Page 1379

1379 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

of the island by storm, and put the governor

in chains. And, to add insult to ignominy,

the chains were made of silver. The inhabitants of Cyprus were made to pay dearly for

their aggression, for the king levied upon

them a tribute as heavy as their offense had

been rank.

Satisfied with his vengeance, Richard

now celebrated his nuptials with Berengaria,

whom he had hitherto forborne to wed, the

season being Lent. When the festivities

were over, he sailed for Acre. His squadron at this time consisted of fifty war-galleys,

thirteen store-ships, and more than a hundred transports. On his way to the eastern

coast he had the good fortune to overhaul

a large ship of the enemy carrying fifteen

hundred men and stored with Greek fire.

So terrible was the defense made by the

Moslem sailors that the vessel, shattered

by the conflict, went to the bottom with

all her stores. Only thirty-five of her defenders were taken alive from the foaming

sea.

Arriving at Acre, the English king was

received with great enthusiasm. His astonishing audacity and prowess were precisely the qualities needed in the Christian

camp before the fortress. On his appearance,

notwithstanding the serious illness with which

he was prostrated, new life flashed through

the dispirited ranks. His battering engines seemed to work with the vigor of his

own will. He became the Achilles of the

host, whom nothing could resist or divert

from his purpose. The repeated and unwearied efforts of Saladin to relieve and

reinforce the beleaguered garrison were repulsed as fast as made. The inhabitants

of Acre found themselves in the grip of a

giant. The walls were broken on every

side. The garrison was reduced in numbers

and driven to despair. Saladin at last gave

a reluctant assent, and Acre, hitherto impregnable, surrendered to the Crusaders.

In the hour of victory the character of Coeur

de Lion revealed itself in full force. Without

the show of courtesy to Philip, he took possession of the palace for himself. He would not

brook even a protest against his arbitrary and

high-handed proceedings. Perceiving that

Leopold, duke of Austria, had planted his

banner on the wall, Richard seized the standard and, hurling it into the ditch, set up the banner of St. George in its stead; nor did Leopold dare to express by other sign than

silent rage his burning resentment.

The sultan was obliged to make terms

most favorable to the Christians. Fifteen

hundred captives held by him were to be

given up. Acre was to be surrendered, and the

garrison ransomed by the payment of two hundred thousand crowns of gold. The victorious

kings agreed on their part to spare the lives

of the prisoners. The Moslem camp before

Acre was broken up and the army withdrawn in the direction of Damascus. The

Lion Heart having detained about five thousand hostages, permitted the remaining inhabitants of the captured city to depart

in peace. And now followed a scene terribly characteristic of the bloody annals,

ferocious spirit, and vindictive methods of

the age.

Saladin failed either through negligence

or inability to pay to the victors within

the prescribed time the stipulated ransom

for the captives of Acre. Thereupon Richard fell into a furious passion, and the Moslem hostages to the number of five thousand were led out from the walls to the

camps of the French and English and there

beheaded in cold blood, and so little was

the humanity of the great Crusader shocked,

that he complacently beheld the end of the

horrid tragedy, and then wrote a letter in

which his deed was boasted as a service

most acceptable to heaven.

The massacre of his subjects provoked Saladin to retaliation. He revenged himself by

butchering the Christian captives in his hands

and seizing others for a similar fate. One

massacre followed another until the lineaments

of civilized warfare were no longer discoverable in the struggle. Nor could it well be decided whether the Cross or the Crescent was

more smeared with the blood of the helpless

in these ferocious butcheries.

The news of the recapture of Acre was received with great joy by the Christians of both

Asia and Europe. The success of the English and French kings seemed the well-omened

harbinger of the recovery of Jerusalem and

all the East. Great, therefore, was the vexation that followed when it was known that

Philip Augustus had abandoned the conflict

and left the Holy War to others. To this

course he was actuated by a severe illness with