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the First Crusade

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Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #60 on: March 01, 2009, 08:53:09 pm »

The Fall of Antioch

5. The Gesta Version


I can not enumerate all the things which we did before the city was captured, beause there is no one in these regions, whether cleric or layman, who can at all write or tell just how things happened. Nevertheless, I will say a little.

There was a certain Emir of the race of the Turks, whose name was Pirus, who took up the greatest friendship with Bohemund. By an interchange of messengers Bohemund often pressed this man to receive him within the city in a most friendly fashion, and, after promising Christianity to him most freely, he sent word that be would make him rich with much honor. Pirus yielded to these words and promises, saying, "I guard three towers, and I freely promise them to him, and at whatever hour he wishes I will receive him within them." Accordingly, Bohemund was now secure about entering the city, and, delighted, with serene mind and joyful countenance, became to all the leaders, bearing joyful words to them in this wise: "Men, most illustrious knights, see how all of us, whether of greater or less degree, are in exceeding poverty and misery, and how utterly ignorant we are from what side we will fare better. Therefore, if it seems good and honorable to you, let one of us put himself ahead of the rest, and if he can acquire or contrive (the capture of) the city by any plan or scheme, by himself, or through the help of others, let us with one voice grant him the city as a gift." They absolutely refused and spurned (the suggestion) saying, "This city shall be given to no one, but we will bold it equally; since we have had equal effort, so let us have equal reward from it."

Bohemund, upon hearing these words, laughed a bit to himself and immediately retired. Not much later we listened to messages concerning (the approach of) an army of our enemy, Turks, Publicani, Agulani, Azimites, and very many other gentile nations that I know not how to enumerate or name. Immediately all our leaders came together, and held a council, saying: "If Bohemund can acquire the city, either by himself, or with the help of others, let us give it to him freely and with one accord, on condition that if the Emperor comes to our aid and wishes to carry out every agreement, as be swore and promised, we will return it to him by right. But if be does not do this, let Bohemund keep it in his power." Immediately, therefore, Bohemund began meekly to beseech his friend in daily petition, holding out most humbly the greatest and sweetest promises in this manner: "Behold, we have now truly a fit time to accomplish whatever good we wish; therefore, now, my friend Pirus, help me." Greatly pleased at the message, be replied that be would aid him in every way, as he ought to do. Accordingly, at the approach of night, he cautiously sent his son to Bohemund as a pledge, that he might be the more secure about his entrance to the city. He also sent word to him in this wise: "Tomorrow sound the trumpets for the Frankish host to move on, pretending that they are going to plunder the land of the Saracens, and then turn back quickly over the mountain on the right. With alert mind, indeed, I will be awaiting those forces, and I will take them into the towers which I have in my power and charge." Then Bohemund ordered a certain servant of his, Malacorona by name, to be called, and bade him, as herald, to admonish most of the Franks faithfully to prepare themselves to go into the land of the Saracens. This was so done. Thereupon Bohemund entrusted his plan to Duke Godfrey, and the Count of Flanders, also to the Count of St. Gilles and the Bishop of Puy, saying, "The grace of God favoring, Antioch will this night be surrendered to us."

All these matters were at length arranged; the knights held the level places and the foot soldiers the mountain. All the night they rode and marched until dawn, and then began to approach the towers which that person (Pirus) was watchfully guarding. Bohemund straightway dismounted and gave orders to the rest, saying, "Go with secure mind and happy accord, and climb by ladder into Antioch which, if it please God, we shall have in our power immediately." They went up the ladder, which had already been placed and firmly bound to the projections of the city wall. About sixty of our men climbed up it and were distributed among the towers which that man was watching. Pirus, upon seeing that so few of our men had ascended, began to tremble with fear for both himself and our men, lest they fall into the hands of the Turks. And be said, "Micro Francos echome There are few Franks here! Where is most fierce Bohemund, that unconquered knight?" Meanwhile a certain Longobard servant descended again, and ran as quickly (as possible) to Bohemund, saying, "Why do you stand here, illustrious man? Why have you come hither? Behold, we already hold three towers!" Bohemund was moved with the rest, and all went joyfully to the ladder. Accordingly, when those who were in the towers saw this, they began to shout with happy voices, "God wills it!" We began to shout likewise; now the men began to climb up there in wondrous fashion. Then they reached the top and ran in haste to the other towers. Those whom they found there they straightway sentenced to death; they even killed a brother of Pirus. Meantime the ladder by which we had ascended broke by chance, whereupon there arose the greatest dismay and gloom among us. However, though the ladder had been broken, there was still a certain gate near us which had been shut on the left side and had remained unknown to some of the people, for it was night. But by feeling about and inquiring we found it, and all ran to it; and, having broken it open, we entered through it.

Thereupon, the noise of a countless multitude resounded through all the city. Bohemund did not give his men any rest, but ordered his standard to be carried up in front of the castle on a certain hill. Indeed, all were shouting in the city together.

Moreover, when at earliest dawn those in the tents outside heard the most violent outcry sounding through the city, they rushed out hurriedly and saw the standard of Bohemund up on the mount, and with rapid pace all ran hastily and entered the city. They killed the Turks and Saracens whom they found there, except those who had fled into the citadel. Others of the Turks went out through the gates, and by fleeing escaped alive.

But Cassianus, their lord, fearing the race of the Franks greatly, took flight with the many others who were with him and came in flight to the land of Tancred, not far from the city. Their horses, however, were worn out, and, taking refuge in a certain villa, they dashed into a house. The inhabitants of the mountain, Syrians and Armenians, upon recognizing him (Cassianus), straightway seized him, cut off his head, and took it into the presence of Bohemund, so that they might gain their liberty. They also sold his sword-belt and scabbard for sixty besants. All this occurred on the third day of the incoming month of June, the fifth day of the week, the third day before the Nones of June. All the squares of the city were already everywhere full of the corpses of the dead, so that no one could endure it there for the excessive stench. No one could go along a street of the city except over the bodies of the dead.

Source:

August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 151-53
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