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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
page. 101

 

At the time that the marquis was assassinated at Tyre as aforesaid, many messengers arrived from England, soliciting the king to return; some of them said that every thing was safe, others that England was on the point of being taken from him; some begged him to return home, while others used all their endeavours to persuade him to accomplish his pilgrimage in the land which he had come to; and thus their different assertions disturbed his mind, and made him doubtful to which he should lean. But he measured the spirit of the king of France by his former experience, for, according to the proverb, "He who has a bad man for his neighbour, is sure to find something wrong in the morning."

Chapter XXXIX. - How King Richard, without the aid of the French, and with his own amy alone, took Darum by storm in four days, and captured 300 Turks therein.

In the meantime, while Count Henry and the French at Acre were proceeding to the siege of the fort of Darum, King Richard, who hated delay, started with his men from Ascalon, and sent his stone-engines, which had been placed piecemeal on board the ships, to proceed thither by sea. The king, deputed men to guard the city, and hired others, at the most lavish price, to keep a good look-out by day towards the neighbouring forts, and a careful watch by night to prevent the Turks from carrying supplies as before to Darum, or whatever might be wanted by the army at Jerusalem, or from any longer having a safe retreat to Darum, whence they frequently planned ambuscades against our men. Then the king, with his own soldiers only, set out armed for the fort of Darum, and arriving there on a Sunday, he pitched his tent and those of his followers at a short distance from it. Owing to the paucity of our men, it was doubted which part of the fort they should attack, as they were unable entirely to surround it; for if our small numbers were scattered, they would not be able to storm the tower, or withstand the attack of the Turks; wherefore they retired in a body towards a village situated in a plain, where they drew up. The Turks, on seeing so small an army, came forth from the castle, as if to solicit and challenge them to battle, and then retired again, and having barred their gates very strongly, prepared to defend themselves. Immediately afterwards, the king’s stone-engines arrived in his ships, which being disjointed, and in different pieces, the king, his princes, and nobles, carried on their shoulders from the shore, not without much sweating, as we ourselves saw, for nearly a mile. At last, when the engines were put together, and men placed to work them, the king took upon himself to manage one of them, and with it to attack the principal tower of the fort, the Normans had the second, and the men of Poictou the third; and all of them were put in motion for the destruction of the fort. The Turks saw that utter destruction was close at hand; but for all that, they endeavoured to defend themselves manfully. King Richard caused his engines to be plied day and night. Darum had seventeen strong and compact towers, one of which was higher and stronger than the others, and externally it was surrounded by a deep ditch, which was built on one side of layers of paving stones, and a natural rock hung over the other. And now cowardly fears came upon the unbelieving race, lest they should not be able to defend themselves effectually, or even to escape with their lives. On the morrow, the king caused the sappers to carry a mine very cleverly underground, in order to break up the pavement, and make a hollow in the wall; and the stone-engines, being plied in common, broke in pieces, by their frequent blows, one of the enemy’s mangonels, erected on the principal tower, at which the enemy were very much discouraged. At first the Turks drove back our men with stones and darts, which fell in dense showers from their slings and bows; but our slingers, to the great destruction of our foes, wherever they saw any one exposed to their attack on the battlements, threw missiles at him, and wounded and killed so many of them, that the enemy scarcely dared to move for fear; and their condition began now to be far from enviable, when on a sudden, one of the gates of the fort was broken down, set on fire, and utterly destroyed by the blows of the king’s stone-engines. The Turks, now driven to desperation, by this continuous and harassing attack, were not able to make a longer defence, and many were killed, while others lay wounded on the ground. It was now clear that King Richard was invincible in every operation he commenced; and that by undermining the towers, and plying his engines, he was sure to succeed. Three, therefore, of the Saracens came from the fort to the king, and sued for peace, offering to surrender the fort, and every thing belonging to it, on condition that they should be allowed to go away with their lives; but the king refused, and told them to defend themselves to the utmost of their power. They returned therefore to the fort, and the

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