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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 82

 

Chapter XX. - How the admirable knight James d’Avennes was slain in the second encounter.

But we had to mourn greatly the loss of James d’Avennes, who was overpowered by the numbers of the Turks; for he was thrown by a grievous fall of his horse, while bravely fighting; and the Turks, gathering round him, after much labour, put him to death. But before breathing his last, he slew fifteen of the Turks, according to the report of those who were sent to bring his body to the camp, and who found so many Turkish soldiers lying dead around him. There were also found dead along with him three of his kinsmen, to whom some of our men did not give the. assistance which they ought; but, shame to say, deserted them in their struggle against the attack of the Turks, on which account the count of Dreux and others who were present obtained the infamy and detestation which they deserved. Alas for the manifold calamities of war! How loud were the groans and sighs of our soldiers on that night for the absence of James d’Avennes, the excellent soldier and renowned warrior! for they augured his fall, as they did not see him and his kinsmen with the rest, and the whole army was afflicted by his irreparable loss. On the Saturday before the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the aforesaid battle was fought; and on the Sunday following, it was decreed that a search should be made for the body, in order that it might be buried. Therefore, the Hospitallers and knights of the Temple armed themselves, and took with them many of the Turcopoli and others, and, on arriving on the field of battle, they made anxious search, and at last found the body, its face covered with clotted blood, so that it was difficult of recognition until it was washed with water, for it was dyed in gore and swollen with wounds, and very unlike his former self. Thus, having decently wrapped up the body, they bore it back to Arsur, whence a great multitude of the soldiers came forth to meet it; and all lamented the death of so great a man, for they called to mind his prowess, bounty, and the many virtues that adorned him, and King Richard and King Guy assisted at his funeral, where a solemn mass was celebrated, with large offerings, in the church of our Lady the Queen of Heaven, whose nativity it was. After the mass, the funeral rites were solemnly performed, and the nobles, taking his body in their arms, buried it in a grave, erecting a mound thereon; and there was great wailing, weeping, and lamentation for his death. When the obsequies were ended, the clergy solemnly performed the service for the day, being that of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Chapter XXI. - Of the rout of the Turks, who first turned their backs and then fled, and how they left all their baggage about the fields a prey to the Christians.

Now the emirs and nobles of the Saracens, to whom Saladin had given great territories and riches, had been induced, by his deceitful words and high-flown language, to believe, that on that day, with the aid of Mahomet, he would utterly extirpate the Christians; but the oracle of Mahomet deceived them, and their insolent boasting was repressed. For according to the report of those who saw it, you might trace the flight of the Turks through the mountains, on the day of battle, by the booty that was thrown aside, the dead horses and camels lying along the way, as they had fallen, and laden with heavy baggage; for the Turkish bowmen had fled from the face of the Christians, and retreated with all that was left them; and on the day of battle, the more anxiously they hastened their flight, the more surely they failed, and perished, leaving behind them an immense quantity of spoil. Such was the vigour of our men’s last attack, that if the enemy had remained a little longer, and had not taken to flight, they would never again have been in fighting order, and the land would have been left for the Christians to occupy.

Chapter XXII. - Saladin reproaches and derides his men, who excuse themselves by praising King Richard and his troops, beyond all they had ever seen.

The sultan, hearing that his choice troops, in whom he had placed so much confidence, were routed in this manner by the Christians, was filled with anger and excitement; and calling together his admirals, he said to them, "Are these the deeds of my brave troops, once so boastful, and whom I have so loaded with gifts? Lo! the Christians traverse the whole country at their pleasure, for there is no one to oppose them: Where now are all their vaunts, those swords and spears with which they threatened to do such execution? where is that prowess which they promised to put forth against the Christians, to overthrow them utterly? They have fought the battle which they desired, but where is the victory they promised? They are degenerated from those noble ancestors who performed such exploits against the Christians, and whose memory will endure for ever. It is a

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