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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
fatigue of the battle, but the smell of the corpses, which so corrupted the neighbourhood, that they all nearly died.
Chapter XXVI. - Saladin sends word to the king, whilst he was sick, that he was coming to seize him.
Richard sends to Cǽsarea for assistance from the French, who refuse to come. In the meantime Saladin sent word to the king that he would come with his Turks and seize him, if he could only be sure that Richard would await his approach. The king replied instantly, that he would wait for him there, without stirring one foot from where he was, provided only that he had strength, to stand upright and to defend himself. Such was the kinds courage, that it could not be overcome by any disasters. When the king, however, came to reflect on his actual situation, and the illness by which he was disabled, he thought it not expedient to be too secure when the serpent was in his neighbourhood; he therefore sent Count Henry to Cǽsarea, with a message to the French, who had previously come thither, that they should join him and assist in defending the Holy Land, signifying also to them his present complaint, and the aforesaid message of Saladin. But the French refused to render him the least assistance; indeed, as far as they were concerned, he might have been destroyed by the multitude of the enemy, if he had not agreed to a truce which in some particulars was open to reprehension. So great was the multitude of the Turks, that what chance could so small a body of men have had against them, even if they had not been sick? It was therefore agreed that Ascalon should be destroyed, rather than that so dangerous a hazard should be run for if the enemy, meeting with no opposition, had seized the king lying ill upon, his bed, Ascalon would of course have been taken possession of without resistance; but, would Tyre or Acre have been safe?
Chapter XXVII. - How the king wished to return to Acre to be cured, but, on the people opposing it, he asked of Saladin a truce for three years, which was granted.
In the meantime the king began to be anxious about his health, and after long reflection he sent for his relation Count Henry, with the
Templars and Hospitallers, to whom he explained the enfeebled state of his body, and protested that in consequence of the vitiated atmosphere, and the bad state of the fortifications, he must immediately leave the place. He then appointed some of them to go and take charge of Ascalon, and to others to guard Joppa, whilst he went himself to Acre to be cured, as was now absolutely necessary for him. To this proposition they all with one heart and one voice made objection, saying, that they could not possibly guard Joppa or any other fortress after he was gone; and persisting in this refusal, they kept aloof, and no longer acted in concert with the king. Richard was vexed and embarrassed by this conduct, and it gave him the most bitter pain that none of them sympathized with his intentions or wishes. He then began to waver as to what he should do, but in all his deliberations he came only to the same conclusion, that there was none of them to sympathize with his misfortunes. Seeing, then, that all left him, and that none took the slightest interest in the common cause, he ordered proclamation to be made, that whoever wished to receive the king’s pay should come together to give him their help. At once two thousand footmen and fifty knights came forward. But the king’s health now began to get so bad, that he despaired of its being re-established; wherefore, in his anxiety both for the others and for himself he thought it best, of all the plans which suggested themselves, to ask a truce, rather than to leave the land a prey to devastation, as many others had done, by sailing home in numbers to their own country. Thus the king, perplexed and hesitating what he had best do, requested Saphadin, the brother of Saladin, to mediate between them, and obtain the most honourable terms of truce in his power. Now Saphadin was a man of extraordinary liberality, who on many occasions paid great honour to the king for his singular virtues; and he now with great zeal procured for Richard a truce on the following conditions; namely, that Ascalon which had always been a cause of annoyance to Saladin’s government, should be destroyed, and not rebuilt for the space of at least three years, beginning at the following festival of Easter; but at the end of that time, whoever could get possession of it might fortify it; that the Christians should be allowed to inhabit Joppa without let or molestation, together with all the adjoining country, both on the sea coast and in the mountains; that peace should strictly be observed between the Christians and Saracens, each having free leave to come and go wherever they pleased; that pilgrims should have free access to the Holy Sepulchre, without any payment or pecuniary exaction whatever, and with leave to carry merchandise for sale through the whole ]and, and to practise commercial pursuits without opposition. This treaty was presented in
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