Introduction (Richard Abels)
The Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Regis narrates the events
of King Richard I of
Book Four begins after the city
King Richard, therefore,
perceiving that the consummation of the business and the progress of affairs,
together with the labour and expense, devolved upon him chiefly, made most
ample largesses of gold and silver to the French and to all the others of every
nation, by means of which they might abundantly recruit themselves and redeem
what they had put in pledge. On the king of
He therefore awaited the term which had been agreed upon between the Turks and himself as aforesaid, and turned his attention to the packing up of the petrariae and mangonels for transportation. For when the time had expired which had been fixed by the Turks for the restoration of the cross and the ransom of the hostages, after waiting three weeks, according to the conditions, to see if Saladin would stand to his word and covenant, the king looked upon him as a transgressor, as Saladin appeared to have no care about it; and perhaps this was by the dispensation of God, that something more advantageous might be obtained. But the Saracens asked further time to fulfil their promise and make search for the cross. Then you might hear the Christians inquiring for news, and when the cross was coming? but God was unwilling that it should be restored for those by whom it was promised, but preferred rather that they should perish. One would exclaim, “The cross is coming!” another, that he had seen it in the Saracen army; but each speaker was deceived, for Saladin had not taken any steps to restore the cross; nay, he neglected the hostages who were bound for it, for he hoped, by means of it, to obtain much more advantageous terms. Meanwhile, he sent constant presents and messengers to King Richard to gain delay by artful and deceptive words, though he fulfilled none of his promises, but tried to keep the king’s mind in suspense by crafty and ambiguous messages.
In the meantime messages were sent
take back with them the Saracen hostages to King Richard; but they could, by no method or persuasion, prevail on the marquis to turn from his obstinate and wicked intentions.
When it became clearly evident to King Richard that a longer period had elapsed than had been fixed, and that Saladin was obdurate, and would not give himself trouble to ransom the hostages, he called together a council of the chiefs of the people, by whom it was resolved that the hostages should all be hanged, except a few nobles of the higher class, who might ransom themselves, or be exchanged for some Christian captives. King Richard, aspiring to destroy the Turks root and branch, and to punish their wanton arrogance, as well as to abolish the law of Mahomet, and to vindicate the Christian religion, on the Friday after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ordered 2,700 of the Turkish hostages to be led forth from the city., and hanged; his soldiers marched forward with delight to fulfil his commands, and to retaliate, with the assent of the Divine Grace, by taking revenge upon those who had destroyed so many of the Christians with missiles from bows and arbalests.
When evening approached, it was
proclaimed by mouth of herald, that the army should march on the morrow, and
It must be known, that during the two winters and one summer, and up to the middle of the autumn, when the Turks were hanged, as they deserved to be in the sight of God and man, in return for the destruction of our churches and slaughter of our men, many of the Christians who were engaged in the siege of Acre at a great sacrifice had died. The multitude of those who perished in so great an army appears to exceed computation; but the sum total of the chiefs, as a certain writer has estimated it, omitting the others which he says he has no means of reckoning, is as follows: We lost in the army six archbishops and patriarchs, twelve bishops, forty counts, and five hundred men of noble rank; also a vast number of priests, clergy, and others, which cannot be accurately counted.
After the Turks were hanged, King Richard, having recovered his health, went out from the city with all his retinue, and ordered his tents to be pitched in the plain outside, and compelled all his soldiers, who were not willing, to quit the city; thus the army took up their quarters on the aforesaid plain, to be ready for setting out on its March; of the French some be allured by soft words, others by entreaties, and many by money, to leave the place, and some be forced out violently. King Richard thereupon appointed a large number of guards to lodge about his pavilion in their tents and awnings, for his protection, as the Turks were making constant irruptions, and all day coming up and rushing out on them unawares, and it was the king's custom to be the first to go forth to attack and punish them, as far as the divine favour would allow him.
It happened one day that our
camp was put into commotion by the Turks, who were attacking our men, as was
their custom, and making a disturbance. Our men immediately ran to arms, the
king and his cavalry went forth, and also the count of Hungary, and very many
Hungarians with him, who, having put the Turks to flight, pursued them further
than they ought to have done: for some of our men, although they behaved
themselves most nobly, were taken captive on the spot and disgracefully
treated. The count of
King Richard was resting in his tents, waiting for the army to come out of the city, but they came out slowly and peevishly, as if they did it against their will; and the numbers of the army did not increase, but the city was crowded with an immense multitude. The whole army, including those who were yet in the city, was computed at 300,000 men. The people were too much given up to sloth and luxury, for the city was filled with pleasures, viz. — the choicest wines and fairest damsels, and the men became dissolute by indulging in them; so that the city was defiled by the luxury of the sons of folly and the gluttony of its inhabitants, who made wiser faces blush at their shamelessness; and, in order to blot out this contamination, it was ordained by the council that no woman should quit the city or go with the army, except the washerwomen, on foot, who would not be a burthen to them, nor an occasion for sin. Therefore, on the morning of the aforementioned day, the soldiers armed themselves, and were arranged in becoming order. The king was in the rear of the army to check the Turks, who threatened annoyance; but the duty was a slight one. From the time that impious race saw our army in motion, they poured down from the mountains in scattered bands, like rushing waters, and dispersed themselves in numbers of twenty or thirty, to find out the best opportunity of harassing us. For they were exceedingly grieved at the deaths of their parents and kinsmen, whose slaughtered bodies they saw strewn about as aforesaid: and they therefore pressed upon our army continuously, and harassed it as much as they could. But, with the assistance of the Divine Grace, the Turks succeeded not as they wished; for our army passed over the river of Acre unhurt, and again pitched their tents on the other side the stream until on Friday, being the vigil of St. Bartholomew, they were all assembled together; and on the following Monday, two years had elapsed since the Christians first laid siege to Acre.
On the morrow, therefore, of St.
Bartholomew, being Sunday, the army was drawn up, early in the morning, to
advance along the sea-coast, in the name of the Lord. Oh! what
fine soldiers they were! You might there see a chosen company of virtuous and
brave youth, whose equals it would have been difficult to meet with, bright
armour and pennons, with their glittering emblazonry; banners of various forms;
lances, with gleaming points; shining helmets, and coats of mail: an army well
regulated in the camp, and terrible to the foe! King Richard commanded the van,
and kept the foremost guard. The
the army would be dispersed and put into confusion. For they are dismayed when
it does not appear, and think that their general must be overcome by
faint-heartedness when they do not see his standard flying; for no people have
strength to resist the enemy if their chief is in alarm from the fall of his
standard; but whilst it remains erect they have a certain refuge. Near it the
weak are strengthened; the wounded soldiers, even those of rank and celebrity,
who fall in the battle, are carried to it, and it is called 'Standard,' from
its standing a most compact signal to the army. It is very properly drawn on
wheels, for it is advanced when the enemy yields, and drawn back if they press
on, according to the state of the battle. It was surrounded by the Normans and
English. The duke of
The army marched along the sea-shore, which was on its right, and the Turks watched its movements from the heights on the left. On a sudden the clouds grew dark, and the sky was troubled, when the army arrived at some narrow roads impassable for the provision-waggons; here, owing to the narrowness of the way, the order of march was thrown into confusion, and they advanced in extended line, and without discipline. The Saracens, observing this, poured down suddenly on the pack-horses and loaded waggons, slew both horses and men in a moment, and plundered a great deal of the baggage, boldly charging and dispersing those who opposed them as far as the sea-shore. Then there took place a fierce and obstinate conflict: each fought for his life. Here a Turk cut off the right hand of Everard, one of the bishop of Salisbury's men, as he held his sword; the man, without changing countenance in the least, with his left hand boldly took the sword, and closing with the Turks, who were pressing on him, defended himself courageously from them all. By this time the rear was put into great confusion, and John Fitz-Luke, alarmed at this mishap, put spurs to his horse, and went to tell King Richard, who was ignorant of what had taken place. On hearing it, he rode at full gallop to their assistance, cutting down the Turks, right and left, like lightning, with his sword. And quickly, as of yore the Philistines fled from Maccabeus, so were the Turks now routed, and so did they fly from the face of King Richard, and make for the mountains; but some of them remained amongst us, having lost their heads. In that conflict one of the French, William de Bartis, who had been at variance with King Richard from some old grudge, by his extraordinary good conduct was reconciled and restored to the king's former favour. The sultan was not far off with the whole strength of his army, but owing to the aforesaid repulse, the Turks, despairing of success, refrained from attacking our men any more, but watched them from the heights. Our troops, being restored to order, proceeded on their march as far as a river which they by chance met with, and cisterns, the excellence of which being ascertained, they pitched their tents, and rested there on a spacious plain, where they had seen that Saladin had fixed his camp before, and they judged that he had a very large army by the extent of the trodden ground. On the first day there our army fared thus, and by God’s providence they were warned to be more cautious, after having experienced how much loss they might escape if properly on their guard another time.
Saladin and the Turks, always on
the watch to do us harm, had seized upon some
passes between the rugged mountains, by which our army was to proceed; and they
intended to kill, seize, or disperse us as we issued forth in an extended line;
but when our army had advanced cautiously from the aforesaid river, and by slow
march, as far as Cayphas, they pitched their tents there, and waited for the
mass of the army who were following. They posted themselves between the town of
Cayphas and the sea, and remained there two days, looking into and arranging
their baggage, and they threw away what they thought they could dispense with,
only retaining what was absolutely necessary, for the common soldiers marched on
foot, and were much distressed by the weight of their baggage and provisions;
so that in the aforesaid battle they suffered much from fatigue and thirst.
On a Wednesday, which was the third day after stopping at Cayphas, the army moved forward in order, the Templars leading the van, and the Hospitallers closing the rear, both of whom by their high bearing gave evidence of great valour. That day the army moved forward with more than wonted caution, and stopped after a long march, impeded by the thickets and the tall and luxuriant herbage, which struck them in the face, especially the foot-soldiers. In these maritime parts there were also numbers of beasts of the forest, who leapt up between their feet from the long grass and thick copses, and many were caught, not by design, but coming in their way by chance. When the king had proceeded as far as Capernaum, which the Saracens had razed to the ground, he dismounted, and took some food, the army, meanwhile, waiting; those who chose took food, and immediately after proceeded on their march to the house called 'of the narrow ways,' because the road there becomes narrow; there they halted and pitched their tents. It was the custom of the army each night
before lying down to rest, to depute some one to stand in the middle of the camp, and cry out with a loud voice, 'Help! help! for the holy sepulchre!'
The rest of the army took it up, and repeated the words; and stretching their hands to heaven, amid a profusion of tears, prayed for the mercy and
of God in the cause. Then the herald himself repeated the words in a loud
voice, 'Help! help! for the
holy sepulchre!' and every one repeated it after him a second time, and so
likewise a third time, with contrition of heart and abundant weeping. For who
would not weep at such a moment, when the very mention of its having been done
would extract tears from the auditors? The army appeared to be much refreshed
by crying out in this fashion.
As each night came round, a sort of reptile attacked us, commonly called tarrentes, which creep on the ground, and have most venomous stings. As the day comes on, they are harmless; but on the approach of night, they used their stings most pertinaciously, and those they stung were instantly swelled with the venom, and tortured with pain. The more noble and wealthy of those who were attacked applied theriacal ointment on the stings, and the antidote proved efficacious to remove the pain. At last, the more observant, perceiving that the reptiles were frightened away by loud sounds, raised a great noise at their approach by beating and clashing their helmets and shields together; also by beating against their seats, poles, casks, flagons, basins, platters, caldrons, and whatever household ware they could lay hands on to make a sufficient sound; and by these sounds they drove away the reptiles. The army remained two
days at the abovementioned station, where there was plenty
of room for their camp, and waited there until the ships arrived which they
were expecting; namely, barges and galleys, laden with provisions, of which
they were in need; for these vessels were sailing in connection with the army
along the shore, and carried their provisions an board.
The army advanced, using all precaution against the Turks, who kept on their flank, to a town called Merla, where the king had spent one of the previous nights: there he had determined that he would lead the van himself the next day, on account of the obstacles in the way, and because the Templars kept guard in the rear; for the Turks continually threatened them in a body on the flank. On that day the king, putting spurs to his horse, charged them furiously, and would have reaped great glory, had it not been for the backwardness of some, which retarded his success; for, when King Richard pursued the Turks to a distance, some of his men suddenly halted, for which they were rebuked in the evening. If the king's companions had followed up their pursuit of the Turks, they would have gained a splendid victory; for the king drove all before him.
The army had a very difficult
march along the sea-shore on account of the great heat; for it was summer time,
and they marched a long day's journey. Many of them, overcome by the fatigue of
the march, dropped down dead, and were buried where they died; but the king,
from compassion, caused many to be transported in galleys and ships, when they
were overcome by the fatigue of the march or sickness, or any other cause, to
their destination. The army, after accomplishing its march with much difficulty,
arrived that day at aesarea. The Turks had been there before them, and broken
down part of the towers and walls, and destroyed
the city as much as possible; but on the approach of our army they fled. There
the army pitched their tents, and passed the night by the side of a river close
to the city, called the river of Crocodiles, because the crocodiles once
devoured two soldiers while bathing therein. The circuit of the city of
On the third day the army
advanced slowly from the Dead River, through a country of a most desolate
character, and destitute of every thing; for they were compelled to march
through a mountainous country, because they were unable to go by the sea-side,
which was choked up by the luxuriant growth of the grass; and the army on its
march kept itself in closer companies than usual. The Templars on that day had
charge of the rear, and they lost so many horses by the attacks of the Turks
that they were almost reduced to despair. The count of
Our people also stopped near
what was called the
On the third day, about nine o’clock,
our army marched in battle array from the Salt River; for there was a rumour
that the Turks were lying in ambush for them in the
On the Saturday, the eve of the Nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary, at earliest dawn, our men armed themselves with great care to receive the Turks, who were known to have preceded their march, and whose insolence nothing but a battle could check. The enemy had ranged themselves in order, drawing gradually nearer and nearer; and our men also took the utmost care to place themselves in as good order as possible. King Richard, who was most experienced in military affairs, arranged the army in squadrons, and directed who should march in front, and who in the rear. He divided the army into twelve companies, and these again into five divisions, marshalled according as the men ranked in military discipline; and none could be found more warlike, if they had only had confidence in God, who is the giver of all good things.
On that day,
the Templars formed the first rank, and after them came in due order the Bretons
and men of Anjou; then followed King Guy, with the men of Poictou; and in the
fourth line were the Normans and English, who had the care of the royal
standard; and last of all, marched the Hospitallers: this nine was composed of
chosen warriors, divided into companies. They kept together so closely, that an
apple, if thrown, would not have fallen to the ground, without touching a man
or a horse; and the army stretched from the army of the Saracens to the
sea-shore. There you might have seen their most appropriate distinctions,standards, and ensigns of various forms, and hardy
soldiers, fresh, and full of spirits, and well fitted for war. There was the
earl of Leicester, Hugh de Gurnay, William de Borriz, Walkin de Ferrars, Roger
de Toony, James d'Avennes, Robert count of Druell, the bishop of Beauvais, and
William des Barres his brother, William de Garlande, Drogo de Mirle, and many
of his kinsmen. Henry count of †Champagne kept guard on the mountain's
side, maintaining a constant look-out on the flank: the foot-soldiers, bowmen
and arbalesters, were on the outside, and the rear of the army was closed by
the pack-horses and waggons, which carried provisions and other things, and
journeyed along between the army and the sea, to avoid an attack from the
enemy. This was the order of the army, as it advanced gradually, to prevent
separation; for the less close the line of battle, the less effective was it
for resistance. King Richard and the duke of
It was now nearly nine o'clock, when there appeared a large body of the Turks, 10,000 strong, coming down upon us at full charge, and throwing darts and arrows, as fast as they could, while they mingled their voices in one horrible yell. There followed after them an infernal race of men, of black colour, and bearing a suitable appellation, expressive of their blackness. With them also were the Saracens, who live in the desert, called Bedouins: they are a savage race of men, blacker than soot; they fight on foot, and carry a bow, quiver, and round shield, and are a light and active race. These men dauntlessly attacked our army. Beyond them might be seen the well-arranged phalanxes of the Turks, with ensigns fixed to their lances, and standards and banners of separate distinctions. Their army was divided into troops, and the troops into companies; and their numbers seemed to exceed twenty thousand. They came on with irresistible charge, on horses swifter than eagles, and urged on like lightning to attack our men; and as they advanced, they raised a cloud of dust, so that the sky was darkened. In front came certain of their admirals, as it was their duty, with clarions and trumpets; some had horns, others had pipes and timbrels, tongs, cymbals, and other instruments, producing a horrible noise and clamour. The earth vibrated from the loud and discordant sounds, so that the crash of thunder could not be heard amidst the tumultuous noise of horns and trumpets. They did this to excite their spirit and courage, for the more violent the clamour became, the more bold were they for the fray.
Thus the impious Turks threatened us both on the side towards the sea and from the side of the land; and for the space of two miles, not so much earth as could be taken up in one’s hand could be seen, on account of the hostile Turks who covered it. Oh! how obstinately they pressed on, and continued their stubborn attacks, so that our men suffered severe loss of their horses, which were killed by their darts and arrows! Oh! how useful to us on that day were our arbalesters and bowmen, who closed the extremities of the lines, and did their best to repel the obstinate Turks. The enemy came rushing down, like a torrent, to the attack; and many of our arbalesters, unable to sustain the weight of their terrible and calamitous charge, threw away their arms, and fearing lest they should be shut out, took refuge, In crowds, behind the dense lines of the army; yielding, through fear of death, to sufferings which they could not support. Those whom shame forbade to yield, or the hope of an immortal crown sustained, were animated with greater boldness and courage to persevere in the contest, and fought with indefatigable valour face to face against the Turks, whilst they at the same time receded step by step, and so secured their retreat. The whole of that day, on account of the Turks pressing them closely from behind, they faced about and went on skirmishing, rather than proceeding on their march. Oh! how great was the strait they were in on that day! how great was their tribulation! when some were affected with fears, and no one had such confidence or spirit as not to wish, at that moment, he had finished his pilgrimage, and had returned home instead of standing with trembling heart the chances of a doubtful battle. In truth, our people, so few in number, were hemmed in by the multitudes of the Saracens, that they had no means of escape, if they tried; neither did they seem to have valour sufficient to withstand so many foes, --nay, they were shut in, like a flock of sheep in the jaws of wolves, with nothing but the sky above, and the enemy all around them. O Lord God! what feelings agitated that weak flock of Christ! straitened by such a perplexity; whom the enemy pressed with such unabating vigour, as if they would pass them through a sieve.
What army was ever assailed by so mighty a force? There you might have seen our troopers, having lost their chargers, marching on foot with the footmen, or casting missiles from arbalests, or arrows from bows, against the enemy, and repelling their attacks in the best manner they were able. The Turks, skilled in the bow, pressed unceasingly upon them: it rained darts; the air was filled with the shower of arrows, and the brightness of the sun was obscured by the multitude of missiles, as if it had been darkened by a fall of winter's hail or snow. Our horses were pierced by the darts and arrows, which were so numerous that the whole face of the earth around was covered with them, and if any one wished to gather them up, he might take twenty of them in his hand at a time. The Turks pressed with such boldness that they nearly crushed the Hospitallers; on which the latter sent word to King Richard that they could not sustain the violence of the enemy’s attack, unless he would allow their knights to advance at full charge against them. This the king dissuaded them from doing, but advised them to keep in a close body; they therefore persevered and kept together, though scarcely able to breathe for the pressure.
By these means they were able to proceed on their way, though the heat happened to be very great on that day; so that they laboured under two disadvantages,--the hot weather and the attacks of the enemy. These approved martyrs of Christ sweated in the contest; and he who could have seen them closed up in a narrow space, so patient under the heat and toil of the day and the attacks of the enemy, who exhorted each other to destroy the Christians, could not doubt in his mind that it augured ill to our success from their straitened and perilous position, hemmed in, as they were, by so large a multitude; for the enemy thundered at their backs as if with mallets, so that having no room to use their bows, they fought hand to hand with swords, lances, and clubs; and the blows of the Turks, echoing from their metal armour, resounded as if they had been struck upon an anvil. They were now tormented with the heat, and no rest was allowed them. The battle fell heavily on the extreme line of the Hospitallers; the more so, as they were unable to resist, but moved forward with patience under their wounds, returning not even a word for the blows which fell upon them, and advancing on their way, because they were not able to bear the weight of the contest. Then they pressed on for safety upon the centre of the army which was in front of them, to avoid the fury of the enemy, who harassed them in the rear.
Was it wonderful that no one could withstand so continuous an attack, when he could not even return one blow to the †numbers who pressed on him? The strength of all Paganism had gathered together from Damascus and Persia, from the Mediterranean to the East; there was not left in the uttermost recesses of the earth one man of fame or power, one nation of valour, or one bold soldier, whom the Sultan had not summoned to his aid, either by entreaty, by money, or by authority, to crush the Christian race; for he presumed to hope he could blot them from the face of the earth; but his hopes were vain, for their numbers were sufficient, through the assistance of God, to effect their purpose. The flower of the chosen youth and soldiers of Christendom had indeed assembled together and were united in one body, like ears of corn on their stalks, from every region of the earth; and if they had been utterly crushed and destroyed, there is no doubt that there were none left to make resistance.
A cloud of dust obscured the air as our men marched on and, in addition to the beat, they had an enemy pressing them in the rear, insolent, and rendered obstinate by the instigation of the devil. Still the Christians proved good men, and, secure in their unconquerable spirit, kept constantly advancing, while the Turks threatened them without ceasing in the rear; but their blows fell harmless upon the defensive armour, and this caused the Turks to slacken in courage at the failure of their attempts, and they began to murmur in whispers of disappointment, crying out in their rage, "that our people were of iron, and would yield to no blow." Then the Turks, about twenty thousand strong, rushed again upon our men pell mell, annoying them in every possible manner; when, as if almost overcome by their savage fury, brother Garnier de Napes, one of the Hospitallers, suddenly exclaimed, with a loud voice, "O excellent St. George! will you leave us to be thus put to confusion? The whole of Christendom is now on the point of perishing, because it fears to return a blow against this impious race."
Upon this, the master of the Hospitallers went to the king, and said to him, "My lord the king, we are violently pressed by the enemy, and are in danger of eternal infamy, as if we did not dare to return their blows; we are each of us losing our horses one after another, and why should we bear with them any further?" To whom the king replied, "Good master, it is you who must sustain their attack; no one can be everywhere at once." On the master returning, the Turks again made a fierce attack on them from the rear, and there was not a prince or count amongst them but blushed with shame, and they said to each other, 'Why do we not charge them at full gallop? Alas! alas! we shall forever deserve to be called cowards, a thing which never happened to us before, for never has such a disgrace befallen so great an army even from the unbelievers. Unless we defend ourselves by immediately charging the enemy, we shall gain everlasting scandal, and so much the greater the longer we delay to fight."
O, how blind is
human fate! On what slippery points it stands! Alas, on how uncertain wheels
doth it advance, and with what ambiguous success doth it unfold the course of
human things! A countless multitude of the Turks would have perished, if the
aforesaid attempt had been orderly conducted; but to punish us for our sins, as
it is believed, the potter's wheel produces a paltry vessel instead of the
grand design which he had conceived. For while they were treating of this
point, and had come to the same decision about charging the enemy, two knights,
who were impatient of delay, put every thing in confusion. It had been resolved
by common consent that the sounding of six trumpets in three different parts of
the army should be a signal for a charge, namely, two in front, two in the
rear, and two in the middle, to distinguish the sounds from those of the
Saracens, and to mark the distance of each. If these orders had been attended
to, the Turks would have been utterly discomfited; but from the too great haste
of the aforesaid knights, the success of the affair was marred. They rushed at
full gallop upon the Turks, and each of them prostrated his man by piercing him
with his lance. One of them was the marshal of the Hospitallers,
the other was Baldwin de Carreo, a good and brave man, and the companion of
King Richard, who had brought him in his retinue. When the other Christians
observed these two rushing forward, and heard them calling, with a clear voice,
on St. George for aid, they charged the Turks in a body with all their
strength; then the Hospitallers, who had been distressed all day by their close
array, following the two soldiers, charged the enemy in troops, so that the van
of the army became the rear from their position in the attack, and the
Hospitallers, who had been the last, were the first to charge. The count of
The Turks, who had purposely dismounted from their horses in order to take better aim at our men with their darts and arrows, were slain on all sides in that charge, for on being prostrated by the horse-soldiers they were beheaded by the foot-men. King Richard, on seeing his army in motion and in encounter
with the Turks, flew rapidly on his horse at full speed through the Hospitallers who had led the charge, and to whom he was bringing assistance with all his retinue,and broke into the Turkish infantry, who were astonished at his blows and those of his men, and gave way to the right and to the left. Then might be seen numbers prostrated on the ground, horses without their riders in crowds, the wounded lamenting with groans their hard fate, and others drawing their last breath, weltering in their gore, and many lay headless, whilst their lifeless forms were trodden under foot both by friend and foe. Oh how different are the speculations of those who meditate amidst the columns of the cloister from the fearful exercise of war! There the king, the fierce, the extraordinary king, cut down the Turks in every direction, and none could escape the force of his arm, for wherever he turned, brandishing his sword, he carved
a wide path for himself: and as he advanced and gave repeated strokes with his sword, cutting them down like a reaper with his sickle, the rest, warned by the sight of the dying, gave him more ample space, for the corpses of the dead Turks which lay on the face of the earth extended over half a mile. In fine, the Turks were cut down, the saddles emptied of their riders, and the dust which was raised by the conflict of the combatants, proved very hurtful to our men, for on becoming fatigued from slaying so many, when they were retiring to take fresh air,they could not recognize each other on account of the thick dust, and struck their blows indiscriminately to the right and to the left; so that, unable to distinguish friend from foe, they took their own men for enemies, and cut them down without mercy.
Thus the Christians pressed hard upon the Turks, the latter gave way before them: but for a long time the battle was doubtful; they still exchanged blows, and either party strove for the victory: on both sides were seen some retreating, covered with wounds, while others fell slain to the ground. Oh, how many banners and standards of various forms,and pennons and many-coloured ensigns, might then be seen torn and fallen to the earth; swords of proved steel, and latices made of cane with iron heads, Turkish bows, and maces bristling with sharp teeth, darts and arrows, covering the ground, and missiles enough to load twenty waggons or more! There lay the headless trunks of the Turks who had perished, whilst others retained their courage for a time until our men increased in strength, when some of them concealed themselves in the copses, some climbed up trees, and, being shot with arrows, fell with fearful groan to the earth; others, abandoning their horses, betook themselves by slippery foot-paths to the seaside, and tumbled headlong into the waves from the precipitous cliffs that were five poles in height. The rest of the enemy were repulsed in so wonderful a manner, that for the space of two miles nothing could be seen but fugitives, although they had before been so obstinate and fierce, and puffed up with pride: but by God's grace their pride was humbled, and they continued still to fly; for when our men ceased the pursuit, fear alone added wings to their feet.
Our army had been ranged in divisions when they attacked the Turks; the Normans and English also, who had the care of the standard, came up slowly towards the troops which were fighting with the Turks, --for it was very difficult to disperse the enemy's strength, and they stopped at a short distance therefrom, that all might have a rallying point. On the conclusion of the slaughter, our men paused; but the fugitives, to the number of twenty thousand, when they saw this, immediately recovering their courage, and armed with maces, charged the hindmost of those who were retiring, and rescued some from our men who had just struck them down.
Oh, how dreadfully were our men then pressed! for the darts and arrows, thrown at them as they were falling back, broke the heads, arms, and other limbs of our horsemen, so that they bent, stunned, to their saddle-bows; but having quickly regained their spirits and resumed their strength, and thirsting for vengeance with greater eagerness, like a lioness when her whelps are stolen, they charged the enemy, and broke through them like a net. Then you might have seen the horses with their saddles displaced; and the Turks, who had but just now fled, returning, and pressing upon our people with the utmost fury; every cast of their darts would have told, had our men kept marching, and not stood still in a compact immovable body. The commander of the Turks was an admiral, by name Tekedmus, a kinsman of the sultan, having a banner with a remarkable device; namely, that of a pair of breeches carved thereon, a symbol well known to his men. He was a most cruel persecutor, and a persevering enemy of the Christians; and he had under his command seven hundred chosen Turks of great valour, of the household troops of Saladin, each of whose companies bore a yellow banner with pennons of a different colour. These men, coming at full charge, with clamour and haughty bearing, attacked our men who were turning off from them towards the standard, cutting at them, and piercing them severely, so that even the firmness of our chiefs wavered under the weight of the pressure; yet our men remained immovable, compelled to repel force by force, and the conflict grew thicker, the blows were redoubled, and the battle raged fiercer than before: the one side laboured to crush, the other to repel; both exerted their strength, and although our men were by far the fewest in numbers, they made havoc of great multitudes of the enemy; and that portion of the army which thus toiled in the battle could not return to the standard with ease, on account of the immense mass which pressed upon them so severely; for thus hemmed in they began to flag in courage, and but few dared to renew the attack of the enemy.
In truth, the Turks were furious in the assault, and greatly distressed our men, whose blood poured forth in a stream beneath their blows. On perceiving them reel and give way, William de Barris, a renowned knight, breaking through the ranks, charged the Turks with his men; and such was the vigour of the onset that some fell by the edge of his sword, while others only saved themselves by rapid flight. For all that, the king, mounted on a bay Cyprian steed, which had not its match, bounded forward in the direction of the mountains, and scattered those he met on all sides; for the enemy fled from his sword and gave way, while helmets tottered beneath it, and sparks flew forth from its strokes. So great was the fury of his onset, and so many and deadly his blows, that day, in his conflict with the Turks, that in a short space of time the enemy were all scattered, and allowed our army to proceed; and thus our men, having suffered somewhat, at last returned to the standard, and proceeded in their march as far as Arsur, and there they pitched their tents outside its walls. While they were thus engaged, a large body of the Turks made an attack on the extreme rear of our army. On hearing the noise of the assailants, King Richard, encouraging his men to battle, rushed at full speed, with only fifteen companions, against the Turks, crying out, with a loud voice,"Aid us, O God! and the Holy Sepulchre!" and this he exclaimed a second and a third time; and when our men heard it, they made haste to follow him, and attacked, routed, and put them to flight; pursuing them as far as Arsur, whence they had first come out, cutting them down and subduing them. Many of the Turks fell there also. The king returned thence, from the slaughter of the fugitives, to his camp; and the men, overcome with the fatigues and exertions of the day, rested quietly that night. Whoever was greedy of gain, and wished to plunder the booty, returned to the place of battle, and loaded himself to his heart's desire; and those who returned from thence reported that they had counted thirty-two Turkish chiefs who were found slain on that day, and whom they supposed to be men of great influence and power, from the splendour of their armour and the costliness of their apparel. The Turks also made search for them to carry them away, as being of the most importance; and besides these the Turks carried off seven thousand mangled bodies of those who were next in rank, besides of the wounded, who went off in straggling parties; and when their strength failed, lay about the fields and died. But by the protection of God we did not lose a tenth, nor a hundredth part so many as fell in the Turkish army. Oh the disasters of that day! Oh the trials of the warriors! for the tribulations of the just are many. Oh mournful calamity and bitter distress! How great must have been the blackness of our sins to require so fiery an ordeal to purify it! for if we had striven to overcome this urgent necessity by pious long-suffering, and without a murmur, the sense of our obligations would have been deeper.
But we had to mourn greatly the loss of James d'Avesnes, who was overpowered by the numbers of the Turks; for he was thrown by a grievous fall of his horse, while bravely fighting; and the Turks, gathering round him, after much labour, put him to death. But before breathing his last, he slew fifteen of the Turks, according to the report of those who were sent to bring his body to the camp, and who found so many Turkish soldiers lying dead around him. There were also found dead along with him three of his kinsmen, to whom some of our men did not give the. assistance which they ought; but, shame to say, deserted them in their struggle against the attack of the Turks, on which account the count of Dreux and others who were present obtained the infamy and detestation which they deserved. Alas for the manifold calamities of war!
How loud were the groans and sighs of our soldiers on that night for the absence of James d'Avesnes, the excellent soldier and renowned warrior! for they augured his fall, as they did not see him and his kinsmen with the rest, and the whole army was afflicted by his irreparable loss.
On the Saturday before the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the aforesaid battle was fought; and on the Sunday following, it was decreed that a search should be made for the body, in order that it might be buried. Therefore, the Hospitallers and knights of the Temple armed themselves, and took with them many of the Turcopoli and others, and, on arriving on the field of battle, they made anxious search, and at last found the body, its face covered with clotted blood, so that it was difficult of recognition until it was washed with water, for it was dyed in gore and swollen with wounds, and very unlike his former self.
Thus, having decently wrapped up the body, they bore it back to Arsur, whence a great multitude of the soldiers came forth to meet it; and all lamented the death of so great a man, for they called to mind his prowess, bounty, and the many virtues that adorned him, and King Richard and King Guy assisted at his funeral, where a solemn mass was celebrated, with large offerings, in the church of our Lady the Queen of Heaven, whose nativity it was. After the mass, the funeral rites were solemnly performed, and the nobles, taking his body in their arms, buried it in a grave, erecting a mound thereon; and there was great wailing, weeping, and lamentation for his death. When the obsequies were ended, the clergy solemnly performed the service for the day, being that of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Now the emirs and nobles of the Saracens, to whom Saladin had given great territories and riches, had been induced, by his deceitful words and high-flown language, to believe, that on that day, with the aid of Mahomet, he would utterly extirpate the Christians; but the oracle of Mahomet deceived them, and their insolent boasting was repressed. For according to the report of those who saw it, you might trace the flight of the Turks through the mountains, on the day of battle, by the booty that was thrown aside, the dead horses and camels lying along the way, as they had fallen, and laden with heavy baggage; for the Turkish bowmen had fled from the face of the Christians, and retreated with all that was left them; and on the day of battle, the more anxiously they hastened their flight, the more surely they failed, and perished, leaving behind them an immense quantity of spoil. Such was the vigour of our men's last attack, that if the enemy had remained a little longer, and had not taken to flight, they would never again have been in fighting order, and the land would have been left for the Christians to occupy.
The sultan, hearing that his choice troops, in whom he had placed so much confidence, were routed in this manner by the Christians, was filled with anger and excitement; and calling together his admirals, he said to them, "Are these the deeds of my brave troops, once so boastful, and whom I have so loaded with gifts? Lo! the Christians traverse the whole country at their pleasure, for there is no one to oppose them: Where now are all their vaunts, those swords and spears with which they threatened to do such execution? where is that prowess which they promised to put forth against the Christians, to overthrow them utterly? They have fought the battle which they desired, but where is the victory they promised? They are degenerated from those noble ancestors who performed such exploits against the Christians, and whose memory will endure for ever. It is a disgrace to our nation, the most warlike in the world, thus to become as nothing in comparison with their glorious ancestors."
held down their heads at these words; but one of them, named Sanscuns, of
Aleppo, returned this answer: "Most sacred Sultan, saving your majesty, this
charge is unjust, for we fought with all our strength against the Franks, and
did our best to destroy them: we met their fiercest attacks, but it was of no
avail; they are armed in impenetrable armour which no weapon can pierce, so
that all our blows fell as it were upon a rock of flint. And, further, there is
one among their number superior to any man we have ever seen: he always charges
before the rest, slaying and destroying our men: he is the first in every
enterprise, and is a most brave and excellent soldier; no one can resist him or
escape out of his hands: they call him Melech Ric.Such a king as he seems born
to command the whole earth: what then could we do more against so formidable,
Saladin, in the heat of his
indignation, called to him his brother Saphadin. "It is my wish,"
said he, "to try what reliance can be placed on my men in this extremity:
go and destroy without delay the walls of Ascalon and Guadres, but deliver
Darum into the custody of my people, to insure safety to those who pass that
way. But destroy also Galatia, Blancheward, Joppa, the castles of Plans, Maen,
St. George, Ramula, Belmont, Toron, the castle of Ernald, Beauverie, and
Mirabel: destroy, in short, all the mountain fortresses; spare neither city,
castle, nor fort, except Crach and Jerusalem." Saphadin obeyed these
commands, and destroyed all these fortresses without delay
Meanwhile, a powerful Saracen prince, named Caysac, urged Saladin to send scouts into the plains of Ramula to reconnoitre the movements of the Franks. "For I hope, ' added he, "if I have stanch troops, to be able to cut off the greater part of them, and to draw them into the narrow passes, that few of them shall be able to escape us." By his advice, Saladin ordered thirty of his principal admirals, each at the head of five hundred men, to occupy the banks of the river Arsur. Here, therefore, they kept guard, to prevent the Franks from passing. On Monday, the morrow of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and the third day after the battle before mentioned, King Richard marched with his army to the Arsur. The Templars were in the rear, and marched with much order and circumspection, to guard against sudden attacks of the enemy; but they reached the river without opposition. The Turks now, having kept close in their ambuscade, when the Christians came up, assailed the foremost of them with their javelins and arrows, but failing of success, retreated, and our men encamped that night on the Arsur. In the morning our infantry, who could hardly maintain the march, advanced with the quarter-masters to Joppa, which
found so entirely dismantled, that the army could not find lodgings in it. They
therefore encamped in an olive-garden on the left side of the town, about three
weeks after they left
The army remained outside the walls of Joppa, and refreshed themselves with abundance of fruits, figs, grapes, pomegranates, and
citrons, produced by the country round: when lo! the fleet of King Richard, with other vessels, which accompanied the army and went to and fro