Page 1330

1330 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

uprising had been the license freely offered by

the Church to all who should be victorious

over the Infidel. To them restraint should

be unknown. The maidens of Greece and

the dark eyed houris of Syria were openly

named as a part of the reward due to them

who should hurl the Turk from his seat on

the tomb of Christ; and the Crusader in his

dreams saw the half-draped figures of Oriental

beauties flitting in the far mirage. Before the

walls of Antioch the men of the West sat

down to enjoy whatever the land afforded.

The god of license became the favorite divinity. All restraint was cast aside. Every

village in the surrounding country was recklessly pillaged, and the camp of the Crusaders

was heaped with spoils. Then the armed

warriors gave themselves up to feasting and

love-making with the Syrian damsels. Bishops

of the Church wandered wantonly through

the orchards and lay on the grass playing

dice with Cyprians. Believing that the garrison of Antioch would not dare to come

forth and attack them, the Franks abandoned

themselves to riotous living, and all manner

of excess.

It was not long until this course provoked

its natural consequences. The defenders of

the city watched their opportunity and

made a successful sally. The Crusaders were

dispersed in neighboring villages, expecting no

attack. Thus exposed, they were slaughtered

in large numbers, and the heads of all who

were overtaken were cut off and thrown

into the camp as a taunt. Great was the

fury of the Crusaders on beholding the

bloody reminders of their own and slain

friends' folly. Roused to a sudden fury,

they seized their arms and rushed like madmen upon the fortifications. They were

beaten back with large losses by the garrison. In order to prosecute the siege the

Christians now found it necessary to fortify

their camp and build a bridge across the

Orontes. The next work was the construction of wooden towers commanding the

river; for a blockade was essential to the success of the investment.

Ere the siege was well begun winter came

on. The riotousness of the summer and

vintage months was brought to a sudden

end. Hardship and hazard returned with

the cold, and distress followed hard in the

wake of carousal. Supplies grew scarce.

Robert Short Hose and Boemund scoured

the country and brought back little. All

summer long the Western host had filled

itself with fatness. Now there was no more.

Suffering began. Storms of cold rain flooded

the camp. Tents were blown away by the

hurricane. The garments of the Crusaders

were worn to rags. Disease brought anguish,

and many in despair gave up the enterprise

and set out secretly for home. Peter the

Hermit escaped from the camp and had

gone some distance before he was overtaken

and brought back by force. The daring Short

Hose undertook to save himself by retiring

into Laodicea; but when Godfrey sent a

summons to him in the name of Christ he

was induced to return.

When affairs were about at their worst

the Caliph of Baghdad, learning of the situation at Antioch, sent an embassy to the

Crusaders with an offer of alliance and

protection! The Norman and French knights

were in no mood to be protected by an Infidel. They sent back a defiant message and

resolutely continued the siege. Winter wore

away, and the condition of the' woeful warriors began to improve with the sunny weather;

but better than the change of season was the

news that came from the port of St. Simeon.

That harbor had been entered by a fleet of

provision-ships from Genoa and Pisa. Such

was the elation of the Crusaders that many

hurried off to the coast to obtain supplies,

but returning without due caution they were

attacked by a division of Saracens and dispersed. Thereupon Godfrey, Tancred, and

Short Hose called out their forces and went

to the rescue. Seeing this movement the

commandant of Antioch ordered the garrison

to sally forth and attack the camp. In order

to make sure of success he shut the gates behind

them. The Crusaders turned furiously upon

the Moslems and drove them to the wall.

Here they were hewed down until nightfall,

when Auxian reopened the gates and the

survivors rushed in for safety.

Still the defenses of the city held out.

Spring went by and summer came, and the

position of the combatants remained unchanged. At last, however, when the sheer

valor of the Crusaders seemed insufficient to

gain for them the coveted prize, an act of

treason did what force of arms had been unable to accomplish. One of the principal