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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 74

 

have been difficult to meet with, bright armour and pennons, with their glittering emblazonry; banners of various forms; lances, with gleaming points; shining helmets, and coats of mail: an army well regulated in the camp, and terrible to the foe! King Richard commanded the van, and kept the foremost guard. The Normans defended the standard, which we do not consider it irrelevant here to describe. It was formed of a long beam, like the mast of a ship; made of most solid ceiled work, on four wheels; put together with joints, bound with iron, and to all appearance no sword or axe could cut, or fire injure it. A chosen body of soldiers were generally appointed to guard it, especially in a combat on the plains, lest, by any hostile attack, it should be broken or thrown down; for if it fell by any accident, the army would be dispersed and put into confusion. For they are dismayed when it does not appear, and think that their general must be overcome by faint-heartedness when they do not see his standard flying; for no people have strength to resist the enemy if their chief is in alarm from the fall of his standard; but whilst it remains erect they have a certain refuge. Near it the weak are strengthened; the wounded soldiers, even those of rank and celebrity, who fall in the battle, are carried to it, and it is called "Standard," from its standing a most compact signal to the army. It is very properly drawn on wheels, for it is advanced when the enemy yields, and drawn back if they press on, according to the state of the battle. It was surrounded by the Normans and English. The duke of Burgundy and the French brought up the rear, and by their tardy movements and long delay incurred severe loss. The army marched along the sea-shore, which was on its right, and the Turks watched its movements from the heights on the left. On a sudden the clouds grew dark, and the sky was troubled, when the army arrived at some narrow roads impassable for the provision-waggons; here, owing to the narrowness of the way, the order of march was thrown into confusion, and they advanced in extended line, and without discipline. The Saracens, observing this, poured down suddenly on the pack-horses and loaded waggons, slew both horses and men in a moment, and plundered a great deal of the baggage, boldly charging and dispersing those who opposed them as far as the sea-shore. Then there took place a fierce and obstinate conflict: each fought for his life. Here a Turk cut off the right hand of Everard, one of the bishop of Salisbury’s men, as he held his sword; the man, without changing countenance in the least, with his left hand boldly took the sword, and closing with the Turks, who were pressing on him, defended himself courageously from them all. By this time the rear was put into great confusion, and John Fitz-Luke, alarmed at this mishap, put spurs to his horse, and went to tell King Richard, who was ignorant of what had taken place. On hearing it, he rode at full gallop to their assistance, cutting down the Turks, right and left, like lightning, with his sword. And quickly, as of yore the Philistines fled from Maccabeus, so were the Turks now routed, and so did they fly from the face of King Richard, and make for the mountains; but some of them remained amongst us, having lost their heads. In that conflict one of the French, William de Bartis, who had been at variance with King Richard from some old grudge, by his extraordinary good conduct was reconciled and restored to the king’s former favour. The sultan was not far off with the whole strength of his army, but owing to the aforesaid repulse, the Turks, despairing of success, refrained from attacking our men any more, but watched them from the heights. Our troops, being restored to order, proceeded on their march as far as a river which they by chance met with, and cisterns, the excellence of which being ascertained, they pitched their tents, and rested there on a spacious plain, where they had seen that Saladin had fixed his camp before, and they judged that he had a very large army by the extent of the trodden ground. On the first day there our army fared thus, and by God’s providence they were warned to be more cautious, after having experienced how much loss they might escape if properly on their guard another time.

Chapter XI. - How our army arrived at Cayphas from the river of Acre.

Saladin and the Turks, always on the watch to do us harm, had seized upon some passes between the rugged mountains, by which our army was to proceed; and they intended to kill, seize, or disperse us as we issued forth in an extended line; but when our army had advanced cautiously from the aforesaid river, and by slow march, as far as Cayphas, they pitched their tents there, and waited for the mass of the army who were following. They posted themselves between the town of Cayphas and the sea, and remained there two days, looking into and arranging their baggage, and they threw away what they thought they could dispense with, only retaining what was absolutely necessary, for the common soldiers marched on foot, and were much distressed by the weight of their

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