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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
to cross in going to and returning from the Holy City. While in the valley, we saw many things happen which we do not think we ought to pass over in silence. On the morrow of St. Barnabas, which was Friday, the king was informed by a spy that the Turks were on the mountains, lying in ambush for those who should pass by, and at earliest dawn he set out in search of them, and coining to the fountain of Emaus, he caught them unawares, slew twenty, put the others to flight, and captured Saladin’s herald, who was accustomed to proclaim his edicts; he was the only one King Richard saved alive. He also took three camels, and horses, mules, and beautiful Turcomans; and also two mules laden with costly silken coverings, and different species of aloes, and other things. The rest of the Saracens he pursued over the mountains, routing and slaying them, until he came to a valley, where, after piercing one of the enemy, and casting him dying from his horse, he looked up and beheld in the distance the city of Jerusalem.
Chapter L. - How the Turks in Jerusalem, on hearing that King Richard was coming fled away in terror, and how Saladin prepared for flight.
When, therefore, news was brought by the fugitive Turks to those who dwelt in Jerusalem, that King Richard was approaching, they were struck with terror, and there is no doubt that had the king and his army moved forward at this critical juncture of their panic, the Turks would have abandoned Jerusalem, and let the Christians take undisputed possession of
it; for the Saracens one and all had left it and fled, and not a man who could defend it even ventured to remain in the city; nor was any one deterred by the threats of the sultan, or allured by the hope of reward; for all that the sultan himself demanded was to be supplied with his swiftest charger, that he might flee from the face of King Richard, whose arrival he dared not await.
Chapter LI. - How, while the French were at Betenoble, they would have been routed in a conflict with 200 Turks, had not the bishop of Salisbury come to their succour.
On the same day on which the king was thus employed, two hundred Saracens came down from the mountains to the plain opposite the tents of the French, and threw the whole army into confusion before they could be put to flight. They had killed two of our guards, who had gone some distance in search of fodder for the beasts of burden; at whose cry, the French rushed forth with the Templars and Hospitallers, but the Turks defended themselves manfully at the foot of the mountain, and boldly returned their blows, refusing to fight with our men on level ground, but turning to resist as soon as they reached the declivity of the mountain; they also unhorsed one of our knights, from which the French obtained no small disgrace. On this occasion a knight would have performed an act of memorable valour, had he not transgressed the rule of his order, and his exploit was ascribed more to rashness than real courage. He was an Hospitaller, by name Robert de Bruges, who, having passed the royal standard, spurred with violence the valuable charger on which he sat, and in his eagerness to close with the enemy, issuing from the ranks, contrary to discipline, charged the Turks alone, before the others came up in order; and urging at full speed against a Turk who was most splendidly armed, he pierced him through his coat of mail and body with such force, that the lance came out at his back. The Turk fell to the ground, but his body was not left behind; and then our men made a simultaneous charge upon the enemy. After this, Gervier, the master of the Hospitallers, commanded Robert to dismount, and attend to the discipline of his order; Robert
obeyed his commands, and dismounting, returned on foot, and waited patiently until some nobles and men of influence prayed Gervier, the master, on their knees, to forgive him, and remit his transgression, warning him not to behave in like manner for the future. Both sides now laboured in the contest with doubtful success. The heavens resounded with the shouts of war; the earth was moist with blood; swords rung as they clashed together, shields rattled, and each side was agitated by equal fury. Our men, fatigued by the weight of the battle, began to waver, when, by divine providence, the count of Perche, bearing the noise of the combat, came up; yet he shewed himself but a timid man, and the French would have been routed on that day, had not the bishop of Salisbury, hearing the tumult, come quickly to their succour.
Chapter LII. - How, while the army was staying at Betenoble, a large number of our men, who had the charge of the caravans from Joppa, were vilely treated and most roughly beaten by the Turks, and how they were rescued by the earl of Leicester.
On the seventeenth of June, i.e. on St. Botolph’s day, being Wednesday, our caravan was on its way from Joppa to the army, laden with provisions and other necessaries. Ferric of Vienna was deputed to
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