The History of The Kings of England 30

William of Malmesbury

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King Godfrey takes the lead in my commendation: he was the son of Eustace count of Boulogne, of whom I have spoken in the time of king Edward, but more ennobled maternally, as by that line he was descended from Charles the Great. For, his mother, named Ida, daughter of the ancient Godfrey duke of Lorraine, had a brother called Godfrey after his father, surnamed Bocard. This was at the time when Robert Friso, of whom I have spoken above, on the death of Florence, duke of Friesland, married his widow Gertude; advancing Theodoric, his son-in-law, to the succession of the duchy. Bocard could not endure this; but expelling Friso, subjected the country to his own will. Friso, unable to revenge himself by war, did it by stratagem; killing Bocard through the agency of his Flemings, who drove a weapon into his posteriors, as he was sitting for a natural occasion. In this manner the son-in-law succeeded to the duchy, by the means of his father-in-law. The wife of this Godfrey was the marchioness Matilda, mentioned in the former book, who on her husband’s death spiritedly retained the duchy, in opposition to the emperor; more especially in Italy, for of Lorraine and the hither-countries he got possession. Ida then, as I began to relate, animated her son Godfrey with great expectations of getting the earldom of Lorraine: for the paternal inheritance had devolved on Eustace her eldest son; the youngest, Baldwin, was yet a boy. Godfrey arriving at a sufficient age to bear arms, dedicated his services to the emperor Henry, who is mentioned in the preceding book. Acquiring his friendship, therefore, by unremitting exertions, he received from the emperor’s singular liberality the whole of Lorraine as a recompence. Hence it arose, that when the quarrel broke out between the pope and Henry, he went with the latter to the siege of Rome; was the first to break through that part of the wall which was assigned for his attack, and facilitated the entrance of the besiegers. Being in extreme perspiration, and panting with heat, he entered a subterraneous vault which he found in his way, and when he had there appeased the violence of his thirst by an excessive draught of wine, he brought on a quartan fever. Others say that he fell a victim to poisoned wine, as the Romans, and men of that country, are used to infect whole casks. Others report, that a portion of the walls fell to his lot, where the Tiber flowing, exhales destructive vapours in the morning; that by this fatal pest, all his soldiers, with the exception of ten, lost their lives; and that himself, losing his nails and his hair, never entirely recovered. But be it which it might of these, it appears that he was never free from a slow fever, until hearing the report of the expedition to Jerusalem, he made a vow to go thither, if God would kindly restore his health. The moment this vow was made, the strength of the duke revived; so that, recovering apace, he shook disease from his limbs, and rising with expanded breast, as it were, from years of decrepitude, shone with renovated youth. In consequence, grateful for the mercies of God showered down upon him, he went to Jerusalem the very first, or among the first; leading a numerous army to the war. And though he commanded a hardy and experienced band, yet none was esteemed readier to attack, or more efficient in the combat than himself. Indeed it is known, that, at the siege of Antioch, with a Lorrainian sword, he cut asunder a Turk, who had demanded single combat, and that one half of the man lay panting on the ground, while the horse, at full speed, carried away the other: so firmly the miscreant sat. Another also who attacked him he clave asunder from the neck to the groin, by taking aim at his head with a sword; nor did the dreadful stroke stop here, but cut entirely through the saddle, and the back-bone of the horse. I have heard a man of veracity relate, that he had seen what I here subjoin: during the siege, a soldier of the duke’s had gone out to forage; and being attacked by a lion, avoided destruction for some time, by the interposition of his shield. Godfrey, grieved at this sight, transfixed the ferocious animal with a hunting spear. Wounded, and becoming fiercer from the pain, it turned against the prince with such violence as to hurt his leg with the iron which projected from the wound; and had he not hastened with his sword to rip it up, this pattern of valour must have perished by the tusk of a wild beast. Renowned from these successes, he was exalted to be king of Jerusalem, more especially because he was conspicuous in rank and courage without being arrogant. His dominion was small and confined, containing, besides the few surrounding towns, scarcely any cities. For the king’s bad state of health, which attacked him immediately after the Babylonish war, caused a cessation of warlike enterprise; so that he made no acquisitions: yet, by able management, he so well restrained the avidity of the barbarians for the whole of that year, that nothing was lost. They report that the king, from being unused to a state of indolence, fell again into his original fever; but I conjecture, that God, in his own good time, chose early to translate, to a better kingdom, a soul rendered acceptable to him and tried by so many labours, lest wickedness should change his heart, or deceit beguile his understanding. Revolving time thus completing a reign of one year, he died placidly, and was buried on Mount Golgotha; a king as unconquerable in death, as he had formerly been in battle; often kindly repressing the tears of the by-standers. Being asked who was to succeed him, he mentioned no person by name, but said merely, “whoever was most worthy.” He never would wear the ensign of royalty, saying, “it was too great arrogance for him to be crowned for glory, in that city, in which God had been crowned in mockery.” He died on the fifteenth before the kalends of August.

On Godfrey’s decease, Tancred and the other chiefs declared that Baldwin, his brother, who was at that time settled in Mesopotamia, should be king: for Eustace, the elder brother, who came to Jerusalem with Godfrey, had long since returned to his native land. The acts of Baldwin shall be related briefly, but with unsullied truth; supported in their credibility by the narrative of Fulcherf of Chartres, who was his chaplain, and wrote somewhat of him, in a style, not altogether unpolished, but, as we say, without elegance or correctness, and which may serve to admonish others to write more carefully. Baldwin, undertaking the holy pilgrimage with the rest, had for companions many knights of disposition similar to his own. Confiding in these associates, he began to levy fresh troops for his purpose; to watch for brilliant opportunities wherein to manifest his prowess: and, finally, not content with that commendation which was common to all, leaving the rest and departing three days’ journey from Antioch, he got possession, by the consent of its inhabitants, of Tarsus, a noble city of Cilicia: Tarsus, formerly the nursing-mother of the apostle Paul, in honour of whom the cathedral there is dedicated. The Tarsians voluntarily submitted to his protection, as they were Christians, and hoped by his aid to be defended from the Turks. The Cilicians, therefore, eagerly yielded to his power, more especially after the surrender of Turbexhel, a town by situation impregnable, to whose sovereignty the inferior towns look up. This being yielded, as I have said, the others followed its decision. And not only Cilicia, but Armenia, and Mesopotamia, eagerly sought alliance with this chief: for these provinces were almost free from the domination of the Turks, though infested by their incursions. Wherefore the prince of the city of Edessa, who was alike pressed by the hatred of the citizens and the sword of the enemy, sent letters to Baldwin, descriptive of his difficulties, desiring him to come with all speed, and receive a compensation for the labour of his journey, by his adoption, as he had no issue of either sex. This is a city of Mesopotamia in Syria, very noted for the fruitfulness of its soil and for the resort of merchants, twenty miles distant from the Euphrates, and a hundred from Antioch. The Greeks call it Edessa; the Syrians Rothasia. Baldwin, therefore, exacting an oath of fidelity from the ambassadors, passed the Euphrates with only sixty-nine horsemen; a wonderful instance, it may be said, either of fortitude, or of rashness, in not hesitating to proceed among the surrounding nations of barbarians, whom any other person, with so small a force, would have distrusted either for their race or their unbelief. By the Armenians and Syrians, indeed, coming out to meet him on the road with crosses and torches, he was received with grateful joy, and kindly entertained. But the Turks, endeavouring to attack his rear, were frustrated in all their attempts by the skill of Baldwin: the Samosatians setting the first example of flight. Samosata is a city beyond the Euphrates, from which arose Paul of Samosata, the confutation of whose heresy, whoever is desirous may read in the History of Eusebius. And, if I well remember, Josephus says, that Antony was laying siege to this city, when Herod came to him. The Turks inhabiting that city then, who were the first instigators of outrage against the Franks, were the first to give way. Thus, Baldwin, coming safely to Edessa, found nothing to disappoint his expectations: for being received with surpassing favour by the prince, and soon after, on his being killed by his faithless citizens, obtaining the lawful sovereignty of the city, for the whole time during which the Franks were labouring at Antioch and at Jerusalem, he was not free from hostilities; worsting his opponents in repeated attacks.

But in the month of November, being reminded by Boamund, prince of Antioch, that they should enter on their progress to Jerusalem, he prepared for marching, and by the single display of the white standard, which was his ensign in battle, overthrowing the Turks who had broken the peace on his expected departure, he left Antioch to the right; and came to Laodicea. Here, by the liberality of earl Raymond, who presided over the city, getting, at a cheap rate, a sufficiency of supplies for his people, he passed Gibellum, and followed the recent track of Boamund, who had encamped and awaited him. Daibert, archbishop of Pisa, joined them for the march: he had landed his confederate party at Laodicea, as did also two other bishops. These forces when united were estimated at five and twenty thousand; many of whom, when they entered the territories of the Saracens, were, through the scarcity of commodities, overtaken by famine, and many were dismounted, from their horses being starved. Their distress was increased by an abundance of rain; for in that country it pours down like a torrent in the winter months only. In consequence, these poor wretches, having no change of garments, died from the severity of the cold; never getting under cover during several successive days. For this calamity, indeed, there was no remedy, as there was a deficiency both of tents and of wood: but they in some measure appeased their hunger, by constantly chewing the sweet reeds, which they call caramel; so denominated from cane and honey. Thus, twice only, obtaining necessaries at an exorbitant price from the inhabitants of Tripoli and Caesarea, they came to Jerusalem on the day of the winter solstice. They were met at the gates by king Godfrey with his brother Eustace, whom he had detained till this time, who showed them every degree of respect and generosity. Having performed in Bethlehem all the accustomed solemnities of our Lord’s nativity, they appointed Daibert patriarch: to which transaction I doubt not, that the consent of pope Urban was obtained; for he was reverend from age, eloquent, and rich. After the circumcision of our Lord, therefore, assuming palms in Jericho, which antiquity has made the ensign of pilgrims, each one hastily endeavoured to reach his home. The cause of their speed was the stench of the unburied dead bodies, the fumes of which exhaled in such a manner as to infect the air itself. In consequence, a contagious pestilence spreading in the atmosphere, consigned to death many who had recently arrived. The rest quickened their march, by the cities on the coast, that is to say, Tiberias and Caesarea Philippi; for they were urged by scantiness of provision, and the fear of the enemy. Their want, as I have said, was remedied by the celerity of their march; and to the fury of three hundred soldiers who harassed them from the town of Baldac, they opposed a military stratagem. For feigning a flight for a short time, that by leaving the narrow passes themselves, they might induce the Turks to enter them, they retreated purposely, and then returning, routed the straggling enemy at their pleasure. They had supposed our people unprepared for fight, as their shields and bows were injured by the excessive rains; not being aware, that among men, victory consists not in reliance on excellence of arms, or of armour, but in the more noble power of courage, and of the well-nerved arm.

At that time, indeed, Baldwin returned safely to Edessa, and Boamund to Antioch. But in the beginning of the month of July, a vague report reached the ears of Baldwin, that the brilliant jewel of our commanders was dimmed; Boamund being taken, and cast into chains, by one Danisman, a heathen, and a potentate of that country. In consequence, collecting a body of the people of Edessa and Antioch, he was in hopes of revenging this singular disgrace of the Christians. Moreover the Turk, who had taken this chieftain more by stratagem and chance than by courage or military force, as he had come with a small party to get possession of the city of Meletima, aware that the Franks would use their utmost efforts against him for the disgrace of the thing, betook himself to his own territories; marshalling his troops, not as though he intended to retreat, but rather to exhibit a triumph. Baldwin then proceeding two days’ march beyond Meletima, and seeing the enemy decline the hazard of a battle, thought fit to return; but first, with the permission of Gabriel the governor, brought over the city to his own disposal. In the meantime, intelligence reaching him of his brother’s death, and of the general consent of the inhabitants and chiefs to his election, he entrusted Edessa to Baldwin, his nearest relation by blood, and moreover a prudent and active man, and prepared for receiving the crown of Jerusalem. Wherefore collecting two hundred horse, and seven hundred foot, he proceeded on a march pregnant with death and danger; whence many, who were falsely supposed faithful, contemplating the boldness of the attempt, clandestinely deserted. He, with the remainder, marched forward to Antioch, where from the resources of his sagacious mind, he became the cause of great future advantage to his distressed people, by advising them to choose Tancred as their chief. Thence, he came to Tripoli, by the route of Gibesium and Laodicea. The governor of this city, a Turk by nation, but, from natural disposition, rich in bowels of mercy, afforded him the necessary provisions without the walls; at the same time, kindly intimating, that he should act cautiously, as Ducach, king of Damascus, had occupied a narrow pass through which he had heard he was to march. But he, ashamed of being moved by the threats of the Saracen, resolutely proceeded on his destination. When he came to the place, he perceived the truth of the governor’s information: for about five miles on this side the city of Berith, there is a very narrow passage near the sea, so confined by steep precipices, and narrow defiles, that were a hundred men to get possession of the entrance, they might prevent any number, however great, from passing. Such as travel from Tripoli to Jerusalem have no possible means of avoiding it. Baldwin, therefore, arriving on the spot, sent out scouts to examine the situation of the place, and the strength of the enemy. The party returning, and hardly intelligible through fear, pointed out the difficulty of the pass, and the confidence of the enemy, who had occupied it. But Baldwin, who fell little short of the best soldier that ever existed, feeling no alarm, boldly drew up his army and led it against them. Ducach then despatched some to make an onset, and lure the party unguardedly forward; retaining his main body in a more advantageous position. For this purpose, at first they rushed on with great impetuosity, and then made a feint to retreat, to entice our people into the defile. This stratagem could not deceive Baldwin, who, skilled by long-continued warfare, made a signal to his men to make show of flight; and to induce a supposition that they were alarmed, he commanded the bag and baggage which they had cast down, to be again taken up, and the cattle to be goaded forward, as well as the ranks to be opened, that the enemy might attack them. The Turks at this began to exult, and, raging so horribly that you might suppose the Furies yelling, pursued our party. Some getting into vessels took possession of the shore, others riding forward began to kill such pilgrims as were incautiously loitering near the sea. The Franks continued their pretended flight till they reached a plain which they had before observed. No confusion deprived these men of their judgment; even the very emergency by which they had been overtaken nurtured and increased their daring; and though a small body, they withstood innumerable multitudes both by sea and land. For the moment it appeared they had sufficiently feigned alarm, they closed their ranks, turned their standards, and hemmed in the now-charging enemy on all sides. Thus the face of affairs was changed, the victors were vanquished, and the vanquished became victors. The Turks were hewn down with dreadful carnage; the remainder anxiously fled to their vessels, and when they had gotten more than a bow-shot out to sea, they still urged them forward as fiercely with their oars, as though they supposed they could be drawn back to land by the arm of their adversaries. And that you may not doubt of this miracle as fanciful, but as evident, feel it as it were, only four Christian soldiers fell in procuring by their blood this victory to the survivors. Wherefore I assert, that the Christians would never be conquered by the pagans, were they to implore the Divine assistance on their courage, ere they entered the conflict; and, when in battle, conciliate the friendly powers of heaven to their arms. But since, in peace they glut themselves in every kind of vice, and in battle rely only upon their courage; therefore it justly happens, that their valour is often unsuccessful. The earl then, rejoicing in his splendid victory, on returning to spoil the slain, found several Turks alive, whom he dismissed without personal injury, but despoiled them of their wealth. To avoid any hidden stratagem, he that night retreated with his party, and rested under the shelter of some olive trees. Next day, at dawn, he approached the defile, with the light troops, to be an eye-witness of the nature of the place; and, finding everything safe, and making a signal by smoke, as had been agreed upon, he intimated to his associates the departure of the enemy; for the Turks, who the day before were wantonly galloping around the hill, perceiving the carnage of their companions, had all fled in the dead of the night. Laying aside every delay, they instantly followed their commander. The governor of Berith sent them food on their march, astonished at the valour of so small a force. The Tyrians and Sidonians, and Accaronites, who are also called Ptholoamites, acted in the same manner, venerating with silent apprehension the bravery of the Franks. Nor were Tancred’s party, in Caiphas, less generous, although he was absent. The ancient name of this town I am unable to discover; because all the inland cities, which we read of in Josephus as formerly existing, are either not in being, or else, changed into inconsiderable villages, have lost their names; whereas those on the coast remain entire. In this manner, by Csesarea of Palestine, and Azotus, they came to Joppa. Here he was first congratulated on his kingdom, the citizens with great joy opening the gates to him.

Being afterwards accompanied by the inhabitants of Joppa to Jerusalem, where he was favourably received, he indulged in a repose of seven days’ continuance. Then, that the Turks might be convinced that the spirit of his reign would proceed to their signal disadvantage, he led his troops towards Ascalon. When at a short distance from that city, he proudly displayed his forces, and with very little exertion compelled the attacking Ascalonites to retreat, by waiting a favourable opportunity for accomplishing his designs. Finally, conceiving his glory satisfied for that time by their repulse, he drew off to the mountains to pursue the enemy, and also at their expense to procure necessaries for his troops, who were famished with hunger from the barrenness of the land: for a scanty harvest had that year denied sustenance; deceiving the expectations of the province by a meagre produce. He ascended therefore the mountainous districts, whither the Turkish inhabitants of the country had retreated on leaving their towns, concealing the Syrians with them in sequestered caverns. The Franks, however, discovered a mode of counteracting the device of the fugitives, by letting smoke into their hiding-places; by which the miscreants were dislodged, and came out one by one. The Turks were killed to a man; the Syrians spared. The army turning aside thence, and marching towards Arabia, passed by the supulchres of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and of their three wives, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. The place is in Hebron, thirteen miles distant from Jerusalem. For the body of Joseph lies at Neapolis, formerly called Sichem, covered with white marble, and conspicuous to every traveller; there, too, are seen the tombs of his brothers, but of inferior workmanship. The army then came into the valley where God formerly overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, darting fire from heaven on the wicked. The lake there extends for eighteen miles, incapable of supporting any living creature, and so horrible to the palate, as to distort the mouths of such as drink it, and distend their jaws with its bitter taste. A hill overhangs the valley, emitting, in various places, a salt scum, and all over transparent, as it were, with congealed glass. Here is gathered what some call nitre; some call it crystal salt. Passing the lake, they came to a very opulent town, abundant in those luscious fruits which they call dates; in devouring which they were hardly able to fill the cavities of the stomach, or constrain the greediness of their palates, they were so extremely sweet. Every thing else had been taken away, through the alarm of the inhabitants, except a few Ethiopians, the dark wool of whose hair resembled smut. Our people, thinking it beneath their valour to kill persons of this description, treated them, not with indignation, but with laughter. Adjacent to this town is a valley, where to this day is seen the rock which Moses struck, to give water to the murmuring tribes. The stream yet runs so plentifully, and with such a current, as to turn the machinery of mills. On the declivity of the hill stands a church in honour of the legislator Aaron: where, through the mediation and assistance of his brother, he used to hold converse with God. Here learning from guides conversant in the roads, who from Saracens had been converted to Christianity, that from hence to Babylon was all barren country, and destitute of every accommodation, they returned to Jerusalem, to consecrate to God the first fruits of his reign, acquired in the subjugation of so many hostile countries.

The royal insignia being prepared, Baldwin was crowned with great ceremony, in Bethlehem, on Christmas-day, by Daibert the patriarch; all wishing him prosperity. For both at that time, and afterwards, he deserved, by his own exertions, and obtained, through the favour of others, every degree of royal respect, though sovereign of a very small, and I had almost said, a despicable kingdom. Wherefore the Christians ought to regard the mercy of our Lord Christ, and to walk in the contemplation of his power, through whose assistance they were objects of apprehension, though unable to do harm. For there were scarcely, in the whole service, four hundred horsemen and so many foot, to garrison Jerusalem, Ramula, Caiphas, and Joppa. For those who came thither by sea, with minds ill at ease, amid so many hostile ports, after having adored the saints, determined to return home, as there was no possibility of proceeding by land. Moreover, an additional difiiculty was, that in the month of March Tancred had departed to assume the government of Antioch, nor could he or the ++++ aid each other from the length of the journey: indeed, should necessity require it, he could not, without fear of irreparable loss, march his troops from one town to another. I pronounce it therefore to be a manifest miracle, that safe alone, through God’s brotection, he was an object of dread to such a multitude of barbarians.

In this year, which was a.d. 1101, the sacred fire, which used to signalize the Vigil of Easter, delayed its appearance longer than usual. For on the Saturday, the lessons being read, alternately in Greek and Latin, the “Kyrie eleeson” repeated thrice and the melody of the clarions resounding, still when no fire appeared, and the setting sun induced the evening and led on the night, then all departed sorrowful to their homes. It had been determined, after mature deliberation, that on that night no person should remain in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, for fear any one of infected conscience should irritate God still more through his irreverent intrusion. But when the twilight was proceeding into day, a procession of the Latins was ordered to go to the Temple of Solomon, that by prayer they might call down the mercy of God: the same was performed around the Sepulchre of our Lord, by the Syrians plucking their beards and hair through violence of grief The mercy of God could endure no longer, light being instantly sent into one lamp of the Sepulchre. Which, when a Syrian perceived glittering through a window, he expressed his joy by the clapping of his hands, and accelerated the advance of the patriarch. He, opening the recess of the sepulchral chamber by the keys which he carried, and lighting a taper, brought forth the celestial gift, imparting it to all who crowded round him for that purpose; afterwards the whole of the lamps, throughout the church, were divinely lighted up, the one which was next to be illumined evincing its approaching ignition by emitting smoke in a miraculous manner. Thus, doubtless, the constant manner of Christ has been to terrify those he loved that he might again kindly soothe them, and that the dread of his power might redound to his praise. For since even the common gifts of God are lightly esteemed by men merely from their constant recurrence, he often enhances the grant of his indulgences by withholding them, that what was most ardently desired might be more gratefully regarded.

At that time a fleet of Genoese and Pisans had touched at Laodicea, and thence made a prosperous voyage to Joppa, and the crews, drawing their vessels on shore, spent Easter with the king at Jerusalem. He, bargaining for their services, engaged to give them the third of the spoil of each city they should take, and any particular street they might choose. Thus he impelled them, inconsiderate and blinded, more through lust of gold than love of God, to barter their blood, and lay siege immediately to Azotus, which they constrained to surrender after three days. Nor did the townspeople yield very reluctantly, as they feared the anger of the king should they be taken by storm: for, the preceding year, assisted by the machination of fortune, they had vigorously repulsed Godfrey when making a similar attempt. For, indeed, when by means of scaling ladders he had advanced his forces on the walls, and they, now nearly victorious, had gotten possession of the parapet, the sudden fall of a wooden tower, which stood close to the outside of the wall, deprived them of the victory and killed many, while still more were taken and butchered by the cruelty of the Saracens. Leaving Azotus, Baldwin laid siege to Ceesarea of Palestine, with his whole force, and with determined courage; but perceiving the resolution of its citizens and the difficulty of the enterprise, he ordered engines to be constructed. Petraries were therefore made, and a great tower built of twenty cuMts in height, surpassing the altitude of the wall. Our people, however, impatient of delay and of such lingering expectation, erecting their ladders and attempting to overtop the wall, arrived at the summit by the energy of their efforts, with conscious valour indignantly raging, that they had now been occupied in conflict with the Saracens during fifteen days, and had lost the whole of that time; and although the Csesareans resisted with extreme courage, and rolled down large stones on them as they ascended, yet despising all danger, they broke through their opponents in a close body, and fought with an outstretched arm, and a drawn sword. The Engines made to cast stones.

William of Malmesbury

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29 January, 2015
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