Page 1324

1324 UNIVERSAL HISTORY.-THE MODERN WORLD.

succeeded in securing from him the desired

oath. Great was the indignation in the pilgrim camp when the proposal of Alexius

was known. But the Emperor sent his

son as a hostage to the Crusaders, and their

repugnance was gradually overcome with

blandishments. Godfrey, Robert Short Hose,

and the counts of Flanders and Blois consented to do homage to Alexius as their

suzerain; but Raymond of Toulouse refused

with disdain to render fealty to such a master.

It became a problem with the Emperor

in what way he might bring the sturdy

Crusader to a sense of what was due the

majesty of Constantinople.

On the appointed day the western princes

were admitted to the city and taken to the

palace of Alexius. There-high on a throne of royal state that far

outshone the wealth of Ormus-sat the Emperor of Byzantium, surrounded

by the Imperial court. Nothing was omitted

which artificial magnificence could supply

to impress the Crusaders with a sense of

eastern greatness. But the eye of penetration could not have failed to pierce through the

flimsy and gilded sham and perceive the

essential weakness of the power which was

placed under the protection of the swords

of western Christendom. Godfrey, the two

Roberts, and Stephen did the act of homage

as might become great knights and warriors.

Rich gifts were showered upon them, and the

Emperor began to wrap himself in the cloak

of a delusive security.

Before the ceremony was fairly ended an

incident occurred which shocked the crafty

Greek from his pleasing reverie. Count Robert of Paris was among the number of nobles

who were present at the obeisance of the leaders. While the pageant was still set this stalwart son of the ancient sea kings, with no

effort to conceal his contempt for the mummery that was enacting, strode boldly forward

to the throne and sat down by the side of the

Emperor. At this the Greeks were horrified

and the Crusaders laughed. Some of the more

prudent Franks attempted to remonstrate

with Count Robert, and one of them taking

him by the arm said: "When you are in a

foreign country you ought to respect its

customs!" "Indeed!" said the impudent

count, with a significant look at Alexius; "but this is a pleasant clown who is seated while

so many noble captains are standing." The

Emperor was obliged to pocket the insult,

and when the ceremony was over he attempted to mollify the implacable Crusader

with some pleasant talk. "What is your birth,

and which is your country?" said he with

mild accent to the surly Robert. "I am a

Frenchman," said the Frank, "and of the

highest rank of nobles. And one thing I

know, that in my country there is a place

near a church where those repair who are

eager to attest their valor. I have often been

there myself, and no one has' ventured to

present himself before me." The hint of a

challenge was lost on the mild mannered

Alexius, who had as little notion of exposing

his person as he had of hazarding his

throne.

Meanwhile the people of Southern Italy,

especially the Normans of Calabria, had

been roused from their slumbers by Prince

Boemund, of Tarento. He was the son of

that Robert Guiscard by whom and his

brother William the knights of the North had

been led against the Saracens in the war for

the possession of the lower part of the peninsula and the Sicilies. Now he took up arms

in the common cause. His own principality

was far too small a field for his ambition.

Like many another restless baron, he would

seek in the East and under cover of a holy

enterprise the opportunity which the West no

longer afforded.

But while the aspirations of Boemund urged

him to assume the cross he found himself with

neither money nor soldiers. At this time the

Norman army of the South, led by one of the

brothers of the Prince of Tarento, was engaged

in the siege of Amalfi, a stronghold of Southern Italy, which the Normans had not yet

reduced. Boemund repaired to the camp of

his countrymen and began to excite their

minds with the story of outraged Jerusalem

and to compare the glories of a crusade with

the unworth of the petty war in which they

were engaged. From the enthusiasm which

he thus kindled to the leadership of an expedition was but a step, and Boemund soon found

himself at the head of a multitude of knights

who wore the red cross and shouted, Dieu ie

Vent. The siege of Amalfi was given up, and

the army, thirty thousand strong, departed

for the Holy Land. Among the leaders of