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Geoffrey de Vinsauf
Itinerary of Richard I and others to the Holy Land
afterwards to complain that the pilgrims had done little good in the land of Jerusalem, because they had not freed the city; but they did not know what they were saying, for they were inquiring about things of which they have no personal knowledge or experience. We, however, who have seen, and who know all of it by our own eye-sight, claim to be believed in our accounts of the tribulations and miseries which those men endured. Wherefore, we state confidently, in the hearing of those also who were present, that 100,000 Christians perished in that pilgrimage, for the sole reason that, in the hope of divine reward, they had separated themselves from women, deeming it wicked by sacrificing their purity to obtain bodily health and thus they opposed patience even to the corruption of the flesh, that the purity of their minds might remain unimpaired. We know also, for certain, that by sickness and famine combined, there died more than 300,000, in the siege of Acre, and afterwards, in the same city. Who, however, can doubt of the salvation of the souls of such noble and excellent men, who daily heard divine service from the lips of their own chaplains? These surely may be supposed to have gone to heaven.
Chapter XXXVI. - How the king, before setting sail for home, exchanged ten noble Turkish captives for William de Pratelles, who had suffered himself to be captured to save the king, saying that himself was Melech.
Meanwhile King Richard’s ship was made ready, and every thing necessary, both in arms and provisions, prepared for the voyage. The king then, out of mere liberality, and impelled by his nobleness of mind alone,(23) redeemed William de Pratelles, who, as we have before related, suffered himself to be captured to save the king, by exchanging for him ten of the most noble Turks, though they would gladly have given a large sum of
(23)Such may be the opinion of Geoffrey de Vinsauf, a narrow-minded priest of the twelfth century; but every liberal-minded and enlightened man will believe, and probably no one knew it better than the noble King Richard, that his escutcheon would have been for ever dishonoured, if he had left the Holy Land without redeeming from slavery the noble knight who had sacrificed himself for his sovereign. - See Book ii. c. 20.
money to retain him; but the king’s generosity would not condescend in any way to be tarnished.
Chapter XXXVII. - How King Richard set sail to return home, and of the misfortunes which he met with.
Every thing was now settled, and the king was already on the point of embarking, when determining before he went, to leave nothing behind him that might detract from his honour, he ordered proclamation to be made that all who had claims on him should come forward, and that all his debts should be paid fully, and more than fully, to avoid all occasion afterwards of detraction or complaint. What sighs and tears were there when the royal fleet weighed anchor! A blessing was invoked on the king’s many acts of benevolence, his virtues and his largesses were set forth, and the numerous excellences combined in one man. How then did the lamentations of all resound as they exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, bereft now of every succour! How hast thou lost thy defender! Who will protect thee, should the truce be broken, now that King Richard is departed?" Such were the words of each, when the king, whose health was not yet fully reestablished, and who was the subject of all their anxious wishes, went on board and set sail. All night the ship ran on her way by the light of the stars, and when morning dawned, the king looked back with yearning eyes upon the land which he had left, and after long meditation, he prayed aloud, in the hearing of several, in these words, "O holy land, I commend thee to God, and if his heavenly grace shall grant me so long to live, that I may, in his good pleasure, afford thee assistance, I hope, as I propose, to be able to be some day a succour to thee." With these words he urged the sailors to spread their canvass to the winds, that they might the sooner cross over the expanse of sea that lay before them; ignorant indeed of the tribulations and sorrows that awaited him, and the calamities that he was to suffer from the treachery that had long before been transmitted to France, by which it was contrived that he should be wickedly thrown into prison, though he justly suspected no such evil in the service of God, and in so laborious a pilgrimage. O how unequally was he recompensed for his
exertions in the common cause! His inheritance was seized by another, his castles in Normandy were unjustly taken, his rivals made cruel assaults upon his rights without provocation, and he only escaped from captivity by paying a ransom to the emperor of Germany. To gather the money for his ransom, the taxes were raised to the uttermost; a large collection was levied upon all his land, and every thing was distracted; for the chalices and hallowed vessels of gold and silver were gathered from the churches, and the monasteries were obliged to do without their utensils; neither was
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