Page 1340

1340 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

in the distance the towers of the city-one of

the strongest in Palestine-were seen as a

refuge.

The Saracen army was drawn up in two

lines, and was terrible in its aspect and extent.

The disparity of numbers was so great that to

any other than a Crusader it would have appeared the excess of madness to offer battle.

But to one who had seen the war horse of

St. George and had touched the sacred spear

wherewith the side of Christ had been pierced

no task could appall, no numbers terrify.

On the other hand, where every rational

ground of confidence existed, the Saracens

shook at the sight of the Christian banners.

No exhortation of the Emir could suffice to

inspire the host under his command. At

the moment when battle was about to begin

the device which the Moslems had invented

to destroy their adversaries turned against

themselves. The vast droves of cattle which

had been intended to decoy the Crusaders

were seen in the rear of Godfrey's army and

were mistaken by Afdhal's forces for a part

of the foe whom they had to face. The discouragement of the Saracens was so great

that m the beginning of the engagement they

fought but feebly, while every furious blow

of the Christian knights fell with fatal effect

upon the Mohammedan ranks. As usual on

such occasions, Robert Short Hose fought

like a lion. With a body of cavalry he forced

his way to the Saracen center and captured

the Emir's standard. The infantry rushed

after him and the enemy's lines were broken

and scattered.

For a while a division of Ethiopians,

after the peculiar tactics of their country,

fell on their knees to discharge their javelins and then with a clubbed weapon resembling a flail, armed with jagged balls of iron,

sprang up and assailed the Crusaders with

the fury of Huns; but even these fierce warriors were soon routed by the resistless

charges of Godfrey's knights. The whole

Saracen army broke and fled in confusion.

They rushed in the direction of Ascalon,

and were pursued with havoc and slaughter.

Thousands perished on the field; other thousands in the flight, and still others at the

drawbridge of the city, upon which they

were hopelessly crowded by the Christian

warriors. Ascalon itself, in which Afdhal

found refuge with the fugitives, might have been easily taken but for a quarrel which

broke out between Godfrey and Raymond,

whose ungovernable temper was as dreadful

to his friends as his sword was fatal to his

enemies. As it was, the Christians withdrew

from the scene of their great victory laden

with spoil and driving before Ciem the herds

of cattle which had already served them better

than the enemy. As for the defeated Emir,

believing himself unsafe in Ascalon, he took

ship for Egypt, and sought security under the

shadow of the Caliphate.

The battle of Ascalon was decisive of the

present fate of Palestine. For the time the

Turk was hurled from his seat. With the

accomplishment of this result the prime

motive of the Crusade was satisfied. Many

of the princes now made preparation to return

to Europe. The eccentric Raymond, however, had sworn never to see the West again.

He accordingly repaired to Constantinople,

and received from the Emperor as the portion due his heroism the city of Laodicea.

Eustace of Bouillon and Robert of Flanders

returned to their respective countries, and

resumed possession of their estates. Here

they passed the remainder of their lives in

prosperity and honor. Robert Short Hose

went back to Normandy, and when the five

years expired, during which he had leased

his dukedom to William Rufus, he recovered

his inheritance. His stormy life, however,

was still agitated and unfortunate. A few

years after his return his paternal dominions

were invaded by his brother Henry, king of

England. A battle was fought between the

two princes at Tenchebray, and Robert was

defeated and captured. He was taken to

Cardiff Castle and there confined as a prisoner

of state until the year 1148, when his strange

and romantic career was ended by death.

Peter the Hermit likewise left the Holy City

and started on a homeward voyage. In mid

sea his ship was caught in a storm and the

terrified monk vowed, if he should be spared,

to found an abbey in honor of the tomb of

Christ. The tempest passed and Peter

kept his vow by building a monastery on

the banks of the Mses. Here he spent the

remnant of his days in penitential works,

after the manner of his order. As for the

counts-Stephen and Hugh-they, as will be

remembered, had abandoned the Crusade

before Antioch, and without participating in