which the king was much grieved. Among the steep mountains of this island of Crete, is one raised above the others, like a lofty summit, which is called the Camel, which sailors acquainted with those seas say is exactly midway between Messina in Sicily, and Acre in Palestine. On the morrow, being Thursday, the king and all his army entered their ships; when the wind began to rise stronger, and though favourable, was very vehement in impelling us forward, for we moved rapidly along, with sails swelled out and mast slightly bent, not unlike the flight of birds. The wind, which slackened not all night, at dawn of day drove our fleet violently upon the island of Rhodes: there was no port, and the surf stretched along the shore; however, we enjoyed there our rest the better for having wished for it so earnestly, from that day until the
following Monday, when we put in at Rhodes. Rhodes was anciently a very large city, not unlike Rome; though its extent can scarcely be estimated, there are so many ruins of houses and portions of fallen towers still standing, and such wonderful remains of walls and buildings of admirable workmanship. There are also a few monasteries still remaining out of so many ancient edifices, for the most part deserted, though formerly inhabited by such numerous societies of monks. The site of so great a city, though by time laid waste, proves the former existence of a large population; but very few inhabitants were found there now who could sell us food. But as the king was indisposed, we tarried there a few days, during which he waited the arrival of the ships that had wandered out of their course and lost us, and the galleys which followed him. He made inquiries also about that cruel tyrant, emperor of Cyprus, who was wont to detain the pilgrims who put in at his port.
Chapter XXVIII. - Of the departure of King Richard from Rhodes, through the gulf, and of the arrival of the queen at Cyprus.
Having spent ten days at Rhodes, which is a very fertile and productive island, they went on board, and set out on their voyage on the 1st of May. They were borne on their course into that most dangerous place, called the Gulf of Satalia. There is a mighty strife of currents formed by the junction of four seas, struggled violently together, each dashing against and resisting the other. We were on the point of entering it, when lo! as if apprehensive of our safety, a contrary current carried us back to the place from whence we had started. But in a short time, the wind, which in those parts is constantly shifting, drove us from behind back again into the gulf, with the more danger from its increased violence. Fearing the effects
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