In Hanmer's affecting words, "Sir Almeric turned him to the foot company, and hardly gathering breath with the sorrow of his heart, resolved himself thus: 'I have no power to fly, and leave my friends, my flesh and blood, in this extreme distress. I will live with them who for my sake came hither, if it so please God; or I will die with them, if it be His pleasure, that, ending here, we shall meet again, bodies and souls, at the last day. God and the world bear witness that we do as Christian knights ought to do. I yield my soul into God's hands; my body to return whence it came; my service to my natural prince; my heart to my wife, and brother Sir John de Courcy; my might, my force, my bloody sweat, to the aid of you all that are in the field.' He alighted, kneeled on his knees, kissed the cross of his sword, ran his horse through, saying, 'Thou shalt never serve against me, that so worthily hast served with me.' All the horses were then killed but two, on which he mounted two of the youngest of his followers, bidding them watch the fight from the next hill, then make all speed to bear his greetings to his brother De Courcy, and report that day's service."
When the Irish saw the devoted band so firmly awaiting their attack, they fancied that succor must be near, and did not venture their onset till the whole country had been reconnoitred. Every Englishman was slain, but one thousand Irish also fell, and the death of these brave men was not in vain. Cathal was so impressed by their courage, that he sued for peace, and never ventured another pitched battle. He afterward told Sir Hugo de Lacy that he thought verily there never was the like seen on earth; for, when the Englishmen could not stand, they set themselves back to back, and fought on till the last man was slain.
De Courcy long survived his faithful brother-in-arms, and stood so high in all men's estimation, that De Lacy in jealousy sent information to King John, soon after the death of Arthur, that the Earl of Ulster was sowing disaffection by accusing him of his nephew's murder. This was the very thing for which John had lately starved to death the Lady de Braose and her children, and he sent orders to De Lacy to attack the person of De Courcy. Every means of open force failed, and De Lacy was reduced to tamper with his servants, two of whom at length informed him that it was vain to think of seizing their master when he had his armor on, as he was of immense strength and skill, nor did he ever lay aside his weapons, except on Good Friday, when he was wont to walk up and down the churchyard of Downe, alone and unarmed.
Accordingly, De Lacy sent a band of horsemen, who fell upon the betrayed knight. He caught up a wooden cross, and made brave resistance, and so did his two nephews, sons of Sir Almeric, who were with him; but they had no weapon, and were both slain, while De Courcy was overpowered, and carried a prisoner to London. The two traitors begged De Lacy to give them passports to go to England; on which he gave them a sealed paper, on condition of their not opening it themselves, nor returning on pain of death. Now, the paper set forth that they were traitors no better than Judas, and exhorted every true man to spit in their faces, and drive them away. However, these letters were never delivered; for the wretched men were driven, by stress of weather, back on the coast of Ireland, and De Lacy had them hanged.
De Courcy continued in captivity till one of the many disputes between John and Philippe Auguste was to be decided by the ordeal of battle. The most stalwart of all John's subjects was his prisoner, and he immediately sent to release him from the Tower, offering him immense rewards if he would become his champion. The old knight answered that King John himself was not worthy to have one drop of blood shed for him; and as to rewards, he could never requite the wrongs he had done him, nor restore the heart's ease he had robbed him of. For John Lackland he would never fight, nor for such as him, but for the honor of the Crown, and of England, he undertook the cause. The old warrior, wasted with imprisonment, was prepared by good feeding, and received his weapons: the Frenchman fled at once, and De Courcy prepared to return to Ireland. He made fifteen attempts to cross, and each time was forced to put back. At length, as old chronicles relate, he was warned in a dream to make the trial no more: for, said the voice, "Thou hast done ill: thou hast pulled down the master, and set up the servant."
This was thought to refer to his having newly dedicated the cathedral of Downe in the name of St. Patrick, whereas before it had been the Church of the Holy Trinity. He took blame to himself, submitted, and going to France, there died at an advanced age. For his championship, the right of wearing the head covered in the presence of royalty was granted to him and his heirs, and it is still the privilege of his descendants, the Earls of Kinsale;
"For when every head is unbonneted They walk in cap and plume."
THE REBELLIOUS EAGLETS. (1149-1189.)
King of England. 1154. Henry II.
King of Scotland. 1165. William.
Kings of France. 1137. Louis VII. 1180. Philippe II.
Emperor of Germany. 1152. Friedrich I.
Popes of Rome. 1154. Adrian IV. 1159. Alexander III. 1181. Lucius III. 1185. Urban III. 1187. Gregory VIII.
"The gods are just, and of our pleasant sins make whips to scourge us." This saying tells the history of the reign of Henry of the Court Mantle.
Ambition and ill faith were the crimes of Henry from his youth upward, and he was a man of sufficiently warm affections to suffer severely from the retribution they brought on him, when, through his children, they recoiled upon his head. "When once he loveth, scarcely will he ever hate; when once he hateth, scarcely ever receiveth he into grace," was written of him by his tutor, Peter of Blois, and his life proved that it was a true estimate of his character.
The root of his misfortunes may be traced to his ambitious marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, twelve years older than himself, and divorced by Louis VII. of France on account of her flagrant misconduct in Palestine, in the course of the miserable expedition called the Second Crusade. For her broad lands, he deserted the woman whom he loved, and who had left her home and duty for his sake, and on his promise of marriage.
Fair Rosamond Clifford was the daughter of a Herefordshire baron, with whom Henry became acquainted in his seventeenth year, when he came to England, in 1149, to dispute the crown with Stephen. He lodged her at Woodstock, in the tower built, according to ballad lore, "most curiously of stone and timber strong," and with such a labyrinth leading to it that "none, but with a clue of thread, could enter in or out." There Rosamond remained while he returned to France to receive Normandy and Anjou, on the death of his father, and on going to pay homage to Louis VII., ingratiated himself with Queen Eleanor, whose divorce was then impending. Eleanor and her sister Petronella were joint heiresses of the great duchy of Aquitaine, their father having died on pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella, and the desire of the fairest and wealthiest provinces of the south of France led the young prince to forget his ties to Rosamond and her infant son William, and never take into consideration what the woman must be of whom her present husband was resolved to rid himself at the risk of seeing half his kingdom in the hands of his most formidable enemy.
For some time Rosamond seems to have been kept in ignorance of Henry's unfaithfulness; but in 1152, the year of his coronation, and of the birth of her second child, Geoffrey, she quitted Woodstock, and retired into the nunnery of Godstow, which the King richly endowed. It has been one of the favorite legends of English history, that the Queen traced her out in her retreat by a ball of silk that had entangled itself in Henry's spurs, and that she offered her the choice of death by the dagger or by poison; but this tale has been refuted by sober proof; there is no reason to believe that Eleanor was a murderess; and it is certain that Rosamond, on learning how she had been deceived, took refuge in the nunnery, where she ended her days twenty years after, in penitence and peace, far happier than her betrayer. Her sons, William and Geoffrey, were honorably brought up, and her remains were placed in the choir, under a silken canopy, with tapers burning round, while the Sisters of the convent prayed for mercy on her soul and King Henry's. Even King John paid the costs of this supposed expiation; but St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, not thinking it well that her history should be before the minds of the nuns, ordered the corpse to be interred in the ordinary burial-place of the convent.
During most of these twenty years of Rosamond's repentance, all apparently prospered with Henry. The rigorous justice administered by his excellent chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had restored order to England; the only man bold enough to gainsay him had been driven from the kingdom. Ireland was in course of conquest, and his astute policy was continually overreaching the simple-minded Louis VI., who, having derived the surname of le jeune from his age at his accession, was so boyish a character all his life as never to lose it.
Four sons and three daughters were born to Henry and Eleanor, and in their infancy he arranged such alliances as might obtain a still wider power for them—nay, even the kingdom of France. Louis VI. had married again, but his second wife died, leaving two infant girls, named Margaret and Alice, and to them Henry betrothed his two eldest sons, Henry and Richard. It was to ask the hand of Margaret for the prince that Becket took his celebrated journey to Paris, and the young pair, Henry and Margaret, were committed to his care for education; but the disputes with the King prevented their being sufficiently long in his hands for the correction of the evil spirit of the Angevin princes.
By threats of war, Henry obtained for Geoffrey, his third son, Constance, the only child of Conan, Duke of Brittany; though the Bretons, who hated Normans, Angevins, and English with equal bitterness, were extremely angry at finding themselves thus connected with all three. On Conan's death, Geoffrey, then ten years old, was called Duke of Brittany, but his father took the whole government into his hands, and made it a heavy yoke.
John, Count of Mortagne, for whom no heiress had been obtained, was gayly called by his father Lackland—a name which his after-life fitted to him but too well. Richard was intended to be the inheritor of his mother's beautiful duchy of Aquitaine, where he spent most of his early years. It was a strange country, where the ordinary events of life partook so much of romance that we can hardly believe them real.
It had never been so peopled by the Franks as to lose either the language or the cultivation left by the Romans. The langue d'oc had much resemblance to the Latin, and was beautifully soft and adapted to poetry; and when the nobles adopted chivalry, they ornamented it with all the graces of their superior education. The talent of improvising verses was common among them; and to be a minstrel, or, as they called it, a troubadour (a finder of verses), was essential to the character of a complete gentleman.
Courts of beauty and love took place, where arguments were held on cases of allegiance of a knight to his lady-love, and competitions in poetry, in which the reward was a golden violet. Each troubadour thought it needful to be dedicated to the service of some lady, in whose honor all his exploits in arms or achievements in minstrelsy were performed. To what an extravagant length this devotion was carried, is shown in the story of Jauffred Rudel, Lord of Blieux, who, having heard from some Crusaders a glowing account of the beauty and courtesy of the Countess of Tripoli, on their report made her the object of his affections, and wrote poem after poem upon her, of which one has come down to our times:
"No other love shall e'er be mine, None save my love so far away; For one more fair I'll never know, In region near, or far away."
Thus his last verse may be translated, and his "amour luench," or love far away, occurs in every other line. He embarked for Palestine for the sole purpose of seeing his amour luench, but fell sick on the voyage, and was speechless when he arrived. The countess, hearing to what a condition his admiration had brought him, came on board the vessel to see him; the sight of her so charmed him, that he was able to say a few words to her before he expired. She caused him to be buried with great splendor, and erected a porphyry tomb over him, with an Arabic inscription.
The romance of the Languedocians was unhappily not accompanied by purity of manners, and much of Queen Eleanor's misconduct may be ascribed to the tone prevalent in her native duchy, to which she was much attached. Her brave son, Richard, growing up in this land of minstrelsy, became a thorough troubadour, and loved no portion of his father's domains as well as the sunny south; and his two brothers, Henry and Geoffrey, likewise fell much under the influence of the poetical knights of Aquitaine, especially Bertrand de Born, Viscount de Hautefort, an accomplished noble, who was the intimate friend of all the princes.
The King's first disappointment was when, at length, a son was born to Louis VI., who had hitherto, to use his own words, "been afflicted with a multitude of daughters." This son of his old age was christened "Philippe Dieu donne," and the servant who brought the welcome tidings of his birth was rewarded with a grant of three measures of wheat yearly from the royal farm of Gonesse. Soon after, Louis dreamt that he saw his son holding a goblet of blood in his hand, from which his valor was predicted, and he did indeed seem born to visit the offences of the Plantagenets on their own heads. Even while quite a child, when present at a conference between the two kings under the Elm of Gisors, he was shrewd enough to perceive that Henry was unjustly overreaching his father, and surprised all present by exclaiming, "Sir, you do my father wrong. I perceive that you always gain the advantage over him. I cannot hinder you now, but I give you notice that, when I am grown up, I will take back all of which you now deprive us." And, by fair means and foul, he kept his word.
Next Henry began to find that the Church would not allow him to remain in peace while he kept the Archbishop in exile, and the dread of excommunication caused him to obviate the danger of his subjects being released from their oaths of allegiance, by causing his eldest son to be crowned, and receive their homage. The Princess Margaret was in Aquitaine with Queen Eleanor; and when she found that the rights of her former tutor, Becket, were neglected, and the ceremony to be performed by the Archbishop of York, she refused to come to England, and her husband was crowned alone. It was then that his father carved at his banquet, and he made the arrogant speech respecting the son of a count and the son of a king.
That year was marked by the murder of the Archbishop, and soon after the storm began to burst. Young Henry, now nineteen years of age, went with his wife to pay a visit to her father at Paris, and returned full of discontent, complaining that he was a king only in name, since he had not even a house to himself, and insisting on his father's giving up to him at once either England, Normandy, or Anjou.
His complaints were echoed by Richard and Geoffrey, who were with their mother in Aquitaine. Richard had received investiture of the county of Poitiers, but the entire authority was in the hands of Castellanes, appointed by his father, and the proud natives were stirring up the young prince to shake off the bondage in which he, like them, was held. Geoffrey, though only fifteen, thought himself aggrieved by not having yet received his wife's duchy of Brittany, and positively refused to pay homage for it to his eldest brother, when newly crowned to repair the irregularity of his first coronation, and for this opposition the high-spirited Bretons forgave his Angevin blood, and looked on him as their champion. The boys' discontents were aggravated by their mother, and the state of feeling was so well known in the South, that when Henry and his eldest son came to Limoges to receive the homage of Count Raymond of Toulouse, that noble, on coming to the part of the oath of fealty where he was engaged to counsel his lord against his enemies, added, "I should warn you to secure your castles of Poitou and Aquitaine, and to mistrust your wife and sons."
Henry, who was aware of the danger, under pretext of hunting, visited his principal fortresses, and, to guard against the evil designs of his son Henry, caused him to sleep in his own bedroom. At Chinon, however, the youth contrived to elude his vigilance, stole away, and escaped to Paris, where he was received in a manner that reflects great discredit on the French monarch.
When the elder Henry sent to Paris to desire the restoration of the fugitive, the messengers found him royally robed, and seated by the side of the French King, who received them, asking from whom they came.
"From Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou and Maine."
"That is not true. Here sits Henry, King of England, who has no message to send me by you. But if you mean his father, the late King of England, he has been dead ever since his son has worn the crown; and if he still pretends to be a king, I will soon find a cure."
Young Henry adopted a great seal, and wrote letters to the Pope, his mother, and brothers, exciting them against his father, and putting forth a manifesto declaring that he could not leave unpunished the death of "his foster-father, the glorious martyr St. Thomas of Canterbury, whose blood was crying out for vengeance."
On receiving these letters, Richard and Geoffrey hurried to meet him at Paris, and Queen Eleanor was following in male attire, when she was seized and made prisoner. Louis caused the two boys to swear that they would never conclude a peace with their father without his consent, and they were joined by great numbers of the Norman and Poitevin nobility, even from among the King's immediate attendants. Each morning some one was missed from his court, and known to be gone over to the enemy, but still Henry outwardly kept up his spirits, conversed gaily, and hunted as usual.
Only once did he give way. Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, was devotedly attached to him, and had at his own expense raised an army of Brabancons, or mercenary soldiers, and defeated an inroad of the Scots, and he now brought his victorious force to the aid of his father. Rosamond was just dead in her nunnery, and at his first meeting with her son, Henry embraced him with tears, exclaiming, "Thou art my true and lawful son!" The bishopric of Lincoln was destined to Geoffrey, but he was only twenty, and was unwilling to take orders, thinking himself better able to help his father as a layman.
The Brabancons were the only troops on whom the King could rely, and with them he marched against the Bretons, who had been encouraged by Louis and their young Duke to rebel. They were defeated, and Louis, not wishing to run further risks, brought the three youths to the Elm of Gisors, and held a conference with them, where Henry showed himself far more ready to forgive than his sons to ask pardon.
Afterward young Henry and Geoffrey returned to Paris, and Richard to Poitou, whence he soon came to the French court, to receive the order of knighthood from Louis—another insult to his father. The two queens, Eleanor and Margaret, were in the old King's hands, and kept in close captivity; the younger, who seems to have been a gentle and innocent lady, was soon allowed to join her husband, but Eleanor was retained in confinement at Winchester. As long as his mother, whom he tenderly loved, was imprisoned, Richard thought his resistance justified, and Aquitaine echoed with laments for the Lady of the South in the dungeon of her cruel husband. Bertrand de Born, who had chosen her daughter Eleanor, Queen of Castile, as the object of his songs, was especially ardent in his lamentations.
The elder King's grief at the continued misconduct of his sons led him to humble himself at the tomb of Becket, and the penance he underwent brought on a fever. He thought, however, that he had received a token of pardon, when news was brought that his faithful son Geoffrey of Lincoln, and his chancellor, Ranulf de Glanville, had defeated the King of Scots, William the Lion, and made him prisoner at Prudhoe Castle. But King Henry had far more to suffer!
His eldest son was invading Normandy, and he was forced to march against him. After a battle at Rouen, the princes were reduced to obedience; Richard was the last of all to be reconciled, believing, as he did, that his cause was his mother's, but he kept his oaths better than either of the others.
A time of greater quiet succeeded, during which young Henry set out as a knight-errant, going from one country to another in search of opportunities of performing deeds of arms. He came, in 1180, to attend the coronation of young Philippe II., who had just succeeded his father, in his fifteenth year, and had, or pretended to have, a great friendship for Geoffrey of Brittany.
Richard had in the meantime affronted Bertrand de Born, by assisting his brother Constantine, whom he had deprived of his inheritance. Bertrand rebelled with other Poitevins, proceeded to lash up, by verses, young Henry, to join them against Richard, rousing him to be no more a mere king of cowards, who had no lands, and never would have any.
Henry was worked upon to go to his father, and insist on receiving Richard's homage; and as he threatened to take the Cross and go to Palestine, the old King, who doted on him, consented. Richard declared this would be giving up the rights of his mother; and though he consented, at his father's entreaty, for the sake of peace, Henry was now affronted, would not receive it, and, with Geoffrey, placed himself at the head of the rebels of Poitou, and a fresh war broke out, and their father was obliged to come to Richard's aid. It seems to have been about this time that the unhappy King caused a picture to be painted of four eaglets tearing their father's breast. "It is an emblem of my children," he said. "If John has not yet acted like his brethren, it is only because he is not yet old enough!"
Henry and Geoffrey invited their father to a conference in Limoges, which he was besieging; but as he entered the town, a flight of arrows was discharged from the battlements, some of which rattled against his armor, and one pierced his horse's neck. The King held one of them up, saying, "Ah, Geoffrey! what has thine unhappy father done that thou shouldest make him a mark for thine arrows?"
Geoffrey treated the matter lightly. His brother was, however, so much shocked, that for a little while he joined his father, swearing he would never again rebel.
Only a few days had passed, before, on some trifling dispute, he again quitted his father, and, vowing he would take the Cross, joined Geoffrey and the rebel Poitevins. But this was indeed his last rebellion. He had scarcely entered the town of Limoges, before a violent fever came on, and in terror of death he sent to entreat his father to come and give his blessing and forgiveness. It was too late. After that last treason, the King could not trust himself in the rebel camp, and only sent the Archbishop of Bordeaux to carry his signet ring, and assure his son of his pardon. He found the unhappy young man in the agonies of death, lying on a bed of ashes, accusing himself of having been a "wicked, undutiful son, and bitterly disappointed at not seeing his father, to receive the blessing he had once cast from him, and which in vain he now sought earnestly and with tears." He died, fervently pressing the ring to his lips. Surely his remorse might have served for a warning to his brothers; but when the sorrowful father sent a priest to entreat Geoffrey to make peace over his grave, the fierce youth only answered that it was vain. "Our grandmother, the Witch, has left us a doom that none of us shall ever love the rest. It is our heirloom, and the only one of which we can never be deprived!"
However, Limoges was taken, and in it Bertrand de Born, who was led before the King to receive the punishment he deserved, and there he stood silent and dejected. "Hast thou nothing to say for thyself?" said the King. "Where is all thy ready flow of fine words? I think thou hast lost thy wits!"
"Ah, sire!" said Bertrand, "I lost them the day the brave young King died!"
The father burst into tears, and exclaimed, "Sir Bertrand, thou mightest well lose thy senses with grief for my son. He loved thee more than any man on earth; and I, for love of him, give thee back thy castles and lands."
Geoffrey still held aloof, and spent his time with his friend Philippe of France. At Paris, in 1186, he who called hatred his inheritance, and spurned his father's forgiveness, died without space for asking it, leaving, indeed, his chosen heirloom to his innocent children. He was in his twenty-fifth year, and the handsomest and the most expert in chivalrous exercises of all his brothers; but in the midst of a great tournament he was thrown from his horse, and trampled to death in the throng before his squires could extricate him.
Richard, the second son, inheriting the "lyonnous visage" that Peter de Blois ascribes to King Henry, and with it the Lion-heart, that gained him his surname, had far more feeling and generosity than his brothers, and, but for King Henry's own crimes, he might have been his blessing and glory. When Henry had provoked him, by desiring him, as being now heir of Normandy and England, to yield up Poitou to his brother John, Richard had refused; but on the King bringing his mother to Aquitaine, and reinstating her in her duchy, he instantly laid down his arms, joyfully came to her, and continued perfectly peaceable and dutiful whilst she still held her rights.
But after all these warnings, Henry was sinning grievously against his wife and son. Richard had been, in his infancy, betrothed to Alice of France, who had been placed in his father's keeping; but he had reached his twenty-seventh year without having been allowed to see her, and there was but too much reason to believe that the old King had wickedly betrayed his trust, and corrupted her innocence. Richard had, in the meantime, become attached to a modest, gentle maiden, Berengaria, sister to King Sancho of Navarre, and was anxious to know on what ground he stood with Alice; but the consequence of his first demonstration was, that Henry sent Eleanor back to her prison at Winchester.
This broke the tie that held him to obedience, and he went to Paris to consult with Philippe, Alice's brother, on the best measures for breaking off his unfortunate engagement, as well as on securing the succession to the crown, which he suspected his father of wishing to leave to his brother John. Philippe received him most affectionately; so that it is said they shared the same cup, the same plate, and the same bed.
Just at this time, Archbishop William of Tyre came to preach a new Crusade, and the description of the miseries of the Christians in Palestine so affected the two kings and Richard, that they took the Cross, and agreed to lay aside their disputes, to unite in the rescue of Jerusalem. However, the concord did not last long; Richard quarrelled with the Count of Toulouse, and a petty war took place, which the kings agreed to conclude by a conference, as usual, under the Elm of Gisors. This noble tree had so large a trunk, that the arms of four men could not together encircle it; the branches had, partly by Nature, partly by art, been made to bend downward, so as to form a sort of bower, and there were seats on the smooth extent of grass which they shaded. King Henry first arrived at this pleasant spot, and his train stretched themselves on the lawn, rejoicing in being thus sheltered from the burning heat of the summer sun; and when the French came up, laughed at them, left beyond the shade, to be broiled in the sunbeams. This gave offence, a sharp skirmish took place, the English drew off to Vernon, and Philippe, mindful of the indignation he had felt in his boyhood under that tree, swore that no more parleys should be held under it, and his knights hewed it down with their battle-axes.
The war continued, and Richard fought gallantly on his father's side; but as winter drew on, it was resolved that a meeting should be held at Bonmoulins to re-establish peace. Richard thought this a fit opportunity, in the presence of Alice's brother, for endeavoring to have his rights confirmed, and to clear up the miserable question of his betrothal. In the midst of the meeting he called on his father to promise him, in the presence of the King of France, that he would no longer delay his marriage, and declaration as his heir.
Henry prevaricated, and talked of bestowing Alice on John.
"This," cried Richard, "forces me to believe what I would fain have thought impossible! Comrades, you shall see a sight you did not expect."
And ungirding his sword, he knelt down before Philippe, and did homage to him, asking his assistance to re-establish his rights. Henry withdrew, followed by a very small number of knights. They mostly held with the young prince, won by his brilliant talents, great courage, and liberal manners; and the King found the grief renewed that his son Henry had caused him, while he himself, aged by cares rather than years, was less able to cope with them: moreover, Richard was far more formidable than his elder brother; Philippe a more subtle enemy than Louis; and above all, the King's own faults were the immediate cause of the rebellion. He took no active measures; he only caused his castellanes in Normandy to swear that they would yield their keys up to no one but to Prince John, on whom he had concentrated his affections. He awaited the coming of the Cardinal of Anagni, who was sent by the Pope to pacify these Crusaders, and remind them of their vows.
Again the parties met, and the legate, with four archbishops, began to speak of peace.
"I consent," said Philippe, "for the love of Heaven and of the Holy Sepulchre, to restore to King Henry what I have taken from him, provided he will immediately wed my sister Alice to his son Richard, and secure to him the succession of the crown, I also demand that his son John should go to Palestine with his brother, or he will disturb the peace of the kingdom."
"That he will!" exclaimed Richard.
"No," said Henry; "this is more than I can grant. Let your sister marry John; let me dispose of my own kingdom."
"Then the truce is broken," answered the French King. The Cardinal interfered, threatening to lay France under an interdict, and excommunicate Philippe and Richard if they would not consent to Henry's conditions. Their answers were characteristic.
"I do not fear your curses," said Philippe. "You have no right, to pronounce them on the realm of France. Your words smell of English sterlings."
"I'll kill the madman who dares to excommunicate two royal princes in one breath!" cried Coeur de Lion, drawing his sword; but his friends threw themselves between, and the Cardinal escaped, mounted his mule, and rode off in haste.
The French took Mans, and pillaged it cruelly, while Richard looked on in shame and grief at the desolation of his own inheritance. His father, weak and unwell, resolved to make peace, and for the last time appointed a meeting with Philippe on the plain between Tours and Amboise. There it was arranged that Richard should be acknowledged as heir, and Alice put into the hands of the Archbishop either of Canterbury or Rouen, as he should prefer, until he should return from the Crusade. The conference was interrupted by a vivid flash of lightning and a tremendous burst of thunder. To the evil conscience of the elder King it was the voice of avenging Heaven: he reeled in his saddle, and his attendants were forced to support him in their arms and carry him away. He travelled in a litter to Chinon, where his first son had deserted him, and there, while he lay dangerously ill, the treaty was sent to him to receive his signature, and the conditions read over to him. By one of them, those who had engaged in Richard's party were to transfer their allegiance to him.
"Who are they—the ungrateful traitors?" he asked. "Let me hear their names."
His secretary began the list: "John, Count of Mortagne."
"John!"—and the miserable father started up in his bed. "John! It cannot be true!—my heart, my beloved son! He whom I cherished beyond the rest—he for whose sake I have suffered all this—can he also have deserted me?" He was told it was too true. "Well," said he, falling back on his bed, and turning his face from the light, "let the rest go as it will! I care not what becomes of me, or of the world!"
He was roused in a few moments by the entrance of Richard, come, as a matter of form, to ratify the treaty by the kiss of peace. The King, without speaking, gave it with rigid sternness of countenance; but Richard, as he turned away, heard him mutter, "May I but live to be revenged on thee!" and when he was gone, the King burst out into such horrible imprecations against his two sons, that the faithful Geoffrey of Lincoln and the clergy of Canterbury, who attended him, were shocked, and one of the monks reminded him that such hasty words had occasioned the death of Becket. But he gnashed his teeth at them with fury. "I have been and I am your lord, traitors that ye are!" he cried. "Away with you! I'll have none but trusty ones here."
The monks left him; but one, turning round, said boldly, "If the life and sufferings of the martyr Thomas were acceptable with God. He will do prompt justice on thy body."
The King threw himself out of bed, with his dagger in his hand; but was carried back again, and continued to rave, though growing weaker. In an interval of calm he was taken into the church, and absolution was pronounced over him; but no persuasion would induce him to revoke his curses against his sons: the delirium returned, and the last words that were heard from his dying lips were, "Shame, shame on a conquered King! Cursed be the day I was born! Cursed be the sons I leave!"
In his fifty-fifth year he thus miserably expired, and his son Geoffrey of Lincoln with difficulty found any one to attend to his funeral; the attendants had all fled away, with everything valuable that they could lay their hands on. A piece of gold fringe was made to serve for a crown, and an old sceptre and ring were brought from the treasury at Chinon; horses were hired, and the corpse was carried, as he had desired, to be interred in the beautiful Abbey of Fontevraud. In the midst of the service a hurried step was heard. It was Richard, who, while laughing with his false friend Philippe over his ungracious reception at Chinon, had been horror-struck by the news that his father was dead, and that there was no more forgiveness to be looked for.
He had hastily left the French, and now stood beside the coffin, looking at the fine but worn and prematurely aged face, which bore the stamp of rage and agony. A drop of blood oozed from the nostril—a token, according to the belief of those times, that the murderer was present. Richard hid his face in his hands in the misery of remorse, and groaned aloud, "Yes, it was I who killed him." He threw himself on his knees before the altar, so remained "about as long as it would take to say a Pater" and then, rising up in silence, dashed out of the church.
Ten years later, his corpse was, by his own desire, laid in humility at his father's feet.
THE THIRD CRUSADE. (1189-1193)
King of England. 1189. Richard I.
King of Scotland. 1165. William.
King of France. 1180. Philippe II.
Emperor of Germany. 1152. Friedrich I. 1191. Henry VI.
Popes. 1183. Clement III 1191. Celestine III
The vices of the Christians of Palestine brought their punishment. Sybilla of Anjou, Queen of Jerusalem, had married the handsome but feeble-minded Guy de Lusignan, who was no match for the Kurdish chieftain, Joseph Salah-ed-deen, usually called Saladin, who had risen to the supreme power in Egypt and Damascus. The battle of Tiberias ruined the kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem followed in a few weeks, filling Christendom with grief.
The archbishop and historian, William of Tyre, preached a Crusade in Europe, and among the first to take the Cross were the Plantagenet princes and Philippe Auguste of France.
The unhappy discord between Henry II. and Coeur de Lion hindered the enterprise until the death of the father, which left the son a prey to the bitterest remorse; and in the hope to expiate his crimes, he hurried on the preparations with all the vehemence of his impetuous nature.
He hastened his coronation, and began to raise money by the most unscrupulous means, declaring he would even have sold London itself could he have found a bidder. He made his half-brother, Geoffrey, pay L3,000 for the possession of the temporalities of the see of York, and sold the earldom of Northumberland to the aged Bishop of Durham, Hugh Pudsey, saying, laughing, that it had been a clever stroke to make a young earl of an old bishop. William the Lion of Scotland was also allowed to purchase exemption from his engagements to Henry II., by the payment of a large sum of money and the supply of a body of troops under the command of his brother David, Earl of Huntingdon.
These arrangements made, Richard marched to meet Philippe Auguste at Vezelai, and agree on the regulations for the discipline of their host. If rules could have kept men in order, these were strict enough, forbidding all gaming, all foul language, all disputing, and all approach to licence, and ordering all acquisitions to be equally divided; but with a prince whose violent temper broke through all restraint, there was little hope of their observance. The English wore white crosses, the French red, the Flemings green, to distinguish the different nations.
They marched together to Lyons, whence Philippe proceeded across the Alps to embark at Genoa in the vessels he had hired, and Richard went to Marseilles, where his own fleet was appointed to meet him and transport him to Messina, the place where the whole crusading army was to winter. He waited for his ships till his patience failed, and, hiring those which he found in the harbor, he sailed to Pisa, whence he rode to Salerno, and there learning that his fleet had touched at Marseilles, and arrived at Messina, he set out for the coast, attended by only one knight. On the way he saw a fine hawk, kept at a cottage in a small village, and forgetting that there were no such forest laws as in his own domains, he was enraged to see the bird in the keeping of mean "villeins" seized upon it, and bore it off on his wrist. This was no treatment for Italian peasants, who, in general, were members of small, self-ruling republics, and they swarmed out of their houses to recover the bird. One man attacked the King with a long knife, and though Richard beat him off with the flat of his sword, the assault with sticks and stones was severe enough to drive the King off the field, and force him to ride at full speed to a convent.
He thence went to Bagnata, where he found his own ship Trenc-la-Mer awaiting him. In full state he sailed into the harbor of Messina at the head of his fleet, streamers flying from the masts, and music playing upon the decks. He was received by the King of Sicily, Tancred, Count of Lecce, who without much right had assumed the crown on the recent death of William the Good, the last of the direct Norman line.
This William, had been married to Joan Plantagenet, Richard's youngest sister, who now came to join him, making complaints that Tancred was withholding from her the treasures bequeathed to her by her husband; and these were indeed of noted value, for she specified among them a golden table twelve feet long, and a tent of silk large enough to contain two hundred knights.
Tancred, who had lodged his royal guests, the one in a palace within the town, the other in a pleasant house among the vineyards, was confounded at these claims, and on his declaring that he had duly paid the Queen's dowry, Richard seized upon two of his castles, and, on a slight quarrel with the inhabitants, upon the city of Messina itself.
Philippe Auguste interfered, not on behalf of the unfortunate Sicilian, but to obtain a share of the spoil; requiring that the French standard should be placed beside the English one on the walls, and that half the plunder should be his. It was, however, agreed that the keeping of the city should be committed to the Knights Templars until the three kings should come to an agreement.
It was at this time that Richard again showed his violent nature. A peasant happening to pass with an ass loaded with long reeds, or canes, the knights began in sport to tilt at each other with them, and Richard was thus opposed to a certain Guillaume des Barres, who had once placed him in great danger in a battle in Normandy. Both reeds were broken, and Richard's mantle was torn; his jest turned to earnest, and he dashed his horse against Des Barres, meaning to throw him from the saddle; but he swerved aside, and the King's horse stumbled, and fell. He took another, and returned to the charge, but in vain; however, when the Earl of Leicester was coming to his aid, he ordered him off. "It is between him and me alone," he said. At length repeated failures so inflamed his anger, that he shouted, "Away with thee! Never dare appear in my presence again! I am a mortal foe to thee and thine!" and it was only on the threat of excommunication that he could be prevailed on to consent to the knight remaining with the army.
In March, a meeting took place between the Kings of England and Sicily, in which Tancred agreed to pay Richard and his sister 20,000 ounces of gold; and Richard remitted his share as a portion for Tancred's infant daughter, whom he asked in marriage for his nephew, Arthur of Brittany. The two Kings were much pleased with each other, and an exchange of presents was made.
Tancred disclosed that the French monarch had falsely sent him a warning that it was useless to trust the King of England, who only intended to break his treaties; and when Richard refused to believe that his former friend would so slander him, showed him the very letters in which Philippe offered to assist in expelling him from the island.
Unwisely, Richard called his rival to account for his treachery; on which Philippe retorted with the old engagement to his sister Alice, declaring that this was only an excuse, for casting her off. Richard answered, that her conduct made no excuse necessary for not marrying her, and proved it so entirely, that Philippe was glad to hush the matter up, and rest satisfied with a promise that she should be restored to her own count with a sufficient pension.
It was time indeed for Richard to be free from his bonds to Alice, for he had already sent his mother to conduct to him his own chosen and long-loved lady, Berengaria of Navarre, a gentle, delicate, fair-haired, retiring maiden, to whom he had devoted his Lion-heart in his days of poetry and song in his beloved Aquitaine, and who was now willing to share the toils and perils of his crusade.
She arrived on the 29th of March; but the season of Lent prevented the celebration of their wedding, and Queen Eleanor, placing her under the charge of Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily, returned to England to watch over her son's interests there. The next day the fleet set sail, Richard in his royal vessel, the ladies in another called the Lion; but a tempest arose and scattered the ships, and though a lantern was hung from the mast of Trenc-la-Mer as a guide to the others, she was almost alone when she put into the harbor of Rhodes.
The King had suffered so much from sea-sickness, that he was forced to remain there ten days, in much anxiety, and there his vessels gradually joined him, and he heard tidings of the rest. Philippe Auguste, with six vessels, was safe at Acre, and the Lion had been driven to the coast of Cyprus. Isaac Comnenus, a Greek, who called himself Emperor of the island, had behaved with great discourtesy, forbidding the poor princesses to land, and maltreating the crews of the vessels that had been cast ashore.
All Coeur de Lion's chivalry was on fire at this insult to his bride. He sailed at once to Cyprus, made a rapid conquest of the whole island, and took prisoners both the Emperor and his daughter. The only request Comnenus made was, that he might not be put into iron chains; and he was gratified by wearing silver ones, until his death, four years after. His daughter became an attendant on Berengaria, and as the feast of Easter had now arrived, Richard no longer deferred his marriage, which was celebrated in the church of Limasol by the Bishop of Evreux. It is certainly one of the strangest stories in our history, that one of our Kings should have been married in that distant isle of Cyprus, after conquering it, as a sort of episode in his crusade.
It was a victory not without great benefit to the Crusaders, for the island was extremely fertile, and Richard appointed a knight, named Robert de Turnham, to send constant supplies of provisions to the army in the Holy Land; after which he set sail.
Guy de Lusignan had already laid siege to St. Jean d'Acre, or Ptolemais, a city on the bay formed by the projection of the promontory of Mount Carmel, admirably adapted as a stronghold, in which succor from Europe might be received. Leopold of Austria brought the first instalment of Crusaders; next followed Philippe of France; but the increase of the number of besiegers only caused famine, until the conquest of Cyprus insured supplies. Richard had sailed first for Tyre; but Conrade, Marquis of Montferrat, Prince of Tyre, who was related to the Comneni, had given orders that he should be excluded from the city; and he continued his course to Acre, capturing, on his way, a large galley filled with troops and provisions sent from Egypt to the relief of the besieged.
On his arrival, Richard at once resigned to Philippe half the booty, whereupon the French King claimed half the island of Cyprus: this Coeur de Lion replied he might have, if he was willing likewise to divide the county of Flanders, which had just fallen to his wife by the death of her brother. The siege was pressed on with the greatest ardor on the arrival of the English, and Philippe was extremely jealous of the reputation acquired by the brilliant deeds of daring in which Richard delighted, while he himself was left completely in the shade. Cool, wary, and prudent, he contemned the boisterous manners, animal strength, and passionate nature of his rival, and nothing could be more galling than to find himself disregarded, while all the "talk was of Richard the King," and all the independent bands from Europe clustered round the banner of the Plantagenet. Philippe tried to win the hearts of the army by liberality, and offered two pieces of gold a week to any knight who might be distressed; Richard instantly promised four, adding a reward of high value to any soldier who should bring him a stone from the walls of the city; and such allurements led many to leave the French service for the English.
The heat of the climate soon brought on fevers, and both the kings were attacked. Richard, when unable to mount his horse, was carried on a mattress to the front of the army, to superintend the machines and military engines, often himself aiming a ballista at the walls. He thus slew a Saracen whom he beheld parading on the ramparts in the armor of a Christian knight who had lately fallen. Saladin was hovering around with his army, attempting to relieve the town; but the Christian army enclosed it, said the Arab writers, close as the eyelid does the eye, and he could only obtain intelligence from the inhabitants by means of carrier-pigeons; while at the same time some friend to the Christians within the town used to shoot arrows into the camp, with letters attached, containing information of all the plans of the besieged. The name of this secret ally was never discovered, but his tidings often proved of the greatest service..
A curious interview took place, between Saladin's brother, Malek-el-Afdal (Just King), and a deputy sent by Richard, to arrange for a conference on his recovery. The meeting was held in Saladin's camp. "It is the custom of our kings to make each other presents, even in time of war," said the deputy, "My master wishes to offer some worthy of the Sultan."
"The present shall be well received," said Malek-el-Afdal, "so that we offer others in return."
"We have falcons, and other birds of prey, which have suffered much from the voyage, and are dying of hunger. Would it please you to give us some poultry to feed them with? When recovered, they shall be a gift to the Sultan."
"Say rather," returned Malek, "that your master is ill, and wishes for poultry. He shall have what he will."
Richard restored a Mussulman prisoner, and thereupon Saladin gave the deputy a robe of honor, and sent an emir to the camp with presents of Damascus pears, Syrian grapes, and mountain snow, which much conduced to the convalescence of the Malek Rik, as the Saracens, who much admired and feared King Richard, were wont to call him.
On his recovery, the siege was pressed on, fierce battles daily taking place, though the heat was such that the burning rays of the sun had their share of the slain. At last Saladin, much to his grief, was obliged to send permission to the inhabitants to surrender; which they did, on condition of being allowed to ransom themselves for a fixed sum of money and the release of 2,600 Christian captives. Thus ended the three years' siege of Acre. The Kings of France and England set up their standards on the chief towers, and it was here that Richard insulted the banner of Austria, which had been planted beside them. He caused it to be torn down and thrown into the moat, demanding how a Duke dared assume the rights of a King. Leopold maintained a sullen silence, brooding over the indignity.
This overbearing conduct of Richard alienated the chief Crusaders, and Philippe Auguste, whose health was really much impaired, resolved to return home, and sent a deputation to acquaint Richard with his intention. They were so much grieved at their King abandoning the enterprise, that, when admitted into Richard's presence, they could not utter a word for tears. "It will be an eternal disgrace to himself and his kingdom," said Coeur de Lion; "but let him go, since he is dying for want of his fair court of Paris." He accordingly parted, after taking an oath to offer no injury to the English possessions in Richard's absence, and leaving Hugh, Duke of Burgundy, with the portion of his army which remained in Palestine. There was a dispute, too, on the succession to the crown of Jerusalem. Sybilla's death transferred her rights to her sister, Isabel, the wife of Conrade of Montferrat; but Guy de Lusignan refused to give up the title of King, and the Christians' camp was rent with disputes.
At the end of August, Richard led his crusading troops from Acre into the midst of the wilderness of Mount Carmel, where their sufferings were terrible; the rocky, sandy, and uneven ground was covered with bushes full of long, sharp prickles, and swarms of noxious insects buzzed in the air, fevering the Europeans with their stings; and in addition to these natural obstacles, multitudes of Arab horsemen harassed them on every side, slaughtering every straggler who dropped behind from fatigue, and attacking them so unceasingly, that it was remarked that throughout their day's track there was not one space of four feet without an arrow sticking in the ground.
Richard fought indefatigably, always in the van, and always ready to reward the gallant exploits of his knights. It was now that Guillaume des Barres so signalized himself, that the King offered him his friendship, and forgot the quarrel at Messina. Here, too, a young knight, who bore a white shield in hopes of gaining some honorable bearing, so distinguished himself, that Richard thus greeted him at the close of the day: "Maiden knight, you have borne yourself as a lion, and done the deeds of six croises" and granted him a lion between six crosses on a red field, with the motto "Tinctus cruore Saraceno" tinted with Saracen blood, whence he assumed the name of Tynte.
At Arsoof, on the 7th of September, a great battle was fought. Saladin and his brother had almost defeated the two Religious Orders, and the gallant French knight, Jacques d'Avesne, after losing his leg by a stroke from a scimitar, fought bravely on, calling on the English King, until he fell overpowered by numbers. Coeur de Lion and Guillaume des Barres retrieved the day, hewed down the enemy on all sides, and remained masters of the field. It is even said that Richard and Saladin met hand to hand, but this is uncertain.
This victory opened the way to Joppa, where the Crusaders spent the next month in the repair of the fortifications, while the Saracen forces lay at Ascalon. While here, Richard often amused himself with hawking, and, one day, was asleep under a tree, when he was aroused by the approach of a party of Saracens, and springing on his horse Frannelle, which had been taken at Cyprus, he rashly pursued them, and fell into an ambush. Four knights were slain, and he would have been seized, had not a Gascon knight, named Guillaume des Porcelets, called out that he himself was the Malek Rik, and allowed himself to be taken. Richard offered ten noble Saracens in exchange for this generous knight, whom Saladin restored, together with a valuable horse that had been captured at the same time. A present of another Arab steed accompanied them; but Richard's half-brother, William Longsword, insisted on trying the creature before the King should mount it. No sooner was he on his back, than it dashed at once across the country, and before he could stop it, he found himself in the midst of the enemy's camp. The two Saracen princes were extremely shocked and distressed lest this should be supposed a trick, and instantly escorted Longsword back, with gifts of three chargers which proved to be more manageable.
Malek-el-Afdal was always the foremost in intercourse with the Christians; Richard knighted his son, and at one time had hopes that this youth might become a Christian, marry his sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily, and be established as a sort of neutral King of Jerusalem; but this project was disconcerted in consequence of his refusal to forsake the religion of his Prophet. [Footnote: This is the groundwork of the mysterious negotiations in the "Talisman" and of Madame Cottin's romance of "Matilde."]
From Joppa the Crusaders marched to Ramla, and thence, on New-Year's Day, 1192, set out for Jerusalem through a country full of greater obstacles than they had yet encountered. They were too full of spirit to be discouraged, until they came to Bethany, where the two Grand Masters represented to Richard the imprudence of laying siege to such fortifications as those of Jerusalem at such a season of the year, while Ascalon was ready in his rear for a post whence the enemy would attack him.
He yielded, and retreated to Ascalon, which Saladin had ruined and abandoned, and began eagerly to repair the fortifications, so as to be able to leave a garrison there. The soldiers grumbled, saying they had not come to Palestine to build Ascalon, but to conquer Jerusalem; whereupon Richard set the example of himself carrying stones, and called on Leopold to do the same. The sulky reply, "He was not the son of a mason," so irritated Richard, that he struck him a blow. Leopold straightway quitted the army, and returned to Austria.
The reports from home made Richard anxious to return, and he tried to bring the Eastern affairs to a settlement. He adjudged the crown of Jerusalem to Conrade of Montferrat, giving the island of Cyprus and its princess as a compensation to Lusignan; but Conrade had hardly assumed the title of King, before his murder, by two assassins from the Old Man of the Mountain, threw everything into fresh confusion; and the barons of Palestine chose in his place Henry of Champagne, a nephew of Richard's, a brave knight, whom Queen Isabel was induced to accept as her third husband.
It was not without great grief and many struggles that Coeur de Lion finally gave up his hopes of taking Jerusalem. He again advanced as far as Bethany; but a quarrel with Hugh of Burgundy, and the defection of the Austrians, made it impossible for him to proceed, and he turned back to Ramla.
While riding out with a party of knights, one of them called out, "This way, my lord, and you will see Jerusalem."
"Alas!" said Richard, hiding his face with his mantle, "those who are not worthy to win the Holy City, are not worthy to behold it!"
He returned to Acre; but there, hearing that Saladin was besieging Joppa, he embarked his troops, and sailed to its aid. The Crescent shone on its walls as he entered the harbor; but while he looked on in dismay, he was hailed by a priest, who had leapt into the sea, and swam out to inform him that there was yet time to rescue the garrison, though the town was in the hands of the enemy.
He hurried his vessel forward, leapt into the water breast-high, dashed upward on the shore, ordered his immediate followers to raise a bulwark of casks and beams to protect the landing of the rest, and, rushing up a flight of steps, entered the city alone. "St. George! St. George!" That cry dismayed the Infidels; and those in the town, to the number of three thousand, fled in the utmost confusion, and were pursued for two miles by three knights who had been fortunate enough to find horses.
Richard pitched his tent outside the walls, and remained there, with so few troops that all were contained in ten tents. Very early one morning, before the King was out of bed, a man rushed into his tent, crying out, "O King! we are all dead men!"
Springing up, Richard fiercely silenced him. "Peace! or thou diest by my hand!" Then, while hastily donning his suit of mail, he heard that the glitter of arms had been seen in the distance, and in another moment the enemy were upon them, 7,000 in number!
Richard had neither helmet nor shield, and only seventeen of his knights had horses; but undaunted, he drew up his little force in a compact body, the knights kneeling on one knee, covered by their shields, their lances pointing outward, and between each pair an archer, with an assistant to load his cross-bow; and he stood in the midst, encouraging them with his voice, and threatening to cut off the head of the first who turned to fly. In vain did the Saracens charge that mass of brave men, not one-seventh of their number; the shields and lances were impenetrable: and without one forward step, or one bolt from the crossbows, their passive steadiness turned back wave after wave of the enemy. At last the King gave the word for the crossbowmen to advance, while he, with seventeen mounted knights, charged lance in rest. His curtal axe bore down all before it, and he dashed like lightning from one part of the plain to another, with not a moment to smile at the opportune gift from the polite Malek-el-Afdal, who, in the hottest of the fight, sent him two fine horses, desiring him to use them in escaping from this dreadful peril. Little did the Saracen prince imagine that they would find him victorious, and that they would mount two more pursuers! Next came a terrified fugitive, with news that 3,000 Saracens had entered Joppa! He summoned a few knights, and, without a word to the rest, galloped back into the city. The panic inspired by his presence instantly cleared the streets, and, riding back, he again led his troops to the charge; but such were the swarms of Saracens, that it was not till evening that the Christians could give themselves a moment's rest, or look round and feel that they had gained one of the most wonderful of victories. Since daybreak Richard had not laid aside his sword or axe, and his hand was all one blister.
No wonder the terror of his name endured for centuries in Palestine, and that the Arab chided his starting horse with, "Dost think that yonder is the Malek Rik?" while the mother stilled her crying child by threats that the Malek Rik should take it.
These violent exertions seriously injured Richard's health, and a low fever placed him in great danger, as well as several of his best knights. No command or persuasion could induce the rest to commence any enterprise without him, and the tidings from Europe induced him to conclude a peace, and return home. Malek-el-Afdal came to visit him, and a truce was signed for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, three hours, and three minutes—thus so quaintly arranged in accordance with some astrological views of the Saracens. Ascalon was to be demolished, on condition free access to Jerusalem was allowed to the pilgrims; but Saladin would not restore the piece of the True Cross, as he was resolved not to conduce to what he considered idolatry. Richard sent notice that he was coming back with double his present force to effect the conquest; and the Sultan answered, that if the Holy City was to pass into Frank hands, none could be nobler than those of the Malek Rik. Fever and debility detained Richard a month longer at Joppa, during which time he sent the Bishop of Salisbury to carry his offerings to Jerusalem. The prelate was invited to the presence of Saladin, who spoke in high terms of Richard's courage, but censured his rash exposure of his own life.
On October 9th, 1193, Coeur de Lion took leave of Palestine, watching with tears its receding shores, as he exclaimed, "O Holy Land! I commend thee and thy people unto God. May He grant me yet to return to aid thee!"
The return from this Crusade was as disastrous as that from the siege of Troy. David, Earl of Huntingdon, the Scottish King's brother (the Sir Kenneth of the Talisman), who had shared in all Richard's toils and glories, embarked at the same time, but was driven by contrary winds to Alexandria, and there seized and sold as a slave. Some Venetian merchants, discovering his rank, bought him, and brought him to their own city, where he was ransomed by some English merchants, and conducted by them to Flanders; but while sailing for Scotland, another storm wrecked him near the mouth of the Tay, near the town of Dundee, the name of which one tradition declares to be derived from his thankfulness—Donum Dei, the Gift of God. He founded a monastery in commemoration of his deliverance.
The two queens, Berengaria and Joan, were driven by the storm to Sicily, and thence travelled through Italy. At Rome, to their horror, they recognized the jewelled baldric of King Richard exposed for sale; but they could obtain no clue to its history, and great was their dread that he had either perished in the Mediterranean waves, or been cut off by the many foes who beset its coasts.
His ship had been driven out of its course into the Adriatic, where the pirates of the Dalmatian coast attacked it. He beat them off, and then prevailed on them to take him into their vessel and land him on the coast of Istria, whence he hoped to find his way to his nephew Otho, Count of Saxony, elder brother of Henry, King of Jerusalem. This was the only course that offered much hope of safety, since Italy, France, Austria, and Germany were all hostile, and the rounding Spain was a course seldom attempted; so that it was but a choice of dangers for him to attempt to penetrate to his own domains. Another shipwreck threw him on the coast between Venice and Aquileia; he assumed a disguise, and, calling himself Hugh the Merchant, set out as if in the train of one of his own knights, named Baldwin de Bethune, through the lands of the mountaineers of the Tyrol. The noblesse here were mostly relatives of Conrade of Montferrat; and Philippe Auguste having spread a report that Richard had instigated his murder, it was no safe neighborhood. He sent one of his men to Count Meinhard von Gorby, the first of these, asking for a safe-conduct, and accompanying the request with a gift of a ruby ring. Meinhard, on seeing the ring, exclaimed, "Your master is no merchant. He is Richard of England: but since he is willing to honor me with his gifts, I will leave him to depart in peace."
However, Meinhard sent intelligence to Frederic of Montferrat, Conrade's brother, through whose domains Richard had next to pass. He sent a Norman knight, called Roger d'Argenton, who was in his service, to seek out the English King; but d'Argenton would not betray his native prince, warned Richard, and told Frederic that it was only Baldwin de Bethune. Not crediting him, the Marquis passed on the intelligence to the Duke of Austria; and Richard, who had left Bethune's suite, and was only accompanied by a page, found every inhabited place unsafe, and wandered about for three days, till hunger, fatigue, and illness drove him to a little village inn at Eedburg.
Thence he sent his servant to Vienna, a distance of a few miles, to change some gold bezants for the coin of the country. This attracted notice, and the page was carried before a magistrate, and interrogated. He professed to be in the service of a rich merchant who would arrive in a day or two, and, thus escaping, returned to his master, and advised him to hasten away; but Richard was too unwell to proceed, and remained at the inn, doing all in his power to avert suspicion—even attending to the horses, and turning the spit in the kitchen. His precautions were disconcerted; the page, going again to Vienna, imprudently carried in his belt an embroidered hawking-glove, which betrayed its owner to be of high rank; and being again seized and tortured, confessed his master's name and present hiding-place.
Armed men were immediately sent to surround the inn, and the Mayor of Vienna, entering, found the worn-out pilgrim lying asleep upon his bed, and aroused him with the words, "Hail, King of England! In vain thou disguisest thyself; thy face betrays thee."
Awakening, the Lion-heart grasped his sword, declaring he would yield it to none but the Duke. The Mayor told him it was well for him that he had fallen into their hands, rather than into those of the Montferrat family; and Leopold, arriving, reproached him for the insult to the Austrian banner, which indeed was far more dishonored by its lord's foul treatment of a crusading pilgrim, than by its fall into the moat of Acre. He was conducted to Vienna, and thence to the lonely Castle of Tierenstein, where he was watched day and night by guards with drawn swords. Leopold sent information of his capture to the Emperor, Henry VI., who bore a grudge to Richard for his alliance with Tancred, who had usurped Sicily from the Empress Constance; he therefore offered a price for the illustrious prisoner, and placed him in the strong Castle of Triefels. Months passed away, and no tidings reached him from without. He deemed himself forgotten in his captivity, and composed an indignant sirvente in his favorite Provencal tongue. The second verse we give in the original, for the sake of being brought so near to the royal troubadour:
"Or sachen ben, mici hom e mici baron, Angles, Norman, Peytavin, et Gascon, Qu'yeu non hai ja si pauore compagnon Que per ave, lou laissesse en prison. Faire reproche, certes yeu voli. Non; Mais souis dos hivers prez."
Or, as it may be rendered in modern French:
"Or sachent bien, mes hommes, mes barons, Anglais, Normands, Poitevins, Gascons, Que je n'ai point si pauvre compagnon Que pour argent, je le laisse en prison. Faire reproche, certes, je ne le veux. Non; Mais suis deux hivers pris."
This melancholy line, "Two winters am I bound," is the burden of the song, closing the recurring rhymes of each stanza. In the next he complains that a captive is without friends or relations, and asks where will be the honor of his people if he dies in captivity. He laments over the French King ravaging his lands and breaking the oaths they had together sworn while he is "deux hivers pris," and speaks of two of his beloved troubadour companions by name, as certain to stir up his friends in his cause, and to mourn for his loss while he is "deux hivers pris."
He was right; the troubadours were his most devoted friends; Bertram de Born was bewailing him, and Blondel de Nesle, guided by his faithful heart, sang his King's own favorite lays before each keep and fortress, until the unfinished song was taken up and answered from the windows of the Castle of Triefels.
The clue was found: Queen Eleanor wrote instantly to the Pope, calling on him to redress the injury offered to a returning pilgrim, yet signed with the Cross, and sent two abbots and the Bishop of Ely to visit him. From them he learnt that his brother John and Philippe of France were using every means to prevent his return; but this gave him the less concern, as he said, "My brother John was never made for conquering kingdoms."
His ex-chancellor, William Longchamp, who had been expelled from England for tyrannical government, thought to serve his cause by a forgery of a letter in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, purporting to be from the Old Man of the Mountain, exculpating Richard from the murder of Conrade. It ran thus: "To Leopold, Duke of Austria, and to all princes and people of the Christian faith, Greeting. Whereas many kings in countries beyond the seas impute to Richard, King and Lord of England, the death of the Marquis, I swear by Him who reigns eternally, and by the law which we follow, that King Richard had no participation in this murder. Done at our Castle of Shellia, and sealed with our seal, Midseptember, in the year 1503 after Alexander."
No one thought of inquiring what brought this confession from the father of assassins, or why he chose Alexander for his errand, the letter was deemed conclusive, gave great encouragement to Richard's partisans, and caused many of the French to refuse to take up arms against him.
Now that his captivity was public, Henry VI. sent for him to Hagenau, where he pleaded his cause before the diet, was allowed more liberty, and promised permission to ransom himself, after performing homage to the Emperor, which probably was required of him to show the subordination of the Royal to the Imperial rank.
Philippe and John tempted the avarice of Henry by the offer of twice the sum if he would give them the captive, or 20,000 marks for every month that he was detained. However, the free princes of Germany, stirred up by Richard's nephew, the Count of Saxony, were so indignant at their master's conduct, that he could not venture to accept the tempting offer, and on the 28th of February, 1194, he indited this note to his ally, the King of France: "Take care of yourself! The devil is unchained; but I could not help it."
Philippe forwarded the warning to his accomplice, John, who tried to raise the English to prevent his brother from landing; but they were rejoicing at the return of their own King, and even before his arrival had adjudged John guilty of treason, and sentenced him to lose his manors.
March 20th, Richard landed at Sandwich, and two days after entered London, among the acclamations of his subjects, who displayed all their wealth to do him honor, and caused the Germans who accompanied him to say that, if their Emperor had guessed at half the riches of England, his ransom would have been doubled.
John was soon brought to sue for the pardon so generously given, and all ranks vied with each other in raising the ransom. William the Lion of Scotland presented the King with 2,000 marks, and the first instalment was sent to Germany; but before it arrived, Henry VI. was dead, and the Germans were so much ashamed of the transaction, that they returned the money.
Thus ended the expedition, in which Richard had gained all the glory that valor and generosity could attain, conquered a kingdom and given it away, fought battles with desperate courage and excellent skill, and shown much fortitude and perseverance, but had marred all by his unbridled temper.
ARTHUR OF BRITTANY. (1187-1206.)
Kings of England. 1154. Henry II. 1189. Richard I. 1199. John.
Kings of Scotland. 1158. Malcolm IV. 1165. William.
King of France. 1180. Philippe II.
Emperors of Germany. 1152. Friedrich I. 1191. Henry VI.
Popes. 1183. Clement IV. 1189. Celestine III. 1193. Innocent III.
The son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Constance, Duchess of Brittany, was born at Nantes, on Easter-day, 1187, six months after the death of his father. He was the first grandson of Henry II., for the graceless young King Henry had died childless. Richard was still unmarried, and the elder child of Geoffrey was a daughter named Eleanor; his birth was, therefore, the subject of universal joy. There was a prophecy of Merlin, that King Arthur should reappear from the realm of the fairy Morgana, who had borne him away in his death-like trance after the battle of Camelford, and, returning in the form of a child, should conquer England from the Saxon race, and restore the splendors of the British Pendragons.
The Bretons, resolved to see in their infant duke this champion of their glories, overlooked the hated Angevin and Norman blood that flowed in his veins, and insisted on his receiving their beloved name of Arthur. Thanksgivings were poured forth in all the churches in Brittany, and the altars and shrines at the sacred fountains were adorned with wreaths of flowers.
At the same a time a Welsh bard directed King Henry to cause search to be made at Glastonbury, the true Avallon, for the ancient hero's corpse, which, as old traditions declared, had been buried between two pyramids within the abbey. There, in fact some distance beneath the surface, was found a leaden cross, inscribed with the words, "Hic jacet sepultus inclytus Rex Arthurus in insula Avallonia" (Here lies buried the unconquered King Arthur in the isle of Avallon). A little deeper was a coffin, hollowed out of an oak tree, and within lay the bones of the renowned Arthur and his fair Queen Guenever. His form was of gigantic size; there were the marks of ten wounds upon his skull, and by his side was a sword, the mighty Caliburn, or Excalibar, so often celebrated in romances. Guenever's hair was still perfect, to all appearance, and of a beautiful golden color, but it crumbled into dust on exposure to the air. The Bretons greatly resented this discovery, which they chose to term an imposture of Henry's, in order to cast discredit on Merlin's prediction.
They were, however, in no condition to oppose the grasping monarch; Henry entered Brittany, assembled the States at Nantes, and claimed the guardianship of his grandson's person and domains. They were at first intimidated by his threats, but Constance showed so much spirit, that she obtained the keeping of her son, and the immediate government, though she was not to act without the advice and consent of the King of England, who received the oaths of the barons present. The widowed heiress suffered much persecution from the different suitors for her hand, among whom figured her brother-in-law, John Lackland; and Henry, fearing her marriage with some powerful prince, so tormented her by threats of removing her son from her charge, that he forced her into a marriage with Ranulf de Blondeville, Count of Chester, grandson to an illegitimate son of Henry I., a man of violent, and ambitious temper, and of mean and ungraceful appearance. In a dispute which took place between him and the Count de Perche, in Lincoln Cathedral, the latter contemptuously called him a dwarf. "Sayest thou so?" cried Ranulf; "ere long I shall seem to thee as high as that steeple!"—and his words were fulfilled, when, as Duke of Brittany, he claimed the allegiance of the Count.
He made himself extremely hated in Brittany by his cruelty and injustice; and no sooner had the news arrived of the death of Henry II., than the people rose with one consent, drove him away, and restored the power to Constance. Richard I. did not interfere in his behalf, and appeared favorable to his nephew Arthur, acknowledging him as heir-presumptive of England, and, when at Messina, betrothing him to the daughter of Tancred, King of Sicily. It was probably in honor of this intended alliance that Richard presented Tancred with the sword Excalibar, which certainly should never have passed out of the possession of the British.
Constance remained at peace for the present, though Richard's absence left the other territories over which he asserted his power exposed to much disturbance. He had left the government of England in the hands of Hugh, Bishop of Durham (the young Earl), and William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely—a native of Beauvais, who had risen to high favor in the employ first of Geoffrey, the son of Rosamond, Archbishop of York, and was now chancellor, and afterward of Richard. He was an arrogant man, and broke through all restraint, imprisoned his colleague, deprived him of his offices, and forced him to resign his earldom; then, when Richard despatched orders that he should be re-instated, declared that he knew what were the King's private intentions, and should obey no public instructions. He sealed public acts with his own seal instead of the King's, kept a guard of fifteen hundred rapacious and disorderly mercenaries, plundered men of every rank, so that it was said "the knight could not keep his silver belt, the noble his ring, the lady her necklace, nor the Jew his merchandise." He travelled in great state, with a train of minstrels and jesters, who drowned the outcries of the injured people by songs in his praise. Again Richard sent orders to restrain him, but in vain; he only declared them a forgery, and pursued his careless course.
Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, had sworn not to enter the kingdom for three years, but he now returned; whereupon the chancellor seized him while at mass, and kept him prisoner. John had no love for his half-brother: but this was a good opportunity of overthrowing the chancellor, after such an outrage on the person of an archbishop; and, at the head of the barons and bishops, he forced Longchamp to resign the chancellorship, and promise to give up the keys of the King's castles.
To avoid yielding the castles, he attempted to escape from England in disguise, and arrived at the seashore of Kent in the dress of an old woman—a gown with large sleeves, a thick veil, and a bundle of linen and ell-wand in his hand. The tide did not serve, and he was forced to seat himself on a stone to wait for his vessel. Here the fisherwomen came up and began to examine his wares, and ask their price; but the English chancellor and bishop understood no English, and only shook his head. Thinking him a crazy woman, they peeped under his veil, and, "spying a great beard under his muffler," raised a shout which brought their husbands to the spot, who, while he vainly tried to explain himself, dragged him in derision through the mud, and shut him up in a cellar. He was, however, released, gave up the keys, and left England.
Geoffrey became chancellor in his stead, and took possession of the see of York. The next disturbance was caused by the return of Philippe of France, begging Pope Celestine III. to absolve him of his oath to respect Richard's dominions. Celestine refused, and no one was found to second his plans but Richard's own brother John, whom he brought over by promises of securing to him the succession, and bestowing on him the continental fiefs. The English, and with them William the Lion of Scotland and his brother David, maintained the rights of the young Arthur, and matters continued in suspense till Richard's release from his captivity.
Easily subduing and more easily pardoning his traitor brother, Richard carried his arms into France, gained a victory at Vendome, and took the great seal of France; then entered Guienne, where the turbulent nobility had revolted, and reducing them, enjoyed a short space of tranquillity and minstrelsy, and kept on a poetical correspondence with Count Guy of Auvergne.
Arthur, who was now nine years old, was, in 1196, introduced by his mother to the assembly of the States of Brittany, and associated with her in the duchy. His uncle at the same time claimed the charge of him as his heir, and invited Constance to a conference at Pontorson. On her way—it is much to be feared with his connivance—she was seized by a body of troops under her husband, the Earl of Chester, and carried a prisoner to the castle of St. James de Beuvron.
Her nobles met at St. Malo, and deputed the seneschal of Rennes to inquire of her how they should act, and to assure her of their fidelity. She thanked them earnestly, but her whole entreaty was that they would guard her son, watch him like friends, servants, and parents, and save him from the English. "As for me," wrote she, "that will be as God wills; but whatever may befall me, do your best for Arthur my son. I shall always be well, provided he is well, and in the care of good subjects."
The vassals wept at this letter, full of maternal love; they swore to devote themselves to their young lord, even to the death, and obtained from him a promise never to treat with the English without their consent. They placed him under the charge of the Sieur de Vitre, who conducted him from castle to castle with so much secrecy, that Richard continually failed in his attempts to seize on him. Treaties were attempted, but failed, with mutual accusations of perfidy, and while Constance continued a prisoner, a most desolating war raged in the unfortunate duchy. The dislike and distrust that existed between Constance and her mother-in-law, Queen Eleanor, seem to have been the root of many of these troubles; Eleanor was all-powerful with her son, and contrived to inspire him with distrust of Constance—a suspicion naturally augmented by her refusal to allow him the care of her son, his own heir, whom she placed in the hands of the foe of the English.
Richard's troops were chiefly Brabancon mercenaries, or free-companions—a lawless soldiery, deservedly execrated; and their captain, Mercadet, was a favorite of the King on account of his dauntless courage and enterprise. In a skirmish, Mercadot took prisoner the Bishop of Beauvais, one of the warlike prelates who forgot their proper office. The Pope demanded his liberation, and Richard returned the suit of armor in which the bishop had been taken, with the message, "See if this be thy son's coat, or no."
"No, indeed," said Celestine; "this is the coat of a son of Mars; I will leave it to Mars to deliver him."
Vitre succeeded in lodging young Arthur, his charge, in the hands of the King of France, who espoused his cause as an excuse for attacking Richard. Several battles took place, and at length another treaty of peace was made, by which Constance was liberated, after eighteen months' captivity. Doubtless this would soon have proved as hollow as every other agreement between the French King and the Plantagenet; but it was Coeur de Lion's last.
The Vicomte de Limoges, in Poitou, sent him two mule-burdens of silver, part of a treasure found in his hands. Richard rapaciously claimed the whole. "No," said the Vicomte, "only treasure in gold belongs to the suzerain; treasure in silver is halved."
Richard, in anger, marched to Poitou with his Brabancons, and besieged the Castle of Chaluz, where he believed the rest of the riches to be concealed. In the course of the assault his shoulder was pierced by an arrow shot from the walls by an archer named Bertrand de Gourdon, and though the wound at first appeared slight, the surgeons, in attempting to extract the head of the arrow, so mangled the shoulder, that fever came on, and his life was despaired of. Mercadet, in the meantime, pushed on the attack, took the castle, and brought Gourdon a prisoner to the King's tent.
"Villain, wherefore hast thou slain me?" said Richard.
"Because," replied Gourdon, "thou hast with thine own hand killed my father and my two brothers. Torture me as thou wilt; I shall rejoice in having freed the world of a tyrant."
The dying King ordered that the archer should be released, and have a sum of money given to him; but the Brabancons, in their rage and grief, flayed the unhappy man alive. Richard's favorite sister Joan, Queen of Sicily, had married Raymond, Count of Toulouse, who was at this juncture in great distress from having taken the part of the persecuted Albigenses. She travelled to her brother's camp to ask his aid, but arriving to find him expiring, she was taken ill, and, after giving birth to a dead child, died a few hours after her brother. They were buried together, at their father's feet, at Fontevraud. Queen Berengaria survived him thirty years, living peacefully in a convent at Mans, where she was buried in the church of St. Julien, an English Queen who never set foot in England.
Loud were the lamentations of the troubadours of Aquitaine over their minstrel King, Bertrand de Born especially, bewailing him as "le roi des courtois, l'empereur des preux," and declaring that barons, troubadours, jongleurs, had lost their all. This strange, contradictory character, the ardent friend yet the turbulent enemy of the Plantagenet princes, ended his life of rebellion and gallantry as a penitent in the Abbey of Citeaux. Dante nevertheless introduces him in his Inferno, his head severed from his body, and explaining his doom thus: