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William of Newburgh:  Book Four

Book One | Book Two | Book Three | Book Four | Book Five | Introduction


  • Chapter 1:  Of the commencement of the reign of King Richard, and of the events which occurred at his coronation
  • Chapter 2:  Of the appointments to vacant churches after the coronation of King Richard
  • Chapter 3:  Of the affection of the king toward his brother John
  • Chapter 4:  Of the successor of Ranulph de Glanville in the justiciarship of the realm
  • Chapter 5:  What the king did in England before he embarked
  • Chapter 6:  Of a certain prodigy which at that time was seen in the air
  • Chapter 7:  What was done against the insolence of the Jews at Lynn
  • Chapter 8:  What was done against the Jews at Stamford, and of a certain popular superstition
  • Chapter 9:  How the Jews of Lincoln and York were treated
  • Chapter 10:  Of the destruction of the Jews at York
  • Chapter 11:  Of the king's anger against the murderers of the Jews
  • Chapter 12:  How the king's arrived at Sicily, and how the king of England stormed Messina
  • Chapter 13:  Of the German expedition, and of the death of the emperor
  • Chapter 14:  Of the chancellor's insolence and pride after the king's departure
  • Chapter 15:  The reasons why the king sent the archbishop of Rouen from Sicily into England
  • Chapter 16:  On what account John, the king's brother, opposed the chancellor
  • Chapter 17:  Of the capture of the archbishop of York, and the expulsion of the chancellor
  • Chapter 18:  Of the settlement of the kingdom after the chancellor's expulsion, and his fruitless attempts
  • Chapter 19:  Of the progress of the kings from Sicily, and the difficulties of the Christian army at Acre
  • Chapter 20:  By what means the king of England obtained possession of the island of Cyprus
  • Chapter 21:  Of the causes of the difference which arose between the kings at Acre
  • Chapter 22:  Of the storming of Acre, and the premature departure of the king of France
  • Chapter 23:  Of the transactions of our people in Syria after the departure of the king of France
  • Chapter 24:  Of the assassination of the marquis Conrad
  • Chapter 25:  How the king of France attributed the death of the marquis to the king of England; and of the meeting at Paris
  • Chapter 26:  How the king of France married the sister of the king of Denmark, and how he repudiated her
  • Chapter 27:  On what account it was that the archbishop of York hurled the sentence of excommunication against the bishop of Durham
  • Chapter 28:  Why our party effected little in the East, and of the return of the crusaders
  • Chapter 29:  By what means the king of England liberated Joppa, and of the treaty between the Christians and the Turks
  • Chapter 30:  How, by the disposal of God, more was done by this expedition for the heavenly than the earthly Jerusalem; and of the death of Saladin
  • Chapter 31:  How the king of England was shipwrecked, and captured by the duke of Austria
  • Chapter 32:  In what manner the king of France was deluded by the son of the duke of Saxony, and disappointed of his expected marriage
  • Chapter 33:  By what means the king of England came into the custody of the emperor through the duke of Austria
  • Chapter 34:  In what manner the king of France invaded Normandy and how John raised commotions in England
  • Chapter 35:  By what means Hubert, bishop of Salisbury, was made archbishop of Canterbury, and of the Church of Contradiction
  • Chapter 36:  How Hugh, bishop of Chester, destroyed the monastery of Coventry
  • Chapter 37:  Of the murder of the Bishop of Liege; on which account the king of England was endangered
  • Chapter 38:  The manner in which England was afflicted by the captivity of the king
  • Chapter 39:  Of the prodigy of an unusual redness appearing at three different times in the air
  • Chapter 40:  How the king of France, when unable to prevent the liberation of the king of England, again invaded Normandy
  • Chapter 41:  How the king of England, being freed from captivity, returned to England
  • Chapter 42:  How peace being restored in the kingdom, the king was crowned at Westminster

Chapter 1:  Of the commencement of the reign of King Richard, and of the events which occurred at his coronation    <to index>

[1] In the one thousand one hundred and eighty-ninth year from the fullness of time when the Truth arose from the earth -- Clement presiding over the holy see, Henry the son of Frederick holding supreme dominion over the Roman empire, and Philip governing the French -- Richard, the son of Henry II, that most illustrious king of England, succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father. After the burial of his father, he entered upon his inheritance beyond the sea, and was received, amidst rejoicings and solemn vows, by the nobles as well as the people. After public affairs had been quickly arranged beyond the sea, he crossed over into England in a happy hour, where his arrival was expected with joy: and, in order that the accession of the new sovereign might be attended with general rejoicings, all prisoners were released through out England by his proclamation, although at that time the jails were overflowing with numerous offenders, who were awaiting release or punishment. Thus, on his entrance into the kingdom, those jail pests, by his clemency, went forth from prison to rob and plunder more boldly, perhaps, than ever.

[2] On the day appointed for his coronation, almost all the nobility of the kingdom, and from the parts beyond the sea, came to London, together with a great number of men of distinction. Richard -- the only monarch of the age who bore that name -- was consecrated king at London, and solemnly crowned by Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, on the third day of the nones of September [3 Sept.], a day which, from the ancient superstition of the Gentiles, is called Evil, or Egyptian, as if it had been a kind of presage of the event which occurred to the Jews. For that day is considered to have been fatal to Jews, and to be Egyptian rather than English; since England, in which their fathers had been happy and respected under the preceding king, was suddenly changed against them, by the judgment of God, into a kind of Egypt where their fathers had suffered hard things. Though this is an event that is fresh in our memory, and known to all who are now living, yet it is worth the trouble to transmit to posterity a full narration of it, as proof of an evident judgment from on high upon that perfidious and blasphemous race.

[3] Not only Christian nobles, but also the leading men among the Jews, had come together from all parts of England to witness the solemn anointing of the Christian sovereign. For those enemies of the truth were on the watch, lest, perchance, the prosperity which they had enjoyed under the preceding monarch should smile upon them less favorably under the new king; and they wished that his first acts should be honored by them in the most becoming manner, thinking that undiminished favor would be secured by ample gifts. But whether it was that they were less acceptable to him than to his father, or whether he was on his guard against them from some cause of which I am ignorant, through a superstitious precaution advised by certain persons, he forbade them (by a proclamation, it is said) to enter the church while he was being crowned, or to enter the palace while the banquet was being held after the solemnity of the coronation. After the celebration of the mass was finished, the king, glorious in his diadem, and with a magnificent procession, went to the banquet; but it happened that, when he was sitting down with all the assembly of the nobility, the people, who were watching about the palace, began to crowd in. The Jews, who had mingled with the crowd, were thus driven within the doors of the palace. At this, a certain Christian was indignant; and remembering the royal proclamation against them, he endeavored, as it is said, to drive away a Jew from the door, and struck him with his hand. Aroused at this example, many more began to beat the Jews back with contempt, and a tumult arose. The lawless and furious mob, thinking that the king had commanded it and supported them, as they thought, by his royal authority, rushed like the rest upon the multitude of Jews who stood watching at the door of the palace. At first they beat them unmercifully with their fists; but soon becoming more enraged, they took sticks and stones. The Jews then fled away; and in their flight, many were beaten, so that they died, and others were trampled under foot and perished. Along with the rest, two noble Jews of York had come thither, one named Joceus, and the other Benedict. Of these, the first escaped; but the other, following him, could not run so fast, while blows were laid upon him; so he was caught, and to avoid death was compelled to confess himself a Christian; and being conducted to a church, was there baptized.

[4] In the meantime, an agreeable rumor that the king had ordered all the Jews to be exterminated pervaded the whole of London with incredible celerity. An innumerable mob of lawless people, belonging to that city and also from other places in the provinces, whom the solemnity of the coronation had attracted thither, soon assembled in arms, eager for plunder and for the blood of a people hateful to all men, by the judgment of God. Then the Jewish citizens, of whom a multitude reside in London, together with those who had come thither from all parts, retired to their own houses. From three o'clock in the afternoon until sunset, their dwellings were surrounded by the raging people and vigorously attacked. By reason of their strong construction, however, they could not be broken into, and the furious assailants had no engines. The roofs, therefore, were set on fire; and a horrible conflagration, destructive to the besieged Jews, afforded light to the Christians who were raging in their nocturnal work. Nor was the fire destructive to the Jews alone, though kindled especially against them; for knowing no distinction, it caught some of the nearest houses of the Christians also. Then you might have seen the most beautiful parts of the city miserably blazing in flames, caused by her own citizens as if they had been enemies. The Jews, however, were either burnt in their own houses, or, if they came out, were received on the point of the sword. Much blood was shed in a short time, but the rising desire for plunder induced the people to rest satisfied with the slaughter they had committed. Their avarice overcame their cruelty; for they ceased to slay, but their greedy fury led them to plunder houses and carry off their wealth. This, however, changed the aspect of affairs, and made Christians hostile to Christians; for some, envying others for what they had seized in their search for plunder arid wicked emulation in avarice, were led to spare neither friends nor companions.

[5] These events were reported to the king as he was banqueting in festivity with all the assembly of nobles; and Ranulph de Glanville, who was justiciary of the realm -- a man both powerful and prudent -- was thereupon sent from his presence, with other men of equal rank, that they might turn aside or restrain the audacity of the mob; but it was in vain, for in so great a tumult no one listened to his voice or showed respect to his presence; but some of the most riotous began to shout against him and his companions, and threatened them in a terrible manner if they did not quickly depart. They, therefore, wisely retired before such unbridled fury; and the plunderers, with equal freedom and audacity, continued to riot until eight o'clock on the following day; and at that time satiety or weariness of rioting, rather than reason or reverence for the king, allayed the fury of the plunderers.

[6] This hitherto unheard-of occurrence in the royal city, and this destruction, so emphatically begun, of that unbelieving race, and this novel confidence of the Christians against the enemies of the Cross of Christ, distinguished the first day of the reign of that most illustrious king Richard -- evidently presaging the promotion of Christianity in his days, not only according to the rule by which doubtful events are rather to be explained for the better than for the worse, but also according to the most apt interpretation; for what does it signify more suitably, if it signifies anything, than that the destruction of that blasphemous race ennobled equally the day, and the place, and his consecration as king, and that in the very commencement of his reign the enemies of the Christian faith began to grow weak, and to fall around him? Should not, therefore, the conflagration of a certain part of the city, or the unreasoning fervor of lawless men, affect every one in this way, and lead him to become a good and pious interpreter of a noble result to come? Since, although events of this kind may militate against the order of that rule which is from on high, yet the Omnipotent may frequently execute His will (which is most good) by the will and the acts (which are most evil) of men even the most wicked? Certainly, the new king, who was of a lofty and fierce disposition, was filled with indignation and grief that such events had occurred, almost in his presence, amidst the solemnities of his coronation and at the commencement of his reign; and he was irritated and anxious as to what he ought to do upon this occasion. To overlook so great and unexampled an affront to his royal dignity and to let it pass unpunished, seemed an action unworthy of a king, and also injurious to the realm; since his connivance at an atrocity so great would encourage the audacity of evil-doers to attempt similar acts of violence in the hope of impunity.

[7] Moreover, it would be utterly impossible to enforce the rigor of royal censure upon such an indefinite multitude of guilty persons. For hatred towards the Jews and the hope of plunder had united in the performance of the work, which I have mentioned, almost all the retainers of the nobles who had come with their lords to the solemnity of the coronation, besides the nobles themselves, who were feasting with the king; and of them the number was so great that the ample space of the royal palace seemed all too small for them. It was, therefore, necessary to connive at that which could not be punished; and, without doubt, it was ordained by God, that those who were the ministers of Divine vengeance upon the perfidious and the blasphemous should not be subjected to human judgment on account of this. The design of that watchfulness which is on high demanded that those blasphemers, who in the time of the late sovereign had been beyond measure stiff-necked and perverse towards Christians, should be humbled at the commencement of the reign of his successor. That Benedict, however, who, as I have said, had received Christian baptism under compulsion, yet not giving credence in his heart to that which was right, but only beating the air by the empty confession of his lips, being brought the next day to the king, and interrogated by him whether he was a Christian, replied that he had been compelled by the Christians to be baptized, but in his heart he had always been a Jew; and he would rather die as such, since he could not possibly live now, for he was treading close upon death by reason of the blows he had received the day before. Being, therefore, cast out from the presence of the sovereign, the Christian apostate was restored to the Jews; and being made the child of hell two-fold more than before, he died after a few days, having been made a Christian only for this, that he might die an apostate. The king, however, after the slaughter of the Jews, established peace by proclamation; of which, nevertheless, they did not long enjoy the fruits, as shall be narrated in its place: for justice from on high required that the pride of that blasphemous race should be yet more severely punished.

Chapter 2:  Of the appointments to vacant churches after the coronation of King Richard     <to index>

Among the first subjects to which the new king gave his attention was that of the many vacant cathedral churches in England, in order that they should, by his nomination, enjoy their proper bishops. Therefore, Richard of Ely, the royal treasurer, accepted the see of London; Godfrey de Lucy, the cathedral of Winchester; William Longchamp, the royal chancellor, the bishopric of Ely, and Hubert, dean of York, the church of Salisbury. Moreover, to Geoffrey, the king's brother -- who had formerly been elected to the church of Lincoln, and for many years (as it has been said in its place) had been in possession of that church, and received its temporalities; and being at length removed thence, presided over the royal treasury until the decease of his father -- to him, I say, the king granted the metropolitan see of York, which had been void for nearly ten years. We have been informed that the election of this Geoffrey took place in this wise. On the death of his father, letters were obtained (as it is said) from the new duke, who was yet remaining in Normandy, by the artifice of certain persons in the interest of the same Geoffrey, and directed to the chapter of York, requesting that his brother Geoffrey should be elected archbishop, and threatening peril to those who should resist the royal intention. The precentor, and those who were there (for the dean and many others were absent), were terrified and awed by those letters, and regarding only the favor of their future monarch, they solemnly elected the aforesaid Geoffrey; but when the king had assumed his diadem, and was presiding over his paternal kingdom, he was angry at that election, and recalled those letters by which the electors had been influenced, as being surreptitious, or at any rate not his. He was, however, pacified by the promise of a large sum of money, for the exigencies of his expedition to Jerusalem, and finally gave his assent; but what came to pass afterwards with regard to that election shall be explained in its place.

Chapter 3:  Of the affection of the king toward his brother John    <to index>

The king, moreover, declared his personal affection, in a remarkable manner, to his uterine brother John; for, besides his extensive paternal acquisitions in Ireland, and the earldom of Mortaine in Normandy, of which he had already received the gift from his father, the king bestowed upon him so many gifts in the kingdom of England, that he seemed to possess almost a third part of it. At length he conferred upon him Cornwall, Devonshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lancashire, with the adjacent province, and many other portions of the royal demesne. He likewise gave him the daughter of the earl of Gloucester, his own cousin in the fourth degree, with the whole of her paternal inheritance, which (as is well known) is very great. He thus provided for him in a way that was scarcely legitimate, and one that hardly became a brother; but this immoderate and improvident liberality towards his brother produced many and great evils in the time that followed, and punished him, who bestowed so profusely, with deep regret. For John, being indulged with this tetrarchical power, became first ambitious of obtaining the monarchy, and afterwards faithless to his brother, and finally, manifestly hostile. This, however, will have its place in the order of our history, and be more fully explained.

Chapter 4:  Of the successor of Ranulph de Glanville in the justiciarship of the realm     <to index>

Ranulph de Glanville, a man of the greatest prudence, was still justiciar of the realm, as he had been in the time of the previous king, though the king considered that he had become old and acted with much less wisdom and forethought than he had shown when new in office. The justiciar, too, wished to be released from the burden of this office, that he might with greater convenience prepare himself for his departure for Jerusalem, since he had assumed the sign of the Lord under king Henry. He, therefore, solemnly renounced his office, and had less able successors. The office was then entrusted by the king to the bishop of Durham, who did not hesitate to accept it; though, if he had been wise, he would have been content with his own office and continued a minister of the Divine law rather than have become a minister of human law, since no one can worthily serve both; and that injunction to the apostles, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" [Matt. 6:24], applies in the highest degree to the successors of the apostles. For if the bishop was willing equally to please a heavenly and an earthly king, and to divide himself between both offices, it is certain that the King in heaven, whose will it is that men should serve Him with all the heart, all the soul, and all the mind, does not approve, nor accept any half-service: but what will be the fate of the bishop who does not perform even half of those duties which belong to God, and which become a bishop, but commits his duties to unworthy persons, who perform them remissly while he attends wholly to the affairs of this life, or to the court, or to public assemblies? No one can administer half the functions of an earthly king by giving half his time to its requirements, Wherefore, the bishop, whom I have mentioned, being already in years, after he had undertaken this secular office, resided in the south of England, and devoted himself entirely to public affairs.

Chapter 5:  What the king did in England before he embarked    <to index>

[1] The king of England (who, when he was earl of Poitou, was the first of the potentates who had accepted the cross of the Lord) then carefully made ready for his departure towards Jerusalem, and commenced all kinds of preparations for the necessary expenses, chiefly at the instance of the king of France, that they might set out together at a suitable time, and employ the interval of delay which they had agreed upon, in making complete arrangements. Nor did he think that his paternal treasures, together with that which his father had amassed especially for this journey, would be sufficient; but he employed his own industry and labor in this work, thinking it would he disgraceful to him were he to stop short of the glory of his father even in this respect. He, therefore, by urgent letters, summoned the king of the Scots, who was then suffering under intense sorrow for the loss of the castles which had been taken from him by the chances of war (as was mentioned above), that is to say, Roxburgh and Berwick; for in the reign of king Henry he had recovered the third castle, which is called "Castellum. Puellarum" [Edinburgh], when, by his advice and good-will, he had received a wife from foreign parts. Coming, therefore, to the king of England, he agreed to pay him ten thousand marks of silver for the surrender of those castles; and returning to his own country, he extorted that sum from his subjects by the exercise of royal power. When he had paid this to the king of England, he, with much joy, received the castles.

[2] The new king also craftily persuaded the bishop of Durham, whom he believed to be wealthy, to purchase from him the province of his own bishopric, that he might become at once a bishop and the earl of that province, by annexing the earldom to the bishopric. In doing this, think of the acuteness of the king in getting the bishop's money, and of the immoderate ambition of the old bishop of a see which is known to be excessively rich, and yet not content, at his age; and who thought not of that prophetic passage, uttered even by the prophet of the Lord, "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field" [Isaiah 5:8], as he joined the earldom to the bishopric, without caring which was the greater. Thus, for the purchase of the earldom, he gave the king whatever he had accumulated in preparation for his expedition to Jerusalem, and all that he was able to rake together from his see. The king gloried in a bargain of this kind, and jokingly said, "I am a wonderful workman; for out of an old bishop I have made a new earl." But when the bishop had thus divested himself of his money, which he had devoted to the sacred pilgrimage for the sake of Christ, he next studied how to revoke the vow he had made to Almighty God on solemnly assuming the cross; and since he could not say to the Roman pontiff, by his messengers, "I have purchased an earldom, and therefore I cannot set out for Jerusalem; so I pray thee have me excused" -- which, indeed, he might have said with truth -- he spoke of his failing age, and alleged that he was unequal to so laborious a pilgrimage. Being thus left to his own conscience, he thereupon weakly and irreverently cast away the sacred emblem of devotion, and rested in the possession of that precious pearl which he had found in the king, and for which he had given so much; which however is not a solid possession, but, in regard to the changes of times and things, is but brief and transitory.

[3] The king, however, with the same art by which he had exhausted the bags of this bishop, also enticed many others to vie with each other in pouring out their money in the purchase of certain dignities, or liberties, or public employments, and even in the purchase of the royal demesnes. He thus dissipated his own property to set off early, as if he had no intention of returning: and when, in familiar boldness, he was blamed by his friends on account of this, he is said to have replied, "I would sell London also, if I could find a suitable purchaser." At length, amidst these sales he seemed to lose his judgment; and on that account many persons bought more freely, because it was thought he would never return to his country: for he was said also to be already broken down and languid through the premature and immoderate use of arms, in which he had indulged more than was prudent from his youth upwards, so that he seemed likely to be speedily exhausted by the labor of the Eastern expedition. Others said that his system was so corrupted and consumed by a quartan ague, which he had endured for a long time, that he could not long exist in that disorder, and especially amidst labor so great. An argument in favor of this view was a certain unbecoming symptom that appeared in him, together with paleness of the face and swelling of the limbs. Others even said that he had more than a hundred issues on his body, to carry off the corruption of the humours. Such were the reports concerning the king that flew about in the ears and through the mouths of almost all men; and his indiscreet and immoderate donations and sales gave the appearance of truth to them; and, as if he understood that he would finish his career soon, he was supposed to care very little for the kingdom, because he divided or disposed of it in such a manner; but afterwards it was clearly seen with what subtle craft he had done or feigned all this, in order that he might drain the bags of all those who seemed rich.

[4] After he had remained some months in England, he left the administration to his chancellor, the bishop of Ely, and crossed over into Normandy before the solemnities of Christmas. Almost all men were enraged against him, on seeing so noble a king, when about to set out for distant countries, leave his own kingdom with so little ceremony; and at his departure evince less care than became him, in committing, without the advice and consent of the nobility, the direction of affairs to a man who was a foreigner of obscure name, and whose industry and fidelity were not much approved; but whether they undervalued, justly or otherwise, this appointment made by the king, was shown clearly by the events of the time that followed.

Chapter 6:  Of a certain prodigy which at that time was seen in the air     <to index>

Nor ought I to pass over in silence a most amazing and fearful prodigy, which about this time was seen in England by many, who to this day are witnesses of it to those who did not see it. There is upon the public road which goes to London a town, by no means insignificant, called Dunstaple. There, as certain persons happened to be looking up at the sky in the afternoon, they saw in the clear atmosphere the form of the banner of the Lord, conspicuous by its milky whiteness, and joined to it the figure of a man crucified, such as is painted in the church in remembrance of the passion of the Lord, and for the devotion of the faithful. As they stood thus in astonishment, gazing with their eyes fixed on this marvelous object, many persons going on the public road wondered at their amazement, with faces upturned to the sky, and also looked up and began to be equally astonished when they saw the novelty of this appearance. When this fearful sight had thus been visible for some time, and the countenances and minds of those who were curiously watching it were kept in suspense, the form of the cross was seen to recede from the person who seemed affixed to it, so that an intermediate space of air could be observed between them; and soon afterwards this marvelous vision disappeared; but the effect remained, after the cause of this prodigy was removed. At length, the report of this was spread far and wide, and the rumor of this prodigious appearance was circulated, with the astonishment expressed at it. Let every one interpret this wonderful sight as he pleases; for I am but a simple narrator of it, and not a presaging interpreter. What the Divinity may have intended to signify by it, I know not.

Chapter 7:  What was done against the insolence of the Jews at Lynn    <to index>

[1] When (as it has been related above) Richard, the illustrious king of England, had settled his kingdom as he wished, he crossed over into Normandy, and held a solemn conference with the king of France, at which both of them confirmed their oaths of mutual alliance and, promising brotherly love on either side, bound themselves yet more strongly to the expedition towards the East, with their nobles who had accepted the sign of the cross; and appointed the next summer as the time of their departure. When these acts had been solemnly performed, each of the princes made preparations in proportion to his own greatness and the magnitude of the undertaking.

[2] But while these things were passing in France, the zeal of the Christians against the Jews in England, which had been inflamed a short time before at London (as I have related), now vehemently broke forth; not, indeed, from a pure motive -- that is, on account of the faith alone -- but through envy at their prosperity or desire to seize their fortunes. Bold and covetous men thought they were doing service to God, while they were despoiling or ruining men who were rebels against Christ; and they performed with joyful fury, and without even the slightest scruple of conscience, the work of their own covetousness. The justice of God, indeed, little approved of such deeds, but ordained then, as it is meet, that by these means He might coerce the insolence of that perfidious people, and bridle their blasphemous tongues.

[3] There is a city called Lynn, famous for its provisions and its commerce, where many of those people resided: arrogant from their numbers, the magnitude of their riches, and the royal protection; and here the first movement was made against them (as we have heard) on an occasion of this kind.

[4] It happened that a certain person had been converted from their superstition to the Christian faith; and thirsting for his blood, as a deserter and renegade, they sought for an opportunity of completing their malicious intent; and on a certain day they seized their arms and attacked him as he passed; but he took refuge in the nearest church. Yet the raging Jews did not go quietly away, but with perverse fury and violence began to attack that church, to break the doors open, and drag the fugitive out for slaughter. A loud shout was raised by those who were within the church, "Help for the Christian!" was demanded with loud voices. The cries and the rumor inflamed the Christian population, and collected those who were near at hand, while those who were farther off armed themselves at the intelligence and ran to the rescue. The inhabitants of the place acted with remissness, for fear of the king; but some strange youths, of whom a great multitude had come thither for the purpose of traffic, valiantly attacked those proud assailants. The Jews soon ceased to assault the church; and, not being able to endure the attack of the Christians, took to flight, in which some were killed; their houses were attacked and plundered by the Christians, and at length burnt in avenging flames; many of them bedewed with their blood either the hostile fire or the sword of the enemy. On the following day, a certain Jew, who was a celebrated physician, arrived, and on account of his skill, and his orderly behavior, was held in honor, and treated with familiarity by Christians also; but he, deploring the slaughter of his people, rather immoderately, and by prophesying vengeance, roused the fury that was yet breathing. Him the Christians soon seized, and there made him the last victim of their rage against the Jews. The strange youths, loaded with plunder, sought their ships and quickly departed, apprehensive that they would be examined by the king's officers; but the inhabitants of the place, when they were questioned on this matter by the king's officers, threw the blame of the affair on the strangers who had already gone away.

Chapter 8:  What was done against the Jews at Stamford, and of a certain popular superstition     <to index>

[1] After these events, the movement of a new storm against the Jews arose at Stamford. At that place fairs are held during the solemnities of Lent; to which had come a multitude of young men from different counties, who had received the sign of the Lord, and were about to set out for Jerusalem. They were indignant that the enemies of the cross of Christ, who lived there, should possess so much, while they themselves had so little for the expenses of so great a journey; and they thought they would extort from the Jews, as unjust possessors, that which they could apply to the needful purposes of the pilgrimage which they had undertaken. Thinking, therefore, that they would render service unto Christ by attacking His enemies, whose goods they desired to possess, they boldly rushed upon them; while none of the inhabitants of the place, or those who had come to the fairs, opposed such attempts; and some even co-operated with them. Several of the Jews were killed, and the rest, who escaped with difficulty, were received within the castle. Their houses, however, plundered, and a great quantity of money was seized.

[2] The plunderers decamped with the fruits of their labor; and no one, through a desire to maintain public order, was questioned on account of this affair. One of these, by name John, a most audacious youth, going to Hampton, deposited a part of his money with a certain man, by whom -- from a desire to obtain the same money -- he was secretly murdered, and his body cast out of the town at night. When it was found, and accidentally recognized by some people, the avaricious murderer took to secret flight. Soon after, some old women having had some visions, and some delusions of fallacious prodigies appearing there, these simple people ascribed to the murdered youth the merit and glory of a martyr, and honored his sepulchre with solemn watches. Roused by his reputation, the senseless common people came at first from places in the neighborhood, and afterwards poured in from different counties, in a curious spirit of devotion, desiring to witness the miracles of the new martyr, or to obtain his intercession; and no one came to his sepulchre empty-handed. This was laughed at by prudent people; but it was agreeable to the clergy on account of the advantages that resulted from the superstition. The matter was referred to the bishop, a man of exalted virtue; he came to the place in the spirit of strength, and profaned the marks of honor to this false martyr, which bad been arranged by the care of the simple and the covetous; and he forbade this superstitious veneration for the dead man, by his pontifical authority and by imposition of an anathema. So by the pious and efficacious labor of a good shepherd, the whole of that work of the spirit of deceit was extinguished and vanished away.

Chapter 9:  How the Jews of Lincoln and York were treated    <to index>

[1] The people of Lincoln, hearing what had been done to the Jews, seizing the opportunity and animated by example, thought they might venture upon something; and having assembled together, they broke out in a sudden commotion against the Jews who lived there with them. But they, having heard of the fear or destruction of their people in diverse places, were rendered very cautious; and after a few of them had been exposed to danger, they retired quickly with their money into the royal fortress. Thus this slight commotion was soon quieted.

[2] The people of York, however, neither by the fear of a most courageous prince, nor the vigor of the laws, nor reason, nor humanity, were prevented from satiating their personal fury in the general destruction of their perfidious fellow-citizens, and sweeping away the whole race in their city. Inasmuch as this is most worthy of remembrance, it ought to be transmitted to posterity by a full narration.

[3] Of the Jews of York (as I have mentioned above) the principal were Benedict and Joceus, men who were rich, and who lent on usury far and wide. Besides, with profuse expense they had built houses of the largest extent in the midst of the city, which might be compared to royal palaces; and there they lived in abundance and luxury almost regal, like two princes of their own people, and tyrants to the Christians, exercising cruel tyranny towards those whom they had oppressed by usury. When they were in London, at the solemnity of the royal coronation, Benedict (as it has been mentioned) had, by the judgment of God, a most unhappy lot assigned him for his end, and appeared to be in this accursed; but Joceus, having been with difficulty rescued from danger for a time, returned to York. Now, although the king, after the tumult at London, had passed a law for the peace of the Jews, and acted in good faith towards them throughout England, according to the ancient custom; yet, when the king was afterwards resident in the parts beyond sea, many people in the county of York took an oath together against the Jews, being unable to endure their opulence while they themselves were in want; and, without any scruple of Christian conscientiousness, thirsted for their perfidious blood, through the desire of plunder. Those who urged them on to venture upon these measures were certain persons of higher rank, who owed large sums to those impious usurers. Some of these, who had pledged their own estates to them for money, which they had received, were oppressed with great poverty; and others who were under obligations, on account or their own bonds, were oppressed by the tax-gatherers to satisfy the usurers who had dealings with the king. Some also of those who had accepted the sign of the Lord, and were now in readiness to set out for Jerusalem, could more easily be impelled to aid the expenses of a journey undertaken for the Lord, out of the plunder of His enemies; because they had very little reason to fear that any question would arise on this account after they had commenced their journey.

[4] Late at night no small portion of the city was blazing in a conflagration that was kindled by chance, or rather (as it is believed) by confederates; so that while the citizens were occupied with their own houses, because of the peril of fire, they could offer no impediment to the plunderers. An armed band of the confederates, with iron tools made ready for this purpose, and with great violence, broke into the house of the said Benedict, who had died miserably at London (as it is mentioned above); in this house his wife and sons, and many others, were living; and after they had slain all that were in it, they set fire to the roof also; and while the fire was sullenly gaining strength, they swept away all the wealth, and left the house in flames; and thus, favored by darkness and well-laden, the plunderers retired to their secret retreat. The Jews, struck with consternation at this event and especially Joceus, who was more eminent than the rest, earnestly entreated the governor of the royal castle, and secured his assistance. They carried thither vast loads of their money, as if they bad been royal treasurers ; and, moreover, they had a very vigilant guard for their own security.

[5] After some days, those nocturnal plunderers returned with greater confidence and ferocity; and, being joined by many others, they fiercely attacked the house of Joceus; which, from the magnitude and strength of its construction, might be said to be equal to a castle of no small size. At length they took it; and after plundering it, they set it on fire, while all those persons whose misfortune it was to be in the house were destroyed either by the sword or by fire. Joceus, however, cautiously foreseeing this misfortune, had a short Lime before removed into the castle with his wife and sons. In like manner the rest of the Jews acted, very few remaining abroad to be victims. After the plunderers had decamped with the booty acquired by so daring a deed, a promiscuous mob rushed in when it was morning, and carried off different kinds of things, and household furniture of every sort -- the remains left by the plunderers and the fire. After this, those who had previously regarded the Jews with hatred, uniting with the confederates, and entertaining no respect for the vigor of the law, openly and with unbridled license begin to rage against them; and, not being content with their substance, they gave to all they could find outside the castle the option either of holy baptism, or of death. At length, some who were baptized united themselves with the Christians; but they only feigned conversion in order to escape death; but others were slain without mercy, who refused to receive the sacrament of life, even though feignedly.

[6] While these events were occurring, the multitude which had fled into the castle seemed to be in safety. The governor of the castle, however, happening to go out upon some kind of business, when he wished to enter the castle again, he was not permitted by the multitude inside and on the watch, as they were uncertain whom they could trust, lest, perchance, his faith towards them might happen to waver; and if he were corrupted, he might, after having received them for protection, expose them to their enemies. However, he instantly went to the governor of the county, who happened to be there on the king's business, with a large company of knights of the shire, and complained that he was defrauded by the Jews of the custody of the castle, which had been committed to him. The governor was indignant and enraged against the Jews; while those, in particular, who had been the authors of the confederacy, continued to inflame his anger. They alleged that the timorous precaution of those miserable wretches was nothing else than a proud occupation of the royal castle, which of itself was greatly to the injury of the lord the king. Since many people were determined to attack those faithless men in every possible way, and to rescue the royal castle from them, the governor gave orders that the people should be assembled, and that the castle should be attacked. The irrevocable word went forth; the zeal of the Christian people was roused, and immense bands of armed men, not only from the pity, but also from the county, gathered around the castle.

[7] Then the governor began to regret the order which he had issued, and endeavored, in vain, to recall his command, and wished, but too late, to forbid the assault. But he had no power, either by the weight of reason or of authority, to restrain their minds, which were now inflamed, nor to prevent them from pursuing their design. The nobility of the city, and the more respectable citizens, apprehending danger from this commotion, cautiously declined to join such a riot; but the whole class of workmen, and all the young men in the city, with a very great mob of country people, and not a few military men, assisted with such alacrity, and urged forward the work of blood, as if each one sought his own private advantage, and something great for himself. Many of the clergy, too, were present; and among them a certain hermit, who appeared more fervent than the rest. Equal zeal inflamed all; thinking that they performed a great service to God, if they swept away a race rebellious against Christ, while, in their blinded understandings, they perverted that passage of David, that is to say, of the Lord, which is uttered in the person of the Savior, "God shall let me see my desire upon my enemies. Slay them not, lest my people forget" [Psalm 59:11]. In fact, the perfidious Jew that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ is suffered to live amongst Christians, from the same regard to Christian utility, that causes the form of the cross of the Lord to be painted in the church of Christ; that is to say, to perpetuate the highly beneficial remembrance of the passion of the Lord amongst all the faithful; and while in the Jew we execrate that impious action, in that sacred form we venerate the Divine majesty with due devotion. Thus the Jews ought to live among Christians for our own utility; but for their own iniquity they ought to live in servitude. The Jews who were living in England under king Henry II, by a preposterous proceeding, had been made happy and famous above the Christians; and out of their great prosperity, lifting themselves up imprudently against Christ, they had inflicted many sufferings upon the Christians; on which account, in the days of the new king, they underwent by the just judgment of Christ this peril of their lives -- those lives which they possessed by his clemency; and yet, in the admirable order of His justice, those men can by no means be excused, who, by an unexpected commotion, inflicted slaughter upon them.

Chapter 10:  Of the destruction of the Jews at York    <to index>

[1] Thus were the Jews besieged in the royal castle; and in consequence of the want of a sufficient supply of food, they would, without doubt, have been compelled to surrender, even if no one had attacked them from without, for they had not arms sufficient either for their own protection, or to repel the enemy. Nevertheless, they kept off the besiegers with stones alone, which they pulled out of the wall in the interior. The castle was actively besieged for several days; and at length engines were got ready and brought up. That hermit of the Premonstratensian order, whom I have mentioned, urged onward the fatal work more than any one else.

[2] Roused by the rumor, he had lately come to the city, and in his white frock was sedulously engaged among the besiegers of the castle, repeating often, "Down with the enemies of Christ!" with loud shouts, and inflaming the warriors by the example of his co-operation; and it is said that, during the days of the siege, before proceeding to the bloody work, he immolated in the morning the unbloody Sacrifice, for he was a priest. To such an extent had he persuaded himself, by his mental blindness, that he was employed on a religious matter, that he labored to persuade others of it; and when the engines were moved forward, he fervently helped with all his strength. Whence it came to pass that, approaching the wall incautiously and not observing a large stone which was falling from above, he was crushed by it; he fell forward, and when he was lifted up, he instantly expired. It thus became manifest that, either by reason of his profession, or of his order, a greater judgment fell upon him than upon any other, for he was the only one of our people who happened miserably to die there. The engines being brought up, the capture of the castle was certain; and it was no longer doubtful that the hour fatal to the besieged was come. During the following night the besiegers rested, rejoicing at the certainty of their approaching victory; but the Jews, strong and unbending through desperation alone, had but little rest, and debated among themselves what was to be done in such an emergency.

[3] There was among them a certain elder, a most famous doctor of the law, according to the letter which killeth, who had come from countries beyond the sea to instruct the Jews in England, as it is said. This man was held in honor among them all, and was obeyed by all, as if he had been one of the prophets. So when at this conjuncture his advice was asked, he replied, "God, to whom we ought not to say, 'Why dost Thou this?' commands us to die now for His law -- and behold our death is at the doors, as ye see; unless, perchance, which be far from us, ye should think that the Holy Law ought to be deserted for the short span of this life, and should choose that which to good and manly minds is worse than any kind of death, that is to say, to live with the greatest disgrace, as apostates, through the mercy of our impious enemies. Since, therefore, we ought to prefer a glorious death to an infamous life, it is plain that we ought to choose the most honorable and easy kind of death: for if we should fall into the hands of the enemy, we should die according to their pleasure, and amidst their mockery. Therefore, let us willingly and devoutly, with our own hands, render up to Him that life which the Creator gave to us, since He now claims it, and let us not wait for the aid of a cruel enemy to give back that which he reclaims. For this, indeed, many of. our people are known to have done laudably in divers tribulations, setting before us a precedent for that choice which is most fitting for us to make." When he had said this, many embraced the fatal advice; but to others this discourse seemed hard.

[4] Then the elder said, "Let those to whom this good and pious counsel is not pleasing, sit apart, cut off from this sacred band: for to us, for the sake of the Law of our fathers, this temporal life has already become vile." Many, therefore, went away, preferring to make trial of the clemency of their enemies, rather than die in this manner with their friends. Soon after, at the suggestion of that mad old man, to prevent their enemies from being enriched by their wealth, the fire consumed their precious vestments, in the sight of all; and their most valuable vessels and other things, which could not perish in the flames, were by an artful kind of scheme prevented from being used again by being thrown into a place which I am ashamed to allude to. When this was done, the roof was set on fire, so that the flames, while a horrid deed was being done -- for they were preparing their necks for the knife -- might slowly gain strength among the solid timber, and deprive of life even those who had departed from the rest through love of life. Then it was decided, by the direction of that man who had grown old in evil days, that the men whose minds were more firm, should kill their wives and children -- that most infamous Joceus, with a very sharp knife, cut the throat of Anna, his most beloved wife, and spared not even his own children. When this had been done by other men also, that most cursed old man cut the throat of Joceus, because he was more honorable than the rest. When all were killed, together with the leader of the crime, the fire which (as it was said) they had lighted when they were about to die, began to burn the interior of the castle. Those, however, who had chosen life, contended as well as they could against the flames, which had been lighted by their own people, in order that they themselves might die with them, though against their will ; and they fenced themselves in certain extreme parts of the castle. in which they would suffer least from the fire. This irrational fury of rational creatures against themselves is truly astonishing; but whoever reads the History of the Jewish War by Josephus understands well enough that madness of this kind, arising from their ancient superstition, has continued down to our own times, whenever any very heavy misfortune fell upon them.

[5] In the morning, when a large multitude of people had assembled together to storm the castle, they found the wretched Jews who had survived standing on the battlements, announcing, in melancholy voice, the massacre of their people, which had taken place in the night; and to give ocular proof of this great sacrifice, they threw the dead bodies over the wall, and cried out to this effect: "Behold the bodies of those unfortunate people, who, in their mad fury, inflicted death upon themselves; and, when dying, set fire to the interior of the castle in order to burn us alive, because we refused to commit the like act, and chose rather to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the Christians. God, however, has preserved us from the fury of our brethren, and from the destruction of the flames, in order that we shall embrace your religion -- for in our trouble we have gained understanding, and acknowledge the truth of Christ; we, therefore, pray your charity, for we are prepared to do that which you usually require, to be cleansed by holy baptism -- to put away our ancient ceremonies, and to be united to the church of Christ. Receive us, therefore, as brethren instead of enemies; and let us live with you in the faith and peace of Christ." While they thus spoke, with tears in their eyes, many of our people looked with deep horror and astonishment upon the mildness of those who were dead, and pitied the survivors; but the chiefs of the confederacy, among whom was one Richard, truly surnamed Malbeste, a most daring fellow, were unmoved by pity for these miserable wretches. They deceitfully addressed kind words to them, and promised the favor they hoped, under the testimony of their faith, in order that they might not fear to come forth; but, as soon as they came out, those cruel swordsmen seized them as enemies, and slaughtered them in the midst of their continual cries for the baptism of Christ.

[6] With regard to these persons, who were thus butchered with savage ferocity, I will affirm, without hesitation, that if, in their entreaty for holy Baptism, there was no fiction, they were baptized with their own blood, and were by no means defrauded of its efficacy; but whether they sought the holy font feignedly or unfeignedly, the cruelty of those murderers is to be execrated. Their first crime, doubtless, was that of shedding human blood like water, without lawful authority; their second, that of acting barbarously, rather through the blackness of malice than the zeal for justice; their third, was that of refusing the grace of Christ to those who sought it; the fourth, that of deceiving those miserable people by telling lies to induce them to come forth to be victims.

[7] When the massacre was complete, the confederates proceeded immediately to the cathedral church and, by violent representations, compelled the terrified wardens to deliver up the acknowledgments of the debts by which the Christians were bound, and which had been deposited there by the Jews, who were the farmers of the royal revenues, having obtained possession of those evidences of detestable avarice, they solemnly committed them to the flames in the midst of the church, and thus freed themselves and many others from their bonds. After these things were done, those among the confederates who had accepted the emblem of the Lord, commenced their intended journey before any inquiry could be instituted; but the rest remained in the county under the apprehension of an inquiry. These events at York occurred at the time of the Passion of our Lord, that is to say, o the day before Palm Sunday [17th March].

Chapter 11:  Of the king's anger against the murderers of the Jews    <to index>

The act committed at York was soon reported to the king beyond the seas, who, after the commotion at London, had granted peace and legal security to the Jews within his realm. He was indignant and enraged, not only on account of the treason against his royal majesty, but for the great injury his revenue had sustained -- for whatever the Jews, who are the king's farmers, possess in goods, appertains to the treasury. A mandate was immediately issued to the bishop of Ely, the king's chancellor and guardian of the realm, ordering condign punishment to be inflicted on the perpetrators of this audacious act. The bishop, a man of fierce disposition, and desirous of glory, proceeded with an army to York, about the time of the solemnities of the Lord's Ascension [3 May], and commenced an inquiry most formidable to the citizens. The principal ringleaders in the sedition, however, fled into Scotland; and the citizens stoutly denied all agency in the tumult for which they were suffering, and which had arisen, neither by their wish, their advice, nor their co-operation; and they pleaded that their scanty numbers had not been able to check the unbridled fury of that undisciplined mob. The chancellor, in the end, accepted pecuniary fines, which were imposed upon each man, according to the amount of his fortune, in lieu of more severe punishment; while the promiscuous and countless multitude, whose irregular zeal had chiefly caused that dreadful outbreak, could not by any means be brought to judgment, or punished. The chancellor then removed the person who presided over the county; and, since he could not execute the king's mandate more efficaciously according to justice, he returned without shedding blood: nor, until this day, has any one been condemned to punishment for that massacre of the Jews.

Chapter 12:  How the king's arrived at Sicily, and how the king of England stormed Messina     <to index>

[1] In the following summer, in the one thousand one hundred and ninetieth year from the delivery of the Virgin, the illustrious kings of France and England commenced their journeys to Jerusalem and, with suitable preparations and a large army, met at Marseilles. After making such a delay there as was necessary, the king of France, in the autumn season, set sail first with his troops and with prosperous gales arrived in Sicily; but the king of England remained at Marseilles some days after the departure of the king of France. At length, the fleet weighed anchor; and, with the army under his command, he ventured upon the sea and with propitious winds arrived at the same island. He who arrived first at Messina -- that most renowned city -- was received with such gladness by the citizens, that he determined to winter there; and he who followed, after landing his forces, also desired to pass the winter there in a social manner, on account of the size of the city and its conveniences of every description. Therefore, he dispatched some of his people forward for that purpose; but the citizens, content with the presence of one king among them, and refusing to be burdened with the entertainment of two great sovereigns, contumeliously drove from the city those whom he had sent forward and killed a few of them in the tumult. At this the king of England was moved to wrath, and he considered that he ought to demand satisfaction of the people of Messina for the injury they had done him; but they, conscious of their own strength, and relying upon the assistance of their noble guests, proudly declined to give any satisfaction.

[2] At this insult the courageous monarch was inflamed to seek revenge; and he commanded his troops to arm and attack the city. In this operation he not only urged forward his men by his command, but he animated them also by his own example; and though the city was valiantly defended for some time by the citizens, as well as by the French, yet he broke into it mightily at last. After he had entered the city as a victor, with the loss of but few of his men, he observed a becoming moderation in his revenge, and mollified the anger of his mind by the pleasure of his triumphant glory. Pacified, therefore, by the tardy satisfaction of the citizens and by the respect which he compelled them to observe, he restrained his impetuosity and desisted from his threats. Soon after, out of regard to the king of France, he marched out of the city, which he willingly resigned to him and his army; and he constructed a fortification outside the walls and arranged his camp there, where he passed the winter with his troops amidst abundance of every description. The king of France, however, considered the attack upon the city that had sheltered him as an insult towards himself, and, leaving out of view the advantage of that hospitality which he had enjoyed, he conceived an implacable rancor against the king of England, which entered even into the marrow of his bones. Though this was concealed for a time, yet it broke out in due season, and became manifest to the whole world, as it will be narrated in its place.

[3] While the kings were thus passing the winter in Sicily, immense bodies of troops, who had assembled from many countries, under the banner of the Lord, were passing the winter in Dalmatia, Istria, and Venice, and were awaiting with eagerness the approach of spring.

Chapter 13:  Of the German expedition, and of the death of the emperor    <to index>

[1] In the meanwhile, Frederick, emperor of Germany, who in the preceding year (that is, in the year one thousand one hundred and eighty-ninth from the delivery of the Virgin), with his son the duke of Swabia, and the forces of Germany, had commenced their march towards Jerusalem, as it is said above. He was conducting his army at a slow pace, on account of the numerous obstacles, through the upper countries. Having passed Pannonia, he proceeded to the dominions of the emperor of Constantinople, as he was desirous to obtain the favor of that Christian monarch in this expedition which was most eminently Christian; but he found him little better than Saladin himself. At length, that Greek (for though the Greeks are Christian, yet they are known to abominate the Latins, not less, nay, even rather more ferociously than the Saracens) -- that Greek, I say, (as it is reported) after Jerusalem was taken, made a treaty with Saladin, that most atrocious enemy of the Christian name, promising that, by land and sea, he would, in his dominions, prohibit the passage of the Latins into Syria. Therefore, when the Latin emperor, by his messengers, sought as a Christian from the Greek emperor another Christian, that which Israel under Moses sought of old time from Sihon, king of the Amorites, "Let us pass through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards ... we will go by the king's highway ... until we have passed thy borders" [Numbers 20:17]; but that Greek, resembling the impious king in this respect, and being more faithful to Saladin than to Christ, was unwilling to allow the Christian army even to pass through his territories. Whereupon the Latin emperor said to his men, "We seek Saladin, the enemy of Christ; and, behold, one equal to, or rather worse than Saladin, openly stands in the way of those who are zealous for Christ. Let us, then, turn those arms against him that we have assumed against Saladin; and open for ourselves a way with the sword, since we can do nothing else." This was pleasing to all; and in a hostile manner they entered the territory which was under the government of Constantinople, and valiantly attacked that most noble city Thessalonica, which they took; and having reduced the adjacent province under their power, they resolved to winter there.

[2] I certainly am not, by any means, of opinion that this movement and attack upon Christian men can be approved, especially as they were made by Christians who had taken arms against Pagans, although those Christians acted in a manner far from brotherly; neither, on the other side, was it right that Christians should have refused to concede a harmless passage to Christians. Lastly, this is proved by ancient examples, and those taken from the Holy Law. The people of Israel under Moses, on their petition to the king of the Amorites for a free passage (as it has been said) suffered a repulse, and, by the command of the Lord, made an attack upon him, and took possession of his territory. Perhaps our emperor and his men, regarding this precedent, invaded the territory of the Greek emperor, in consequence of the passage that was denied him, when he ought rather, as I think, to have given attention to another precedent. For, it is written, "Moses sent messengers unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, ... 'Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards ... we will go by the king's highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.' And Edom said unto him, 'Thou shalt not pass by me ...' And the children of Israel said unto him, 'We will go by the high-way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: there shall be no difficulty about the price, we can pass through so quickly.' And he said, 'Thou shalt not go through ...' Wherefore Israel turned away from him." [Numbers 20:14-21]

[3] Behold, the children of Israel, acting under their great prophet Moses, twice suffered a repulse from their brethren, the sons of Esau, in their very moderate petition for a passage only; and yet they were not impelled by that affront received from a brother to seek revenge, or to open a passage with the sword; but wisely they turned away from their ungrateful brethren, as if they remembered not the injury. But afterwards, in circumstances not dissimilar, they endured one repulse only from the Amorite, who was not of the race of Abraham; and, by the command and aid of the Lord, they broke out in just revenge. Therefore, the Christian emperor would have acted more wisely if he had turned away from the emperor, who, though disobliging, was yet a Christian ; and had sought another passage into Syria, though with much labor and increase of expense: and the event which followed clearly showed this.

[4] The Greek emperor, however, saw that it was no slight act of hostility which had been committed against him by the Latins, and conjectured from this light taste of their ferocity, that worse might again happen, unless he took precautions; therefore, he made a treaty with our emperor, and granted the passage which was demanded: and he made satisfaction, according to justice, for the expenses of the delay which he had caused by having obstructed their passage. So the Latin emperor with his army passed through Constantinople and made a prosperous passage over the strait which is called "The arm of St. George."

[5] On his arrival in Asia Minor, part of which is under the government of Constantinople, while the sultan of Iconium presides over the rest, he soon became terrible to that sultan and the Turks by his mighty acts. Whence it came to pass that this sultan, although he was great and powerful, studied to break the force that threatened him, more by art than by making trial of their strength; and with crafty dissimulation he treated with the emperor about the adoption of the Christian faith; and, through the pious simplicity of the credulous Crusaders, he suspended their advance by frequent messengers and by long discussions. After the cunning of this Gentile had thus deluded our people by his tricks, the Christian army captured the city of Iconium, which was very large and very rich in plunder, which they seized. Soon after, by the arrangement of the emperor, the army was divided into two parts, and stationed in two camps, which were separated by a river that flowed between them. Having committed one division of the army to the command of his son, the duke of Swabia, the emperor devoted the whole of his solicitude to the other division; whereupon, suddenly, by the hidden judgment of God, a most lamentable accident (which no one could have apprehended) deprived the world of a man of much renown. The emperor desiring to visit and consult his son, who was stationed on the other side of the river, mounted his horse, with the intention of fording the stream with a few of his attendants; but he was dissuaded from his purpose by his companions, lest a man of his importance should rashly commit himself to an unknown current. Impelled, however, by fate, he did not obey; and forgetful of his imperial dignity, he spurred his horse, and it leaped forward into the gulf which seemed contemptible through its deceitful shallowness; and while his companions were looking on, but unable to assist him, he was drowned in a moment.

[6] Some, however, say that he went incautiously into the river in the hot weather, for the purpose of cooling himself or of bathing, and that he was suddenly swallowed up by the waves, which were ignorant of the respect due to imperial dignity. Whichsoever of these accounts be true, it is evident that in this petty stream the waters entered in even unto his soul. Oh, the extreme depth of the judgments of God! This man so great and who, by a kind of Divine fervor, had quitted the luxuries and opulence of empire and exposed himself to a thousand perils for Christ's sake -- even he was cut off by all unforeseen and pitiable accident. Nevertheless, so great and so conspicuous was his transgression that perhaps it could not be expiated amid the blandishments of empire; and therefore it became necessary (lest he should incur eternal punishment) that, by the merciful ordinance of the Divinity, he should be more severely chastened in the present life. For indeed, during the time of the venerable pope Alexander, he had been the principal supporter of a fatal schism; and by means of his imperial power, he was for a long time the disturber of the peace of the church. At length, however, openly yielding submission to the truth, he nevertheless did not sufficiently bewail his heinous crime amid the luxuries of a palace. Moreover, lest on this account he should suffer grievous torments after death, or rather that the poignant misfortune of a sudden decease should perfectly wipe away this baleful evil, I believe that this matter was effected through that singular devotion with which, for Christ's sake, he left his kingdom and encountered dangers of such magnitude.

[7] The Christian army was so confounded and grieved at the violent death of the emperor that, losing all their spirits, they seemed on the eve of becoming a prey to their savage adversaries; but taking courage in some degree, they manifested their attachment and obedience to the duke of Swabia, in place of his deceased parent. Taking with him the remains of his father (which, as it is said, were with difficulty found, and rescued from the waters, some days after this most unfortunate accident), he advanced with the army and encountered a host of difficulties and labors. Finally, this immense force, gradually worn down and diminished by battle and disease on its long and tedious march, at last so languished and fainted, through fatigue and want of supplies, that, without performing any memorable exploit, its wretched remains arrived at Palestine, with the above-mentioned duke. After the bones of his father had been buried at Tyre with due solemnity, he joined with all his retinue the Christian armament, which was then besieging Acre, where he shortly afterwards died of disease. Such a termination through the hidden counsels of God, experienced this famous expedition of the emperor of Germany.

Chapter 14:  Of the chancellor's insolence and pride after the king's departure     <to index>

[1] The course of our narrative must now return from the East to our Western clime, and relate the situation of England during the king's absence.

[2] When Richard was departing (as above mentioned) on his Eastern expedition, he had committed his functions in the administration of the kingdom, together with its sinews -- I mean the royal fortresses -- to his chancellor, the bishop of Ely. This prelate, who for audacity and artifice was almost without an equal, having transmitted a great sum of money to Rome, had petitioned also to become the representative of the papal see; and, by an entreaty of this kind, had easily obtained it. Craftily dissembling this circumstance, he called together the bishops and nobility of the kingdom, as though on business relative to the state; and showing them, unexpectedly, the instrument conferring the legation on him, proudly exhibited himself as the representative of the holy see; at which, though numbers were displeased, they were by no means able to resist it. Finally, in order that he might appear to have reached the summit of power and, from being equally conspicuous in state and church, might grieve the eyes of his rivals, he celebrated a general council of England, held in great consternation, at London, with equal pomp and vanity, under the pretext indeed of religion and the mask of ecclesiastical benefit, but, in fact, only for the display of his personal ostentation. This he did so much the more confidently and securely because, as there were then no metropolitans, he had less to fear from the rivalry or indignation of the bishops against him. For the see of York had been vacant for almost ten years, and the new archbishop of that see was resident abroad; and, from the impediments he threw in his way, was unable as yet to obtain convenient consecration. Again, the archbishop of Canterbury, who, by virtue of the prerogative of his see, was the pope's representative in England, had taken the cross of Christ under king Henry, and after the coronation of king Richard had, in pursuance of his vow, proceeded to the East, and arriving at Tyre, had there departed this life, previous to the arrival of the kings.

[3] Thus, the chancellor, every obstacle to his progress in matters too great and wonderful for him being removed, relying on his twofold power, legatine and royal, domineered with most consummate arrogance equally over the clergy and the people. And, as it is written of a certain person, that he used either hand for the right, so also did he, for the readier accomplishment of his designs, make use of either of these powers to supply the deficiency of the other. For, if his secular authority was ineffectual in compelling or restraining any of the powerful laity, he supplied the deficiency by the censure of apostolical coercion; but if, perchance, any of the clergy resisted his will, doubtless he overwhelmed such a one, vainly defending himself according to the canon, by the might of his secular arm. Nor was there any one who could hide himself from his indignation; for the secular must fear the rod or the sword of his apostolical authority; and the ecclesiastic could defend himself by no mode, nor find any shelter against his royal dignify. At length, proud of his power beyond all bounds, that the metropolitan churches, which as yet seemed to mock his authority, might feel his consequence, he proceeded to make himself an object of terror to both of them.

[4] First, he took his journey to York, to whose bishop-elect he was most inimically disposed, on his dispatching a mandate, with intimidations to the clergy of that church to meet him with due solemnity as legate of the holy see, they thought fit to appeal against him: still, however, he paid no deference to this appeal to a higher power, but gave the appellants the option either to comply with his commands, or else, as guilty of treason, to be confined in the king's prison. Owing to this intimidation, they obeyed; and, not even daring to whisper against him, they dissembled their sorrow, and allowed him, as if in triumph, all the honor and glory he required. The precentor of this church, however, had just before gone out of the way, that he might not be a spectator of what must shock his feelings. Having discovered this, and raging against that absentee as though he had been a rebel, he, in his implacable fury, robbed him of all his effects by the hands of his attendants. Having plundered the archbishopric and placed its revenues in the exchequer, this noble hero went his way; and soon after, as no one dared longer oppose him, he claimed an equal triumph over the church of Canterbury. Thus, having humiliated both the metropolitan sees, he made use of them at his pleasure.

[5] Finally, the laity at that time felt him to be a king, and more than a king in England -- the clergy, a pope and more than a pope; and, indeed, both of them an intolerable tyrant. For from the accession to his twofold power, he assumed a double tyranny; and abstaining only from his accomplices and associates, to all others he was alike unsparing, not merely through desire of money, but even from the pleasure of domineering. His pomp in almost everything exceeded that of a king. After the manner of Eastern princes, as if perpetually on the watch, he was desirous of having guards about his chamber. His progresses were attended by a thousand horse, and sometimes more; under pretence of his legation, he extorted entertainment from all the monasteries throughout England, and from such small ones its could not support the burden of his reception, he exacted a certain sum, that is to say, eight or five marks, with which they were to buy off the charge of his entertainment. As for the larger ones, he preyed upon them like a locust. The revenues of the bishopric of Ely are known to be indeed ample, but what was their amount to supply the immoderate profusion of its bishop? By the prodigality of his expenses, he exhausted not only the king's treasury, but also whatever he could scrape together from the kingdom, the monasteries, and the churches, by any means, whether by himself or his creatures. He had appointed rulers over every province, more for the purpose of destruction than protection; the most abandoned ministers of his rapacity, who would spare neither clergy, nor layman, nor monk, nor show any regard to them if it interfered with the advantage of the chancellor: for so he was called, though he was a bishop; but of a truth, there was little or nothing of the bishop in him; whereas, as chancellor, he was notorious and terrible throughout all England.

[6] Moreover, he directed that the rulers of provinces, in order to overawe the inhabitants, should, under pretence of public security, as if to repel or check the audacity of robbers, have under their command armed bands of savage barbarians, continually on the scent, by whose lawless and unrestrained violence innumerable outrages and enormities were committed in the different counties. And truly, as he could not trust himself to the nobility of the realm, who execrated his insolence and pride, he was careful to get over to his party numbers of powerful and noble persons, by uniting them in marriage to his female relations. For what man of quality was there at that time unmarried, or desirous of procuring a wife for his son or nephew, who would not with open arms accept the offer of one of the chancellor's relations (of whom he had brought over from Normandy multitudes for this purpose), and anxiously for an honorable alliance, under the hope of high advancement? When, therefore, by these means, he had allied to himself many of the nobility and had subdued others by intimidation, or soothed them by artifice and assiduity, his only object of dread was John, the king's brother, as he was far more powerful than the others, and expected to become the successor to the kingdom, should the king, perchance, not survive his laborious and perilous undertaking; for his return was not uncertain, but from very probable causes was hardly to be expected.

[7] Lastly, lest from the likelihood of the king dying abroad and John succeeding in due course, his own power should cease, he determined, it is said, to have recourse to artifice, in order that John, though of age, should not succeed his brother, but that he might lengthen out the period of his authority by introducing a successor of tender age. Wherefore, dispatching his two brothers to the king of Scotland, he requested that he would unite with him in firmest league to set Arthur the Breton, Richard's grand-nephew, over the kingdom of England; more especially as the succession of the realm most rightfully belonged to him, as being the son of Geoffrey, the king's elder brother; protesting that the king, in letters transmitted to him from Marseilles or Sicily, had designated Arthur, his nephew, as successor to the kingdom, in case he himself should not return; and that he had commanded that the kingdom should be reserved for him (he being now little more than five years of age) until he came to man's estate. This secret, however, though only agitated in secret whispers, between these two powerful personages, was not long concealed from John. Dissembling the indignation which he had conceived with wary caution for a time, he busied himself in prudently gaining over to his party all whom he could influence, and in eluding artifice by artifice.

Chapter 15:  The reasons why the king sent the archbishop of Rouen from Sicily into England     <to index>

While such things were taking place in England through the overbearing insolence of an individual, a full account of them, through the faithful relation of various persons, reached the ears of the king, during his winter's residence in Sicily; upon which he immediately dispatched into England Walter, archbishop of Rouen, a man of prudence and modesty, who was wintering with him; appointing him, by the authority of a royal instrument, the associate and colleague of the chancellor in the management of everything, and strictly commanding him that, in this administration, nothing should be transacted without his concurrence. He also sent with him Hugh, surnamed Bardulf, a discreet and distinguished man, to be governor of the province of York, which the chancellor's brother was ravaging in a barbarous manner. Nevertheless, the chancellor, in the plenitude of his own confidence, set the royal mandate at defiance, alleging that he was best acquainted with the king's intentions, to which he ought to pay more regard than to sounds devoid of sense, that is, letters surreptitiously obtained. And when the archbishop alluded to a meditated journey to Canterbury, to fill up the vacancy in that church, as he had been instructed by the king, the chancellor, already aspiring to the honor of that see, quickly divested him of his solicitude in this respect, furiously threatening that he should quickly repent his presumption, should he even attempt to go thither. In consequence of this, the archbishop of Rouen continued in England without employment. The chancellor, however, not enduring a colleague in the management of the realm, devoured the kingdom like a ravenous wild beast. This most audacious man, however, did not long exercise his tyranny unmolested; for difficulties gradually sprung up around him, chiefly through the contrivance and instigation of John, the king's brother, from the causes before mentioned; but the origin of the first commotion against him was as follows.

Chapter 16:  On what account John, the king's brother, opposed the chancellor     <to index>

[1] Gerard de Camville, a wealthy nobleman, had purchased from the king at a great price the custody of the castle of Lincoln, which belonged to his wife by hereditary right, and had also bought the government of the adjacent province for a certain period. But while the king was occupied in his Eastern expedition, and hardly any one expected his return, the chancellor having nearly the whole of the royal fortresses throughout England in his power, was anxious also to have the castle of Lincoln at his disposal. So, framing a reason, real or pretended, he first despoiled the aforesaid Gerard of his government, and shortly after commanded him to resign the fortress. Pressed by this emergency, he proceeded to John and, relying on his favor, set the order at defiance. The chancellor, indignant and purposing to besiege the castle, hastily collected an army from his surrounding provinces; but as he suspected many of the nobility, and justly conjectured that they were more inclined towards John, he sent for a foreign force, which was allured by the greatness of his pay. Their arrival, however, was not awaited by this man, furious and impatient of delay; for, entering the city of Lincoln with vast forces, he obstinately laid siege to the castle, and employed vast labor and expense in the rapid formation of engines.

[2] While he was thus engaged in carrying on the siege, John, with his party, suddenly made an attack on the royal fortresses of Nottingham and Tykehill; and finding them slenderly supplied with men and victuals, he carried them at the end of two days. With increased confidence, he then told the haughty opponent that he must either raise the siege and depart, or otherwise be fully prepared to receive his attack immediately. The chancellor, aware that many of the nobility who were apparently on his side favored John in their hearts, retreated with confusion, and learnt, after a few days, that one of his horns was broken off, that is, that his legatine office was at an end by the death of the Roman pontiff. Alarmed at this, through the mediation of his friends, he held a solemn conference with John and made peace with him on what terms he could. Soon after, however, learning that the foreign armament, which he had sent for, had landed in England and was approaching, he resumed courage, and broke the treaty, protesting that either himself or John must be ousted from England; implying that, such a limited space was all too small to contain two men so great and so aspiring. At length, however, peace was concluded between them on new conditions; for (as it is said) he satisfied John by abandoning Arthur's interest, and gave security to restore the royal fortresses to John, as the rightful heir, if perchance the king should not return from abroad. After these transactions, John remained quiet for a time; but the chancellor, proceeding with his accustomed pride, did not lay aside the tyrant: for, like another Herod, he feared John alone, and hearing him did many things unwillingly, though it was evident that he heard him with awe.

Chapter 17:  Of the capture of the archbishop of York, and the expulsion of the chancellor     <to index>

[1] In the meantime, Geoffrey, archbishop-elect of York, resided abroad and, reversing the established order of things, previous to pontifical consecration, he asked and received the metropolitical ensign, that is, the pall from the Roman pontiff. Moreover, after receiving the pall, his consecration was delayed for a considerable time, as a number of his enemies, and principally the chancellor aforesaid, impeded him by various objections. Nevertheless, through the perseverance of his chaplain, Simon the Apulian, a man of prudence and learning, he carried his point at last; and obtaining a bull from pope Celestine, who had succeeded Clement, to the archbishop of Tours, to consecrate him, if no appeal or other impediment should interpose, he was formally consecrated at Tours, in the month of August, in the year one thousand one hundred and ninety-one from the delivery of the Virgin. When this was known by his capital enemy, the chancellor, he presently, in a tyrannical manner, invaded the possessions of the archbishop of York by means of his satellites; and, with the exception of what could not be carried away, this daring pilferer, or rather plunderer, swept off the rest. He also commanded the seaports to be carefully guarded, that the archbishop might not enter England without molestation or have access to his church: but he, nevertheless, approaching boldly, landed at Dover, where however he encountered a greater storm on shore than he had experienced at sea. For the governor of Dover castle, who had married the chancellor's sister, forbade his proceeding further after he had landed, and apprized the chancellor of his arrival with the greatest possible dispatch. By no means dissembling the fury of his irritated mind, he ordered the archbishop to be stripped of everything, to be dragged from the monastery of Dover, where he had taken up his temporary residence and to be confined in the castle. When the officers dispatched by the tyrant arrived, they plundered his carriages, baggage, and whatever else belonged either to him or to his chaplains; and finding him in the church, they paid neither reverence to his illustrious rank, nor to the sanctity of the place; but violently tearing him from the holy altar, and ignominiously dragging him from the building, together with his chaplains, they shut him up in the castle, and truly made him a prisoner.

[2] The report of this enormity, spreading rapidly, and flying, as it were, upon the wings of the wind, in a short time was prevalent throughout all England. The nobility were indignant with the chancellor, the commonalty execrated him, and all united in detestation of the tyrant. John was grievously concerned at the captivity of his brother, and was inflamed (and most justifiably) with desire, not only for his liberation, but also to avenge him. In consequence, he made ready for this purpose, by hastily collecting troops from every district which belonged to him, as well as a considerable number from Wales. These were soon after joined by the bishop of Winchester, very many barons, some earls, and a copious armament. Nor were the bishops of Bath and Chester wanting in this business, who but a little before had been the principal associates and supporters of the chancellor; but, offended with his overbearing manners and inordinate pride, together with, or rather before others, they raged against him both in speech and in action.

[3] The chancellor, however, urged at last by vexation for having kindled such a flame against himself, through his intemperate conduct, ordered the captive prelate to be released. On his liberation he came to London, and received a compensation for the injurious outrage committed upon him in the abundant kindness and good offices of various persons; but the indignation which his detention had excited in the minds of the prelates and nobility could not be proportionally allayed by his liberation; for their spirits once roused were not to be tranquilized by this kind of satisfaction; but the wishes and inclinations of all united in laudable perseverance to break the horns of this rhinoceros. The chancellor, being of sturdy and inflexible spirit and forced to activity by pressing necessity, surrounded his person with an army of friends and foreign soldiers and made a stand in a plain, not far from Windsor, ready to receive the enemy, if, perchance, they should think proper to advance. Alarmed, however, and terrified at the number and confidence of the approaching army, he began to retreat. Soon after, some of the nobility, who appeared to be on his side, going over to John's party, although he might have found a safe place of retreat in the adjacent royal fortress of Windsor, yet, being harassed, and not knowing what to do, and pressed by the enemy on the rear, he fled with his whole party to London. Here entering the city, he humbly entreated the citizens -- to whom but a little before he had been an object of dread -- not to desert him in this emergency; but remembering his former arrogance and brutality, they manifested their favor to John in preference. Disappointed, therefore, in his hopes, he did all that remained for him to do, and took shelter from the face of the approaching foe in the royal Tower with all his adherents, who were so numerous, that, within the confined space of a single fortress, their own multitude was far more prejudicial to them than the valor of the indignant enemy without. The interior of the Tower rocked with the pressure of the pent-up mass, soon to disgorge those whom it had taken in to betray, rather than to defend. At length, after one night, he, who was just before a rhinoceros, but now a man again, went out to John and the other assailants, and by his humble address obtained leave for the besieged to depart. As for himself, after having given up the Tower, as well as the other royal fortresses throughout England, he proceeded to Dover, degraded and disgraced, to the husband of his sister.

[4] Here, then, might be contemplated a man, who, a little before, not content with human greatness, but almost thinking to exalt his throne above the stars of heaven and to ascend beyond the clouds, bore the disgrace of his overthrow in such a manner that even Sicilian tyrants could not find a greater torment than a mind like his. Being a bishop, he ought to have retired to the management of his own cathedral, had his disgrace produced in him a sober understanding; yet, on the contrary, after remaining some time at Dover, he was anxious to go abroad, as if unable to endure his degradation in England, or certainly for the sake of more freely planning his schemes of vengeance in another country. Fearing, however, that he should be arrested, he discovered a stratagem of exquisite art, whereby to elude every obstacle. Having long since put off the episcopal character, both in mind and merit, he divested himself of the habit also; and, after the custom of the effeminate, he adapted most disgracefully to his limbs, which were not only those of a man, but even of a bishop, a female dress, a thing never before heard of; and covering his head and the greater part of his face with a veil, he walked about amidst the multitude on the shore, like a delicate woman, having a roll of linen under his left arm, as if for sale, and in his right carrying a measure, thinking that through this disguise he should escape all observation, and that there would be no obstacle to his embarkation with the rest of the passengers. But being accidentally recognized and exposed, the veil was torn off, and he was beaten by the surrounding mob as a detected cheat, in a very ignominious and unepiscopal manner. Afterwards, he was brought before the magistrate of the place, and detained until it should be known what steps the nobility of the realm would take in this affair.

[5] On learning what had happened, John exulted with the feelings of an enemy, and was anxious to substantiate some charge for his further degradation; but the prelates, justly ashamed that the person of a bishop should have encountered such a disgrace, labored with ecclesiastical energy for his release. He was, therefore, released; and outwardly dissembling, as far as he was able, his inward agony, he went abroad.

Chapter 18:  Of the settlement of the kingdom after the chancellor's expulsion, and his fruitless attempts    <to index>

[1] On the expulsion of the tyrant, who had caused the disturbances in the kingdom, the bishops and nobles, together with John, assembled at London and began to deliberate on the settlement of the kingdom. First of all, having sworn fidelity to king Richard (who, for Christ's sake, was on a foreign expedition), they delivered the management of the kingdom, by common consent, to the archbishop of Rouen, the person whom the king had dispatched from Sicily to England for this very purpose; and having removed the officers of the late tyrant, they determined on the better government of the province. Then England received peace in all her borders and began under her new masters to be properly governed; since many of the evils which had sprung up and flourished under the tyrant were cast forth with him, according to the saying of Solomon, "Cast forth the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease" [Proverbs 22:10]. Moreover, the persons, by whose laudable activity this security had been obtained for England, not ignorant of that man's artifices, and that he would take care to be beforehand and inflame the king, though so far distant, with lies prepared for his purpose, deemed it necessary to declare the whole truth of these circumstances to Richard by letters, attested by the seals of many persons.

[2] Again, it seemed fit to the archbishop of Rouen, who was the principal manager, and the bishops of the realm, that a pastor should be quickly provided for the vacant primacy (to which the tyrant had aspired, and perhaps did still aspire), in order that his hopes should be disappointed. The chapter of Canterbury being summoned, according to custom, to elect their future metropolitan, solemnly chose the bishop of Bath -- but, in a short time, even before he was enthroned, he departed this life, and by his decease revived the dying hopes of the chancellor. Being now resident abroad, he poured his lamentations into the ears of pope Celestine, through his emissaries, to the injury and disgrace of the king, who was in pilgrimage on account of Christ; he bewailed his own expulsion, and John's invasion of the kingdom; and being re-appointed legate of the holy see, as he had been under pope Clement, he obtained a most formidable bull for the coercion of John, and the restoration of England to its former state. This document, however, was eluded by the caution of the bishops of England and it failed of its effects. Thus, discovering that while John was adverse to him, nothing could be done, through means of secret messengers he tampered with him; and gaining his favor, either by the actual payment or promise of a large sum of money, he came confidently over to England.

[3] Landing at Dover, as soon as he touched the shore which he had such fatal cause to remember, as though to wipe off the disgrace which he had there incurred, he displayed the ensigns of his legation, and shone forth conspicuously. Still, he proceeded no further, but took up his residence with his brother-in-law, until he could learn whether his enemies, swayed either by regal or apostolical dread, would receive him; as he had now appeased John, the most formidable of them all. For this cause he dispatched messengers to London, and letters to the queen (the king's mother), who had lately come from Sicily, and was then accidentally resident at London with the archbishops of Rouen and York, and her son John, and many others, bishops as well as nobles. But here he found matters otherwise than he hoped. For when John dissembled with all possible caution his collusion with him, the truth was discovered from his irresolute conduct; and having been reproached for it by his mother and the rest, he yielded at length, and subscribed to the general decree. In consequence, the whole of them, together with the queen, sending men of influence to the chancellor, commanded him with threats quickly to depart from the shores of England, for he was the disturber of the kingdom, and a public foe. At length, terrified and confounded, he retired and held his peace, groaning until a proper season.

[4] But since, in our late narration, we have been relating how the affairs of England stood during the king's pilgrimage abroad, we now come to particularize the events of his foreign expedition, as we have beard them from those who were present.

Chapter 19:  Of the progress of the kings from Sicily, and the difficulties of the Christian army at Acre    <to index>

[1] While the illustrious kings of France and England were wintering in the island of Sicily, with the intention of pursuing their journey in the spring, queen Eleanor (forgetful of her advanced age and thinking nothing either of the length or difficulty of the undertaking, or the severity of the winter, when led on, or rather forcibly attracted by maternal affection) came from the extremity of the earth to her son in Sicily, bringing with her, as his destined wife, the daughter of the king of Navarre, a lady of distinguished beauty and modesty. It appeared to be quite as idle as unusual to think of pleasure amid warlike preparations, and shortly after to take with him to the wars the wife he had espoused. Still, this circumstance was palliated in a youthful prince, not only on the score of utility, but also of prudence. For, even at such a juncture, when he had no son to succeed him, it was useful to provide issue; and as he was frail by reason of his time of life, and his luxurious mode of living, and exposed to danger for the sake of Christ, he was wise in adopting such counsel as furnished him with a competent remedy against the crying sin of fornication. So he married the princess who came with his mother, purposing that she should accompany him amid the perils of the ocean, and of the battle, together with his own sister, a noble widow, the widow of the illustrious William, formerly king of Sicily. She had sold absolutely to king Tancred the very ample property of her noble husband, which she possessed in Sicily or Calabria, under the title of dower, in order that she might accompany her brother, and had, by these means, vastly increased his treasures.

[2] At length, the long-expected month of March arrived: the sea was calm, the sky serene. A vast concourse of Christians, who had left their homes ere winter began and passed that season in different provinces, purposing to proceed into Syria, now embarked with joy and alacrity. The aforesaid kings also weighed anchor with their forces -- the king of France preceding the king of England, who designed to follow him in a few days. He arrived, after a prosperous voyage, in Syria, about the octaves of Easter [April 1] and, with all his troops, joined the Christian army, which (as it has been said above) had now for nearly the space of two years laid siege to the city of Ptolemais. The spirit of this army, which was employed on a matter of such importance, and for so long a time had been exposed to the open air, was as laudable as astonishing, as well as its perseverance. It was blunted neither by accident, nor peril, nor inconveniences, nor labors, from driving their most atrocious enemies to the destruction they deserved.

[3] This city, which had formerly been advanced by the Christians to the highest pitch of celebrity and was of considerable strength, after it had fallen into the hands of the most impious Saladin (in which, in proportion as his efforts were small, so much more manifest was the judgment of God), had many additional and stronger walls erected for its defense at the prudent and lavish expense of the same tyrant, as though it was to receive the first attack of the Christians. All its defenders were chosen men, and there was not a cowardly or feeble person within it; and if it happened that any one was incapacitated for service, he was immediately changed. On account of the harbor, which lay close to the city, being possessed by the Pagans, the assailing Christians could not prevent them from getting every necessary supply, by seizing the opportunity of favorable winds and seasons. The besiegers exhausted their art and money in vain in the formation of different kinds of engines; for when advanced to the walls, they were consumed by the enemy by a species of fire which is called Greek. Fire of this composition is said to be of singular power, and not even to yield to the opposing element of water. Again, the city possessed abundant supplies, while frequently our army suffered from extreme want; for our people, in consequence of the Turkish army keeping perpetual watch, and preventing all egress, were unable to make excursions into the adjacent region, for the sake of obtaining forage and sustenance for the army. This extensive Christian force, therefore, was supported solely by supplies brought by sea; and when these, through any accident, became scarce, it wasted away with the pangs of hunger. So great a number perished daily, through want or disease, that the army sensibly diminished, and appeared as though it must shortly be totally consumed. Still, by God's providence, the multitude was not even moderately lessened, though subjected to such a considerable daily diminution; for even greater numbers than those, who every day were taken to eternal rest from their labor in Christ's service, came out of the Christian districts, and Christ, by calling away the veterans, so renovated His army by a fresh supply of soldiers, that the gain exceeded the loss.

[4] Moreover, certain domestic evils, at the suggestion of the devil, were serviceable to the enemy, in proportion to their increase among our party. For Guy, formerly king of Jerusalem, and the marquis of Mont Ferrat, disagreeing from the cause before mentioned, had joined the army, and settled themselves in places distinct from each other, as divided, indeed, in place as in inclination. Even during the heat of the siege they had drawn many followers after them; insomuch, that while many of the chiefs espoused different sides, the holy order of Hospitallers of Jerusalem became split into two parties according to their several feelings. From this opposition among the leaders the army became less effective, and the Christian cause made but little progress. Again, it is said that the infection of avarice had tainted some of our princes, sums of money being clandestinely sent to them by Saladin, to tempt them to relax their efforts at the time when they would have been most efficient.

[5] Such causes, therefore, combined in operating against the design in view; our army exhausted its efforts in vain for a considerable time in attempting the subjugation of this city. But the king of France, arriving with a fresh supply, increased the confidence of the desponding; and after that time they applied to the business with greater energy and exertion. At length, the king of France zealously favoring the marquis, and declaring more that the person who had saved only a remnant was preferable, in point of governing the Christian state, to him who had destroyed it, for a time weakened the party who adhered to Guy.

Chapter 20:  By what means the king of England obtained possession of the island of Cyprus     <to index>

[1] The king of England having continued some days in Sicily after the departure of the king of France, at length trusted himself with his forces, and a far greater retinue, to the deceitful winds, having in his company a great number of galleys, as well as ships of burden; for he had not been indolent during his winter sojourn, but had employed that leisure season in collecting the necessary supplies for his army, and in completing engines for the war. By the predeterminate provision of God, however, as it afterwards appeared, a sudden tempest drove the shattered fleet on the island of Cyprus, as if that it might be reassembled by the faithful and safe hospitality of its Christian inhabitants and be soothed by their attentions.

[2] But they encountered a greater tempest in the port which they had wished for, than on the raging ocean; for the tyrant who had now for many years oppressed this island with his barbarous sway, and had there usurped the title of emperor, being in league with Saladin, the enemy of the Christian race, and, though called a Christian, more faithful to him than to Christ, hastened forward with his army; and seizing the first who came into port, more cruel than the waves which had driven them thither, he treated them with barbarity; and when he had despoiled them of all their effects, he hardly deemed them worthy of life. Some also he shut up in prison, to be consumed by hunger; threatening, with terrific voice, to treat the king, who was shortly expected, in the same manner. Aware of this circumstance, and justly roused to vengeance, he entered the harbor with all his fleet. The tyrant was ready to receive him, and the battle began with fury on either side. The Greek effeminacy, however, could not long withstand the impetuosity of the Latins. The tyrant was overcome and, while attempting to fly, fell into the hands of the enemy; his army was dispersed and the city adjoining the port was taken. The king at first was inclined to treat the tyrant with lenity; and on his promising whatever might be demanded for his release, he entered into covenant with him, and gave him his liberty; but when set at liberty he violated the treaty and added perfidy to his former atrocities. Repenting of his ill-timed clemency, the king determined on seeking out and hunting down the renegade. He in vain attempted to collect his force and assemble his army, and fled from the face of his pursuer; but, at length, he was found by the king in a certain monastery, where he lay concealed, for he was betrayed by some of the islanders, by whom he was deservedly hated; and then he was seized, and confined with the chains which he so richly deserved. When orders were given to put fetters on him, he is reported to have said, that if bound with iron chains he should expire. To which the king replied, "He speaks well; and as he is of noble race, I do not wish him to die; but, however, that he may live without doing mischief, let him be bound in silver chains."

[3] Soon after, the whole island, harassed by his barbarous conduct, voluntarily submitted to the rule and service of king Richard, resigning to him all the cities and fortresses, as well as the tyrant's ample treasures, together with his only daughter. Having prosperously concluded the affair, he celebrated with great pomp this conquest, with his victorious troops, during several days in his newly-acquired kingdom; carefully devoting these magnificent spoils to the furtherance of the Christian expedition.

[4] These matters were not concealed from the Christian army which was besieging Ptolemais and which anxiously awaited his arrival; but the report of his glorious enterprise, which demanded congratulation rather than blame, excused his unavoidable delay. Continuing, however, rather more than two months in Cyprus and arranging matters of great importance in so short a period, he summoned his high-spirited forces to embark for Syria. Therefore, having put the island into that fitting state which his inclinations and the nature of the case required, and having properly settled all things, he went out of the harbor with favoring winds; and, as he was hastening in a straight course for Ptolemais, he espied, at a distance, a vessel of very great burden, which had been dispatched by Saladin to carry copious supplies to the besieged of that city. On finding this to be the case, he ordered her to be attacked. But when, on account of the enormous magnitude and the valor or her crew -- who fought, as it were, from a lofty citadel -- she could not easily be taken, a quick mode of conquering her was sought by the king's command, though with the loss of her cargo; for, by a certain contrivance, she was bored through under water. Thus, the sea having been secretly let in through the apertures, she gradually subsided with the weight and at length sunk to the bottom, with all her lading; the whole cargo was thus lost, with part of her crew -- the remainder, by leaping on board the enemies' ships, wisely preferred trusting themselves to the foe, rather than the deep -- the royal fleet, also, with safety and with exultation, reached the wished-for shore.

Chapter 21:  Of the causes of the difference which arose between the kings at Acre     <to index>

[1] The illustrious king of England, departing from Cyprus, after Pentecost [13 May], landed a few days before the festival of St. John the Baptist [24 June], with all his forces at Ptolemais (now commonly called Acre), and there he was received by all the chiefs and the whole army with a degree of joy proportionable to the anxiety with which he bad been looked for. His surpassing glory, however, had already begun to vex the king of France, and he could with difficulty conceal the venomous workings of his soul on beholding himself far inferior in strength and resources; while Richard, from the extent of his force and wealth and the celebrity of his successes, was proudly conspicuous above him, and more favorably regarded by the army; and whatever was now to be carried into effect, seemed to be only awaiting his pleasure.

[2] "Lord Jesus, sower of good, didst Thou not sow good seed in the hearts of these two princes, as in thine own field? Whence, then, had that field of thine tares so soon? Surely an enemy hath done this -- the enemy of mankind, envious of the zealous purpose of the Christian people and desirous of frustrating such great labors undertaken in Thy service. The good seed of holy fervency, which Thine hand had sowed in the hearts of princes, to make them for Thy sake relinquish the most opulent kingdom, and exchange on Thine account the luxuries of a palace for labors and perils, have been overpowered by the pestilential tares of rivalry and contention, by which such good seed, and sown by a hand so good, might be rendered barren and unfruitful. Thou Lord, indeed, justly hast permitted this; but the cause of such permission rests with Thee!"

[3] Therefore (as it has been premised), when the king of England, nobly triumphant, had joined the siege from Cyprus, presently the seeds of dissension manifestly sprung up, at the instigation of the devil, between him and the king of France, who was already sore at his successes. For the king of France, according to the tenor of the covenant solemnly ratified between them, previous to their entrance on the expedition, namely, that they would equally divide all their acquisitions, demanded a moiety of the profits of Cyprus, as well in things immovable as moveable, as belonging to himself by manifest right. To this the king of England rejoined that a moiety of all things which they might acquire by their joint efforts belonged to him by virtue of their treaty; but that as he had gained Cyprus by his own exertions, he ought not to require that, in the acquisition of which he had not expended the slightest degree of labor. To this he added, that when they undertook this expedition, their only design was to attack the Saracens and, by God's assistance, to wrest from them as much as possible; and in pursuance of such an intention was the treaty of division formed; moreover, that he had not gone to a Christian island intentionally, but had accidentally turned aside thither for the purpose of avenging an atrocious and flagrant outrage. In this manner these two potentates differed; and, indeed, the king of England altogether refused the king of France a share of the booty he had taken; while the king of France accused the king of England of violating the treaty, and breaking the covenant.

[4] Again, another cause of dissension arose between them. The king of France arriving first at the siege, as it has been stated, had assisted with a greater share of his influence Conrad the marquis, against Guy, formerly king of Jerusalem; and when, after his unavoidable delay in Cyprus, the king of England at length arrived, the king of France endeavored to bring him over to his sentiments alleging that the preserver of even the trifling remains of the Christian nation was preferable to the destroyer of the Christian kingdom. The king of England, however, more inclined to Guy's party, as he was an Aquitanian, whose whole kindred were in the service of the king of England, did not accede to this proposal. And he further alleged, in his defense, that he had lost, not betrayed, the Christian ream; for that he had not abandoned it to the enemy, either through his own fault, or negligence, or inactivity; but that others shamefully betraying it, he had lost it without blame on his part; being himself both betrayed and ruined, together with his kingdom, and most nefariously delivered over by his own people into the hands of the enemy; but, through God's favor, he was liberated. Either, therefore, let his guilt in this respect be made manifest, or else let the dignity be continued to him which he did not deserve to lose.

[5] The king of France was much hurt that his sentiments were not approved by the king of England and that by this means they were even shaken; and at that time, as he could not effect his purpose, he continued silent for a season. This dissension, however, fomented greater strife and hatred; and when the party of Guy seemed to prevail through the favor of the king of England, the marquis Conrad, fearing the king's power, returned with his adherents to Tyre. And now, truly, after the arrival of the king of England, the Christian army prevailed against the blockaded city and within thirty days nobly completed a work of such long continuance, and such difficulty; and this was accomplished principally through the zealous and powerful exertions of king Richard.

Chapter 22:  Of the storming of Acre, and the premature departure of the king of France     <to index>

[1] The celebrated city of Ptolemais, now called Acre, after having employed the assailing Christians with vast and continual labor, was at length carried by storm in the one thousand one hundred and ninety-first year from the delivery of the Virgin, on the fourth of the ides of July [12 July] and in the fourth year after it had fallen into the hands of the Turks. At the last its truly valiant defenders, when its walls were giving way to the engines of the Christians and they saw the enemy on the eve of storming it, provided for their personal security, which was all they could do, and covenanted with our princes for the safety of their lives; promising that the life-bestowing cross should be honorably restored, and accompanied by fifteen hundred Christian captives and a large sum of money. To this emergency of his people, Saladin (who was not far distant with a numerous army, but was unable to assist them) gave his sanction; and to carry these stipulations into effect, a certain day was appointed with the Christians. In consequence, the city being immediately surrendered, the Christian army entered it with joy and solemn thanksgiving -- a vast store of arms and goods of various kinds were found in the place, an abundance of provisions, and some treasure; but the persons who had for a long time bravely defended the place, and at last had reluctantly given it up, were detained in expectation of the day appointed by Saladin.

[2] At this juncture the king of France, branding himself with the stigma of cowardice in the hour of battle, determined to return to his own country; openly alleging the inconvenience which he experienced from the heat, and his inability to breathe the atmosphere of that country. This measure was extremely disagreeable to the Christian army generally, and seemed unbecoming the character of so great a prince, more especially as many persons interpreted his departure in a different manner, and, probably, more consistently with truth. Moreover, Philip, the illustrious count of Flanders, who, with other faithful Christians, had joined the expedition into Syria, had there ended the labors of his pious warfare a little before the capture of the city; and as the king appeared to covet the possessions of Flanders thus vacated, it was believed that he falsely condemned the unhealthiness of a foreign atmosphere, in order that he might have a decent pretext for his departure. It was also asserted that he could not, without an evil eye and galled mind, behold the resplendent glory of the king of England, whose power, from the great insufficiency of his means, he was incapable of equaling; more especially as all that had been already done was principally ascribed to him; and from this he came to the conclusion that whatever should be achieved in future by the Christian army in the East would rather be attributed to Richard, as the more powerful, than to himself. So, though he was not ignorant of what people both thought and said of him, still, nevertheless, he obstinately prepared for his departure. The king of England, however, on account of their recent disagreement, distrusting his good intentions, demanded and received from him a security on oath, in the presence of persons of honor, as it is said, to the effect that he would abstain from injuring his territories or subjects until his return.

[3] Thus the noble king of France, prematurely leaving the Christian army, though he had lately joined it, took ship and departed within fifteen days after the capture of the city, to the great disgrace of his French subjects. Very many of them, indeed, who were unwilling to forsake him, departed with him; but the duke of Burgundy, the count of Champagne, and those of the highest rank, from a consideration of their own character and feelings, or else to wipe off the disgrace of their liege lord, resolved to continue in the Holy Land and to employ themselves in this sacred service for a season longer. And, indeed, it is said, that on his departure he commanded these persons to support the marquis's party and, as often as opportunity should present itself, to thwart the king of England; and this command they certainly carried into effect afterwards, either out of regard to the royal mandate, or through their own petulance and malignity. On this account the Christian enterprise was less able to prosper, while the Christians acted with so little sincerity and concord.

[4] After the king had departed from Ptolemais, and by favorable gales had reached Italy, he went to the Roman pontiff, and (as it is said) with great importunity requested absolution from a certain oath by which he declared he was involuntarily bound. This subtle request was suspended for a short time by the still more subtle pontiff, who, being soon after informed of the whole transaction, by some persons who had arrived from Syria, observed, "From that oath which you swore to the king of England for the preservation of peace until his return, which, as a Christian prince, you ought to maintain without an oath, we by no means grant you absolution; but approving its rectitude and utility, we confirm it by our apostolical authority." Thus detected in his craft, and more straitly bound than he had come, he sought his country with dishonor: and it was commonly reported among the French, by certain inventors of falsehood, hereby thinking to palliate their king's return, that the king of England, by insidiously and wickedly seeking his life, had compelled him to depart prematurely, in opposition to his intention.

Chapter 23:  Of the transactions of our people in Syria after the departure of the king of France    <to index>

[1] The king of France having thus retired from Syria, as has been related, the king of England refreshed the harassed army   with necessary repose in the captured city; yet he was not indolent in this relaxation, for even then he was anxiously employed in repairing the wall, which had been battered by the engines. At length the day arrived, appointed by Saladin, in which were expected the resignation of the holy cross and the promised exchange of prisoners; but while he deluded our people with vain expectations, the king of England, fired with just zeal, as the covenant was not observed on the part of Saladin, ordered about two thousand six hundred of the captives to be beheaded, who, on the capture of the city, were detained under the terms of the agreement; for with prudent care he had reserved such as were more noble. At this measure the indignation of the Turks raged furiously against their king, that he should ungratefully and perfidiously expose to the devouring sword those chosen youths, who at their own peril had most strenuously labored for his sake. At length, the spirits of those who had charge of the fortresses were so worn down and broken, from fear of this example, that the tyrant, having no one to whom he could entrust his fortresses (as nearly all excused themselves on account of the late signal vengeance thus inflicted) ordered them, as if not knowing what measures to take, to be demolished. In consequence, fortifications, impregnable by any force or engine, were daily demolished and deserted throughout all the province.

[2] Indeed, after the departure of the king of France, the army of the Lord began by degrees to dwindle away; for many thousands of those who had come first to the siege of Ptolemais, having exhausted their substance, and being without resources for a longer continuance, determined, more through necessity than inclination, to return home. Numbers, also, though abounding in every necessary, departed, either enervated by the continuance of labor, the fear of danger, or the sole example of the king of France.

[3] At this time the king of England, opening his treasures, invited, by liberal rewards, many nobles and princes of the army to continue with their troops in the service of the Lord; such as by a long extended continuance had consumed the supplies which they had brought with them; and by disclosing their wants, reasonably proposed their return to their own country. Of this number was the duke of Austria, of the German empire, who afterwards (forgetful of so great a service, and too mindful of some petty injury) laid his wicked hands upon the king, whose stipendiary he had been, while on his return home, as will be shown in its place. The duke of Champagne also was of the number; who, from the renown of his surpassing valor, afterwards obtained the supremacy over the Christian conquests, as will be explained in due course.

[4] At length, the walls of the captured city being repaired and the army sufficiently refreshed, the king of England, in the month of September (for now nearly the whole army was completely under his command), determined to march to the other maritime cities. In consequence, the Christian troops proceeded with regularity and caution. A numerous Turkish force, under the conduct of Saladin, watched their march at no great distance, declining any hazardous issue of battle, but suddenly attacking their rear, and retreating after having gained an advantage; for they are a race of men of singular dexterity in annoyance, and accustomed to fight as much by subtlety as by force. Our army, therefore, after encountering considerable fatigue and danger, arrived at Caesarea, a noble metropolis when inhabited by the Christians, but at that time solitary and desolate from hostile devastations; and after a moderate rest here, it proceeded with spirit on its destined march; and when, as the vanguard had advanced and was taking a position at Assur, Saladin, watching an opportunity, attacked their rear with all his forces. But our troops, being drawn up quickly in four companies, bravely received the stock of the assailants, and through God's interference compelled them, with all their tremendous forces, to fly disgracefully; and upon that day, which was the seventh of the ides of September [7 Sept.], such a dreadful carnage was there made of the Turkish nobles as Saladin, it is said, during forty years preceding had never experienced in one day. Here fell of our party James de Aveniis, a man conspicuously eminent and, from his surpassing excellence, most justly dear to all the Christian army, of which he had been the noble pillar for several years, and from his zealous and resolute perseverance in his pious design had never, in the slightest degree, tarnished his reputation. His praiseworthy devotion was recompensed by Divine remuneration, for he died gloriously in the service of Almighty God; and as it is just to believe, he exchanged, by the agency of a short suffering, his temporal for eternal felicity. The king of England, as well as the whole army, lamented him extremely, as a veteran called away by the King of angels.

[5] Thence proceeding as far as Joppa, long since evacuated of its Christian inhabitants by barbarous incursions, and at that time left and abandoned by the enemy, on seeing the fitness of the place, Richard began to restore it with all his efforts; but Saladin, hearing that he proposed laying siege to Ascalon, suddenly demolished that most noble city, though far more strongly fortified than Ptolemais, which had occupied the Christian army for so long a period: so great was his dread of the Christian army after the recent havoc of his people, and so much had the late example of those who had fallen into the hands of the Christians at Ptolemais wrought upon the minds of the Turks. He also leveled to the ground the remaining cities and fortresses of that country, with the exception of the Holy City, and very few castles; and by sacrificing all its substance, he rendered the whole province useless to his enemies. Nor did he, for a long time, attempt any enterprise by open attack; but annoyed the enemy by stratagem and by perpetually concealing his artifices. Our party, too, after such a propitious commencement, could no longer effect anything great or memorable on account of the internal discord which consumed it: for the chiefs did not agree together, but differed with invidious rivalry; nor could they consult for the general good, as they adopted opposite measures, from the diversity of their sentiments. So Conrad the marquis, and the prince of that most noble and impregnable city of Tyre, in conjunction with the duke of Burgundy and the French nobility, their subject forces, opposed the king of England, who espoused the party of Guy, formerly king of Jerusalem; but the king, relying on his spirit and power, exasperated, by the ferocity of his indignant mind, those very persons whom he might, perhaps, have attached to him by mildness. In consequence of this, as our army was not unanimous, and differences prevailed, the business of this mighty expedition was brought to a stand, and made no progress whatever.

Chapter 24:  Of the assassination of the marquis Conrad    <to index>

[1] The contention between these two rivals after a shadowy kingdom, conducted with equal and unnecessary acrimony, after having excited numerous commotions in the army of the Lord, was at length laid to rest by the interposition of the common lot of all. For the queen of Jerusalem, who (as it has been before fully related) had most inauspiciously married the aforesaid Guy, by her death at length imposed silence on him, as his claim arose merely from his marriage with her. The marquis also, being infamously taken off by assassins, ceased to affect the kingdom. Two of these murderers, dispatched by some unknown evil-disposed person, had for a considerable time been in his service as soldiers, perpetually watching an opportunity for the commission of their crime, though even at their own peril. Having found this, when as his familiars they were near his person, they suddenly attacked him, and drawing out their concealed daggers, they dispatched this most illustrious man, in the midst of his own city, when he was attended by a smaller retinue than usual.

[2] It is reported that there is a certain race of men in the East living under the control of a powerful Saracen (whom they call the Old Man), who are subservient and so seducible to their own destruction, that lured and enticed by this man, whom they regard in the light of a prophet, by the most artful devices of fallacious promises, they believe they shall attain to eternal bliss after death if they obey his commands during their lifetime. This man, when either under apprehension or suffering any present attack from a powerful chief, sends assassins of this description suborned for his destruction to make away with his enemy. These persons, hastening with joy to death as to a solemn banquet, have no other ambition or object of pursuit, than to seize the opportunity for the perfect completion of their orders, exposing themselves to certain peril, and even dying in the assassination of their destined enemy. On account of these people, more especially, the Eastern princes defend themselves with a more watchful guard, and suffer none save their nearest relations to approach them, except when surrounded with their body-guards; but since these desperadoes have frequently, when not strictly watched, darted through the thickest guard to dispatch an illustrious victim, none of the potentates of that land ever forcibly demanded tribute or obedience from the Old Man, or presumed in any way whatever to disturb his quiet. The Templars alone, during the prosperity of the Christians in Syria, being condemners of death, dared to attack him, and compelled him to yield submission by treaty. For he knew that little was effected if by means of his emissaries he could dispatch any of the masters of that order, as they would immediately elect another, and would rage more bitterly for revenge for him whom they had lost.

[3] It is believed that they were persons of that most hateful race who, not fearing death in the attempt, assassinated the prince of Tyre, aforesaid, by artifice and hostility; for when seized and strictly examined by whose authority or instigation they had thus acted, being prepared and glad to die, they confessed nothing that could be relied on or believed. It is still unknown, therefore, who contrived a death of this kind for this most illustrious man; but on account of his recent dispute with the king of England, many persons were inclined to censure the king on this subject; and the French, who were on the marquis's side, were his principal defamers, and raised great obloquy against him, concerning the murder of this illustrious man, nearly throughout the whole of the Western world.

Chapter 25:  How the king of France attributed the death of the marquis to the king of England; and of the meeting at Paris    <to index>

[1] As soon as the accident which bad befallen the marquis became known to the king of France, he lamented the unworthy fate of his friend, but he joyfully seized the occasion to defame the king of England, which compensated for his grief; for although he was resident in his own territories, at such a distance from Syria, he either groundlessly feared Richard, who was then abiding in the East, or, rather in order to increase prejudice towards him, he pretended to be in fear of his attempts; and as if assassins suborned by him were on the watch, he never went abroad unless surrounded by an armed guard, contrary to the custom of his ancestors. So far was this carried, that it is reported that some persons who approached too near, from their accustomed familiarity, were in danger from their temerity; and when many persons wondered at this novelty in the king, in order that he might satisfy them on the subject and inflame his people against the king of England, he assembled a council of his prelates and nobility at Paris. Here he alleged many things against the king as facts and, among others, he asserted that he had most villainously dispatched that most illustrious man by cruel assassins; and he produced letters transmitted to him (as he said) by certain persons of consequence, wherein he was admonished to be most cautiously on his guard, knowing that the king of England had already dispatched persons from the East to lay plots for his life. "Wherefore," said he, "no one ought to wonder that I take more than usual care of myself, but still, if you think it unbecoming or superfluous, decide for its removal." He added also, that it was his earnest desire quickly to avenge the injuries which he himself had received from this manifest traitor.

[2] To these things many replied with adulation that what he had done for his personal safety, and what he had purposed doing for vengeance, were equally just and honorable: but the more prudent said, "The caution, O king, with which, perhaps, you over-carefully guard against uncertain accidents we do not blame; but we by no means approve your purpose of ill-timed vengeance. For even if those things be true which are said of the king of England, still we ought not to act with petulance and precipitation; but with due respect for what is honorable, let us wait for the return home of one who is in foreign lands for Christ's sake. If on his return he shall be able either to clear himself from his accusation or be inclined to make satisfaction for his delinquencies, well and good; but if not, then will be the time to seek vengeance, taking justice as your companion; but if our suggestion be not approved, let the Roman pontiff be consulted on these matters, and his decision, as is proper, be awaited, who hath sanctioned, under pain of a heavy censure, the abstinence from such things as belong to the present pilgrims." By such an address, these well-disposed persons, with the assistance of sober reason, repressed for a time his mad impetuosity from invading the territories of the absent king. Therefore he remained quiet for a season; but still, in this extorted rather than voluntary state of tranquillity, he desisted not from savage machinations against England and her king, by endeavoring artfully to rekindle the quarrel, long since extinguished, between the English and their ancient enemies the Danes. This truly malignant plot, however, by God's gracious interference, was not injurious to the English, though it stained its author with everlasting infamy. This matter is notorious; and, from the celebrity of the person, published throughout the world.

Chapter 26:  How the king of France married the sister of the king of Denmark, and how he repudiated her    <to index>

[1] So the king of France, sending persons of distinction to the king of Denmark, solemnly demanded in marriage his sister, a princess of most exemplary character. The king of Denmark received the ambassadors with great respect and willingly assented to their request, by the counsel of his nobility. "And what," said he, "does your lord require for dowry?" They replied, as they had been instructed: "The ancient right of the king of Denmark in the kingdom of England; and, to obtain this, the fleet and army of Denmark for a year." He rejoined, "Your king requests a difficult thing; but still I will consider whether it ought to be granted." When he had privately consulted the chiefs of his kingdom on this subject, they answered, "We have plenty of employment against the Pagans and Vandals, our near neighbors; shall we, therefore, neglecting them, commence hostilities against the English, an unoffending Christian nation, involving ourselves in twofold peril? For if we attack the English, we expose our territories to the most savage barbarians who are near to us; besides this, the English nation is great and valiant, and powerful in resources; and is deemed competent to defend both its safety and liberty against all external violence. Let the king of France, then, seek, if he will, some other grant under the title of dowry, since you, O king, ought not to procure an honorable alliance for your sister at the peril of your country."

[2] This sober advice met the king's approbation, and he ordered the ambassadors to declare if they had any other proposition to make; but they, on the failure of their primary request, asked for ten thousand marks of silver. To this the high-spirited king replied, "The king of France now makes a very small request indeed from the king of Denmark, considering the circumstances and persons: we graciously accede to it, and will quickly gratify his wishes." Then, having entered into treaty and received the oath of the ambassadors for the completion of the covenant, he delivered the lady to them, provided with the required sum; and also sent some distinguished persons of his court to attend her into France. The king of France met her at Amines, and there, when solemnly united to him by the nuptial tie, he took her to his bed.

[3] It is said that after one night only of nuptial intercourse, he put her away from him, though the cause of his dislike is not known; thus openly committing an act not only decidedly unlawful, but also highly unbecoming the royal character. Various causes, indeed, are assigned for this disgraceful levity. Some affirm that it was on account of her unpleasant breath; others, that he repudiated her from some secret infirmity, or because he did not find her a virgin. Surely, such causes as these are inadequate and insufficient to break the bonds of Christian wedlock. Still, though the ground of this precipitate divorce be unknown, yet is it well known that he who dug the pit fell into it: that is, he was that person, who (under the pretext of wedlock, impiously thirsted after the blood of an inoffensive and Christian nation) by the manifest judgment of God, reaped nothing but eternal disgrace from these nuptials. And in order that he might put a fair face on his foul conduct, and, at least, dissolve the contract of his nuptial league among men, which he was unable to do before God, he caused it to be insinuated, by crafty representations to the Roman pontiff, that, by some inadvertence, he had been married to his near relation, and demanded a release from his unlawful union. But the pope appointed judges from the kingdom of the complainant, and bound them by a strict oath, that in this business they would proceed according to the clear sense of the canon law. Nevertheless, these persons, unjustly favoring their sovereign, pronounced a divorce; the supposed affinity being sanctioned by the execrable perjury of two false bishops; that is to say, those of Beauvais and of Chartres. The perjured bishop of Beauvais, when afterwards delivered into the hands of the king of England, by the judgment of God, found him a very competent minister in the infliction of Divine vengeance. The bishop of Chartres, who, from his dissolute manners, has but little of the bishop about him, still survives, by the long-suffering of God, that he may compensate the delay of his punishment by its abundant measure. Thus, the king of France, legally freed, in the face of the church, from his detested marriage, soon after aspired to another union; which, however, he did not accomplish, as will be related in its place.

Chapter 27:  On what account it was that the archbishop of York hurled the sentence of excommunication against the bishop of Durham    <to index>

[1] About this time Geoffrey, archbishop of York, and Hugh, bishop of Durham, seeking their own too vehemently, and the things of Christ too negligently, fell at variance, to their great and grievous scandal: the one that he might be superior, the other that he might not be inferior, but neither that he might be profitable; for so much, indeed, has the pastoral credit decayed in our times, that even amid the shepherds of the church very rarely can one be found that understandeth or seeketh after God, while almost all seek after their own advantage.

[2] Some little time before this, when the fortune of the aforesaid Geoffrey, elect of York, was doubtful, Clement, the Roman pontiff, swayed by partiality, had exempted the bishop aforesaid, with all his dependents, from the jurisdiction of the archbishop of York; but his successor, Celestine, restoring the rights and dignities of the church of York, had nullified the exemption. Geoffrey, therefore, being consecrated at Tours, by mandate from the holy see, returned to his own diocese with metropolitan honor; and being desirous of triumphing over the bishop already mentioned, who had been hostile to him previous to his consecration, he instantly demanded canonical profession from him. When he was in nowise disposed to make this profession, according to custom, and endeavored to defend himself in it by the subterfuge of appeal, and the objection of certain irregular enactments, the archbishop too hastily, and more through personal anger than sober advice, pronounced sentence of excommunication against him. However, as the one openly despised and derided the appeal and the objections, so did the other the sentence. Shortly after, each of them dispatched their representatives, properly instructed, to the holy see: the one to confirm, the other to invalidate and nullify the sentence which had been promulgated. The archbishop, wishing to try the sincerity of the Romans, or rather deeming it sufficient that he had just before propitiated them with very profuse liberality in the business of his promotion, simply offered his petition; but the bishop, with more sagacity, thought it necessary to make his request as it is proper to make requests to the Romans; and, in consequence, gained exactly such weight for his cause as the extent of his promises warranted. So that, at length, not only was it decreed in favor of him, that the sentence was null, but also it was granted, either by way of soothing the injury he had received, or for the humiliation of his insulting adversary, that he should no longer be subject to him as his metropolitan. The bishop of Durham, thus exempted from the jurisdiction of a suspected power, displayed his victory with great pomp and vanity. Indeed, the archbishop, after his previous famed successes found this the beginning of sorrows, as the sequel will declare.

Chapter 28:  Why our party effected little in the East, and of the return of the crusaders    <to index>

[1] In the meanwhile, the Christian army, engaged in the service of the King of kings in Asia, was occupied in frequently enduring labors and perils. Still, however, the Christian cause made but little progress; as much on account of the dissensions and jealousies of the commanders (as has been said) as from various difficulties presenting themselves; as though God had not been propitious. Some advised that the Holy City, which was profaned by the infidels, should be approached and attacked with all possible energy. To others, from certain causes, this seemed impracticable. For the land which just before had been fertile and, as it were, the storehouse of plenty of every kind, was now reduced to a desert by the malignant and crafty management of Saladin, in order that the Christian army might not derive the least subsistence from it; in consequence of which, it could not undertake any great enterprise, at a distance from the sea, which alone supplied its exigencies by shipping. But the king of England, having wintered on the mountains, as he could do nothing more, began with earnest diligence and vast expense to repair the maritime cities, which the Turks had left after having destroyed them; and more especially Ascalon; while his rivals vilified him and circulated the basest rumors respecting him throughout nearly the whole of the Christian world.

[2] For instance, they affirmed that he had laid stratagems for the king of France; that he had iniquitously murdered that most truly Christian man, the marquis Conrad, by assassins; that he had most basely connived with Saladin for betraying the Holy Land, and, therefore, would not proceed to the siege of the Holy City. But Richard, continuing what he had begun, magnanimously despised the slander and machinations of his rivals. After the death of the marquis Conrad, and when Guy, formerly king of Jerusalem, his opponent, had been reduced to the simple title of king, on the death of his wife, the king of England, with all his chiefs and nobles, deliberated to whom they should entrust the Christian territories, as they were shortly to return home. They unanimously, decreed that they would place the Christian conquests in the rule of Henry, the illustrious count of Champagne, in France, who was nephew of the kings of England and France, by the sister of both of them; for he was a character worthy of such uncles.

[3] This being done, and the Christian fortresses altogether given up to the new prince, as well as the garrisons in the cities being settled, the princes and people, as if the term of service had expired, when they had nothing to sustain their further continuance, began severally to return home in the autumn of the second year after the siege of Ptolemais. But of those persons who had continued abroad for the sake of Christ, after the destruction of the Christian race in the Holy Land, not even a fourth part returned to their native land. For, although the fervency of holy zeal had excited countless multitudes to this expedition, from nearly the whole of the Christian world, yet the sword, or disease, or want, or fatigue had consumed by far the greatest part of them. In this matter, the depth of the wisdom of God must be considered, Who little regards either the temporal safety or happiness of such of His people as He has predestined to eternal life, and by wise foresight makes their worldly calamities obtain for them the possession of a heavenly city. For there cannot be a doubt, that such persons as have left their country and every human tie -- who have exposed themselves to such mighty labors, perils, and slaughters for the sake of Christ, and in this laudable zeal have ended their life in this world, -- ought to be numbered with those of whom it is said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord" [Rev. 14: 13], when they have died not only in the Lord, but also for the Lord. Indeed, I would confidently assert that the Divine love acted with much more clemency towards them, and that it was also far more fortunate for those who, by terminating their existence in that expedition, passed to eternity by a propitious and speedy passage, than for the others, who, returning to their country in bodily safety, went back again to their former lusts. For, truly, among those who returned home from that expedition we perceive that some have recurred to their original habits, after having endured such enormous sufferings for the sake of Christ.

[4] Strange, surely, does it appear that the Lord should suffer those most holy places which witnessed His Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, to be possessed and profaned by a most uncleanly nation. At that time the reason for such Divine permission was hidden, but now it is manifest; for, on account of this truly grievous and shameful calamity, multitudes of sinners were converted to the practice of piety; and the hand of the Almighty Ruler, during the space of five years, called so many thousand pious souls to eternal rest as during the safety of the earthly Jerusalem -- the Jerusalem which is our mother -- had not received for her consummation in many preceding years. Thus our King -- He who mightily rules to the ends of the earth, and disposes of all things graciously, and makes the best use of human ills -- while He delivered up His earthly Jerusalem and its territories into the hands of the enemy, on account of the sins of its inhabitants, carefully sought the good of His heavenly Jerusalem.

Chapter 29:  By what means the king of England liberated Joppa, and of the treaty between the Christians and the Turks    <to index>

[1] Such persons as were not appointed to garrison the cities returned home; nor did the illustrious king of England, who had now exhausted his treasures in the support of this protracted service, possess the means for making a longer stay in Syria. Therefore, having arranged his matters, and issued his commands to his nephew, whom he left prince of a small kingdom, he returned to Cyprus with his followers, purposing a speedy departure thence. Saladin, on learning this, rushed with his army against Joppa, which was insufficiently garrisoned, and quickly took it; and making great havoc among the Christians, he besieged the remainder who were shut up in the citadel. Our people, making use of the only means in their power, that the remainder might not be utterly destroyed, covenanted with this most abominable tyrant to surrender the citadel by a certain day, unless a Christian army should come thither; and he, not fearing the return of such of our party as had departed, remained perfectly quiet, as though in the conviction that he should quickly enter the citadel without bloodshed.

[2] The king of England, however, when he heard of this untoward accident, soon converted his sadness into valor, and, accompanied by all those who were ashamed to desert him, quickly, with a favorable gale, returned to Syria, and put the Turks to flight, who were terrified at his unexpected and impetuous return. But they again assembled; and relying on their vast multitudes, they vainly attempted to besiege him in Joppa: for, going out in the spirit of bravery, and not only discharging the duty of a consummate commander, but also of a most intrepid soldier, he engaged them for several days in the open plains; and, though with far inferior forces, at length, by God's favor, he so wasted the formidable army of the Turks, that, astonished at his invincible spirit, and thinking nothing further could be attempted against him, they retired. Joppa being thus liberated, he lay sick for some days at a castle called Caiphas. On hearing this, Saladin (it is said) did not exult as over a debilitated enemy, but grieved for the indisposition of an unconquerable prince. He sent messengers to him, saying, "I am aware that you cannot, even in health, prolong your stay in this country, and that, on your departure, what the Christians have acquired with such vast labor will be exposed to certain danger, and by trifling exertion must fall into my hands. Nevertheless, for your sake, whose distinguished valor I venerate, more than I fear your hostile spirit, I grant the Christians a truce for three years. Let not Ascalon. however, belong either to me or to them; but let it be destroyed." The king, whatever unwillingness he might feel at the destruction of a city, in the recent repair of which he had exerted himself, by employing most expensive labor to no purpose; yet, by the advice and desire of the patriarch, and the new prince, and of all the Christians of that country, he agreed to the truce; not very honorable, indeed, as far as the destruction of the city was concerned; but for more cogent reasons which were extremely necessary.

[3] Wherefore, by the efforts of the king of England, which none but his enemies could blame, the treaty was concluded, and confirmed, between the Christians resident in Palestine and the Turkish subjects of Saladin; and it was to continue from the approaching festival of Easter for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours. Moreover, it was granted and firmly settled by Saladin, out of favor to the king of England, that the Christians, during the whole continuance of the treaty, should securely and freely visit the holy sepulchre, for the purpose of offering up their prayers; and that meeting with no molestation from the Saracens in their approach or departure, after having performed their solemn supplications, they should return with the fruit of their devotion to the Christian frontier.

[4] The truce being thus ratified, as was fitting, a vast multitude advanced to the Holy City; and accomplishing their wishes by a satisfaction which they had long and earnestly desired, they returned home with joy. The king, who alone was reckoned for ten thousand, could not accomplish his devotion in this respect, while, through the advice of the prudent, he looked over-anxiously to his own personal safety, in consequence of some dangers which had arisen; but Hubert, bishop of Salisbury, who had been his inseparable and faithful companion, as well as his able coadjutor in that expedition, undertook to perform this act of devotion in his stead. It is reported that he visited for himself, and for the prince, the sepulchre of the King of kings; and pouring out there a deluge of pious tears, and performing mass, he accomplished equally his own and the king's vows, to whom he returned. These things being done, the king declared his intention of returning home. Out of pure liberality he presented the island of Cyprus to Guy, formerly king of Jerusalem, a most courageous man; and promising his beloved nephew, whom he had set over the Christian territories, that he (Christ permitting) would return at the expiration of the truce, he committed himself to the faithless gale. And, as an evidence of his intended return, he retained the holy badge, ornamented with which he had arrived.

Chapter 30:  How, by the disposal of God, more was done by this expedition for the heavenly than the earthly Jerusalem; and of the death of Saladin    <to index>

[1] Such a termination, by the secret council of God, had this most expensive, laborious, and perilous expedition of noble kings, illustrious princes, and countless multitudes against Saladin, the most savage enemy of the holy and tremendous name of God. And yet, by all this expense, and peril, and labor, little was effected for the recovery of the earthly Jerusalem, but a vast deal was done for the supply of that which is above, as it has been shown before. For God arranged better than human thought could do; since many thousands of Christians dying in this laborious pilgrimage for Christ's sake, who, as far as their will was concerned, might appear to have labored in vain for the recovery of the earthly Jerusalem; they, like living stones, contributed with the fruit of their pious efforts to the building of that Jerusalem which is above. Nevertheless, as it is to be imputed to the degeneracy of our times, in which, from abounding iniquity, charity grows cold, that the Holy Places, wherein the mysteries of our redemption were celebrated, were delivered into the hands of the impious; so it is also that the Christian cause made but little progress in the recovery of those places, though carried on with such enormous labor and expense.

[2] Wherefore, through the indolence and degeneracy of our times, the Holy City was to be subjected to the trampling down and profanation of the Gentiles, until the arrival of that time which is known only by God. For, doubtless, at the proper season, according to ancient usage, the Holy Land will cast out her most unclean occupants; and this, perhaps, may be accomplished by a smaller Christian force, in order that the Divine power may thereby be more conspicuous. Hence, it is truly observed, by a certain faithful warrior, "It is easy for many to be shut up in the hand of a few; and there is no difference in the sight of God, whether He deliver by many or by few." This indeed, was declared when one chased a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight: when Gideon, dispersing the multitude by three hundred men, who had lapped up the water, triumphed over innumerable people. But God is not to be tempted, that Christians, because they have a good and powerful God, should, when few in number, rush fool-hardily and unadvisedly against a host of enemies. For God wills his people to trust in Him, in such manner as not to neglect prudence and foresight. Hence it is recorded, that formerly the holy commanders, when about to fight the battles of the Lord, and aware of future victory from his own promise, assembled a large multitude frequently at his command, and frequently even without his order: neither did they deem it honorable or expedient to expose themselves to danger when few in number; not, indeed, that the power of giving victory was easier to God Almighty through the force of a host, but because man ought not to be unmindful of that most wholesome commandment, namely, "Ye shall not tempt the Lord thy God " [Deut. 6:16]; and because it is better that many rather than few should be in the service of God; not, evidently, that they can bring by their numbers more aid to the Almighty; but that, according to their numbers, they may receive the rewards of their warfare from Him who diminisheth not his store, distribute however much he may.

[3] For soon after the departure of the Christian army from Syria, God dropped upon his people the dew of his pity; an earnest, as it were, of greater favor. For He destroyed Saladin, the rod of the Lord's fury, and the tremendous mallet of the Christian name; for when reveling in joy and security, as having foiled all the bravery of the kings of the West, he fell into the hands of the living God; and dying, left to his effeminate heirs that extensive empire which, though not of royal blood, but of consummate art and valor, he had erected out of the most opulent kingdoms; and along with it he bequeathed to them ample matter for war and contention. On his death his empire was divided according to the number of his successors, from whose disputes arose the greater confusion in his house. The Christians, however, remained quietly in their cities, under the command of prince Henry, awaiting the expiration of the truce.

Chapter 31:  How the king of England was shipwrecked, and captured by the duke of Austria     <to index>

[1] Thus the king of England departed from Syria, after having previously sent forward his widowed sister and his wife, with nearly all his family; he himself then followed in a fast-sailing vessel, with a small company more lightly equipped; for impatiently disdaining the tediousness attendant on the slow and tardy passage over a wide ocean, he refused the safer conveyance of a larger vessel, which from its bulk had less to fear from the tempestuous blast: but this precipitancy became the means of delay. The queen, with all her retinue, arrived after a slow but prosperous course at Sicily, and there she continued in safety for a season, under the protection of king Tancred; but the king, in consequence of a severe gale which encountered the vessel in which he had taken his passage, was driven on the coast of Istria; and suffering shipwreck between Aquileia and Venice, he with difficulty, and with a few of his followers, escaped a watery death. Here, concealing his dignity for a time among the other shipwrecked persons, on account of possible danger, he learnt that the king of England was detested by the people of that district, because of the death of the marquis Conrad, which was laid to his charge, and that he could not continue there in safety.

[2] In consequence, he made a fruitless attempt to elude the danger that threatened him. For a report being quickly spread that some illustrious shipwrecked personage was concealed or wandering about the country and the nobility, together with the commonalty, being immediately busied in searching for him, a certain count, named Mainard, seized eight of his companions, though he himself secretly escaped by flight. Six more of his companions being detained by one Frederick, at a place called Frisar, in the archbishopric of Salzburg, he hastened by night with only three associates to the frontiers of Austria; but Humbold, duke of Austria, who (as it has before been related) had been his stipendiary soldier in the army of the Lord, and experienced his profuse liberality when in distress, forgetful of his kindness and raging to revenge some petty injury, though this greedy and perfidious man thirsted still more after the English wealth, placed vigilant guards around every pass and avenue to intercept the illustrious fugitive's escape. At length he found him in the suburbs of a town, through the disclosure (as it is said) of one of his companions, who was cautiously watched when buying some expensive provisions; and being threatened with death, he was compelled to reveal who it was for whom he was providing such delicacies. Humbold dispatched his attendants and made him captive; and when at length the armed guards, commissioned by the duke, entering where he was anxiously concealing himself, said, "Hail, king of England, in vain do you disguise your person, your face betrays you!" and when the spirited monarch seized his sword, they proceeded: "Neither be alarmed, oh king, nor act rashly ; for you shall not die, but rather shall be preserved from death in the midst of your enemies, that is to say, the relations of the marquis Conrad, who seek your life; into whose hands were you to fall, even though you had a hundred lives, not one of them would be safe." Thus the noble king was made captive by the most iniquitous duke, in the month of December, in the one thousand one hundred and ninety-second year after the delivery of the Virgin, and, without any respect to his royal dignity, was kept in chains.

Chapter 32:  In what manner the king of France was deluded by the son of the duke of Saxony, and disappointed of his expected marriage    <to index>

[1] This circumstance was quickly related to the Teutonic emperor, who at that time was resident in Germany. Forgetful both of imperial and even Christian honor, and by means of the illustrious captive's detention trusting to plunder the wealth of numerous nations, he was extremely rejoiced; and shortly after, anxious to make the king of France partaker in his joy, he dispatched to him from Renhenza, on the fifth of the kalends of January [28 Dec.], a message more grateful to him than gold or precious stones. But he, rejoicing at another's misfortune, like one who finds great spoils, presently divulged far and wide the untoward calamity which had befallen the king, for the purpose of dispiriting his subjects; and manifesting the hostility of his heart, took every measure to render the overthrow of the captive perpetual. He was anxious to allure and entice, by great promises, John, the captive king's brother, a man of much power and influence in England, Ireland, and Normandy. He was easily able to gain him over to his side, as he had been long since as desirous of his brother's kingdom as of his destruction. Learning, while in England, the news of his brother's captivity, he immediately went abroad; and hoping that he should easily mount the tottering throne, if he could secure the power of the French, he entered into treaty with them; and setting at nought his fidelity to his brother, when surrounded with danger, most shamelessly declared himself his enemy.

[2] The king of France also wished to conciliate the emperor of Germany, by entering into a bond of union with him; for on his will the fate of the captive king depended; he, therefore, dispatched messengers to him, arid demanded in marriage his cousin, the only daughter of the count Palatine. The emperor, graciously regarding this request, in furthering its completion sent for the count palatine, a personage, it is said, next to the emperor in extent of power. Nor was the mother of the young lady unaware of this circumstance: and she, secretly conferring with her only child, said to her, "Are you inclined to an honorable match, and a royal couch? for the king of France demands you as his consort." She replied, "I have heard from many persons in what manner the king disgraced and repudiated a most noble lady, the sister of the king of Denmark, and I dread such a precedent." Her mother rejoined, "And who stands higher in your affection?" She replied, "If my wishes can be crowned with success, certainly I will never be disunited from the person to whom I understood I was betrothed from my infancy; that is, Henry, son of the duke of Saxony." Her mother proceeded, "Be assured, my daughter, of this, that being delivered by my interference from the precedent you dread, you shall enjoy the nuptials you desire." Soon after, this admirable maiden secretly by letters sent for the said Henry, a most elegant and spirited young man, who was nephew to the king of England on his sister's side. He readily obeyed the summons; and with mutual passion he received the beloved princess from the hand of her mother; and she, accelerating the business on account of the emergency of the circumstances, caused the nuptials to be celebrated in all due form, in order that, henceforth, those whom God had joined together, man might not be able to put asunder.

[3] In the meantime, the father of the bride, persuaded by the emperor to ennoble his daughter by royal wedlock, quickly heard the report of what had been done. The emperor, too, hearing the circumstance, and believing that it could not by any means have been effected without his knowledge, was highly incensed against him, and on his coming into his presence he sharply rebuked him, as well from his dislike to the young man, as because the transaction was contrary to his wishes. But he appeased the indignant and reproachful emperor by saying, "By your salvation this has taken place neither by my will nor with my knowledge; but I believe that my wife, your cousin, out of regard to an oath formerly made by me and her, at the command of your father of blessed memory, to the duke of Saxony, has done that in my absence for which your highness is exasperated at me." Then the emperor said, "Go, drive out that paltry fellow, and annul what has been done." To which the other replied, "Do not speak in that manner, O emperor; for the business (as it is said) has proceeded to such length that it cannot be annulled, but to the eternal disgrace of my only daughter." The count palatine, then returning home, spake kindly to his son-in-law; and having received him as a son, gave a rich dowry to his daughter. Thus he, who but just before had repudiated his own wife with dishonor, by the judgment of God was disappointed of the union which he desired and expected.

Chapter 33:  By what means the king of England came into the custody of the emperor through the duke of Austria    <to index>

[1] The illustrious king of England was confined in chains by the duke of Austria, who shortly before had served under him in Syria against the Turks; but the emperor, alleging that it was not fitting for a king to be detained by a duke, though it was no disgrace to royalty to be under the custody of an emperor, took measures to get the noble captive into his possession. When this could not be refused, he was resigned by the duke, and the avaricious emperor took him into his own keeping, but covenanted to give the duke a competent portion of any benefit therefrom arising. Thus the Christian emperor, debased by covetousness and, as far as the king was concerned, transformed into a Saladin, disgraced the Roman empire by a new and inexpiable stigma. For it was never before heard that any Christian king or emperor made captive another Christian potentate, who was merely returning home through his territories from service in the Holy Land. "But what will not the accursed hunger of gold urge mortal hearts to attempt ?" The Roman emperor (oh, shameful disgrace!), hungry after his own advantage, shut his eyes on everything honorable, everything just and right, forgot his imperial dignity, and blushed not to become another Saladin; but the Christian prince, who so far from his own country had fought for Christ against Saladin and the Turks, when he was returning home for a time with pious purpose, and bearing with him still the holy ensign, as a token of his early return to the East, met in Germany a worse king of the Turks, and a more hostile Saladin, inasmuch as he was more avaricious. For, disguising his avarice, and covering his basest actions with the color of justice, he blackened his illustrious captive with lying invention and boasted that the enemy of his empire, and the betrayer of the Holy Land, wherein the Lord had wrought out our salvation, had fallen into his hands to undergo, by the will of God, the severest punishment.

[2] At last, about Palm Sunday [3 April], being solemnly brought into his presence before all the nobility and people, he attempted to terrify the king by the enumeration of his grievous excesses; but he, confiding in his clear conscience, met his accusations by firm and unrestrained replies, so that even the emperor seemed not only inclined to pity, but even to reverence him. For many persons being melted into tears of joy, he condescendingly raised up the prostrate king, promising more abundant favor for the future and more extended comforts; but in reality greedily grasping after that immense sum of money promised by the king himself, through the medium of the duke of Austria, for his liberation. Wherefore, he did not think it prudent to release the man whom he was anxious to honor; judging that he could have no better pledge for the promise than the person of the promiser. The noble captive was now visited by numbers and experienced the most sedulous regard of his adherents during the whole time of his captivity. He was attended by the bishop of Ely, as before mentioned, whom he had left chief ruler of the kingdom when he was proceeding to the East; but who, on account of his overbearing manners, had long since been driven out of England by the nobles of the realm; nor did the bishop depart from him, strenuously advocating his own concerns and insinuating evil into the ear of the king with respect to those who had expelled him. Hubert also, the venerable bishop of Salisbury, who had been the king's inseparable companion in Syria, on landing in Sicily, and learning what had happened to him (for the untoward accident of the great prince had quickly resounded throughout the world), immediately proceeded to join him; and shortly after he was dispatched by the king into England, as well for the necessary care of the realm as for expediting the business of his release; for he had no other friend of whose fidelity, prudence, and sincerity, he had enjoyed such frequent proofs in various emergencies.

Chapter 34:  In what manner the king of France invaded Normandy and how John raised commotions in England    <to index>

[1] Matters being in this situation with respect to the king of England, Philip, king of France, dispatching honorable persons from his presence to him in Germany, solemnly renounced the homage with which he was bound, and announced his hostile intentions of declaring war against the captive. It appeared to all to be a thing palpably indecent and dishonorable to declare war against a man who was at the time in captivity and entirely without power; but malice, in its eagerness to injure another, has no regard for what is honorable. This high indignity to the king's person was displeasing to the imperial majesty; and the emperor entreated him to abstain from touching the possessions of the captive; but the king of France, by vast promises, and such as equaled or even exceeded the sum promised by the captive king, endeavored to tempt the emperor to deliver up Richard to him for safer custody, alleging that the world could not be at rest if so turbulent a man should escape. Indeed, he might probably have wrought on the mind of the emperor, who was not sufficiently firm on this point; but the nobles of the realm, kindly commiserating the captive resisted this base machination. But Philip, incapable of rest from, the ebullitions of malice, collected an army and invaded Normandy, and soon after received Gisors by treachery (a noble castle and abundantly fortified), from one Gilbert, to whose scanty fidelity it had been entrusted. Next, proceeding to certain other castles, he found none to oppose him; for the unhappy fate of their sovereign had so broken the spirit of his subjects, and weakened all their confidence that, like sheep having no shepherd, they either voluntarily yielded, or fled from the face of the pursuer; and when Albemarle, Eu, and many other castles had come into his hands by a speedy surrender, he proceeded with his army to Rouen, the metropolis of Normandy; and threatening destruction with terrific voice to all who should resist him, he commanded the city to be yielded up.

[2] But the earl of Leicester, the king of England's most faithful companion in the Eastern expedition, aware of his approach, had just before entered the town, and by encouraging the citizens had nobly excited them to act with energy against their most cruel enemy. After having vainly besieged the city during several days and received more injury than he had inflicted, the rich king sounded a retreat; and summoning his army to an easier enterprise, obtained without much difficulty the noble fortresses of Pascy and Iveri. Upon this, in order to restrain his impetuosity for a time, they who conducted the affairs of the captive, as they were best able, deemed it expedient to purchase a truce for a certain period by an enormous sum of money, and surrendered four chosen castles as a pledge.

[3] Nor did John, who, through desire for the kingdom, had become a rebel to nature, desist at this time from molesting his brother, but was the avowed supporter of the king of France in all things. For while he was devastating the Norman territory, John, relying on the royal fortresses which he had craftily taken from his brother when resident in the East, was disturbing the provinces of England with troops of miscreants, whom he had collected from all quarters, and heaping up endless curses on his own perfidious head; but the nobles of the realm, firm in faith, and unbroken in spirit, summoning a formidable body of soldiers, opposed themselves to the lawless attempts of this mad-headed youth. Long and bravely besieging the castle of Windsor, which had fallen under his power, they compelled it to surrender. But when John saw his adherents, whom he could not assist, exposed to the dangers of a siege, he requested a treaty for their safety for a certain time, and gave up the castle; after which he went abroad, and betook himself to the king of France.

Chapter 35:  By what means Hubert, bishop of Salisbury, was made archbishop of Canterbury, and of the Church of Contradiction    <to index>

[1] At this same time, prompted by his devotion to God, the illustrious captive was unwilling that the church of Canterbury should be longer vacant: for since the venerable Baldwin, who (as was said above) proceeded to the East under the holy badge, and had ended his days at Tyre, no one had yet succeeded in the pastoral charge of that church. So the king wrote from Germany to the bishops and others, to whom such an important business pertained, that, making speedy provision for the primacy, they should hasten the election of a metropolitan. Nor did he conceal the intent of his own provision, but recommended to the electors a man in whom he was well pleased, inasmuch as he had been approved in many things, and universally esteemed; wherefore the monks of Canterbury, assembling with the bishops and assenting to the king's pleasure, unanimously and solemnly elected Hubert, bishop of Salisbury, to the dignity of the primacy. After having required and received the pall from the Roman pontiff, he was enthroned; and shortly after, having taken the habit of a canon at Merton, he manifested by his outward garb the religious purpose of his mind. Nor was he disagreeable to the monks of Canterbury, whom the too indiscreet zeal of his predecessor had embittered, yet without blemishing the honor of the deceased prelate. For this same Baldwin, more than justifiably hostile towards the monks of Canterbury (as it is said) had been anxious to take from them their just right and privilege of electing a prelate. For this purpose he had begun to build a church which should become the rival, as it were, of the principal church at Canterbury, wherein the monks officiate; he there appointed also prebends for clerks, where, on the death of an archbishop of Canterbury, the suffragans might assemble, together with the clerks of that place, to deliberate on the election of a successor. The monks of Canterbury, however, not willing that this should be done to the prejudice of their dignity, raised a furious storm of controversy; and dispatching their own prior with many others, they appealed to the holy see.

[2] The archbishop, by virtue of the king's favor, being the more powerful, subdued and vanquished his opponents, not without war and bloodshed, and persisted in his work; which, however, after a time he was obliged to abandon, as his adversaries gained the ascendancy through the decision and powerful mandates of the holy see. In the end, this disgraceful contention between the shepherd and his own flock was with great scandal protracted for several years, as neither party thought it fitting to give way, and each deemed it most ignominious to submit to the other. Wherefore, when this same prelate (evidently too indiscreet in this business, but in other respects a good, prudent, and religious man) died in the East, so far from his own church, the monks of Canterbury, little bewailing him, with sudden impulse and great joy leveled to the ground the work which had been the origin of the whole dispute, of which the progress had long since been suspended.

Chapter 36:  How Hugh, bishop of Chester, destroyed the monastery of Coventry     <to index>

[1] It is, indeed, a wonderful circumstance that so great a man (I allude to the venerable Baldwin), who, from being an archdeacon became a monk of the Cistercian order, then an abbot, and from abbot, bishop of Worcester, and from suffragan, primate; receiving the archbishopric from him for whom he gave up the archdeaconry -- it is wonderful, I say, that a man of such singular piety should wish to increase the stock of secular canons, when it might seem more to have become him to have employed his salutary endeavors in diminishing that order, or making them pass into a religious fraternity -- a thing which certainly holy prelates and princes of old time are well known to have done in England. For anciently, secular clerks ministered in the noble churches of Canterbury and Winchester; to whom those holy persons, who were empowered thereto by Divine permission, gave an option either to relinquish their benefices and employments of which they were deemed unworthy, or by a laudable exchange to resolve upon taking holy orders. These persons, being driven by wholesome compulsion either to depart or exchange their orders, religious congregations have in a better manner preserved the dignity of the house of God until the present day. A holy prelate, therefore, in our times ought not to have perpetuated that race of men; for the diminution of which, by a salutary change brought about through Christ's assistance, an opportunity should rather have been sought for; but the yet flagrant crime of Hugh Nonant, bishop of Chester, or Coventry, far exceeds this, which must not be passed over in silence.

[2] The monastery of Coventry, originally founded, enriched, and adorned by the pious devotion of certain English nobles, had for three hundred years been conspicuous among the English church, and on account of its celebrity had been the quiet residence of the bishop of Chester, who, for a considerable time, had otherwise been called bishop of Coventry. When a certain emissary of the devil, called Robert Marmion, had profanely destroyed this venerable house in the times of king Stephen, he became exposed (as it has been related in its place) to the Divine indignation, and the same spot, by the interference of God, quickly returning to its splendor, had remained unmolested till the present degenerate times. For some years before this, Hugh Nonant aforesaid -- a crafty, bold, and shameless character, and one ready for daring enterprises, from his learning and eloquence -- when he had obtained the bishopric of Chester by the secret judgment of Him who maketh a hypocrite to reign on account of the sins of the people, he began to contrive by every means to expel the monks of that place, and out of their property to form prebends for clerks which should be bestowed at his pleasure. At last, after sowing or fomenting discord between the prior and monks, when, by his hellish craft, he had excited the most offensive grounds of disquietude, he seized an opportunity for expelling them all by an armed force, like convicted and incorrigible disturbers of ecclesiastical tranquillity, and as guilty of the enormous crimes which he laid to their charge. Soon after he dispatched to the holy see advocates prepared for his purpose, stating that the monks of Coventry, abandoning their religious duties, had become seculars; and he demanded free liberty to set this church in order, according to his own pleasure. But the Roman pontiff acting with cautious procrastination, lest, perchance, any one should arrive to maintain the contrary on the part of the monks, suspended his determination for six months. At the expiration of this time, as no one appeared on behalf of the monks, he yielded to the bishop's request. The want of money was the cause of the tardy arrival of the monks; but at length they did appear, and for a long time they bewailed the injury done to them by their forcible expulsion.

[3] Still, it is notorious that they have labored in vain, even to the present day, for the reversal or repeal of a sentence once clandestinely gained and prematurely passed; so powerful was either the influence, or the craft, or the money of the bishop. No correction of this abominable abuse has yet taken place; for the monks being widely dispersed for their subsistence, the secular canons, by the bishop's authority, possess their property, which has been divided by him into prebends. And he himself too, either in the commission or support of such an iniquitous measure, for a time made use of the cooperation of the bishop of Ely; who, under the title of the king's chancellor, seemed at that period, as it were, to reign, and with shameless vanity acted as the counsellor and assistant to this same person in seizing on the sovereignty. Soon after, however, revolting from him with his usual inconsistency, he espoused the party of his adversary, John, the king's brother; and, as it is said, infected him with the poisonous notion of rebelling against his brother Richard. Moreover, when the king was visited by his subjects during his imprisonment in Germany, he also, among others, hastened to him, that he might fathom his inclinations with respect to himself and exculpate himself, through crafty dissimulation from the disgraceful charge of perfidy with which he was branded by many. And when he was unable to deceive the prince by the pretences of his assumed devotion, despairing of his favor, and deeming it unsafe to return to his own diocese, attended by his hardened conscience, he proceeded into France.

Chapter 37:  Of the murder of the Bishop of Liege; on which account the king of England was endangered    <to index>

[1] Richard, the illustrious king of England, was still confined in Germany; but as the avarice of the emperor was now satisfied, it was hoped that he would speedily liberate him. By an accidental chance, however, it happened that this hope was suspended and the noble captive brought into danger in the following manner. The brother of the duke of Louvain had been elected to the bishopric of Liege -- a choice which was displeasing to the emperor, as he was apprehensive that the valiant duke should be enabled, by this accession to his brother's power, to make head against him; for it is a thing well known that the bishop of Liege possesses a large military force and has great power. The bishop-elect, therefore, through the emperor's opposition, could not obtain consecration from his own metropolitan; nevertheless, having procured from the Roman pontiff a mandate to the bishops of France to ordain him, he was consecrated. However, through fear of the enraged potentate, he did not return to his own diocese; but hoping that his indignation would be soothed by time, he resided for a season in France. The exasperated emperor was now urged on to the commission of a most atrocious crime. For some desperate wretches being hired by him (as it is believed), went to the bishop under the assumed character of exiles, and craftily lamenting to him their expulsion from their native German soil, gained so much upon his credulity, that with groundless commiseration he took these basest of enemies under his immediate protection. But with crafty vigilance they watched an opportunity for the perpetration of their crime, and suddenly attacked him one day, when he had accidentally left the city with very few attendants, for the purpose of exercise, and killed him together with another ecclesiastic; and then they escaped by flight, whilst his companions fled back to the city. With similar artifice other assassins are said to have been dispatched to compass the death of the duke of Louvain; but they being accidentally taken, revealed the whole mystery of this iniquity.

[2] In consequence of this heinous outrage, the archbishops of Cologne and Mainz, and the dukes of Saxony, Louvain, and Lewenburg, and many other nobles, became incensed and conspired against the emperor. Constrained by pressing necessity, in order that he might unite the power of France to his own, he entertained a disposition to break his faith and deliver up the king of England to the king of France for perpetual imprisonment, and for this purpose he solicited a solemn conference with him on a certain day at Vaucouleurs; but this interview of evil omen was prevented and obviated by another of a most salutary kind. For owing to certain discreet persons, who with laudable foresight opposed both the disturbance of the empire and the peril of the king of England, peace was restored (by the favor of God) between the emperor and his nobles; and the whole cause of enmity which had arisen between the parties vanished into air. After a few days, the emperor coming to the place where the king of England was confined, in the presence and at the mediation of the bishops, dukes, and many other persons of rank, held a conference with him during several days; and at length, on the vigil of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul [28 June], the whole affair between them being settled, and the sum fixed for the king's release, the emperor commanded him to be confined with greater honor for the future, that is, unencumbered with a chain. At last, by the emperor's command, the bishops, dukes, and all the nobility present swore, by the soul of their sovereign, that the king should certainly be released on payment of the sum agreed on, which was one hundred thousand pounds of silver; a third part of which was said to be due to the duke of Austria for having made the king captive.

Chapter 38:  The manner in which England was afflicted by the captivity of the king     <to index>

[1] During this time, the king of England, fairly worn out with his long captivity, by frequent mandates admonished the regents of the realm, and all his liege and devoted people who were of any rank or consequence, to hasten his release by procuring the price of his ransom by every possible method. The royal officers accelerated the business throughout England, without sparing any one; nor was there any distinction made between clergy and laymen, secular or regular, citizen or husbandman; but all indifferently were compelled to pay the stipulated sum for the king's ransom, either in proportion to their substance or the amount of their revenues. Privileges, prerogatives, immunities of churches and monasteries, were neither pleaded nor admitted. Every dignity, every liberty was silent; nor had an one license to say, "Such, and so great am I; have me excused." Even the monks of the Cistercian order, who had hitherto been exempt from all royal exactions, were at this time more heavily burdened in proportion to their having formerly less experienced the weight of public pressure. For they were taxed and compelled to give up even the wool of their sheep, which is their chief means of support, and appears to be almost the only revenue they have for their necessary subsistence and expenses. It was thought that such a mass of money would exceed the sum of the king's ransom; however, it was found not to be sufficient, when the whole came to be collected in one sum at London; but this is supposed to have happened through the fraud of the officers. In consequence of the inadequacy of the first collection, the king's officers made a second, and a third; despoiling the more opulent of their money, and extenuating the manifest crime of exaction with the honorable title of royal ransom.

[2] Lastly, that no occasion might be wanting, and that the locust might eat the leavings of the caterpillar, the palmer-worm the leavings of the locust, and the mildew the leavings of the palmer-worm, they proceeded to take the sacred vessels; and as the venerable determination of the fathers had not only permitted, but even advised that such vessels should be used for the redemption of any Christian captive, it was judged that they ought in a more especial manner to be applied to the redemption of a captive prince. Wherefore the sacred chalices, throughout the whole extent of England, were delivered to the royal collectors, or as matter of favor redeemed for something rather under their value. And when England now appeared almost wholly drained of money, and the king's tax-gatherers were tired and wearied of collecting money, still (as it is said) the whole accumulation of money was inadequate to cover the expense of the king's ransom; and, therefore, the greater part of the appointed sum being paid to the emperor's ministers, the king, lest his release should be protracted beyond measure craftily satisfied the emperor for the residue by competent hostages.

Chapter 39:  Of the prodigy of an unusual redness appearing at three different times in the air    <to index>

At that time England groaned under complicated affliction on account of the king's captivity, and such as before she had not ever apprehended; the severity of which evil was manifested (as it is believed) by recent prodigies in the sky. For in the month of January, in the year wherein the king fell into the hands of the enemy [A.D. 1192], we beheld a terrible portent in the sky, no doubt indicative of the affliction which was coming upon us. For about the first watch of the night, the intermediate region of the sky between north and east grew so red that it appeared to blaze as it were; though there was not the slightest cloud, and the stars were brightly shining; and these, too, were so tinged with fiery redness, and streaked with white stripes, that they seemed to twinkle with a kind of blood-stained light. After this dreadful appearance had possessed the eyes and minds of the beholders with astonishment throughout all the borders of England for nearly the space of two hours, by degrees gently vanishing it disappeared, leaving much conjecture concerning it. And in the month of February in the following year [A.D. 1193], while the king of England was yet detained in Germany, and the news of his captivity was not generally known in England, a portent very similar appeared throughout England, in the same region of the sky, soon after midnight, when the religious orders were chanting their customary praises to God. We know that persons in different provinces were so terrified by the reflection of this tremendous redness on their glass windows, that many of them, supposing that some accidental fire had happened in the adjoining houses, left their chanting, and, marking the dreadful portent, returned to their psalmody. While many conjectures were formed on this repeated portent, the news of the king's captivity suddenly became rife. And, indeed, in that same year, when the king's detention had now become prolonged in Germany and his speedy release was expected, on the fourth of the nones of November [2 Nov.], before daybreak, the selfsame token appearing for the third time in the same region of the sky, terrified (but in a less degree) the minds of the beholders; for now they were accustomed to it, though it was the cause of increased conjecture and suspicion.

Chapter 40:  How the king of France, when unable to prevent the liberation of the king of England, again invaded Normandy    <to index>

[1] So when Richard, the illustrious king of England, had paid the avaricious emperor the greater portion of his ransom, as it has been related, and had delivered the stipulated number of hostages from among the nobility who had come to visit him for the residue, after a long-continued captivity, a certain day was appointed and fixed for his release. When this was made known to the king of France and the unnatural John, they despaired of now being able to corrupt the emperor's mind into making the detention of the royal captive perpetual; and consequently they used their utmost endeavors to protract it to the following year, in order that, during that period, they might without opposition freely occupy the lands under his rule, by which means his return, after the year was expired, would be rendered harmless. Thus, when they had made supplication to the emperor by their messengers for this purpose and had promised a sum of money equal to that which he was to receive from the king of England, he (for he was beyond measure open to corruption) consulted his own nobles upon this subject, but they, disgusted with the levity of the emperor, opposed him with the weight of more becoming counsel, saying, "The empire, lord emperor, has been sufficiently defiled by the unworthy imprisonment of a most noble king; do thou not fix an inexpiable stain upon its honor." And so the negotiation of this most infamous affair was left unfinished, and the messengers returned to their greatly grieved lords.

[2] This occurred during winter, a season altogether unfit for war, yet they were so inflamed against the captive king that their malice could not be assuaged; and the king of France, with the cooperation of John, on a favorable opportunity, broke the truce, regard to which had seemingly kept him quiet for a short time, and again he invaded Normandy -- for the courage of that ancient and most valiant people now languished because they had neither duke, nor head, nor chief -- and he occupied the city of Evreux and many castles with little difficulty and hardly any loss of life. But after ravaging the country to a great extent, he, as if weary, suspended his ferocity for a time, next renewed the truce, and then sunk into repose. Nor was there any confidence or safety in peace in those days in England; for John's castles, filled with robbers greedy of plunder, disturbed the quiet of the provinces, and the people of the surrounding counties, having received from Germany the king's mandate, prepared to attack and lay siege to those fortresses. And lastly, a disgraceful contention arose between the archbishop of York and his own clergy at that time, which sprung, however, from a slight cause, like a great fire from a little spark; the commencement, progress, and conclusion of which will be narrated in a more convenient place than this.

Chapter 41:  How the king of England, being freed from captivity, returned to England     <to index>

[1] The king of England, therefore, after his tedious detention in Germany, which had now exceeded a year, was at length solemnly released in the month of January; and the archbishop of Rouen, the bishop of Bath, and many noblemen, were left in his stead with the emperor as hostages, either for the completion of the sum not yet paid, or as a guarantee for certain compacts: he then went to the port which is called Swine, intending, by the favor of God, to cross over from thence into his own kingdom. But being compelled to remain there for a short time, either for the sake of making necessary preparations, or on account of contrary winds, the emperor (as it is said) repented of the indulgence he had shown him, and thought of bringing him back after his release and consigning him to perpetual imprisonment. For as Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in old times, whom God had hardened, were led to repent of having at last, though by compulsion, sent away the people of God whom they had oppressed in slavery, and said, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" [Exodus 14:5] Thus also that perfidious emperor and the Germans, after they had released a Christian king with tardy clemency, whom they had kept in long-continued custody solely for the sake of filthy lucre, said, "Why have we done this, sending forth to the peril of the world a tyrant of tremendous strength and singular savageness? And since he was formerly betrayed and given into our hands by the elements, as they are now adverse to him and opposing his return to his own land, he doubtless expects similar danger. Therefore let him be quickly called back to his chains, never to be released any more." A whisper of this most iniquitous intention accidentally reached a certain person who bore goodwill towards the king; and he, with friendly solicitude, by a swift messenger informed him, who suspected nothing of the sort, of their secret malignity to him, and thereby rendered him cautious, and advised him instantly to embark on board a ship which lay in the port, and trust his person to the elements rather than to faithless men; and this was done with caution equally rapid and advantageous.

[2] Soon after, as it is said, the emissaries of the emperor arrived, and not finding their noble prey on dry land and unable to pursue him across the water, they went back to their perfidious instructor with a suitable excuse for their failure. Imputing this escape of the far-off captive with regret to himself, he transferred his hasty but unavailing rage to the unoffending hostages, whom he had previously treated with much indulgence and liberality, but now he punished them by much closer imprisonment. The king of England, however, taking refuge on the sea from the hostile troops, was received by favoring gales, which, as if in making satisfaction to him for betraying him the year before to the cruelty of the Germans, restored him safe and in health to his own kingdom, with all his attendants. Landing at the port of Sandwich, in the month of March, during the fast of Lent, then, for the first time, he felt, as he stepped from the ship and trod on English soil, that he was delivered from captivity.

Chapter 42:  How peace being restored in the kingdom, the king was crowned at Westminster     <to index>

[1] Faster than the winds flew the report of the king's long-expected but almost despaired-of return. The people immediately went to meet and congratulate him as he came to London. Then did the citizens, having heard of his approach, take up the oil of gladness instead of weeping, and put on the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. The appearance of that magnificent city was so splendid on his entrance that the nobles of Germany, who came with him and who thought that England was exhausted of its wealth by the payment of the royal ransom, were struck with astonishment when they beheld the greatness of its riches. One of these citizens, in the magnificent procession itself, as it is reported, turned towards the king, and said, "Thy people, O king, are endowed with marvelous prudence, for they display in security to thee the splendor of their riches, now that thou art restored to them; but a little while ago, they deplored their poverty while the prison of the emperor detained thee. For really, if he could have known of these English riches, he would not easily have believed that England could be exhausted of its wealth; nor would he have thought of sending thee away without an intolerable amount of ransom."

[2] Very few only of the nobility and great men of the realm came to meet the king on his return, because almost all of them, by royal mandate, were occupied in the just and necessary duty of laying siege to John's fortresses. Indeed, before the return of the king to his own country they had taken Marlborough Castle, which had been strongly attacked; but the work was tedious and difficult; then, having divided their army, they besieged Nottingham and Tickhill, castles strongly fortified. But the king, after the tediousness of his recent captivity, despising delay and enjoyment, after making a short stay in London, quickly proceeded to Nottingham. The castle there is so well fortified by nature and art, that, if it possesses suitable defenders, it seems unconquerable except by starvation; but as a security against the occurrence of this evil by sagacious forethought, it contained supplies of provisions, laid up for many years, as well as plenty of arms and strong men. But when the king (who was never expected to return by those who wished him evil) came suddenly thither, the minds of those who were within the fortress were stricken with fear, and, as it were, fascinated by his unexpected presence: so that, as wax melts away before the face of the fire, so all their confidence melted away before the face of him who suddenly appeared like a giant; and immediately becoming enervated and weak, they began to treat of the surrender of this impregnable castle, which was in want of nothing needful for the endurance of a long siege; and when they were unable to find favor and honorable conditions from this most vehement king, they surrendered the fortress on disgraceful conditions, resigning it with all the arms, ammunition, and supplies. Moreover, in order to deprecate the severity of his judgment, they gave up their own bodies also to his uncertain and undeclared mercy; but those who were in the other castle, which is unequal in strength, fell into the same peril and disgrace, though rather more excusably. Thus the king, with slight difficulty, obtained possession of two very strong fortresses; and after the garrisons, which had surrendered themselves in the hope of his clemency, had been committed into custody, the king, with the solemn decision of the peers, judicially deprived his brother John of all his previous rights, on account of his enormous sin of ingratitude and perfidy; for, by his immoderate and indiscreet bounty, the king had bestowed upon him horns that could be lifted up against himself. Thus every hostile movement in England sank into rest, when the power of so great a source of disturbance was cut down; for he, a short time before, seemed to be the tetrarch of the realm of England.

[3] When these things were happily effected, by the favor of God, the king returned to his previous quarters and with much joy celebrated the solemnity of Easter [10 April] at Southampton, with a great assembly of his nobles; and on the octaves of Easter [17 April], washing away the ignominy of his captivity, at Winchester he appeared like a new king, refulgent in the diadem of his realm. And let this be the limit of this book, which began with the first coronation of the most illustrious king Richard, and which, having narrated the events more recent in our memory, now concludes with the second coronation of the same king, in the fifth year of his reign, and the one thousand one hundred and ninety-fourth from the delivery of the Virgin.


Return to Index | Book One | Book Two | Book Three | Book Four | Book Five | Introduction


The Church Historians of England, volume IV, part II; translated by Joseph Stevenson (London:  Seeley's, 1861).  For ease of readability and reference, I have altered the original paragraph divisions and added the paragraph numbers; spellings have been modernized.  I have not retained Stevenson's footnotes. I believe this translation is now in the public domain. The electronic form of this presentation is ©1999 by Scott McLetchie and may not be reproduced for any commercial purposes whatsoever. It may be reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

Select Bibliography

The latest complete edition of William's history is still that found in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I.   Edited by Richard Howlett.  Rolls Series no. 82.  London, 1884-9.   Books 1-4 of William's history appear in volume 1, book 5 in volume 2.

A new edition began to appear in 1988:  William of Newburgh.  The History of English Affairs.  Edited and with a new translation by P. G. Walsh & M. J. Kennedy.  Warminster, Wiltshire:  Aris, 1988-.  To the best of my knowledge, only volume one, containing book one of the history, has so far appeared.

A good starting point for information on William of Newburgh (as well as other medieval English historians) is Gransden, Antonia.  Historical Writing in England, volume 1.  London:  Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974.

Nancy Partner examines William of Newburgh's work, along with that of Henry of Huntingdon and Richard of Devizes in:  Partner, Nancy F.  Serious Entertainments:  The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England.   Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1977.

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