Third Millennium Library
 

Richard I "Lionheart"

XIX

THE TRUCE.

 

THE result of the battle of Jaffa greatly strengthened and improved the condition of the Crusaders, and in the same proportion it weakened and discouraged Saladin and the Saracens. But, after all, instead of giving to either party the predominance, it only placed them more nearly on a footing of equality than before. It began to be pretty plain that neither of the contending parties was strong enough, or would soon be likely to be strong enough to accomplish its purposes. Richard could not take Jerusalem from Saladin, nor could Saladin drive Richard out of the Holy Land.

In this state of things, it was finally agreed upon between Richard and Saladin that a truce should be made. The negotiations for this truce were protracted through several weeks, and the summer was gone before it was concluded. It was a truce for a long period, the duration of it being more than three years. Still, it was strictly a truce, not a peace, since a termination was assigned to it.

Richard preferred to make a truce rather than a peace for the sake of appearances at home. He did not wish that it should be understood that, in leaving the Holy Land and returning home, he abandoned all design of recovering the Holy Sepulchre. He allowed three years, on the supposition that that would be time enough for him to return home, to set every thing in order in his dominions, to organize a new crusade on a larger scale, and to come back again. In the mean time, he reserved, by a stipulation of the treaty, the right to occupy, by such portion of his army as he should leave behind, the portion of territory on the coast which he had conquered, and which he then held, with the ex­ception of one of the cities, which one he was to give up. The terms of the treaty, in detail, were as follows :

1. The three great cities of Tyre, Acre, and Jaffa, with all the smaller towns and castles on the coast between them, with the territory adjoining, were to be left in the possession of the Christians, and Saladin bound himself that they should not be attacked or molested in any way there during the continuance of the truce.

 

2. Ascalon, which lay farther to the south, and was not necessary for the uses of Richard's army, was to be given up; but Saladin was to pay, on receiving it, the estimated cost which Richard had incurred in rebuilding the fortifications. Saladin, however, was not to occupy it himself as a fortified town. It was to be so far dismantled as only to be used as a commercial city.

 

3. The Christians bound themselves to remain within their territory in peace, to make no excursions from it for warlike purposes into the interior, nor in any manner to injure or oppress the inhabitants of the surrounding country.

 

4. All persons who might desire to go to Jerusalem in a peaceful way as visitors or pilgrims, whether they were knights or soldiers belonging to the army, or actual pilgrims arriving at Acre from the different Christian countries of Europe, were to be allowed to pass freely to and fro, and Saladin bound himself to protect them from all harm.

 

5. The truce thus agreed upon was to continue in force three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours; and at the end of that time, each party was released from all obligations arising under the treaty, and either was at liberty immediately to resume the war.

 

The signing of the treaty was the signal for general rejoicing in all divisions of the army. One of the first fruits of it was that the knights and soldiers all immediately began to form parties for visiting Jerusalem. It was obvious that all could not go at once; and Richard told the French soldiers who were under the Duke of Burgundy that he did not think they were entitled to go at all. They had done nothing, he said, to help on the war, but every thing to embarrass and impede it, and now he thought that they did not deserve to enjoy any share of the fruits of it.

Three large parties were formed and they proceeded, one after the other, to visit the Holy City. There was some difficulty in respect to the first party, and it required all Saladin's authority to protect them from insult or injury by the Saracen people. The animosity and anger which they had been so long cherishing against these invaders of their country had not had time to subside, and many of them were very eager to avenge the wrongs which they had suffered. The friends and relatives of the hostages whom Richard had massacred at Acre were particularly excited. They came in a body to Saladin's palace, and, falling on their knees before him, begged and implored him to allow them to take their revenge on the inhuman murderers, now that they had them in their power; but Saladin would not listen to them a moment. He refused their prayer in the most absolute and positive manner, and he took very effectual measures for protecting the party of Christians during the whole duration of their visit.

The question being thus settled that the Christian visitors to Jerusalem were to be protected, the excitement among the people gradually subsided; and, indeed, before long, the current of feeling inclined the other way, so that, when the second party arrived, they were received with great kindness. Perhaps the first party had taken care to conduct themselves in such a manner during their visit, and in going and returning, as to conciliate the good-will of their enemies. At any rate, after their visit there was no difficulty, and many in the camp, who had been too distrustful of Saracenic faith to venture with them, now began to join the other parties that were forming, for all had a great curiosity to see the city for the sake of which they had encountered so many dangers and toils.

With the third party a bishop ventured to go. It was far more dangerous for a high dignitary of the Christian Church to join such an expedition than for a knight or a common soldier, both because such a man was a more obnoxious object of Mohammedan fanaticism, and thus more likely, perhaps, to be attacked, and also because, in case of an attack, being unarmed and defenseless, he would be unable to protect himself, and be less able even to act efficiently in making his escape than a military man, who, as such, was accustomed to all sorts of surprises and frays.

The bishop, however, experienced no difficulty. On the contrary, he was received with marks of great distinction. Saladin made special arrangements to do him honor. He invited him to his palace, and there treated him with great respect, and held a long conversation with him. In the course of the conversation Saladin desired to know what was commonly said of him in the Christian camp.

"What is the common opinion in your army," he asked, "in respect to Richard and to me?"

He wished to know which was regarded as the greatest hero.

"My king," replied the bishop, "is regarded the first of all men living, both in regard to his valorous deeds and to the generosity of his character. That I can not deny. But your fame also is very exalted among us; and it is the universal opinion in our army that if you were only converted to Christianity, there would not be in the world two such princes as Richard and you."

In the course of further conversation Saladin admitted that Richard was a great hero, and said that he had a great admiration for him.

"But then," he added, "he does wrong, and acts very unwisely, in exposing himself so recklessly to personal danger, when there is no sufficient end in view to justify it. To act thus evinces rashness and recklessness rather than true courage. For myself, I prefer the reputation of wisdom and prudence rather than that of mere blind and thoughtless daring."

The bishop, in his conversation with Saladin, represented to him that it was necessary for the comfort of the pilgrims who should from time to time visit Jerusalem that there should be some public establishment to receive and entertain them, and he asked the sultan's permission to found such institutions. Saladin acceded to this request, and measures were immediately adopted by the bishop to carry the arrangement into effect.

Richard himself did not visit Jerusalem. The reason he assigned for this was that he was sick at the time. Perhaps the real reason was that he could not endure the humiliation of paying a visit, by the mere permission of an enemy, to the city which he had so long set his heart upon entering triumphantly as a conqueror.