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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
busy enough in attacking and pursuing the Greeks as they deserved, as it appeared to be of the greatest consequence to subdue an island so necessary to the land of Jerusalem. Paying no attention to the messengers, he advanced to Nicosia, whither each had brought the provisions necessary for himself, as it was a desert place; they moved forward in order of battle, for they had learnt that the emperor intended to lie in ambush for them. The king marched in the rear, to guard against attacks, when on a sudden, the emperor burst from his hiding-place, and assailed them with about seven hundred Greeks. Their arbalesters exerted all their ability to throw their darts against the foremost of our men; but not even thus did our troops suffer themselves to be broken, for they kept together in good order, while the emperor advancing on the flank to reconnoitre, bore down upon them pell-mell, with a view either to break up our lines, or to find out and shoot the king; and when he found that the king was in the rear, he shot two poisoned arrows at him, which inflamed the king to a pitch of anger, and putting spurs to his horse, he bore down on the emperor, with the intention of striking him with his lance; but the emperor evaded him, and fled as swiftly as possible to his aforesaid fort of Candaira, in exceeding dismay and confusion, because he had not succeeded according to his wishes; and the king did not pursue him far, for he doubted of taking him; for he had a bay horse of such swiftness and perseverance in running, that no one ever saw his match for speed. Then the king marched towards Nicosia, with his army, and an immense booty of noble horses and men, which had been taken in the encounter; and the citizens of Nicosia came forth in a body, to congratulate him, and admitted him as if he had been their lord; and the king received them in peace, and caused their beards to be shaved in token of their change of masters. The emperor, on hearing this, in his fury, caused them to seize upon every one of our men that they could, and they plucked out their eyes, or cut off their noses, or mutilated their arms or legs, to satisfy his revenge and soothe his grief. The king exacted homage of the Greek nobles, who appeared to throw off the emperor’s yoke with joy; and feeling himself somewhat afflicted with sickness, he tarried there to rest and recruit himself.
Chapter XXXVIII. - Of the capture of the three forts, in one of which was the emperor’s daughter and treasure.
With the army, which had been divided into three parts by the king, King Guy laid siege to the three forts, Cherimes, Didimus, and Butphenens; the two first he quickly gained possession of; for, with the help of a guide who knew the ways and the places of difficult access, the army, approaching the fort of Cherimes by land and by sea, assaulted it instantly; and they who were in it, not expecting any aid, surrendered the fort, in which were found the emperor’s daughter, and his treasure. When the emperor heard of his loss, he was so overwhelmed with grief, that it nearly drove him mad. King Guy, having hoisted the banners of King Richard on the battlements of the fort, proceeded to attack the second fort, called Didimus, very strong by situation, and exposed to attack on no side; and those who were shut up therein prepared to defend themselves, and for some days kept throwing stones and darts at the besiegers, until they were commanded by the emperor to give it up; and in it the king placed the emperor’s daughter, to prevent her being recaptured. From thence King Guy returned to the army at Nicosia, where King Richard, as has been afore said, lay sick; and immediately on his recovery, he attacked and stormed the fort of Bufferentum, which had hitherto been deemed impregnable.
Chapter XXXIX. - How the emperor came from Candaira to Nicosia, and prostrating himself at the feet of King Richard, surrendered Cyprus to his power.
O mighty wealth of the emperor! O land, rich in every good thing! O forts, most strong by position, that were given up, which could never have been stormed by the machines of any enemy, unless obtained by treachery or famine! The emperor considering that he was pressed by misfortune enough; that his daughter, on whom his life hung, had been taken captive; and that his forts had been either seized upon or surrendered, and his people alienated from him; and that he was only tolerated, not beloved by his men; perceiving also, that there was no hope of resistance left, he
determined that, although a foe, he would sue for peace and mercy. He therefore sent ambassadors to King Richard, to plead his cause; and in order to incline Richard to feel kindness for him, he followed them in sad attire, and with a dejected countenance; and coming into the presence of King Richard, he fell on his knees in humiliation before him, saying that he submitted himself entirely to his mercy, and that he had neither territory nor fort left: but that he would consider him lord of every thing else, if only
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