Previous First Next
Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
their superstitions, and embracing Christianity, submitted to King Richard.
Chapter XXXI. - How Saladin amused King Richard by false promises, and thereby gained time to destroy certain fortresses.
The two castles before mentioned were now partly restored, and King Richard, perceiving that his troops not only hated the Turks, but had less fear of them than before, because they had always, with God’s help, defeated them, even when superior in numbers, now sent a distinguished embassy to Saladin and Saphadin his brother, to demand the surrender of the kingdom of Syria, with all that belonged to it, such as the leprous king had last possessed it. He demanded also tribute from Babylon, as the kings, his predecessors, had received it, together with all the privileges and dues which had at any time before belonged to the kingdom of Jerusalem. The ambassadors unfolded their message before Saladin, who would not, however, acquiesce in the demand. "Your king," said he, "makes an unreasonable claim, and we cannot, with regard to the honour of Paganism, consent to it; but I will offer to your king, through my brother Saphadin, to give up to him the whole land of Jerusalem, from Jordan to the sea, without tribute or hinderance, on condition that the city of Ascalon shall never be rebuilt, either by the Christians or the Saracens. When Saphadin came with this message to the king, Richard, who had just been bled, would not converse with him on that day; but Stephen de Torneham, by the king’s order, supplied him with every kind of delicacy for his table, and entertained him in the valley between the castles of the Temple and of Jehoshaphat. The next day Saphadin sent a present of seven camels and a rich tent, and coming into the king’s presence, delivered Saladin’s message; upon which Richard, considering the disturbances and uncertainties of war, determined to have patience for a time, that he might the better make provision for the future: but, alas! he shewed too little prudence in not foreseeing the deceit with which they sought to protract the time until the cities, castles, and fortresses of that country were destroyed. In short, Saphadin so cunningly beguiled the too credulous king, that one would have thought they had contracted a mutual familiarity; for the king received Saphadin’s gifts, and messengers were daily passing with presents to the king, much to the annoyance of his friends, who blamed
him for contracting friendship with the Gentiles. But Saphadin pleaded that he wished to make peace between them, and the king thought he was adopting a wise policy, by which the bounds of Christianity would be enlarged, and a creditable peace concluded, particularly since the departure of the French king, from whom he feared treachery, for he had always found his friendship hollow and deceitful. When, however, the king discovered that the promises of Saphadin were mere words, and likely to produce no result, particularly in the matter of Fort Erach of Mount Royal, of which, according to the understood conditions, the king demanded the demolition, but the Turks would not consent to it, he at once broke off the negotiations. This failure of the treaty becoming known, the enemy were soon again to be seen on our flanks, and King Richard was again in the field to meet them; and by way of wiping out the former charges which had been made against him, he brought every day numbers of Turkish heads, to prove that his zeal had not slackened in the cause of Christianity. The difficulties thrown in his way, and accusations made against him, had arisen from those who sought to obtain his money; for it is rare to find persons not actuated by the desire of gain.
Chapter XXXII. - Of the annoyance which our men experienced from the rains and the enemy, whilst they encamped between St. George and Ramula, and in the town of Ramula itself.
When the two forts were repaired and garrisoned, Richard moved his army towards Ramula; which caused Saladin to order Ramula to be dismantled, because he did not dare meet the king in the field. He then withdrew with his troops towards Darum, because he had most confidence in the mountainous districts. Our troops then encamped between St. George and Ramula, where they remained twenty-two days waiting for reinforcements and provisions. There also we endured severe attacks from the enemy, and the heavy rains drove the king of Jerusalem and our people to remove into St. George and Ramula: the count of St. Paul went to the Castle of the Baths. We stopped in Ramula seven weeks, not however in case, for we had a rough beginning, though it was afterwards made amends for by a more pleasant termination. The Turks would not allow us
the least repose, but continually attacked us with their javelins. On the eve of St. Thomas the Apostle, King Richard had sallied forth with a small retinue towards a fort called Whitecastle, on some enterprise against the
Previous First Next
* * *