Page 1381

1381 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

The former was shrewd, cautious, wise, a king

rather than a warrior. Such qualities as

his were dispraised by the age, while those

of the Lion Heart were the ideals of the

times in which he lived. But Philip could

not bear the praise and enthusiasm with

which Richard was everywhere greeted, much

less his arrogance and caprice, of which the

one was intolerable and the other past apprehension. Perhaps it was well after all

that the French king withdrew at the time

he did from an alliance which must soon

have resulted in an open and probably fatal

rupture. He left the scene which had brought

him little personal glory, repaired to his own

dominions, and presently exhibited a perfidious disposition by attacking the dominions

of his recent ally.

By the retirement of Philip from the contest Richard was left in the sole leadership of

Christian affairs in Syria. All of the French

forces retired with their king except a division

of ten thousand men under the Duke of Burgundy. Finding himself deserted by his old time boon companion, the English king prepared to renew the war. With an army of

about thirty thousand warriors he left Acre

and proceeded along the coast in the direction

of Jaffa. The English fleet, laden with supplies, accompanied the march, but the progress

of the expedition was by no means unchecked

by adverse forces. The enemy gathered in

great numbers and hovered with sleepless

vigilance on flank and rear. For fifteen days

the Christians advanced under an almost

constant shower of arrows from an enemy

who durst not come to battle. At last, however, the sultan resolved (for his army was

now increased to great proportions) to hazard

a general engagement. When on the 7th of

September, 1191, the Crusaders had come

near the town of Azotus he ordered a charge

of his whole host upon their position. The

conflict that ensued was one of the most remarkable of the Middle Ages. The mere

weight of the Moslem myriad pressed the

Christians into a small space, and here from

all directions, except from the side of the sea,

a shower of arrows that darkened the air

rained upon them.

Smarting under these missiles the restless but undaunted Knights eagerly desired

to return the charge of the foe, but the genius

of Richard shone out like a star. With a courage and calmness that would have done

credit to Napoleon he ordered his warriors

to stand fast until the Turks had emptied

their quivers and then to make the charge.

So, when Saladin's hosts had exhausted

their missiles upon the well-nigh impenetrable

armor of the Crusaders, the Christian ranks

were suddenly opened and the Knights burst

forth like a thunderbolt upon the impacted

masses of the Moslems. Fearful was the revenge which those steel-clad warriors now

took upon the insolent foe. Seven thousand

of the noblest of the Turkish cavalry were

hewn down on the field. The Saracens fled

in all directions, and only the speed of their

horses saved them from the swords and battle axes of the Crusaders.

After this signal victory, Richard continued his march to Jaffa, which city was

abandoned by Saladin at his approach.

Cesarea was also retaken by the Christians;

nor is it improbable that if the king's wish

to advance at once on Jerusalem had been

seconded by his subordinates the Holy Sepulcher might have been wrested again from

its defilers. The French barons, however,

insisted that the better policy was to tarry on

the coast, rebuild the ruined fortresses, and reserve the recapture of Jerusalem for the next

campaign. The golden opportunity was thus

allowed to pass without improvement, and

the Christians foolishly rested on their laurels.

With the opening of the spring of 1192

the Crusaders were again rallied around the

banner of Plantagenet for the great original

purpose of retaking the Holy City. All

the Knights took a solemn oath that they

would not abandon the cause until the tomb

of Christ should be recovered. The army

proceeded from the coast as far as the valley

of Hebron, and it seemed to the Moslems

that the day of fate had again arrived. Many

fled from Jerusalem, and Saladin himself gave

up all for lost. Strange and inexplicable,

therefore, was the event. The Christians,

already in sight of the city, halted. Was it

the treachery of the Duke of Burgundy? Was

it the whim of the king? Had he and Saladin

come to a secret? understanding? or did the

military genius of Richard warn him of the

insufficiency of his resources for such an

undertaking as the siege of the city? Did the

news from England, telling him of the intrigues of his treacherous brother John, who