Page 1326

1326 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE. MODERN WORLD.

For a season the opposing armies of

Cross and Crescent tested each other's

strength and powers in desultory and indecisive conflicts. Several times the Crusaders

flung themselves against the walls of Nice,

and were repulsed with considerable losses.

But the sultan and his generals discovered in

these assaults a courage and determination which had not been witnessed in

Western Asia since the days of Alexander the

Great. After some delay, the Moslem leaders

determined to risk a battle. The sultan

harangued his soldiers, appealing to every

motive which seemed likely to call forth

the most heroic energies of Islam. Then,

girding on his sword, he gave orders for

the charge, and the Moslem host, surging

down the mountain slope, fell headlong upon

the Christian camp. Such was the fury of the

charge that the soldiers of Raymond of

Toulouse, by whom the brunt of the battle

was first borne, were thrown into some

disorder and driven from their lines. But

the advantage thus gained by the Saracens

was of brief duration. Raymond rallied his

men with the greatest bravery. Robert the

Short Hose, now in the height of his glory,

and Robert of Flanders, rushed to the rescue,

and in a short time the bugles of the sultan

were heard sounding the retreat. The

Crusaders raised the shout of triumph,

and the shadow of the victorious Cross

fell athwart the field of carnage. The losses

of the Moslems, however, were not great;

for the sultan, abandoning his capital, made

good his retreat, and postponed the decisive conflict. The Crusaders were thus

left to batter down the walls of Nice at their

leisure.

Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the

main army of defense the garrison within the

city held out bravely against the besiegers.

The latter, however, were not to be put from

their purpose. A Lombard engineer lent his

skill 'in the preparation of such military machines as were known to the skill of the Middle Ages. The ramparts were battered with

rams. An engine called the balister discharged enormous stones against the turrets.

Catapults hurled huge masses of wood and

rock upon the defenders of the city, and the

classical tower, built at a distance from the

walls, and brought down against them by

means of an artificial agger or mole of earth, enabled the assailants to reach their enemies

in hand to hand encounters on the top of the

ramparts.

The besieged meanwhile answered force

with force. Breeches were repaired, assaults

repelled, the place of the fallen supplied

with new soldiers, and the Crusaders kept at

bay. After the siege had continued for

several weeks it was discovered by Godfrey

and the confederate princes that success

would be indefinitely postponed as long as

the inhabitants of Nice had free ingress and

egress by way of lake Ascanius. To gain

possession of this body of water became

therefore the immediate object of the Crusaders. Boats were brought over land,

manned with soldiers and launched by night

on the lake. The morning brought consternation to the inhabitants of Nice. The

wife and household of the sultan attempting

to escape were captured. The exultant

Crusaders prepared for a final assault, but

to their utter amazement, when the charge

was about to be made, the standard of the

Emperor Alexius rose above the turrets of

the city.

For this crafty ruler had determined to

deprive the Crusaders of their prize. Seeing

that they were about to prove victorious, he

sent his general and admiral to open secret

negotiations with the besieged. The latter

were induced to believe that it would be far

preferable for them to yield the city to their

friend, the monarch of Byzantium, than to

surrender to the terrible warriors of the West.

To this course the authorities of Nice were

easily persuaded. Accordingly when the Crusaders' bugles were about to sound the charge

in an assault which must have proved successful, the subtlety of the Greek prevailed over

the valor of knighthood, and the capital of

Bithynia was given to him rather than to them.

The weakness of human nature found ample illustration in the conduct of the western princes.

They were called together by the Emperor, and

their rising rage at the treachery to which

they had been subjected was quenched in a

copious shower of presents. But even this

cooler upon the indignation natural to such

perfidious conduct could not drown the secret

hatred of the Christian knights for the double

dealing and two-faced Alexius. With sullen

demeanor they witnessed the transfer to his

hands of the prize won by their valor, and