Page 1329

1329 THE CRUSADES-THE FIRST CRUSADE.

or beast. The distress became extreme.

The pilgrims were obliged to subsist on

the roots of plants and the chance products

which had escaped destruction by the Turk.

The hawks and hounds starved to death.

Men and horses fell famished. The despairing moans of dying women were heard in

the camp. Hundreds and thousands dropped

by the wayside and perished. Then the water

failed. Not a brook, fountain, or well was

any longer found. The horrors of thirst

were added to those of famine. At length,

when the whole host seemed on the brink of

destruction, some of the straggling hounds

came into camp dripping with water. They

had found a river, bathed in it, and drank

to repletion. The pilgrims hastened in that

direction, and soon came to a cool, running

stream. Forgetting all moderation, they

rushed in and drank till nature gave way

under the sudden reaction, and other hundreds

died on the banks. Others sickened from the

over draught, and the camp was filled with anguish. Still the host quailed not; and evening

and morning the heralds made proclamation of

"Save the Holy Sepulcher!" and the chiefs

courageously renewed the toilsome march.

At length in the middle of autumn a

pass was found in the mountains, and the

half-starved Crusaders, dragging themselves

through, came into a region of plenty. Supplies were gathered from the towns and fields,

and the spirits of the enfeebled warriors revived with the quieting of hunger. Presently,

Antioch, with its lofty castles and four hundred and sixty towers, came insight, and the

second great prize to be contended for by the

armies of Christendom was reached.

The city itself was an object of the greatest interest. Beyond rose a mountain, the

hither slope being covered with houses and

gardens. In one of the suburbs the celebrated fountain of Daphne tossed its waters

in the sunlight. The feet of the rich metropolis were washed by the great river Orontes,

plentiful in waters. But better than her

natural beauty and opulence were the hallowed associations of Antioch. Here the

followers of Christ had first taken the name

of Christians. Here St. Peter was made first

bishop of the Church. Here the early saints

and martyrs had performed their miracles

and given to the city a sanctity second only

to that of Jerusalem.

The portion of Upper Syria of which Antioch was the capital was at the time of the

First Crusade governed by Prince Auxian,

a dependent of the Caliphate. Not destitute

of warlike abilities, this ruler now made preparations for an obstinate defense. So great,

however, was the fame which flew before the

triumphant Crusaders that the Moslems had

come to anticipate defeat; and the momentum

of victory carried the invaders onward.

Not only had success, in despite of famine

and disasters, thus far attended the main

body led by Godfrey and Short Hose, but the

other divisions had in like manner triumphed

over the Infidels. Tancred and Baldwin

(of Bouillon) had captured Tarsus. The

former had also been victorious at Malmistra and Alexandretta, and the latter

had subdued the principality of Edessa.

He then wreathed his sword in flowers by

marrying a daughter of the prince of Armenia, by which act he gained the better

portion of Ancient Assyria. Indeed, the

greater part of Asia Minor was already dominated by the Cross; and the various divisions,

elated with repeated successes, concentrated

before Antioch.

Between that city and the crusading armies

flowed the Orontes. The stream was spanned

by a great bridge defended by iron towers.

Before' the Christians could reach the other

side, the bridge must be captured, and this

duty was assigned to Robert Short Hose

of Normandy. In him it were hard to say

whether his courage was greater than his

rashness. He bad all the heroic virtues

and splendid vices of his age. With a picked

force of Norman knights he attacked the

bridge with the greatest audacity, and

such was the terror of his flashing sword,

that the Moslems abandoned the towers

and fled. The Christian bugles sounded

the charge, and the crusading host crossed

in safety to the other side. A camp was

pitched before the walls of Antioch, and

here the mail-clad warriors of the West

lay down to rest in the shadow of the palms

of Syria.

Thus far in the course of the great expedition from the Rhine to Constantinople, from

Constantinople to Nice, from Nice to Antioch,

not much opportunity had been given the Crusaders to reap the harvest of promised pleasure. One of the chief incentives to the