The Law of Civilization and Decay/Chapter IV

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The Law of Civilization and Decay by Brooks Adams
Chapter IV: The Second Crusade

As the East was richer than the West, the Saracens were capable of a higher centralization than the Franks, and although they were divided amongst themselves at the close of the eleventh century, no long time elapsed after the fall of Jerusalem before the consolidation began which annihilated the Latin kingdom.

The Sultan of Persia made Zenghi governor of Mosul in 1127. Zenghi, who was the first Atabek, was a commander and organizer of ability, and with a soldier's instinct struck where his enemy was vulnerable. He first occupied Aleppo, Hamah, and Homs. He then achieved the triumph of his life by the capture of Edessa. The next year he was murdered, and was succeeded by his still more celebrated son, Nour-ed-Din, who made Aleppo his capital, and devoted his life to completing the work his father had begun.

After a series of brilliant campaigns, by a mixture of vigour and address, Nour-ed-Din made himself master of Damascus, and, operating thence as a base, he conquered Egypt, and occupied Cairo in 1169. During the Egyptian war, a young emir, named Saladin, rose rapidly into prominence. He was the nephew of the general in command, at whose death the caliph made him vizier, because he thought him pliable. In this the caliph was mistaken, for Saladin was a man of iron will and consummate ability. William of Tyre even accused him of having murdered the last Fatimite caliph with his own hands in order to cause the succession to pass to Nour-ed-Din, and to seize on the substance of power himself, as Nour-ed-Din's representative.

Certainly he administered Egypt in his own interest, and not in his master's; so much so that Nour-ed-Din, having failed to obtain obedience to his commands, had prepared to march against him in person, when, on the eve of his departure, he died. Saladin then moved on Damascus, and having defeated the army of El Melek, the heir to the crown, at Hamah, he had himself declared Sultan of Egypt and Syria.

With a power so centralized the Franks would probably, under the best circumstances, have been unable to cope. The weakness of the Christians was radical, and arose from the exuberance of their imagination, which caused them to proceed by miracles, or more correctly, by magical formulas. An exalted imagination was the basis of the characters of both Louis VII. and Saint Bernard, and the faith resulting therefrom led to the defeat of the second crusade.

The Christian collapse began with the fall of Edessa, for the County of Edessa was the extreme northeastern state of the Latin community, and the key to the cities of the plain. When the first crusaders reached Armenia, Baldwin, brother of Godfrey de Bouillon, conceived the idea of carving a kingdom for himself out of the Christian country to the south of the Taurus range. Taking with him such pilgrims as he could persuade to go, he started from Mamistra, just north of the modern Alexandretta, and marched east along the caravan road. Edessa lay sixteen hours' ride beyond the Euphrates, and he reached it in safety.

At this time, though Edessa still nominally formed part of the Greek Empire, it was in reality independent, and was governed by an old man named Theodore, who had originally been sent from Constantinople, but who had gradually taken the position of a sovereign. The surrounding country had been overrun by Moslems, and Theodore only maintained himself by paying tribute. The people, therefore, were ready to welcome any Frankish baron capable of defending them; and Baldwin, though a needy adventurer, was an excellent officer, and well adapted to the emergency.

As he drew near, the townsmen went out to meet him, and escorted him to the city in triumph, where he soon supplanted the old Theodore, whom he probably murdered. He then became Count of Edessa, but he remained in the country only two years, for in 1100 he was elected to succeed his brother Godfrey. He was followed as Lord of Edessa by his cousin Godfrey de Bourg, who, in his turn, was crowned King of Jerusalem in 1119, and the next count was de Bourg's cousin, Joscelin de Courtney, who had previously held as a fief the territory to the west of the Euphrates. This Joscelin was one of the most renowned warriors who ever came from France, and while he lived the frontier was well defended. So high was his prowess that he earned the title of "the great" in an age when every man was a soldier, and in a country where arms were the only path to fortune save the Church.

The story of his death is one of the most dramatic of that dramatic time. As he stood beneath the wall of a Saracenic tower he had mined, it suddenly fell and buried him in the ruins. He was taken out a mangled mass to die, but, as he lay languishing, news came that the Sultan of Iconium had laid siege to one of his castles near Tripoli. Feeling that he could not sit his horse, he called his son and directed him to collect his vassals and ride to the relief of the fortress. The youth hesitated, fearing that the enemy were too numerous. Then the old man, grieving to think of the fate of his people when he should be gone, had himself slung in a litter between two horses, and marched against the foe.

He had not gone far before he was met by a messenger, who told him that when the Saracens heard the Lord of Courtney was upon the march, they had raised the siege and fled. Then the wounded baron ordered his litter to be set down upon the ground, and, stretching out his hands to heaven, he thanked God who had so honoured him that his enemies dared not abide his coming even when in the jaws of death, and died there where he lay.

The second generation of Franks seems to have deteriorated through the influence of the climate, but the character of the younger Joscelin was not the sole cause of the disasters which overtook him. Probably even his father could not permanently have made head against the forces which were combining against him. The weakness of the Frankish kingdom was inherent: it could not contend with enemies who were further advanced upon the road toward consolidation. Had Western society been enough centralized to have organized a force capable of collecting taxes, and of enforcing obedience to a central administration, a wage-earning army might have been maintained on the frontier. As it was, concentration was impossible, and the scattered nobles were crushed in detail.

Antioch was the nearest supporting point to Edessa, and, when Zenghi made his attack, Raymond de Poitiers, one of the ablest soldiers of his generation, was the reigning prince. But he was at feud with the Courtneys; the king at Jerusalem could not force him to do his duty; the other barons were too distant, even had they been well disposed; and thus the key to the Christian position fell without a blow being struck in its defence.

To that emotional generation the loss of Edessa seemed a reversal of the laws of nature; a consequence not of bad organization but of divine wrath. The invincible relics had suddenly refused to act, and the only explanation which occurred to the men of the time was, that there must have been neglect of the magical formulas.

Saint Bernard never doubted that God would fight if duly propitiated; therefore all else must bend to the task of propitiation: "What think ye, brethren? Is the hand of the Lord weakened, or unequal to the work of defence, that he calls miserable worms to guard and restore his heritage? Is he not able to send more than twelve legions of angels, or, to speak truly, by word deliver his country?" (1)

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the soul of the second crusade, was born at the castle of Fontaines, near Dijon, in 1091, so that his earliest impressions must have been tinged by the emotional outburst which followed the council of Clermont. The third son of noble parents, he resembled his mother, who had the ecstatic temperament. While she lived she tried to imitate the nuns, and at her death she was surrounded by holy clerks, who sung with her while she could speak, and, when articulation failed, watched her lips moving in praise to God.

From the outset, Bernard craved a monastic life, and when he grew up insisted on dedicating himself to Heaven. His first success was the conversion of his brothers, whom he carried with him to the cloister, with the exception of the youngest, who was then a child. As the brothers passed through the castle courtyard, on their way to the convent, Guy, the eldest, said to the boy, who was playing there with other children, "Well, Nivard, all our land is now yours." "So you will have heaven and I earth," the child answered; "that is an unequal division." And a few years after he joined his brothers.(2) The father and one daughter then were left alone, and at last they too entered convents, where they died.

At twenty-two, when Bernard took his vows at Citeaux, his influence was so strong that he carried with him thirty of his comrades, and mothers are said to have hid their sons from him, and wives their husbands, lest he should lure them away. He actually broke up so many homes that the abandoned wives formed a nunnery, which afterward grew rich.

His abilities were so marked that his superiors singled him out, when he had hardly finished his novitiate, to found a house in the wilderness. This house became Clairvaux, in the twelfth century the most famous monastery of the world.

In the Middle Ages, convents were little patronized until by some miracle they had proved themselves worthy of hire; their early years were often passed in poverty, and Clairvaux was no exception to the rule, for the brethren suffered privations which nearly caused revolt. In the midst of his difficulties, Bernard's brother Gérard, who was cellarer, came to him to complain that the fraternity were without the barest necessities of life. The man of God asked, "How much will suffice for present wants?" Gerard replied, "Twelve pounds." Bernard dismissed him and betook himself to prayer. Soon after Gérard returned and announced that a woman was without and wished to speak with him. "She, when he had come to her, prostrating herself at his feet, offered him a gift of twelve pounds, imploring the aid of his prayers for her husband, who was dangerously sick. Having briefly spoken with her, he dismissed her, saying: 'Go. You will find your husband well.' She, going home, found what she had heard had come to pass. The abbot comforting the weakness of his cellarer, made him stronger for bearing other trials from God." (3)

Although his family were somewhat sceptical about his gifts, and even teased him to tears, the monk William tells, in his chronicle, how he soon performed an astounding miracle which made Clairvaux a "veritable valley of light," and then wealth poured in upon him.

Meanwhile, his constitution, which had never been vigorous, had been so impaired by his penances that he was unable to follow the monastic life in its full rigour, and he therefore threw himself into politics, to which he was led both by taste and by the current of events.

Clairaux was founded in 1115, and fifteen years later Bernard had risen high in his profession. The turning-point in his life was the part he took in the recognition of Innocent II. In 1130, Honorius II. died, and two popes were chosen by the college of cardinals, Anacletus and Innocent II. Anacletus stayed in Rome, but Innocent crossed the Alps, and a council was summoned at Étampes to decide upon his title. By a unanimous vote the question was referred to Bernard, and his biographer described how he examined the evidence with fear and trembling, and how at last the Holy Ghost spoke through his mouth, and he recognized Innocent. His decision was ratified, and soon after he managed to obtain the adhesion of the King of England to the new pontiff.

His success made him the foremost man in Europe, and when, in 1145, one of his monks was raised to the papacy as Eugenius III., he wrote with truth, "I am said to be more pope than you."

Perhaps no one ever lived more highly gifted with the ecstatic temperament than Saint Bernard. He had the mysterious attribute of miracles, and, in the twelfth century, the miracle was, perhaps, the highest expression of force. To work them was a personal gift, and the possessor of the faculty might, at his caprice, use his power, like the sorcerer, to aid or injure other men.

One day as Saint Bernard was on his way to a field at harvest time, the monk who drove the donkey on which he rode, fell in an epileptic fit. "Seeing which the holy man had pity on him, and entreated God that for the future he would not seize him unaware." Accordingly from that day until his death, twenty years after, "whenever he was to fall from that disease, he felt the fit coming for a certain space of time, so that he had an opportunity to lie down on a bed, and so avert the bruises of a sudden fall." (4)

This cure was a pure act of grace, like alms, made to gratify the whim of the saint; and a man who could so control nature was more powerful than any other on earth. Bernard was such a man, and for this reason he was chosen by acclamation to preach the second crusade.

His sermons have perished, but two of his letters have survived,(5) and they explain the essential weakness of a military force raised on the basis of supernatural intervention. He looked upon the approaching campaign as merely the vehicle for a miracle, and as devised to offer to those who entered on it a special chance for salvation. Therefore he appealed to the criminal classes. "For what is it but an exquisite and priceless chance of salvation due to God alone, that the Omnipotent should deign to summon to his service, as though they were innocent, murderers, ravishers, adulterers, perjurers, and those guilty of every crime?" (6)

Even had an army composed of such material been well disciplined and well led, it would have been untrustworthy in the face of an adversary like Nour-ed-Din; but Louis VII. of France was as emotional and as irrational as Saint Bernard. His father had been a great commander, but he himself had been educated in the Abbey of Saint Denis, and justified his wife's scornful jest, who, when she left him for Raymond de Poitiers, said she had married a monk. The whole world held him lightly, even the priests sneered at him, and Innocent II. spoke of him as a child "who must be stopped from learning rebellion."

Indeed, the pope underrated him, for he appointed his own nephew to the See of Bourges in defiance of the king, and the insult roused him to resistance. Louis raised an army and invaded the County of Champagne, where the bishop had taken refuge. There he stormed and burnt Vitry, and some thirteen hundred men, women, and children, who had taken refuge in the church, perished in the flames of the blazing town. Horror seems to have unhinged his mind, absolution did not calm him, and at last he came to believe that his only hope of salvation lay in a pilgrimage to the Sepulchre. On Palm Sunday, 1146, when Bernard harangued a vast throng at Vézelay, the king was the first to prostrate himself, and take the cross from his hands.

With that day began the most marvellous part of the saint's marvellous career, and were the events which followed less well authenticated, they would be incredible. In that age miracles were as common as medical cures are now, and yet Bernard's performances so astonished his contemporaries that they drew up a solemnly attested record of what they saw, that the story of his preaching might never be questioned.

When he neared a town the bells were rung, and young and old, from far and near, thronged about him in crowds so dense that, at Constance, no one saw what passed, because no one dared to venture into the press. At Troyes he was in danger of being suffocated. Elsewhere the sick were brought to him by a ladder as he stood at a window out of reach. What he did may be judged by the work of a single day.

"When the holy man entered Germany he shone so marvellously by cures, that it can neither be told in words, nor would it be believed if it were told. For those testify who were present in the country of Constance, near the town of Doningen, who diligently investigated these things, and saw them with their eyes, that in one day eleven blind received their sight by the laying on of his hands, ten maimed were restored, and eighteen lame made straight." (7)

Thus, literally by thousands, the blind saw, the lame walked, the maimed were made whole. He cast out devils, turned water into wine, raised the dead. But no modern description can give an idea of the paroxysm of excitement; the stories must be read in the chronicles themselves. Yet, strangely enough, such was the strength of the materialistic inheritance from the Empire, that Bernard does not always seem fully to have believed in himself. He was tinged with some shade of scepticism. The meeting at Vézelay was held on March 24, 1146. Four weeks later, on April 21, at a council held at Chartres, the command of the army to invade Palestine was offered to the Abbot of Clairvaux. Had the saint thoroughly believed in himself and his twelve legions of angels, he would not have hesitated, for no enemy could have withstood God. In fact he was panic-stricken, and wrote a letter to the pope which might befit a modern clergyman.

After explaining that he had been chosen commander against his will, he exclaimed, "Who am I, that I should set camps in order, or should march before armed men? Or what is so remote from my profession, even had I the strength, and the knowledge were not lacking? . . . I beseech you, by that charity you especially owe me, that you do not abandon me to the wills of men." (8)

During 1146 and 1147 two vast mixed multitudes, swarming with criminals and women, gathered at Metz and Ratisbon. As a fighting force these hosts were decidedly inferior to the bands which had left Europe fifty years before, under Tancred and Godfrey de Bouillon, and they were besides commanded by the semi-emasculated King of France.

The Germans cannot be considered as having taken any part in the war, for they perished without having struck a blow. The Greek emperor caused them to be lured into the mountains of Asia Minor, where they were abandoned by their guides, and wasted away from exposure, hunger, and thirst, until the Saracens destroyed them without allowing them to come to battle.

The French fared little better. In crossing the Cadmus Mountains, their lack of discipline occasioned a defeat, which made William of Tyre wonder at the ways of God.

"To no one should the things done by our Lord be displeasing, for all his works are right and good, but according to the judgment of men it was marvellous how our Lord permitted the Franks (who are the people in the world who believe in him and honour him most) to be thus destroyed by the enemies of the faith." (9)

Soon after this check Louis was joined by the Grand Master of the Temple, under whose guidance he reached Atalia, a Greek port in Pamphylia: and here, had the king been a rationalist, he would have stormed the town and used it as a base of operations against Syria. In the eyes of laymen, the undisguised hostility of the emperor would have fully justified such an attack. But Louis was a devotee, bound by a vow to the performance of a certain mystic formula, and one part of his vow was not to attack Christians during his pilgrimage. In his mind the danger of disaster from supernatural displeasure was greater than the strategic advantage; and so he allowed his army to rot before the walls in the dead of winter, without tents or supplies, until it wasted to a shadow of its former strength.

Finally the governor contracted to provide shipping, but he delayed for another five weeks, and when the transports came they were too few. Even then Louis would not strike, but abandoning the poor and sick to their fate, he sailed away with the flower of his troops, and by spring the corpses of those whom he had deserted bred a pestilence which depopulated the city.

When he arrived at Antioch new humiliations and disasters awaited him. Raymond de Poitiers was one of the handsomest and most gifted men of this time. Affable, courteous, brave, and sagacious, in many respects a great captain, his failing was a hot temper, which led him to his ruin. He forsook Joscelin through jealousy, and the fall of Edessa cost him throne and life.

After the successes of Zenghi, a very short experience of Nour-ed-Din sufficed to convince Prince Raymond that Antioch could not be held without re-establishing the frontier; and when Louis arrived, Raymond tried hard to persuade him to abandon his pilgrimage for that season, and make a campaign in the north.

William of Tyre thought the plan good, and believed that the Saracens were, for the moment, too demoralized to resist. Evidently, by advancing from Antioch, Nour-ed-Din could have been isolated, whereas on the south he was covered by Damascus, one of the strongest places in the East.

Such considerations had no weight with Louis, for, to his emotional temperament, military strategy lay in obtaining supernatural aid, without which no wisdom could avail, and with which victory was sure. He therefore insisted on the punctilious performance of the religious rites, and one of the most interesting passages in William of Tyre is the account of the interview between him and Raymond, when a movement against the cities of the north was discussed.

"The prince, who had tried the temper of the king several times privately, and not found what he wanted, came one day to him before his barons and made his requests to the best of his power. Many reasons he showed that if he would agree, he would do his soul much good, and would win the applause of his liege; Christendom would lie so benefited by this thing. The king took counsel, and then he answered that he was vowed to the Sepulchre, and had taken the cross particularly to go there; that, since he had left his country, he had met with many hindrances, and that he had no wish to begin any wars until he had perfected his pilgrimage." (10)

This refusal so exasperated Prince Raymond that he threw off all disguise, and became the avowed lover of the queen, who detested her husband. Louis, shortly afterward, escaped by night from Antioch, taking Eleanor with him by force, and thus the only hope for the recovery of Edessa was lost.

For the emotionalist everything yielded to the transcendent importance of propitiatory rites; therefore Louis ascended Calvary, kissed the stones, intoned the chants, received the benediction, and lost Palestine. Thus, by the middle of the twelfth century, the idealist had begun to flag in the struggle for life.

An attempt, indeed, was afterwards made upon Damascus, but it only served to expose the weakness of the men who relied on magic. By the time the advance began, confidence had been restored among the Saracens, the attack was repulsed, and Nour-ed-Din had only to move from the north to throw the crusaders back upon Jerusalem, covered with ridicule. Nothing conveys so vivid an idea of the shock these reverses gave believers, as the words in which Saint Bernard defended his prophecies.

"Do they not say among the pagans, where is their God? Nor is it wonderful. The sons of the Church, who are known by the name of Christians, are laid low in the desert, destroyed by the sword, or consumed by famine. The Lord hath poured contempt upon princes, and hath caused them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Grief and misfortune have followed their steps, fear and confusion have been in the palaces of the kings themselves. How have the feet strayed of those promising peace and blessings. We have said peace and there is no peace, we have promised good fortune and behold tribulation, as if we had acted in this matter with rashness and levity. . . . Yet if one of two things must be, I prefer to have men murmur against me rather than God. It is good if I am worthy to be used as a shield. I take willingly the slanders of detractors, and the poisoned stings of blasphemers, that they may not reach him. I do not shrink from loss of glory that his may not be attacked, who gives it to me to be glorified in the words of the Psalmist: 'Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.'"(11)

According to the account of William of Tyre, both sides felt the end to be near. After the failure of Louis the Pious, Prince Raymond was the first to go down before the storm he had too late seen gathering. Nour-ed-Din fell upon his country with fire and sword, defeated him, cut off his head and right arm, and sent them to Bagdad as trophies. The wretched Joscelin died in a dungeon at Aleppo, while Nour-ed-Din entered Damascus, and thus consolidated the Syrian cities of the plain. Thenceforward the decentralized Franks lay helpless in the grasp of their compact adversary, and all that was imaginative in the Middle Ages received its death-wound at Tiberias. That action was the beginning of the decay of fetish-worship.

The crusaders believed they had found the cross on which Christ died at Jerusalem. They venerated it as a charm no less powerful than the Sepulchre itself, and having this advantage over the tomb, that it was portable. They thought it invincible, and used it not only as a weapon against living enemies, but as a means of controlling nature. A remarkable example of the magical properties of this relic was given in the retreat from Bosra.

Baldwin III. was crowned in 1144, when only thirteen. The kingdom was then at peace with Damascus, in whose territory Bosra lay; but, notwithstanding, the child's advisers eagerly listened to the offer of the emir in command to betray the town, and hastened forward the departure of an expedition, in spite of the protests of the envoys from Damascus. On the march the troops suffered severely from heat and thirst, and on their arrival were appalled to find a loyal garrison. A siege was out of the question, and a regular retreat so hazardous that the barons besought the king to fly and save the cross; but the boy refused, and stayed with his men to fight to the last. The outlook was terrible, for the vegetation was dry, and when the march began—

"The Turks threw Greek fire everywhere, so that it seemed as if the whole country burned. The high flames and thick smoke blinded our men. Then were they so beset they knew not what to do. But when there is great need, and men's help fails, then should one seek aid of our Lord, and cry to him to care for us; so did our Christians then; for they called the Archbishop Robert of Nazareth, who carried the true cross before them, and begged him that he would pray our Lord, who to save them had suffered death upon that cross, that he would bring them from this peril; for they could not endure it, nor did they look for other help than his. Truly, they were there all black and scorched, like smiths, from the fire and smoke. The archbishop dismounted and kneeled down, and prayed our Lord with many tears that he would have mercy on his people; then he arose and held the true cross toward the fire which the wind brought strongly against them. Our Lord by his great mercy regarded his people in the great peril which they suffered; for the wind changed straightway and blew the fire and smoke into the faces of the enemy who had lighted it, so that they were forced to scatter over the country and fly. Our men, when they saw this, wept for joy, for they perceived that our Lord had not forgotten them."

Even then they were in extreme peril, for but one way was open, for which they had no guide. Suddenly, a "knight appeared before the troop whom no one in the host knew. He sat a white horse, and carried a crimson banner, he wore a hauberk, whose sleeves came only to the elbow. He offered to guide them, and he put himself in front; he brought them to cool sweet springs; . . . he made them sleep in comfortable and good places. And he so guided them that on the third day they came to the city of Gadre."(12)

The mighty relic of the cross was taken and defiled by the Saracens at Hattin, where the Christians suffered a decisive defeat, caused by the impotence of the central administration at Jerusalem.

Reginald de Chatillon was the type of the twelfth century adventurer. He came to Palestine in the train of Louis the Pious, and he stayed there because he married a princess. He was a brave soldier, but greedy, violent, and rash, and his insubordination precipitated the catastrophe which led to the fall of the capital.

At the siege of Ascalon he so fascinated Constance, Princess of Antioch, widow of Raymond, that she persisted in marrying him, although she was sought by many of the greatest nobles, and he was only a knight. Her choice was disastrous. He had hardly entered on his government in the north before he quarrelled with the Greek emperor, who forced him to do penance with a rope about his neck. Afterward he was taken prisoner by Nour-ed-Din, who only liberated him after sixteen years, when his wife was dead. He soon married again, this time also another great heiress, Etiennette de Milly, Lady of Karak and Montreal, and, as her husband, Reginald became commander of the fortress of Karak to the east of the Dead Sea, which formed the defence against Egypt. But as the commander of so important a post, this reckless and rapacious adventurer defied the authority of his feudal superior, and by plundering caravans on the Damascus road so irritated Saladin that "in 1187 he burst, with a powerful army, into the Holy Land, made King Guy prisoner, and the Prince Reginald, whose head he cut off with his own hand." (13)

Guy de Lusignan had been crowned at Jerusalem the year before Saladin's invasion, and when war broke out he was at feud with the Count of Tripoli. The imminence of the common danger brought about some semblance of cohesion among the nobles, who agreed to put every available man in the field. The castles were stripped of their garrisons so that they were indefensible in case of reverse, and about fifty thousand troops were concentrated at Sepphoris in Galilee.

The contingents of the Temple and Hospital were well organized and well disciplined, but the army, as a whole, was rather a loose gathering of the retainers of thirty or forty independent chiefs, than a compact mass, subject to a single will, such as the Egyptian revenues enabled Saladin to put in the field.

Suddenly news came to Sepphoris, that the Saracens had poured through the pass of Banias and lay before Tiberias. Dissensions broke out at once, which Guy de Lusignan could not control. He was not a man of strong character, and had he been, he was only one among a dozen princes, any one of whom could quit the army and retire to his castle if he felt so disposed. The Count of Tripoli, who seems to have been the ablest soldier among the Franks, saw the folly of leaving water and marching across a burning country under a July sun, instead of waiting to be attacked. As he represented, he of all men was most interested in relieving Tiberias, for it was his town, and his wife was within the walls; yet such was the jealousy of him in the Latin camp that his advice was rejected, and an advance began on July 3, 1187.

Three miles from Tiberias the action opened by a furious attack on the rearguard, formed by the Temple and the Hospital. When they gave ground Guy lost heart and ordered a halt. The night which followed was frightful. The Moslems fired the dry undergrowth, and, amidst flames and smoke, the Franks lay till dawn, tormented by hunger and thirst, and exposed to clouds of arrows which the enemy poured in on them.

At dawn fighting began again, but the demoralized infantry fled to a hill, whence they refused to move. The Count of Tripoli, seeing the battle lost, cut his way out with a band of his followers, but Guy de Lusignan, Reginald de Chatillon, and a multitude of knights and nobles were captured. The orders were practically annihilated, the whole able-bodied population cut to pieces, and the holy cross, which had been borne before the host as an invincible engine of war, was seized and defiled on the mountain where Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies.

Emmad-Eddin, an Arabic historian, has described the veneration of the Christians for their talisman, their adoration of it in peace, and their devotion to it in battles; and his words help a modern generation to conceive the shock its worshippers received when it betrayed its helplessness.

"The great cross was taken before the king, and many of the impious sought death about it. When it was held aloft the infidels bent the knee and bowed the head. They had enriched it with gold and jewels; they carried it on days of great solemnity, and looked upon it as their first duty to defend it in battle. The capture of this cross was more grievous to them than the capture of their king."

Footnotes[edit]

(1) Letter 363, ed. 1877, Paris.

(2) Sancti Bernardi, Vita et Res Gestae, Auctore Guillelmo, 1-3.

(3) Secunda Vita S. Bernardi Auctore Alano, vi.

(4) Exordium Magnum Cisterciense, viii.

(5) Nos. 363 and 423, ed. of 1877, Paris.

(6) Letter 363.

(7) De Vita S. Bernardi, Auctore Gaufrido, iv. 5.

(8) Letter 256, ed. of 1877, Paris.

(9) Hist. des Croisades, xvi. 25.

(10) Hist. des Croisades, xvi. 27.

(11) De Consideratione ii. 1.

(12) Willam of Tyre, xvi. 11, 12.

(13) Les Familles d'Outre-Mer, Du Cange, 405.