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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
great precaution. Moreover, we, and our people, are ignorant of the locality of this region, of the roads and defiles; which, if we were better acquainted with, we should be able to proceed with greater safety; until we attained, with joy and triumph, the long-desired success. But I am of opinion, that the best course to pursue, is to ask the advice of the natives of the soil, who long to recover their lands and former possessions, and endeavour to ascertain from them what they deem best to be done, as they are fully acquainted with the nature of the roads. I think also we should consult the Templars and Hospitallers, and take their judgment and opinion, as to whether we should proceed, first, to the siege of Jerusalem, or to Babylon, or Baruth, or Damascus; and thus our army will not continue, as now, to be divided into parties, from diversity of opinion."
Chapter II. - How it was agreed by common consent, that twenty discreet men should be appointed, and that all should abide by their opinion; and how the king assented and the French opposed it.
It was therefore agreed, by the king’s recommendation, and by common consent, that twenty trusty men should be sworn, and that all should follow their advice, without further opposition. There were chosen five of the Templars, five of the French nobles, five of the Hospitallers, and five of the natives of Syria. These twenty met together, and after conferring for some time on the aforesaid matter, they gave it as their decided opinion, that it was the most eligible plan to proceed direct to the siege of Babylon. On hearing this, the French stoutly opposed it, and protested that they would march nowhere else but to the siege of Jerusalem. The king, on hearing of the obstinacy and defection of the French, was troubled thereat, and remarked - "If the French will accede to our plan, and agree to proceed to the siege of Babylon, according to their oath of obedience, I will give them my fleet, which lies at Acre, fully equipped, to carry their provisions and necessaries, and the army can then march along the coast with confidence. I will also conduct thither, at my own charge, 700 knights, and 2,000 of their followers, in the name of the Lord; and if any one has need of the assistance of my money or means, he may be assured that he shall be supplied according to his wants; and if any one doubts my doing this, I will march with my own soldiers only, and without other help." Then he immediately ordered that inquiries should be made at the tents of the Hospitallers, which were contiguous to his own, what they could supply for the completion of the siege, and how many men they could furnish. The chiefs also came there, and agreed to make an ample contribution towards the expenses of the siege, though they had very little in their pockets. But at that doubtful and critical juncture, they seemed too eager to undertake so venturous an enterprise, with even less precaution than they evinced in commencing the siege of Jerusalem, from which the jurors had so earnestly dissuaded them.
Chapter III. - How, while the army was at Betenoble, Bernard, the king’s spy, brought news of the approach of some very large caravans from Babylon, and how King Richard sent out men to capture, and Saladin sent on the other hand to guard them.
While therefore they were anxiously inquiring what each ought to contribute towards the expenses of the siege, there arrived Bernard, a spy of King Richard’s, and two others, all of whom were natives of the country, and came from the neighbourhood of Babylon. They were attired in the Turkish costume, and differed in nowise from the Saracens, and it was their business to report to King Richard the condition of the enemy. No one spoke the Turkish language with greater ease, and King Richard had given
to each of the three 100 marks of silver for his services. They signified to the king that he should set out, with all his men, as quickly as possible, to intercept the caravans, which were coming from Babylon, and to which they promised to conduct him. The king, delighted at what be heard, charged the duke of Burgundy to join him immediately in the enterprise, and bring the French to assist; and they agreed to go, on condition that they should receive the third part of the booty, to which the king assented. Then about 500 soldiers instantly set out, well armed, and the king took with him a thousand hired serving men. At evening they pursued their march, the king preceding them, and advancing all night, by the light of a splendid moon, they arrived at Galatia. There they rested a short time, and sent to Ascalon for provisions. Meanwhile, they carefully prepared their arms, until the servants, who had been sent for the provisions, arrived. But our men had no sooner started, as we have said, to capture the caravans, than a spy informed Saladin, at Jerusalem, that he had seen King Richard set out, with his people, in great haste, to intercept his caravans; and thus the secret of our expedition was revealed. Saladin then hastily sent off 500 chosen Turks, who, on joining with the others that were intrusted with the
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