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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 90

 

days no vessel could enter it; so that our troops and their horses, who were greatly in want of provisions, could get nothing for eight days, except what they had brought with them; for it was not safe, on account of the Turks, to forage for provisions in the neighbouring country. At last, when the weather became more favourable, some ships entered the harbour with provisions: but the storm again came on, and the army began again to be in want; for some barges and galleys, loaded with provisions, perished on the voyage with all their crews: the snakes also, belonging to the king and others, were broken by the storm; and the king made long vessels out of their materials, vainly imagining that they would serve to cross the sea

Chapter V. - Saladin, hearing of the return and dispersal of our army, sends his men to their homes until May.

Saladin, hearing that our troops were dispersed along the sea-coast, and in part broken up, dismissed his troops to return to their homes, and attend to their domestic affairs, with orders to assemble again in the month of May. The Turks, who had now for four years been serving laboriously in the Sultan’s army, now gladly return to see their wives and families. There their admirals and princes, men of renown, recapitulated their adventures, and the disastrous campaigns which they had gone through: men who before had always came off victorious, and got abundance of spoil from all their former wars; but now, on the contrary, they had suffered both in their own property and by the deaths of their relations slain in the battles which they had fought. They, in particular, grieved for the fate of those princes, admirals, and others, who had been slain by King Richard, as before related, in the siege of Acre, when Saladin failed in his promise to redeem them. For this reason they had conceived bitter anger against Saladin, and now left his army for a time with groans and lamentations.

Chapter VI. - King Richard persuades as many of the French as he can to return, and, by common consent, they rebuild Ascalon.

The month of January was now ended, and the sky was becoming brighter. The king, annoyed at the dispersal of the army, sent messengers to persuade the French to return, and so strengthen the army that they might be in a condition for further deliberations. "For," said he, "it is desirable that all the army should be together when we deliberate, for division will only weaken us, and expose us to the attacks of our enemies." The French by these arguments were led to promise that they would rejoin the army until Easter, on condition that they should have leave to depart, and safe conduct at that time, if they should wish it. The king, seeing that it was necessary to use forbearance, assented to these conditions, and the army was thus reunited. It was now agreed by all to rebuild Ascalon; but the princes and nobles were so exhausted, that they found their means insufficient for the purpose. They, nevertheless, began the work as well as they could, and dividing it out amongst them, they dug to the foundations of one of the chief gates, until they came to solid masonry, and removed the rubbish that was lying on the top. All engaged in the work: princes, nobles, knights, esquires, and retainers, might be seen tossing the stones from hand to hand. There was no distinction made between clerks and laymen; nobles and plebeians, princes and their attendants, all worked alike, so that they were even themselves astonished at their own progress. Masons were then brought, the work went on with double vigour, and the walls rose rapidly. Fifty-three of the highest and strongest towers, besides other smaller ones, had been levelled with the ground. Five of these towers had received names from their founders; according to tradition, the first and most powerful, was Ham, the son of Noah, who had thirty two sons: these all reigned after him, and built Ascalon, with the help of the people whom they invited together from all the country under their dominion; and to gain their favour, and a lasting name to themselves, the females built the tower which is called the tower of the "maidens." In the same way the soldiers built the tower of the "shields:" the "Bloody tower" was so called because founded by certain criminals, who, by this work, are said to have saved their lives from the punishment due to their crimes: the fourth tower was erected by the admirals, and is therefore called the "Admirals’ tower:" the fifth, called the "Bedouins’ tower," was constructed by the race of men bearing that name. Such are the five principal towers of Ascalon, named from their founders. When skilful masons were employed upon it, the work advanced more rapidly. The king, as in all other matters, was conspicuous in promoting the work; and by joining therein with his own hands, encouraging the men, and distributing to each their allotted tasks, he rendered great service. For, at his exhortation, each of the nobles and chiefs undertook the completion of his share in proportion to his means; and if any one desisted from the work for want of money, the king, more exalted still in heart than in outward dignity, gave to them from his own

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