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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
is well known from the habits of the French. In a word, their external condition proved their inward levity. Shame on the French for indulging in such excesses! We do not assert that all were guilty of this folly, for there were some who were much concerned at their dissolute habits, and sorry for their discord with King Richard.
Chapter XXI. - How the discord which arose between the Christians, who were now come to the Holy Land, never occurred amongst the ancients.
The great King Charlemagne, famous for his deeds and the subjugation of so many kingdoms to his authority, when he set out for the conquest of Spain is said never to have suffered a quarrel to occur in his army. Such was the case also when he made his expedition against Saxony, where he performed so many exploits and utterly subdued the famous Wercelin.(20) Likewise, when he went from Rome to give battle to that powerful warrior, Aguland, who had landed at Pisa, a city of Calabria, with a large body of Saracens, which would have been invincible but for the divine aid, no discord ever took place in his army. So also, in the land of Jerusalem, shattered by so many wars, during which so much slaughter of the enemy was made, and so many battles were successfully fought, wherever of yore we read of famous deeds of arms being carried on, there was no quarrel to divide the army who served under one general, no factious ill-will to disunite the people of different nations who formed it, nor did jealousy distract those who were under the guidance of one prince, nor was reviling or insulting language heard of amongst them, - nay, they shewed each other every honour and kindness, and they were called one people on account of their unity, amongst whom no Firstion could last
(20)This appears to be an error for Witekind.
long. This was the reason why the French prevailed in those days over all foreigners, and so likewise should we moderns imitate with advantage the example of the ancients.
Chapter XXII. - How the prior of Hereford was sent to the Holy Land.
When Easter was over, and the season for crossing the sea came on, the prior of Hereford, an English priory, came with a message for King Richard which put the whole army in commotion. The prior brought letters from William, bishop of Ely, the king’s chancellor, informing him that he and the others whom King Richard had deputed to govern the country in his absence, had been insolently expelled from the fortresses of the kingdom, and some of their party killed in the riots; also, that by the agency of the king’s brother, Earl John, the chancellor, had been driven from England; that there was no more money in the king’s treasury or any where else, except what was with difficulty kept concealed in the churches. In addition to this, the prior said that the same chancellor, priest, and bishop, had been forced to fly to Normandy, after much annoyance and illtreatment; and that the said earl rigorously exacted from the earls and nobles of the land the oath of allegiance, with homage, and the custody of the castles. He had also arbitrarily laid hands on the king’s yearly revenues, namely, those of the exchequer. "And," said the prior, "if your majesty does not take speedy counsel on these matters, and return home with all haste and avenge our wrongs on the insurgents, it will fare worse, and you will not be able to recover your kingdom without the hazard of a war." The king was exceedingly astonished at what he heard, and turning it over in his mind for a long time, said but little, for he thought it incredible and a piece of wickedness exceeding belief. Where is the man who, when his wealth is plundered, bears it patiently? Who endures wrongs without a murmur? Fear, in its anxiety, gives all things, however uncertain, an appearance of probability; and when a confused state of affairs comes to the knowledge of others, they are themselves disturbed, and their minds are apt to be alarmed lest every thing should turn out disordered. The discord of princes is seldom to be allayed; but if King Richard should be
obliged to return home, probably not a man would remain in the Holy Land, as there was jealousy and strife between the people of Tyre and Ascalon, and without a doubt the Turks would have possession of the land for ever.
Chapter XXIII. - How the army, on hearing the secret news brought by the king’s messenger, took counsel to choose a king for themselves and how the people preferred the marquis to King Guy.
On the morrow, the king having called together the leaders of the army, laid before them the news which he had heard, fully explaining the words of the prior, and at the same time declaring that he must, of necessity, return home directly, but promised to furnish to the campaign in the Holy Land three hundred knights and two thousand chosen foot soldiers, at his own expense. He then inquired who would return with him, and who would stay behind? He would compel no one to do either, but left
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