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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 87

 

Turks, but foreboding something wrong, by inspiration as is thought from heaven, he returned to the camp. The same hour he was told that Saladin had a little before sent a body of three hundred of his choicest troops to Whitecastle, where Richard was going. The same day also King Guy went to Acre, whither he was followed the next day by Stephen de Torneham. In the middle of the night of the Holy Innocents, the Hospitallers and Templars left the camp, and returned in the morning with two hundred oxen, which they had driven off from the mountains near Jerusalem.

Chapter XXXIII. - Of the glorious victory gained by the earl of Leicester against the Turks, when our men at last came to his assistance.

The noble earl of Leicester, one day, followed by a few men only, endeavoured to drive off a large body of Turks who were passing by with much arrogance and boasting. The enemy fled with precipitation, and were followed by three of the swiftest knights in the earl’s train: by this act of imprudence they placed themselves in the power of the Turks, who turned back and made them prisoners. The earl, seeing this, spurred his horse and rode into the midst of more than a hundred Turks, to rescue the knights. His men, following him, pursued the enemy over a river, when a fresh force of about five hundred Turkish cavalry charged them with bows and lances of reed, and cutting off the retreat of the earl and his small party, essayed to make him prisoner. Already was Garin Fitz-Gerald dismounted and severely beaten with the iron maces. A fierce struggle took place. Drogo de Fontenille Putrell and Robert Nigel were unhorsed, and the Turks made such exertions to seize the earl that at last they struck him also from his horse, and almost drowned him in the river. but the earl defended himself bravely, and dealt his blows on every side of him, seconded by Henry Fitz-Nicholas and the brave Robert de Newbury, whose generosity has gained for him immortal renown; for, seeing the earl hard pressed, in the midst of his enemies, and engaged in a doubtful contest, he gave his own horse to the earl, whose safety he deemed more important than his own. Few I fear will be led by his example to do the like, though evil deeds have an abundance of imitators. In this manner Robert by his noble deed saved the earl’s life and did not lose his own. Besides these, there were with the earl Count Ralph of St. Mary’s, Arnald du Bois, Henry de Mailoc, William and Saul de Bruil; but what were they among so many? However, they defended themselves bravely; but the valour of so few could do little against such numbers, and as fresh Turks continually came up, they were unable to fight any more, but holding by the necks of their horses, bore unmoved the blows which fell upon them. Thus, as if lost to feeling, they were led off prisoners towards Darum. But how good is it to trust in the Lord, who does not suffer any one to be tempted beyond what he can bear! Our army had heard of the skirmish, and, seizing their arms, were already on the spot: they assail, vanquish, and rout the Turks. Andrew de Chamgui, Henry de Gray, Peter do Pratelles, and other brave men, kill each his man, the first that came in their way. The Turk whom Peter de Pratelles and his companion encountered, was so powerful that they could not take him prisoner, and had much trouble to vanquish and slay him. Andrew de Chamgui also ran an admiral through the body with his lance; and he fell, never to lead his men to battle more; but, ere he fell, had pierced Andrew’s arm with his lance of cane. The Turks, roused by his fall, rushed to save him, but it was all over with him, and the infidels turned their rage and their steel-tipped canes against the Christians. They would, even now, have gained the day, if our men had not been reinforced from the camp. The battle raged fiercely: the earl was at one time attacked by the enemy, at another assailing them in turn; with one blow he cut off their heads, so that a second stroke was unnecessary. Two horses were slain under him, and it may be truly said of him, that so small a man never performed such brave deeds. So many of the best soldiers sallied from the camp to assist him, that not one of them was slain, but they repulsed the Turks and pursued them, until, fatigued with their exertions, they returned quietly to the camp.

Chapter XXXIV. - Of the annoyances which our soldiers experienced from the rain and the attacks of the enemy as they marched by Betenoble towards Jerusalem.

In the mean time it became known to Saladin that our men were preparing to attack Jerusalem, and were only two miles distant from him; but, not thinking it safe to fight with the Christians, he gave orders to destroy Darum, its walls and towers, and retreated himself to Jerusalem. The Turks, also, in general left the plains and withdrew to the mountains. In consequence of this, our men were commanded by voice of herald to move towards the foot of the mountains, and, when all the arrangements were completed, they marched towards a castle called Betenoble. Then the rain and hail began to beat upon our men, and killed many of their beasts of burthen: the storm was so violent that it tore up the pegs of the tents,

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