Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deeds of the Franks, Book 9, Chapters 26 & 27

26. Then the Turks who were above us in the citadel began to constrain us amazingly so that they hemmed in three of our knights in a tower which was in front of the citadel. The gentiles exited and rushed against them so bitterly that they were unable to endure the attack. Two of the knights left the tower, wounded, and the third manfully defended himself against the attack of the Turks all day so well that on that day he razed two Turks down above the entrance with broken spears. For he had three broken spears in his hands that day. His name was Crazy Hugo, from the army of Godfrey of Mont Scabioso.

The venerable Bohemond, seeing that he was not able to lead his people as far as the citadel to fight - for they were locked up in the houses, some fearing famine and others for fear of the Turks - he was very angry and immediately ordered that the city be set on fire, in that part where Cassianus had his palace. Seeing this, those who were in the city abandoned the houses and everything they had and fled, some into the citadel, others to the gate with the Count of St. Giles, other to the gate of Duke Godfrey, each one to his own people. Then, too great a storm arose with a sudden wind, so that no one was able to keep to a straight course. The wise Bohemond was very fully sad at this, fearing for the church of St. Peter and St. Mary and other churches. This wrath lasted from the third hour all the way to the middle of the night. Nearly two thousand churches and homes had been burned. However when the middle of the night arrived, suddenly all fires diminished in ferocity.

The Turks, living in the citadel, were fighting beyond the city with our men day and night, and not anything could separate us from our arms. Our men, seeing this, because they were not able to endure this for a long time, since those who had bread had no time to eat it and those who had water had no time to drink, they built a wall between them and us from rocks and clay and they built a fort and machines so that they would be safe. A part of the Turks remained in the citadel to fight us, others were camped near a fort in a valley.
Since night fell, a fire appeared in the sky coming from the West, and approaching fell in the midst of the army of the Turks. From this, our men and the Turks were amazed. Moreover after this happened, on the next day, trembling Turks fled all equally for fear of the fire to before the gate of Lord Bohemond and camped there. The rest who were in the citadel were conducting war with us day and night, by firing arrows and wounding or killing. Others were besieging the city so that none of us dared to enter or exit the city unless at night and in secret. Thus we were truly besieged and oppressed by them, whose numbers were uncountable. Thus those unclean enemies of God were holding us so shut up in the city of Antioch that many were dead of hunger, since a small bread was being sold for one besant. We will not speak of wine. And they were eating the meat of horses and asses and selling it as well. They were selling a cock for fifty solides, an egg for two solides, one nut for one denaria, for everything was very dear. They were cooking and eating leaves of fig trees, vines and thistles and all trees, there was such an immense hunger. They were boiling the dried leather of of nags, camels and asses as well as cattle or buffalo and eating this. These and many worries and straits we endured in the name of Christ and the pilgrimage to the Sacred Sepulcher that must be freed. We endured such tribulations, hunger and fear for twenty-six days.

27. Then the foolish Stephen Count of Carnotensis(de Blois) who all our nobles had chosen so that he would be our leader, had greatly contrived to be weighed down with infirmity before Antioch had been captured and had disgracefully withdrawn to a fort which was called Alexandretta. We were expecting him to come every day to aid us who were shut up in the city and destitute in healing aid. Afterwards he heard the Turks had surrounded and besieged us, he secretly climbed up and nearby mountain where he could stand near Antioch and saw uncountable tents and a seized by a violent fear of capture, he quickly fled with his own army. Moreover, coming to his own fort, he looted it and quickly went back by the same route he came. Afterwards he went out to meet the emperor at Philomena, and called him apart in secret to say: "You should know again since Antioch has been captured and the citadel has not in the least been captured, our men are besieged with grave pressure, so that I reckon they had already been killed by the Turks. Therefore, you should return as quickly as you are able and the Turks will not find you and these people that you lead with you." Then the emperor, shook with fear, secretly called Guy, the brother of Bohemond (a half brother who was a mercenary in Alexius' army) and others, and said to them: "Sirs, what should we do? Behold, all of our men are beset and drawn apart by a siege, and perhaps in the very hour, all are dead at the hands of the Turks or are being lead into captivity just as this unpleasant count who is shamefully fleeing tells us. If you wish, we will turn back by the quick route, so that we shall not die in what manner of sudden death as even they have died."

When Guy, a most honorable knight, heard such a thing, he began to wail with everyone and to strike a most vehement howl. All were saying with one voice: "O true God, in one and the trinity, for what reason do you permit this to be done? Why did you permit your people following you and wishing to liberate the path to you and the Sacred Sepulcher, to fall into the hands of the enemies? Certainly if the truth is this word which we are unable to hear from this notorious man, we and other Christians will wholly forsake you, nor will we call you to mind, and none of us will dare to invoke your name beyond this." And he made this speech very greatly dejected with the entire force so that none of them either bishops or abbots, clerks or laity, would dare to invoke the name of Christ for many days. For no one was able to console Guy, wailing and smiting himself with his own hands, breaking his fingers and saying: Alas for me Lord, my Bohemond, pride and honor of the whole world, whom all the world fears and loves! (What about his nephew Tancred? :-( ) Alas sad me! I sorrowing earned not to see your most honorable aspect which I was desiring to see more than any thing. Who would give to me that I would die for you, sweetest friend and lord? (Oh lord!) Why did I not immediately die upon leaving my mother's womb? (a bit over the top really) Why did I come to this mournful day? Why was I not drowned in the sea? (yeah, why?) Why did I not fall from my horse and break my neck (yawn) so that I would receive a hasty destruction? If only I would receive happy martyrdom and witness you receive your most glorious end!" When everyone had run to him to console him, so that he would give lamenting an end, he said to them again: "Perhaps you will believe this of that half-gray, unwise knight, I never heard anyone speak about soldiering, that he would do the same as this one. But he withdrew dishonorably and shamefully, just as we are unwilling and unhappy to do and anyone whom I call a wretch, you know to be false."

Meanwhile, the emperor ordered his own men saying: "Go and lead these people to that land in Bulgaria and explore and destroy all places that harbor Turks so that they will be able to find nothing." Our men, turning around, had wanted and not wanted to return, sorrowing most bitterly unto death, there were many dead among the pilgrims, too feeble and unwell to follow the soldiers. They were falling dead on the road. All the rest returned to Constantinople.

In case you wonder why I sneer at the grief of Guy, this is the same fellow who climbed over the walls of Antioch and ran away when the fighting got fierce in Chapter 23 following the first onslaught of Kerbogha(Curbara).


Tracy said...

Then the foolish Stephen Count of Carnotensis(de Blois) who all our nobles had chosen so that he would be our leader,
So, not a good choice, then!

had greatly contrived to be weighed down with infirmity before Antioch had been captured and had disgracefully withdrawn to a fort which was called Alexandretta

Paul Theroux visits Alexandretta in his book The Pillars of Hercules:
Iskenderun itself, it's puddled streets lined with thick palm trees, lay at the foot of a range of the dark Amarus Mountains, and beyond it's small houses and it's onion fields was the sea again, small waves slapping, the surface hardly disturbed, like the shore of a lake. It was the sloppy old Mediterranean Sea, not a body of water with many moods, but looking shallow and tame and almost exhausted. There was no fishing here, not even any swimming. And this place which Alexander the Great had founded after a great battle - until fairly recently it was known as Alexandretta - was just a little tile-roofed town. It's beach was littered with wind-blown trash and dumped junk; when "the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land" that land was reputedly this very beach.
He also mentions several ruined fortresses outside Antioch (Antakya)

The Red Witch said...

It would be a great place to do a tour. I need to win the lottery so I can travel more!