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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 3299 times)
Trena Alloway
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Posts: 2386

« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2009, 11:06:19 pm »

In opposition to these assertions, we have the unanimous testimony of all the English writers, such as Vinisauf (the companion and historian of king Richard's crusade), Hoveden, Brompton William of Newbridge.

p. 123

[paragraph continues] The Syrian bishop, Aboo-’l-Faraj, mentions the report of the Assassin who was put to the rack having laid the guilt on king Richard, but adds that the truth came afterwards to light. Hugo Plagon, a judicious and impartial writer, so far from imputing the death of the marquis to king Richard, assigns the cause which moved the Assassin prince to order the death of the marquis, namely, the same which we shall presently see stated in the letter ascribed to the Old Man of the Mountain. Rigord, who wrote the history of Philip Augustus, does not by any means impute the murder of the marquis to king Richard, though he says that while Philip was at Pontoise letters were brought to him from beyond sea, warning him to be on his guard, as Assassins (Arsacidæ) had been sent, at the suggestion and command of the King of England, to kill him, "for at that time they had slain the king's kinsman, the marquis." Philip, in real, but more probably feigned alarm, immediately surrounded his person with a guard of serjeants-at-mace. The Arabic historian, Ebn-el-Athir, the friend of Saladin, says that the sultan had agreed with the Old Man of the Mountain, for a sum of 10,000 pieces of gold, to deliver him of both king Richard and the marquis, but that Sinan, not thinking it to be for his interest to relieve the sultan of the English king, had taken the money and only put the marquis out of the way. This narrative is wholly improbable, for treachery was surely no part of the character of Saladin; but it serves to prove the impartiality which is so justly ascribed to the Arabic writers in general. The testimony of Abulfeda is as follows: "And in it (the year of the Hejra 588, or A.D. 1192,) was slain the Marquis, Lord of Soor (or Tyre); may God, whose name be exalted, curse him! A Batinee, or Assassin (in one copy Batinees),

p. 124

who had entered Soor in the disguise of a monk, slew him *."

We thus see that the evidence in favour of the King of England greatly preponderates, not a single writer who was on the spot laying the murder to his charge; on the contrary, those who had the best means of being informed treated the imputation with contempt, as a base calumny devised by the French party. But there is a still more illustrious witness in his behalf, if the testimony ascribed to him be genuine--the Old Man of the Mountain himself. Brompton gives two letters purporting to have been written by this personage, the one to the Duke of Austria, the other to the princes and people of Europe in general. The latter is also given by William of Newbridge, with some variation. Both have been admitted by Rymer into his Fœdera. Gibbon, who seems to have known only the last, pronounces it to be an "absurd and palpable forgery." Hammer, whose arguments we shall presently consider, undertakes to demonstrate that these epistles are forgeries. Raumer, more prudently, only says that this last is not genuine in its present form.

The following are translations of these documents:--

"The Old Man of the Mountain to Limpold, Duke of Austria, greeting. Since several kings and princes beyond sea accuse Richard, King of England, and lord, of the death of the marquis, I swear by the God who reigneth for ever, and by the law which we hold, that he had no guilt in his death; for the cause of the death of the marquis was as follows.

"One of our brethren was coming in a ship from Satelia (Salteleya) to our parts, and a tempest chancing to drive him to Tyre the marquis had him taken and slain, and seized a large sum of money

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which he had with him. But we sent our messengers to the marquis, requiring him to restore to us the money of our brother, and to satisfy us respecting the death of our brother, which he laid upon Reginald, the Lord of Sidon, and we exerted ourselves through our friends till we knew of a truth that it was he himself who had had him put to death, and had seized his money.

"And again we sent to him another of our messengers, named Eurisus, whom he was minded to fling into the sea; but our friends made him depart with speed out of Tyre, and he came to us quickly and told us these things. From that very hour we were desirous to slay the marquis; then also we sent two brethren to Tyre, who slew him openly, and as it were before all the people of Tyre.

"This, then, was the cause of the death of the marquis; and we say to you in truth that the lord Richard, King of England, had no guilt in this death of the marquis, and these who on account of this have done evil to the lord King of England have done it unjustly and without cause.

"Know for certain that we kill no man in this world for any hire or money, unless he has first done us evil.

"And know that we have executed these letters in our house at our castle of Messiat, in the middle of September. In the year from Alexander M. D. & V."


"The Old Man of the Mountain to the princes of Europe and all the Christian people, greeting.

"We would not that the innocence of any one should suffer by reason of what we have done, since we never do evil to any innocent and guiltless person; but those who have transgressed against us we do not, with God to aid, long suffer to rejoice in the injuries done to our simplicity.

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"We therefore signify to the whole of you, testifying by him through whom we hope to be saved, that that Marquis of Montferrat was slain by no machination of the King of England, but he justly perished, by our will and command, by our satellites, for that act in which he transgressed against us, and which, when admonished, he had neglected to amend. For it is our custom first to admonish those who have acted injuriously in anything to us or our friends to give us satisfaction, which if they despise, we take care to take vengeance with severity by our ministers, who obey us with such devotion that they do not doubt but that they shall be gloriously rewarded by God if they die in executing our command.

"We have also heard that it is bruited about of that king that he has induced us, as being less upright and consistent (minus integros et constantes), to send some of our people to plot against the King of France, which, beyond doubt, is a false fiction, and of the vainest suspicion, when neither he, God is witness, has hitherto attempted anything against us, nor would we, in respect to our honour, permit any undeserved evil to be planned against any man. Farewell."

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