A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times Volume 2 by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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  • 1868
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Richard’s Farewell to the Holy Land 10

Defeat of the Turks 16

The Christians of the Holy City defiling before Saladin. 28

Richard Coeur de Lion having the Saracens beheaded. . 37

Sire de Joinville 55

The Death of St. Louis 64

Thomas de Marie made Prisoner 69

Louis the Fat on an Expedition 69

The Battle of Bouvines 81

Death of De Montfort 104

De la Marche’s parting Insult 126

“It is rather hard Bread.” 146

The Battle of Courtrai 167

Colonna striking the Pope 185

The Hanging of Marigny 200

The Peasants resolved to Live according to their own Inclinations and their own Laws. . . . 209

Insurrection in favor of the Commune at Cambrai 214

Burghers of Laon 220

View of the Town of Laon 223

Bishop Gaudri dragged from the Cask 224

The Cathedral of Laon 233

Homage of Edward III. to Philip VI. 250

Van Artevelde at his Door 264

“See! See!” she cried 283

Statue of James Van Artevelde 296

Queen Philippa at the Feet of the King 314

John II., called the Good 318

“Father, ware right! Father, ware left!” 326

King John taken Prisoner 326

Arrest of the Dauphin’s Councillors 334

Charles the Bad, King of Navarre 335

The Louvre in the Fourteenth Century 336

Stephen Marcel 342

The Murder of the Marshals 345

“In his Hands the Keys of the Gates.” 354

Charles V. 371

Big Ferre 376

Bertrand du Guesclin 388

Putting the Keys on Du Guesclin’s Bier 407



In the month of August, 1099, the Crusade, to judge by appearances, had attained its object. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Christians, and they had set up in it a king, the most pious and most disinterested of the crusaders. Close to this ancient kingdom were growing up likewise, in the two chief cities of Syria and Mesopotamia, Antioch and Edessa, two Christian principalities, in the possession of two crusader-chiefs, Bohemond and Baldwin. A third Christian principality was on the point of getting founded at the foot of Libanus, at Tripolis, for the advantrge of another crusader, Bertrand, eldest son of Count Raymond of Toulouse. The conquest of Syria and Palestine seemed accomplished, in the name of the faith, and by the armies of Christian Europe; and the conquerors calculated so surely upon their fixture that, during his reign, short as it was (for he was elected king July 23, 1099, and died July 18, 1100, aged only forty years), Godfrey de Bouillon caused to be drawn up and published, under the title of Assizes of Jerusalem, a code of laws, which transferred to Asia the customs and traditions of the feudal system, just as they existed in France at the moment of his departure for the Holy Land.

Forty-six years afterwards, in 1145, the Mussulmans, under the leadership of Zanghi, sultan of Aleppo and of Mossoul, had retaken Edessa. Forty- two years after that, in 1187, Saladin (Salah-el-Eddyn), sultan of Egypt and of Syria, had put an end to the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem; and only seven years later, in 1194, Richard Coeur de Lion, king of England, after the most heroic exploits in Palestine, on arriving in sight of Jerusalem, retreated in despair, covering his eyes with his shield, and saying that he was not worthy to look upon the city which he was not in a condition to conquer. When he re-embarked at St. Jean d’Acre, casting a last glance and stretching out his arms towards the coast, he cried, “Most Holy Land, I commend thee to the care of the Almighty; and may He grant me long life enough to return hither and deliver thee from the yoke of the infidels! “A century had not yet rolled by since the triumph of the first crusaders, and the dominion they had acquired by conquest in the Holy Land had become, even in the eyes of their most valiant and most powerful successors, an impossibility.

[Illustration: Richard’s Farewell to the Holy Land—-10]

Nevertheless, repeated efforts and glory, and even victories, were not then, and were not to be still later, unknown amongst the Christians in their struggle against the Mussulmans for the possession of the Holy Land. In the space of a hundred and seventy-one years from the coronation of Godfrey de Bouillon as king of Jerusalem, in 1099, to the death of St. Louis, wearing the cross before Tunis, in 1270, seven grand crusades were undertaken with the same design by the greatest sovereigns of Christian Europe; the Kings of France and England, the Emperors of Germany, the King of Denmark, and princes of Italy successively engaged therein. And they all failed. It were neither right nor desirable to make long pause over the recital of their attempts and their reverses, for it is the history of France, and not a general history of the crusades, which is here related; but it was in France, by the French people, and under French chiefs, that the crusades were begun; and it was with St. Louis, dying before Tunis beneath the banner of the cross, that they came to an end. They received in the history of Europe the glorious name of _Gesta Dei per Francos_ (God’s works by French hands); and they have a right to keep, in the history of France, the place they really occupied.

During a reign of twenty-nine years, Louis VI., called the Fat, son of Philip I., did not trouble himself about the East or the crusades, at that time in all their fame and renown. Being rather a man of sense than an enthusiast in the cause either of piety or glory, he gave all his attention to the establishment of some order, justice, and royal authority in his as yet far from extensive kingdom. A tragic incident, however, gave the crusade chief place in the thoughts and life of his son, Louis VII., called the Young, who succeeded him in 1137. He got himself rashly embroiled, in 1142, in a quarrel with Pope Innocent II., on the subject of the election of the Archbishop of Bourges. The pope and the king had each a different candidate for the see. “The king is a child,” said the pope; “he must get schooling, and be kept from learning bad habits.”

“Never, so long as I live,” said the king, “shall Peter de la Chatre (the pope’s candidate) enter the city of Bourges.” The chapter of Bourges, thinking as the pope thought, elected Peter de la Chatre; and Theobald II., Count of Champagne, took sides for the archbishop elect. Mind your own business,” said the king to him; “your dominions are large enough to occupy you; and leave me to govern my own as I have a mind.” Theobald persisted in backing the elect of pope and chapter. The pope excommunicated the king. The king declared war against the Count of Champagne; and went and besieged Vitry. Nearly all the town was built of wood, and the besiegers set fire to it. The besieged fled for refuge to a church, in which they were invested; and the fire reached the church, which was entirely consumed, together with the thirteen hundred inhabitants, men, women, and children, who had retreated thither. This disaster made a great stir. St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux and the leading ecclesiastical authority of the age, took the part of Count Theobald. King Louis felt a lively sorrow, and sincere repentance. Soon afterwards it became known in the West that the affairs of the Christians were going ill in the East; that the town of Edessa had been re-taken by the Turks, and all its inhabitants massacred. The kingdom of Jerusalem, too, was in danger. Great was the emotion in Europe; and the cry of the crusade was heard once more. Louis the Young, to appease his troubled conscience, and to get reconciled with the pope, to say nothing of sympathy for the national movement, assembled the grandees, laic and ecclesiastical, of the kingdom, to deliberate upon the matter.

Deliberation was more prolonged, more frequently repeated, and more indecisive than it had been at the time of the first crusade. Three grand assemblies met, the first in 1145, at Bourges; the second in 1146, at Vezelai, in Nivernais; and the third in 1147, at Etampes; all three being called to investigate the expediency of a new crusade, and of the king’s participation in the enterprise. Not only was the question seriously discussed, but extremely diverse opinions were expressed, both amongst the rank and file of these assemblies, and amongst their most illustrious members. There were two men whose talents and fame made them conspicuous above all; Suger, Abbot of St. Denis, the intimate and able adviser of the wise king, Louis the Fat, and St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, the most eloquent, most influential, and most piously disinterested amongst the Christians of his age. Though both were ecclesiastics, these two great men were, touching the second crusade, of opposite opinions. “Let none suppose,” says Suger’s biographer and confidant, William, monk of St. Denis, “that it was at his instance or by his counsel that the king undertook the voyage to the Holy Land. Although the success of it was other than had been expected, this prince was influenced only by pious wishes and zeal for the service of God. As for Suger, ever far-seeing and only too well able to read the future, not only did he not suggest to the monarch any such design, but he disapproved of it so soon as it was mentioned to him. The truth of it is, that, after having vainly striven to nip it in the bud, and being unable to put a check upon the king’s zeal, he thought it wise, either for fear of wounding the king’s piety, or of uselessly incurring the wrath of the partisans of the enterprise, to yield to the times.” As for St. Bernard, at the first of the three assemblies, viz., at Bourges, whether it were that his mind was not yet made up or that he desired to cover himself with greater glory, he advised the king to undertake nothing without having previously consulted the Holy See; but when Pope Eugenius III., so far from hesitating, had warmly solicited the aid of the Christians against the infidels, St. Bernard, at the second assembly, viz., at Vezelai, gave free vent to his feelings and his eloquence. After having read the pope’s letters, “If ye were told,” said he, “that an enemy had attacked your castles, your cities, and your lands, had ravished your wives and your daughters, and had profaned your temples, which of you would not fly to arms? Well, all those evils, and evils still greater, have come upon your brethren, upon the family of Christ, which is your own. Why tarry ye, then, to repair so many wrongs, to avenge so many insults? Christian warriors, He who gave His life for you to-day demandeth yours; illustrious knights, noble defenders of the cross, call to mind the example of your fathers, who conquered Jerusalem, and whose names are written in heaven! The living God hath charged me to tell unto you that He will punish those who shall not have defended Him against His enemies. Fly to arms, and let Christendom re-echo with the words of the prophet, ‘Woe to him who dyeth not his sword with blood!’ “At this fervent address the assembly rang with the shout of the first crusade, ‘God willeth it! God willeth it!’ The king, kneeling before St. Bernard, received from his hands the cross; the queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, assumed it, like her husband; nearly all the barons present followed their example; St. Bernard tore up his garments into crosses for distribution, and, on leaving the assembly, he scoured the country places, everywhere preaching and persuading the people. The villages and castles are deserted,” he wrote to the pope; “there is none to be seen save widows and orphans whose husbands and fathers are alive.” Nor did he confine himself to France; he crossed into Germany, and preached the crusade all along the Rhine. The emperor, Conrad III., showed great hesitation; the empire was sorely troubled, he said, and had need of its head. “Be of good cheer,” replied St. Bernard “so long as you defend His heritage, God himself will take the burden of defending yours.” One day, in December, 1146, he was celebrating mass at Spire, in presence of the emperor and a great number of German princes. Suddenly he passed from the regular service to the subject of the crusade, and transported his audience to the last judgment, in the presence of all the nations of the earth summoned together, and Jesus Christ bearing his cross, and reproaching the emperor with ingratitude. Conrad was deeply moved, and interrupted the preacher by crying out, “I know what I owe to Jesus Christ: and I swear to go whither it pleaseth Him to call me.” The attraction became general; and Germany, like France, took up the cross.


St. Bernard returned to France. The ardor there had cooled a little during his absence; the results of his trip in Germany were being waited for; and it was known that, on being eagerly pressed to put himself at the head of the crusaders, and take the command of the whole expedition, he had formally refused. His enthusiasm and his devotion, sincere and deep as they were, did not, in his case, extinguish common sense; and he had not forgotten the melancholy experiences of Peter the Hermit. In support of his refusal he claimed the intervention of Pope Eugenius III. “Who am I,” he wrote to him, “that I should form a camp, and march at the head of an army? What can be more alien to my calling, even if I lacked not the strength and the ability? I need not tell you all this, for you know it perfectly. I conjure you by the charity you owe me, deliver me not over, thus, to the humors of men.” The pope came to France; and the third grand assembly met at Etampes, in February, 1147. The presence of St. Bernard rekindled zeal; but foresight began to penetrate men’s minds. Instead of insisting upon his being the chief of the crusade, attention was given to preparations for the expedition; the points were indicated at which the crusaders should form a junction, and the directions in which they would have to move; and inquiry was made as to what measures should be taken, and what persons should be selected for the government of France during the king’s absence. “Sir,” said St. Bernard, after having come to an understanding upon the subject with the principal members of the assembly, at the same time pointing to Suger and the Count de Nevers, “here be two swords, and it sufficeth.” The Count de Nevers peremptorily refused the honor done him; he was resolved, he said, to enter the order of St. Bruno, as indeed he did. Suger also refused at first, “considering the dignity offered him a burden, rather than an honor.” Wise and clear-sighted by nature, he had learned in the reign of Louis the Fat, to know the requirements and the difficulties of government. “He consented to accept,” says his biographer, “only when he was at last forced to it by Pope Eugenius, who was present at the king’s departure, and whom it was neither permissible nor possible for him to resist.” It was agreed that the French crusaders should form a junction at Metz, under the command of King Louis, and the Germans at Ratisbonne, under that of the Emperor Conrad, and that the two armies should successively repair by land to Constantinople, whence they would cross into Asia.

Having each a strength, it is said, of one hundred thousand men, they marched by Germany and the Lower Danube, at an interval of two months between them, without committing irregularities and without meeting obstacles so serious as those of the first crusade, but still much incommoded, and subjected to great hardships in the countries they traversed. The Emperor Conrad and the Germans first, and then King Louis and the French, arrived at Constantinople in the course of the summer of 1117. Manuel Comnenus, grandson of Alexis Comnenus, was reigning there; and he behaved towards the crusaders with the same mixture of caresses and malevolence, promises and perfidy, as had distinguished his grandfather. “There is no ill turn he did not do them,” says the historian Nicetas, himself a Greek. Conrad was the first to cross into Asia Minor, and, whether it were unskilfulness or treason, the guides with whom he had been supplied by Manuel Comnenus led him so badly that, on the 28th of October, 1147, he was surprised and shockingly beaten by the Turks near Iconium. An utter distrust of Greeks grew up amongst the French, who had not yet left Constantinople; and some of their chiefs, and even one of their prelates, the Bishop of Langres, proposed to make, without further delay, an end of it with this emperor and empire, so treacherously hostile, and to take Constantinople in order to march more securely upon Jerusalem. But King Louis and the majority of his knights turned a deaf ear: “We be come forth,” said they, “to expiate our own sins, not to punish the crimes of the Greeks; when we took up the cross, God did not put into our hands the sword of His justice;” and they, in their turn, crossed over into Asia Minor. There they found the Germans beaten and dispersed, and Conrad himself wounded and so discouraged that, instead of pursuing his way by land with the French, he returned to Constantinople to go thence by sea to Palestine. Louis and his army continued their march across Asia Minor, and gained in Phrygia, at the passage of the river Meander, so brilliant a victory over the Turks that, “if such men,” says the historian Nicetas, abstained from taking Constantinople, one cannot but admire their moderation and forbearance.”

[Illustration: Defeat of the Turks—-16]

But the success was short, and, ere long, dearly paid for. On entering Pisidia, the French army split up into two, and afterwards into several divisions, which scattered and lost themselves in the defiles of the mountains. The Turks waited for them, and attacked them at the mouths and from the tops of the passes; before long there was nothing but disorder and carnage; the little band which surrounded the king was cut to pieces at his side; and Louis himself, with his back against a rock, defended himself, alone, for some minutes, against several Turks, till they, not knowing who he was, drew off, whereupon he, suddenly throwing himself upon a stray horse, rejoined his advanced guard, who believed him dead. The army continued their march pell-mell, king, barons, knights, soldiers, and pilgrims, uncertain day by day what would become of them on the morrow. The Turks harassed them afield; the towns in which there were Greek governors residing refused to receive them; provisions fell short; arms and baggage were abandoned on the road. On arriving in Pamphylia, at Satalia, a little port on the Mediterranean, the impossibility of thus proceeding became evident; they were still, by land, forty days’ march from Antioch, whereas it required but three to get there by sea. The governor of Satalia proposed to the king to embark the crusaders; but, when the vessels arrived, they were quite inadequate for such an operation; hardly could the king, the barons, and the knights find room in them; and it would be necessary to abandon and expose to the perils of the land-march the majority of the infantry and all the mere pilgrims who had followed the army. Louis, disconsolate, fluctuated between the most diverse resolutions, at one time demanding to have everybody embarked at any risk, at another determining to march by land himself with all who could not be embarked; distributing whatever money and provisions he had left, being as generous and sympathetic as he was improvident and incapable, and “never letting a day pass,” says Odo of Deuil, who accompanied him, “without hearing mass and crying unto the God of the Christians.” At last he embarked with his queen, Eleanor, and his principal knights; and towards the end of March, 1148, he arrived at Antioch, having lost more than three quarters of his army.

Scarcely had he taken a few days’ rest when messengers came to him on behalf of Baldwin III., king of Jerusalem, begging him to repair without delay to the Holy City. Louis was as eager to go thither as the king and people of Jerusalem were to see him there; but his speedy departure encountered unforeseen hinderances. Raymond, of Poitiers, at that time Prince of Antioch by his marriage with Constance, granddaughter of the great Bohemond of the first crusade, was uncle to the Queen of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was, says William of Tyre, “a lord of noble descent, of tall and elegant figure, the handsomest of the princes of the earth, a man of charming affability and conversation, open-handed and magnificent beyond measure,” and, moreover, ambitious and eager to extend his small dominion. He had at heart, beyond everything, the conquest of Aleppo and Caesarea. In this design the King of France and the crusaders who were still about him might be of real service; and he attempted to win them over. Louis answered that he would engage in no enterprise until he had visited the holy places. Raymond was impetuous, irritable, and as unreasonable in his desires as unfortunate in his undertakings. He had quickly acquired great influence over his niece, Queen Eleanor, and he had no difficulty in winning her over to his plans. “She,” says William of Tyre, “was a very inconsiderate woman, caring little for royal dignity or conjugal fidelity; she took great pleasure in the court of Antioch, where she also conferred much pleasure, even upon Mussulmans, whom, as some chronicles say, she did not repulse; and, when the king, her husband, spoke to her of approaching departure, she emphatically refused, and, to justify her opposition, she declared that they could no longer live together, as there was, she asserted, a prohibited degree of consanguinity between them.” Louis, “who loved her with an almost excessive love,” says William of Nangis, was at the same time angered and grieved. He was austere in morals, easily jealous, and religiously scrupulous, and for a moment he was on the point of separating from his wife; but the counsels of his chief barons dissuaded him, and, thereupon, taking a sudden resolution, he set out from Antioch secretly, by night, carrying off the queen almost by force. “They both hid their wrath as much as possible,” says the chronicler; “but at heart they had ever this outrage.” We shall see, before long, what were the consequences. No history can offer so striking an example of the importance of well-assorted unions amongst the highest as well as the lowest, and of the prolonged woes which may be brought upon a nation by the domestic evils of royalty.

On approaching Jerusalem, in the month of April, 1148, Louis VII. saw coming to meet him King Baldwin III., and the patriarch and the people, singing, “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” So soon as he had entered the city, his pious wishes were fulfilled by his being taken to pay a solemn visit to all the holy places. At the same time arrived from Constantinople the Emperor Conrad, almost alone and in the guise of a simple pilgrim. All the remnant of the crusaders, French and German, hurried to join them. Impatient to exhibit their power on the theatre of their creed, and to render to the kingdom of Jerusalem some striking service, the two Western sovereigns, and Baldwin, and their principal barons assembled at Ptolemais (St. Jean d’Acre) to determine the direction to be taken by their enterprise. They decided upon the siege of Damascus, the most important and the nearest of the Mussulman princedoms in Syria, and in the early part of June they moved thither with forces incomplete and ill united. Neither the Prince of Antioch nor the Counts of Edessa and Tripolis had been summoned to St. Jean d’Acre; and Queen Eleanor had not appeared. At the first attack, the ardor of the assailants and the brilliant personal prowess of their chiefs, of the Emperor Conrad amongst others, struck surprise and consternation into the besieged, who, foreseeing the necessity of abandoning their city, laid across the streets beams, chains, and heaps of stones, to stop the progress of the conquerors and give themselves time for flying, with their families and their wealth, by the northern and southern gates. But personal interest and secret negotiations before long brought into the Christian camp weakness, together with discord. Many of the barons were already disputing amongst themselves, at the very elbows of the sovereigns, for the future government of Damascus; others were not inaccessible to the rich offers which came to them from the city; and it is maintained that King Baldwin himself suffered himself to be bribed by a sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold which were sent to him by Modjer-Eddyn, Emir of Damascus, and which turned out to be only pieces of copper, covered with gold leaf. News came that the Emirs of Aleppo and Mossoul were coming, with considerable forces, to the relief of the place. Whatever may have been the cause of retreat, the crusader- sovereigns decided upon it, and, raising the siege, returned to Jerusalem. The Emperor Conrad, in indignation and confusion, set out precipitately to return to Germany. King Louis could not make up his mind thus to quit the Holy Land in disgrace, and without doing anything for its deliverance. He prolonged his stay there for more than a year without anything to show for his time and zeal. His barons and his knights nearly all left him, and, by sea or land, made their way back to France. But the king still lingered. I am under a bond,” he wrote to Suger, “not to leave the Holy Land, save with glory, and after doing somewhat for the cause of God and the kingdom of France.” At last, after many fruitless entreaties, Suger wrote to him, “Dear king and lord, I must cause thee to hear the voice of thy whole kingdom. Why dost thou fly from us? After having toiled so hard in the East, after having endured so many almost unendurable evils, by what harshness or what cruelty comes it that, now when the barons and grandees of the kingdom have returned, thou persistest in abiding with the barbarians? The disturbers of the kingdom have entered into it again; and thou, who shouldst defend it, remainest in exile as if thou wert a prisoner; thou givest over the lamb to the wolf, thy dominions to the ravishers. We conjure thy majesty, we invoke thy piety, we adjure thy goodness, we summon thee in the name of the fealty we owe thee; tarry not at all, or only a little while, beyond Easter; else thou wilt appear, in the eyes of God, guilty of a breach of that oath which thou didst take at the same time as the crown.” At length Louis made up his mind and embarked at St. Jean d’Acre at the commencement of July, 1149; and he disembarked in the month of October at the port of St. Gilles, at the mouth of the Rhone, whence he wrote to Suger, “We be hastening unto you safe and sound, and we command you not to defer paying us a visit, on a given day and before all our other friends. Many rumors reach us touching our kingdom, and knowing nought for certain, we be desirous to learn from you how we should bear ourselves or hold our peace, in every case. And let none but yourself know what I say to you at this present writing.”

This preference and this confidence were no more than Louis VII. owed to Suger. The Abbot of St. Denis, after having opposed the crusade with a freedom of spirit and a far-sightedness unique, perhaps, in his times, had, during the king’s absence, borne the weight of government with a political tact, a firmness, and a disinterestedness rare in any times. He had upheld the authority of absent royalty, kept down the pretensions of vassals, and established some degree of order wherever his influence could reach; he had provided for the king’s expenses in Palestine by good administration of the domains and revenues of the crown; and, lastly, he had acquired such renown in Europe, that men came from Italy and from England to view the salutary effects of his government, and that the name of Solomon of his age was conferred upon him by strangers his contemporaries. With the exception of great sovereigns, such as Charlemagne or William the Conqueror, only great bishops or learned theologians, and that by their influence in the Church or by their writings, had obtained this European reputation; from the ninth to the twelfth century, Suger was the first man who attained to it by the sole merit of his political conduct, and who offered an example of a minister justly admired, for his ability and wisdom, beyond the circle in which he lived. When he saw that the king’s return drew near, he wrote to him, saying, “You will, I think, have ground to be satisfied with our conduct. We have remitted to the knights of the Temple the money we had resolved to send you. We have, besides, reimbursed the Count of Vermandois the three thousand livres he had lent us for your service. Your land and your people are in the enjoyment, for the present, of a happy peace. You will find your houses and your palaces in good condition through the care we have taken to have them repaired. Behold me now in the decline of age: and I dare to say that the occupations in which I have engaged for the love of God and through attachment to your person have added many to my years. In respect of the queen, your consort, I am of opinion that you should conceal the displeasure she causes you, until, restored to your dominions, you can calmly deliberate upon that and upon other subjects.”

On once more entering his kingdom, Louis, who, at a distance, had sometimes lent a credulous ear to the complaints of the discontented or to the calumnies of Suger’s enemies, did him full justice and was the first to give him the name of Father of the country. The ill success of the crusade and the remembrance of all that France had risked and lost for nothing, made a deep impression upon the public; and they honored Suger for his far-sightedness whilst they blamed St. Bernard for the infatuation which he had fostered and for the disasters which had followed it. St. Bernard accepted their reproaches in a pious spirit: “If,” said he, “there must be murmuring against God or against me, I prefer to see the murmurs of men falling upon me rather than upon the Lord. To me it is a blessed thing that God should deign to use me as a buckler to shield Himself. I shrink not from humiliation, provided that His glory be unassailed.” But at the same time St. Bernard himself was troubled, and he permitted himself to give expression to his troubled feelings in a singularly free and bold strain of piety. “We be fallen upon very grievous times,” he wrote to Pope Eugenius III.; “the Lord, provoked by our sins, seemeth in some sort to have determined to judge the world before the time, and to judge it, doubtless, according to His equity, but not remembering His mercy. Do not the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’ And who can wonder? The children of the Church, those who be called Christian, lie stretched upon the desert, smitten with the sword or dead of famine. Did we undertake the work rashly? Did we behave ourselves lightly? How patiently God heareth the sacrilegious voices and the blasphemies of these Egyptians! Assuredly His judgments be righteous; who doth not know it? But in the present judgment there is so profound a depth, that I hesitate not to call him blessed whosoever is not surprised and offended by it.”

The soul of man, no less than the shifting scene of the world, is often a great subject of surprise. King Louis, on his way back to France, had staid some days at Rome; and there, in a conversation with the pope, he had almost promised him a new crusade to repair the disasters of that from which he had found it so difficult to get out. Suger, when he became acquainted with this project, opposed it as he had opposed the former; but, at the same time, as he, in common with all his age, considered the deliverance of the Holy Land to be the bounden duty of Christians, he conceived the idea of dedicating the large fortune and great influence he had acquired to the cause of a new crusade, to be undertaken by himself and at his own expense, without compromising either king or state. He unfolded his views to a meeting of bishops assembled at Chartres; and he went to Tours, and paid a visit to the tomb of St. Martin to implore his protection. Already more than ten thousand pilgrims were in arms at his call, and already he had himself chosen a warrior, of ability and renown, to command them, when he fell ill, and died at the end of four months, in 1152, aged seventy, and “thanking the Almighty,” says his biographer, “for having taken him to Him, not suddenly, but little by little, in order to bring him step by step to the rest needful for the weary man.” It is said that, in his last days and when St. Bernard was exhorting him not to think any more save only of the heavenly Jerusalem, Suger still expressed to him his regret at dying without having succored the city which was so dear to them both.

Almost at the very moment when Suger was dying, a French council, assembled at Beaugency, was annulling on the ground of prohibited consanguinity, and with the tacit consent of the two persons most concerned, the marriage of Louis VII. and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Some months afterwards, at Whitsuntide in the same year, Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, espoused Eleanor, thus adding to his already great possessions Poitou and Aquitaine, and becoming, in France, a vassal more powerful than the king his suzerain. Twenty months later, in 1154, at the death of King Stephen, Henry Plantagenet became King of England; and thus there was a recurrence, in an aggravated form, of the position which had been filled by William the Conqueror, and which was the first cause of rivalry between France and England and of the consequent struggles of considerably more than a century’s duration.

Little more than a year after Suger, on the 20th of April, 1153, St. Bernard died also. The two great men, of whom one had excited and the other opposed the second crusade, disappeared together from the theatre of the world. The crusade had completely failed. After a lapse of scarce forty years, a third crusade began. When a great idea is firmly fixed in men’s minds with the twofold sanction of duty and feeling, many generations live and die in its service before efforts are exhausted and the end reached or abandoned.

During this forty years’ interval between the end of the second and beginning of the third crusade, the relative positions of West and East, Christian Europe and Mussulman Asia, remained the same outwardly and according to the general aspect of affairs; but in Syria and in Palestine there was a continuance of the struggle between Christendom and Islamry, with various fortunes on either side. The Christian kingdom of Jerusalem still stood; and after Godfrey de Bouillon, from 1100 to 1180, there had been a succession of eight kings; some energetic and bold, aspiring to extend their young dominion, others indolent and weak upon a tottering throne. The rivalries and often the defections and treasons of the petty Christian princes and lords who were set up at different points in Palestine and Syria endangered their common cause. Fortunately similar rivalries, dissensions, and treasons prevailed amongst the Mussulman emirs, some of them Turks and others Persians or Arabs, and at one time foes, at another dependants, of the Khalifs of Bagdad or of Egypt. Anarchy and civil war harassed both races and both religions with almost equal impartiality. But, beneath this surface of simultaneous agitation and monotony, great changes were being accomplished or preparing for accomplishment in the West. The principal sovereigns of the preceding generation, Louis VII., King of France, Conrad III., Emperor of Germany, and Henry II., King of England, were dying; and princes more juvenile and more enterprising, or simply less wearied out,–Philip Augustus, Frederick Barbarossa, and Richard Coeur de Lion,–were taking their places. In the East the theatre of policy and events was being enlarged; Egypt was becoming the goal of ambition with the chiefs, Christian or Mussulman, of Eastern Asia; and Damietta, the key of Egypt, was the object of their enterprises, those of Amaury I., the boldest of the kings of Jerusalem, as well as those of the Sultans of Damascus and Aleppo. Noureddin and Saladin (Nour-Eddyn and Sala-Eddyn), Turks by origin, had commenced their fortunes in Syria; but it was in Egypt that they culminated, and, when Saladin became the most illustrious as well as the most powerful of Mussulman sovereigns, it was with the title of Sultan of Egypt and of Syria that he took his place in history.

In the course of the year 1187, Europe suddenly heard tale upon tale about the repeated disasters of the Christians in Asia. On the 1st of May, the two religious and warlike orders which had been founded in the East for the defence of Christendom–the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem and the Templars–lost, at a brush in Galilee, five hundred of their bravest knights. On the 3d and 4th of July, near Tiberias, a Christian army was surrounded by the Saracens, and also, ere long, by the fire which Saladin had ordered to be set to the dry grass which covered the plain. The flames made their way and spread beneath the feet of men and horses. “There,” say the Oriental chroniclers, “the sons of Paradise and the children of fire settled their terrible quarrel. Arrows hurtled in the air like a noisy flight of sparrows, and the blood of warriors dripped upon the ground like rain-water.” “I saw,” adds one of them who was present at the battle, “hill, plain, and valley covered with their dead; I saw their banners stained with dust and blood; I saw their heads laid low, their limbs scattered, their carcasses piled on a heap like stones.” Four days after the battle of Tiberias, on the 8th of July, 1187, Saladin took possession of St. Jean d’Acre, and, on the 4th of September following, of Ascalon. Finally, on the 18th of September, he laid siege to Jerusalem, wherein refuge had been sought by a multitude of Christian families driven from their homes by the ravages of the infidels throughout Palestine; and the Holy City contained at this time, it is said, nearly one hundred thousand Christians. On approaching its walls, Saladin sent for the principal inhabitants, and said to them, “I know as well as you that Jerusalem is the house of God; and I will not have it assaulted if I can get it by peace and love. I will give you thirty thousand byzants of gold if you promise me Jerusalem, and you shall have liberty to go whither you will and do your tillage, to a distance of five miles from the city. And I will have you sup-plied with such plenty of provisions that in no place on earth shall they be so cheap. You shall have a truce from now to Whitsuntide, and when this time comes, if you see that you may have aid, then hold on. But if not, you shall give up the city, and I will have you conveyed in safety to Christian territory, yourselves and your substance.” “We may not yield up to you a city where died our God,” answered the envoys: “and still less may we sell you.” The siege lasted fourteen days. After having repulsed several assaults, the inhabitants saw that effectual resistance was impossible; and the commandant of the place, a knight named Dalian d’Ibelin, an old warrior, who had been at the battle of Tiberias, returned to Saladin, and asked for the conditions back again which had at first been rejected. Saladin, pointing to his own banner already planted upon several parts of the battlements, answered, “It is too late; you surely see that the city is mine.” “Very well, my lord,” replied the knight: “we will ourselves destroy our city, and the mosque of Omar, and the stone of Jacob: and when it is nothing but a heap of ruins, we will sally forth with sword and fire in hand, and not one of us will go to Paradise without having sent ten Mussulmans to hell.” Saladin understood enthusiasm, and respected it; and to have had the destruction of Jerusalem connected with his name would’ have caused him deep displeasure. He therefore consented to the terms of capitulation demanded of him. The fighting men were permitted to retreat to Tyre or Tripolis, the last cities of any importance, besides Antioch, in the power of the Christians; and the simple inhabitants of Jerusalem had their lives preserved, and permission given them to purchase their freedom on certain conditions; but, as many amongst them could not find the means, Malek-Adhel, the sultan’s brother, and Saladin himself paid the ransom of several thousands of captives. All Christians, however, with the exception of Greeks and Syrians, had orders to leave Jerusalem within four days. When the day came, all the gates were closed, except that of David by which the people were to go forth; and Saladin, seated upon a throne, saw the Christians defile before him. First came the patriarch, followed by the clergy, carrying the sacred vessels, and the ornaments of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. After him came Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem, who had remained in the city, whilst her husband, Guy de Lusignan, had been a prisoner at Nablous since the battle of Tiberias. Saladin saluted her respectfully, and spoke to her kindly. He had too great a soul to take pleasure in the humiliation of greatness.

[Illustration: The Christians of the Holy City defiling before Saladin.– –28]

The news, spreading through Europe, caused amongst all classes there, high and low, a deep feeling of sorrow, anger, disquietude, and shame. Jerusalem was a very different thing from Edessa. The fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem meant the sepulchre of Jesus Christ fallen once more into the hands of the infidels, and, at the same time, the destruction of what had been wrought by Christian Europe in the East, the loss of the only striking and permanent gage of her victories. Christian pride was as much wounded as Christian piety. A new fact, moreover, was conspicuous in this series of reverses and in the accounts received of them; after all its defeats and in the midst of its discord, Islamry had found a chieftain and a hero. Saladin was one of those strange and superior beings who, by their qualities and by their very defects, make a strong impression upon the imaginations of men, whether friends or foes. His Mussulman fanaticism was quite as impassioned as the Christian fanaticism of the most ardent crusaders. When he heard that Reginald of Chatillon, Lord of Karat, on the confines of Palestine and Arabia, had all but succeeded in an attempt to go and pillage the Caaba and the tomb of Mahomet, he wrote to his brother Malek-Adhel, at that time governor of Egypt, “The infidels have violated the home and the cradle of Islamism; they have profaned our sanctuary. Did we not prevent a like insult (which God forbid!) we should render ourselves guilty in the eyes of God and the eyes of men. Purge we, therefore, our land from these men who dishonor it; purge we the very air from the air they breathe.” He commanded that all the Christians who could possibly be captured on this occasion should be put to death; and many were taken to Mecca, where the Mussulman pilgrims immolated them instead of the sheep and lambs they were accustomed to sacrifice. The expulsion of the Christians from Palestine was Saladin’s great idea and unwavering passion; and he severely chid the Mussulmans for their soft-heartedness in the struggle. “Behold these Christians,” he wrote to the Khalif of Bagdad, “how they come crowding in! How emulously they press on! They are continually receiving fresh re-enforcements more numerous than the waves of the sea, and to us more bitter than its brackish waters. Where one dies by land, a thousand come by sea. . . . The crop is more abundant than the harvest; the tree puts forth more branches than the axe can lop off. It is true that great numbers have already perished, insomuch that the edge of our swords is blunted; but our comrades are beginning to grow weary of so long a war. Haste we, therefore, to implore the help of the Lord.” Nor needed he the excuse of passion in order to be cruel and sanguinary when he considered it would serve his cause; for human lives and deaths he had that barbaric indifference which Christianity alone has rooted out from the communities of men, whilst it has remained familiar to the Mussulman. When he found himself, either during or after a battle, confronted by enemies whom he really dreaded, such as the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem or the Templars, he had them massacred, and sometimes gave them their death-blow himself, with cool satisfaction. But, apart from open war and the hatred inspired by passion or cold calculation, he was moderate and generous, gentle towards the vanquished and the weak, just and compassionate towards his subjects, faithful to his engagements, and capable of feeling sympathetic admiration for men, even his enemies, in whom he recognized superior qualities, courage, loyalty, and loftiness of mind. For Christian knighthood, its precepts and the noble character it stamped upon its professors, he felt so much respect and even inclination that the wish of his heart, it is said, was to receive the title of knight, and that he did, in fact, receive it with the approval of Richard Coeur de Lion. By reason of all these facts and on all these grounds he acquired, even amongst the Christians, that popularity which attaches itself to greatness justified by personal deeds and living proofs, in spite of the fear and even the hatred inspired thereby. Christian Europe saw in him the able and potent chief of Mussulman Asia, and, whilst detesting, admired him.

After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, the Christians of the East, in their distress, sent to the West their most eloquent prelate and gravest historian William, Archbishop of Tyre, who, fifteen years before, in the reign of Baldwin IV., had been Chancellor of the kingdom of Jerusalem. He, accompanied by a legate of Pope Gregory VIII., scoured Italy, France, and Germany, recounting everywhere the miseries of the Holy Land, and imploring the aid of all Christian princes and peoples, whatever might be their own position of affairs and their own quarrels in Europe. At a parliament assembled at Gisors, on the 21st of January, 1188, and at a diet convoked at Mayence on the 27th of March following, he so powerfully affected the knighthood of France, England, and Germany, that the three sovereigns of these three states, Philip Augustus, Richard Coeur de Lion, and Frederick Barbarossa, engaged with acclamation in a new crusade. They were princes of very different ages and degrees of merit, but all three distinguished for their personal qualities as well as their puissance. Frederick Barbarossa was sixty-seven, and for the last thirty-six years had been leading, in Germany and Italy, as politician and soldier, a very active and stormy existence. Richard Cceur de Lion was thirty-one, and had but just ascended the throne where he was to shine as the most valiant and adventurous of knights rather than as a king. Philip Augustus, though only twenty-three, had already shown signs, beneath the vivacious sallies of youth, of the reflective and steady ability characteristic of riper age. Of these three sovereigns, the eldest, Frederick Barbarossa, was first ready to plunge amongst the perils of the crusade. Starting from Ratisbonne about Christmas, 1189, with an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men, he traversed the Greek empire and Asia Minor, defeated the Sultan of Iconium, passed the first defiles of Taurus, and seemed to be approaching the object of his voyage, when, on the 10th of June, 1190, having arrived at the borders of the Selef, a small river which throws itself into the Mediterranean close to Seleucia, he determined to cross it by fording, was seized with a chill, and, according to some, drowned before his people’s eyes, but, according to others, carried dying to Seleucia, where he expired. His young son Conrad, Duke of Suabia, was not equal to taking the command of such an army; and it broke up.

The majority of the German princes returned to Europe: and “there remained beneath the banner of Christ only a weak band of warriors faithful to their vow, a boy-chief, and a bier. When the crusaders of the other nations, assembled before St. Jean d’Acre, saw the remnant of that grand German army arrive, not a soul could restrain his tears. Three thousand men, all but stark naked, and harassed to death, marched sorrowfully along, with the dried bones of their emperor carried in a coffin. For, in the twelfth century, the art of embalming the dead was unknown. Barbarossa, before leaving Europe, had asked that, if he should die in the crusade, he might be buried in the church of the Resurrection at Jerusalem; but this wish could not be accomplished, as the Christians did not recover the Holy City, and the mortal remains of the emperor were carried, as some say, to Tyre, and, as others, to Antioch, Where his tomb has not been discovered.” (_Histoire de la Lutte des Papes et des Empereurs de la Maison de Souabe,_ by M. de Cherrier, Member of the Institute, t. i., p. 222.)

Frederick Barbarossa was already dead in Asia Minor, and the German army was already broken up, when, on the 24th of June, 1190, Philip Augustus went and took the oriflamme at St. Denis, on his way to Vezelai, where he had appointed to meet Richard, and whence the two kings, in fact, set out, on the 4th of July, to embark with their troops, Philip at Genoa, and Richard at Marseilles. They had agreed to touch nowhere until they reached Sicily, where Philip was the first to arrive, on the 16th of September; and Richard was eight days later. But, instead of simply touching, they passed at Messina all the autumn of 1190, and all the winter of 1190-91, no longer seeming to think of anything but quarrelling and amusing themselves. Nor were grounds for quarrel or opportunities for amusements to seek. Richard, in spite of his promise, was unwilling to marry the Princess Alice, Philip’s sister; and Philip, after lively discussion, would not agree to give him back his word, save “in consideration of a sum of ten thousand silver marks, whereof he shall pay us three thousand at the feast of All Saints, and year by year in succession, at this same feast.” Some of their amusements were not more refined than their family arrangements, and ruffianly contests and violent enmities sprang up amidst the feasts and the games in which kings and knights nearly every evening indulged in the plains round about Messina. One day there came amongst the crusaders thus assembled a peasant driving an ass, laden with those long and strong reeds known by the name of canes. English and French, with Richard at their head, bought them of him; and, mounting on horseback, ran tilt at one another, armed with these reeds by way of lances. Richard found himself opposite to a French knight, named William des Barres, of whose strength and valor he had already, not without displeasure, had experience in Normandy. The two champions met with so rude a shock that their reeds broke, and the king’s cloak was torn. Richard, in pique, urged his horse violently against the French knight, in order to make him lose his stirrups; but William kept a firm seat, whilst the king fell under his horse, which came down in his impetuosity. Richard, more and more exasperated, had another horse brought, and charged a second time, but with no more success, the immovable knight. One of Richard’s favorites, the Earl of Leicester, would have taken his place, and avenged his lord; but “let be, Robert,” said the king: “it is a matter between him and me;” and he once more attacked William des Barres, and once more to no purpose. “Fly from my sight,” cried he to the knight, “and take care never to appear again; for I will be ever a mortal foe to thee, to thee and thine.” William des Barres, somewhat discomfited, went in search of the King of France, to put himself under his protection. Philip accordingly paid a visit to Richard, who merely said, “I’ll not hear a word.” It needed nothing less than the prayers of the bishops, and even, it is said, a threat of excommunication, to induce Richard to grant William des Barres the king’s peace during the time of pilgrimage.

Such a comrade was assuredly very inconvenient, and might be under difficult circumstances very dangerous. Philip, without being susceptible or quarrelsome, was naturally independent, and disposed to act, on every occasion, according to his own ideas. He resolved, not to break with Richard, but to divide their commands, and separate their fortunes. On the approach of spring, 1191, he announced to him that the time had arrived for continuing their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and that, as for himself, he was quite ready to set out. “I am not ready,” said Richard; “and I cannot depart before the middle of August.” Philip, after some discussion, set out alone, with his army, on the 30th of March, and on the 14th of April arrived before St. Jean d’.Acre. This important place, of which Saladin had made himself master nearly four years before, was being besieged by the last King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, at the head of the Christians of Palestine, and by a multitude of crusaders, Genoese, Danish, Flemish, and German, who had flocked freely to the enterprise. A strong and valiant Mussulman garrison was defending St. Jean d’Acre. Saladin manoeuvred incessantly for its relief, and several battles had already been fought beneath the walls. When the King of France arrived, he was received by the Christians besieging,” say the chronicles of St. Denis, “with supreme joy, as if he were an angel come down from heaven.”. Philip set vigorously to work to push on the siege; but at his departure he had promised Richard not to deliver the grand assault until they had formed a junction before the place with all their forces. Richard, who had set out from Messina at the beginning of May, though he had said that he would not be ready till August, lingered again on the way to reduce the island of Cyprus, and to celebrate there his marriage with Berengaria of Navarre, in lieu of Alice of France. At last he arrived, on the 7th of June, before St. Jean d’Acre; and several assaults in succession were made on the place with equal determination on the part of the besiegers and the besieged. “The tumultuous waves of the Franks,” says an Arab historian, “rolled towards the walls of the city with the rapidity of a torrent; and they climbed the half-ruined battlements as wild goats climb precipitous rocks, whilst the Saracens threw themselves upon the besiegers like stones unloosed from the top of a mountain.” At length, on the 13th of July, 1191, in spite of the energetic resistance offered by the garrison, which defended itself “as a lion defends his blood-stained den,” St. Jean d’Acre surrendered. The terms of capitulation stated that two hundred thousand pieces of gold should be paid to the chiefs of the Christian army; that sixteen hundred prisoners and the wood of the true cross should be given up to them; and that the garrison as well as all the people of the town should remain in the conquerors’ power, pending full execution of the treaty.

Whilst the siege was still going on, the discord between the Kings of France and England was increasing in animosity and venom. The conquest of Cyprus had become a new subject of dispute. When the French were most eager for the assault, King Richard remained in his tent; and so the besieged had scarcely ever to repulse more than one or other of the kings and armies at a time. Saladin, it is said, showed Richard particular attention, sending him grapes and pears from Damascus; and Philip conceived some mistrust of these relations. In camp the common talk, combined with anxious curiosity, was, that Philip was jealous of Richard’s warlike popularity, and Richard was jealous of the power and political weight of the King of France.

When St. Jean d’Acre had been taken, the judicious Philip, in view of what it had cost the Christians of East and West, in time and blood, to recover this single town, considered that a fresh and complete conquest of Palestine and Syria, which was absolutely necessary for a re-establishment of the kingdom of Jerusalem, was impossible: he had discharged what he owed to the crusade; and the course now permitted and prescribed to him was to give his attention to France. The news he received from home was not encouraging; his son Louis, hardly four years old, had been dangerously ill; and he himself fell ill, and remained some days in bed, in the midst of the town he had just conquered. His enemies called his illness in question, for already there was a rumor abroad that he had an idea of giving up the crusade, and returning to France; but the details given by contemporary chroniclers about the effects of his illness scarcely permit it to be regarded as a sham. “Violent sweats,” they say, “committed such havoc with his bones and all his members, that the nails fell from his fingers and the hair from his head, insomuch that it was believed–and, indeed, the rumor is not yet dispelled–that he had taken a deadly poison.” There was nothing strange in Philip’s illness, after all his fatigues, in such a country and such a season; Saladin, too, was ill at the same time, and more than once unable to take part with his troops in their engagements. But, however that may be, a contemporary English chronicler, Benedict, Abbot of Peterborough, relates that, on the 22d of July, 1191, whilst King Richard was playing chess with the Earl of Gloucester, the Bishop of Beauvais, the Duke of Burgundy, and two knights of consideration, presented themselves before him on behalf of the King of France. “They were dissolved in tears,” says he, “in such sort they could not utter a single word; and, seeing them so moved, those present wept in their turn for pity’s sake. ‘Weep not,’ said King Richard to them; ‘I know what ye be come to ask; your lord, the King of France, desireth to go home again, and ye be come in his name to ask on his behalf my counsel and leave to get him gone.’ ‘It is true, sir; you know all,’ answered the messengers; ‘our king sayeth, that if he depart not speedily from this land, he will surely die.’ ‘It will be for him and for the kingdom of France,’ replied King Richard, ‘eternal shame, if he go home without fulfilling the work for the which he came, and he shall not go hence by my advice; but if he must die or return home, let him do what he will, and what may appear to him expedient for him, for him and his.'” The source from which this story comes, and the tone of it, are enough to take from it all authority; for it is the custom of monastic chroniclers to attribute to political or military characters emotions and demonstrations alien to their position and their times. Philip Augustus, moreover, was one of the most decided, most insensible to any other influence but that of his own mind, and most disregardful of his enemies’ bitter speeches, of all the kings in French history. He returned to France after the capture of St. Jean d’ Acre, because he considered the ultimate success of the crusade impossible, and his return necessary for the interests of France and for his own. He was right in thus thinking and acting; and King Richard, when insultingly reproaching him for it, did not foresee that, a year later, he would himself be doing the same thing, and would give up the crusade without having obtained anything more for Christendom, except fresh reverses.


On the 31st of July, 1191, Philip, leaving with the army of the crusaders ten thousand foot and five hundred knights, under the command of Duke Hugh of Burgundy, who had orders to obey King Richard, set sail for France; and, a few days after Christmas in the same year, landed in his kingdom, and forth-with resumed, at Fontainebleau according to some, and at Paris according to others, the regular direction of his government. We shall see before long with what intelligent energy and with what success he developed and consolidated the territorial greatness of France and the influence of the kingship, to her security in Europe and her prosperity at home.

From the 1st of August, 1191, to the 9th of October, 1192, King Richard remained alone in the East as chief of the crusade and defender of Christendom. He pertains, during that period, to the history of England, and no longer to that of France. We will, however, recall a few facts to show how fruitless, for the cause of Christendom in the East, was the prolongation of his stay and what strange deeds–at one time of savage barbarism, and at another of mad pride or fantastic knight-errantry–were united in him with noble instincts and the most heroic courage. On the 20th of August, 1191, five weeks after the surrender of St. Jean d’Acre, he found that Saladin was not fulfilling with sufficient promptitude the conditions of capitulation, and, to bring him up to time, he ordered the decapitation, before the walls of the place, of, according to some, twenty-five hundred, and, according to others, five thousand, Mussulman prisoners remaining in his hands.

[Illustration: Richard Coeur de Lion having the Saracens beheaded.—-37]

The only effect of this massacre was, that during Richard’s first campaign after Philip’s departure for France, Saladin put to the sword all the Christians taken in battle or caught straggling, and ordered their bodies to be left without burial, as those of the garrison of St. Jean d’Acre had been. Some months afterwards Richard conceived the idea of putting an end to the struggle between Christendom and Islamry, which he was not succeeding in terminating by war, by a marriage. He had a sister, Joan of England, widow of William II., king of Sicily; and Saladin had a brother, Malek-Adhel, a valiant warrior, respected by the Christians. Richard had proposals made to Saladin to unite them in marriage and set them to reign together over the Christians and Mussulmans in the kingdom of Jerusalem. The only result of the negotiation was to give Saladin time for repairing the fortifications of Jerusalem, and to bring down upon King Richard and his sister, on the part of the Christian bishops, the fiercest threats of the fulminations of the Church. With the exception of this ridiculous incident, Richard’s life, during the whole course of this year, was nothing but a series of great or small battles, desperately contested, against Saladin. When Richard had obtained a success, he pursued it in a haughty, passionate spirit; when he suffered a check, he offered Saladin peace, but always on condition of surrendering Jerusalem to the Christians, and Saladin always answered, “Jerusalem never was yours, and we may not without sin give it up to you; for it is the place where the mysteries of our religion were accomplished, and the last one of my soldiers will perish before the Mussulmans renounce conquests made in the name of Mahomet.” Twice Richard and his army drew near Jerusalem, “without his daring to look upon it, he said, since he was not in a condition to take it.” At last, in the summer of 1192, the two armies and the two chiefs began to be weary of a war without result. A great one, however, for Saladin and the Mussulmans was the departure of Richard and the crusaders. Being unable to agree about conditions for a definitive peace, they contented themselves, on both sides, with a truce for three years and eight months, leaving Jerusalem in possession of the Mussulmans, but open for worship to the Christians, in whose hands remained, at the same time, the towns they were in occupation of on the maritime coast, from Jaffa to Tyre. This truce, which was called peace, having received the signature of all the Christian and Mussulman princes, was celebrated by galas and tournaments, at which Christians and Mussulmans seemed for a moment to have forgotten their hate; and on the 9th of October, 1192, Richard embarked at St. Jean d’Acre to go and run other risks.

Thus ended the third crusade, undertaken by the three greatest sovereigns and the three greatest armies of Christian Europe, and with the loudly proclaimed object of retaking Jerusalem from the infidels, and re-establishing a king over the sepulchre of Jesus Christ. The Emperor Frederick Barbarossa perished in it before he had trodden the soil of Palestine. King Philip Augustus retired from it voluntarily, so soon as experience had foreshadowed to him the impossibility of success. King Richard abandoned it perforce, after having exhausted upon it his heroism and his knightly pride. The three armies, at the moment of departure from Europe, amounted, according to the historians of the time, to five or six hundred thousand men, of whom scarcely one hundred thousand returned; and the only result of the third crusade was to leave as head over all the most beautiful provinces of Mussulman Asia and Africa, Saladin, the most illustrious and most able chieftain, in war and in politics, that Islamry had produced since Mahomet.

From the end of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth century, between the crusade of Philip Augustus and that of St. Louis, it is usual to count three crusades, over which we will not linger. Two of these crusades–one, from 1195 to 1198, under Henry VI., Emperor of Germany, and the other, from 1216 to 1240, under the Emperor Frederick II. and Andrew II., King of Hungary–are unconnected with France, and almost exclusively German, or, in origin and range, confined to Eastern Europe. They led, in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, to wars, negotiations, and manifold complications; Jerusalem fell once more, for a while, into the hands of the Christians; and there, on the 18th of March, 1229, in the church of the Resurrection, the Emperor Frederick II., at that time excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX., placed with his own hands the royal crown upon his head. But these events, confused, disconnected, and short-lived as they were, did not produce in the West, and especially in France, any considerable reverberation, and did not exercise upon the relative situations of Europe and Asia, of Christendom and Islamry, any really historical influence. In people’s lives, and in the affairs of the world, there are many movements of no significance, and more cry than wool; and those facts only which have had some weight and some duration are here to be noted for study and comprehension. The event which has been called the fifth crusade was not wanting, so far, in real importance, and it would have to be described here, if it had been really a crusade; but it does not deserve the name. The crusades were a very different thing from wars and conquests; their real and peculiar characteristic was, that they should be struggles between Christianity and Islamism, between the fruitful civilization of Europe and the barbarism and stagnation of Asia. Therein consist their originality and their grandeur. It was certainly on this understanding, and with this view, that Pope Innocent III., one of the greatest men of the thirteenth century, seconded with all his might the movement which was at that time springing up again in favor of a fresh crusade, and which brought about, in 1202, an alliance between a great number of powerful lords, French, Flemish, and Italian, and the republic of Venice, for the purpose of recovering Jerusalem from the infidels. But from the very first, the ambition, the opportunities, and the private interests of the Venetians, combined with a recollection of the perfidy displayed by the Greek emperors, diverted the new crusaders from the design they had proclaimed. What Bohemond, during the first crusade, had proposed to Godfrey de Bouillon, and what the Bishop of Langres, during the second, had suggested to Louis the Young, namely, the capture of Constantinople for the sake of insuring that of Jerusalem, the first crusaders of the thirteenth century were led by bias, greed, anger, and spite to take in hand and accomplish; they conquered Constantinople, and, having once made that conquest, they troubled themselves no more about Jerusalem. Founded, May 16th, 1204, in the person of Baldwin IX., Count of Flanders, the Latin empire of the East existed for seventy years, in the teeth of many a storm, only to fall once more, in 1273, into the hands of the Greek emperors, overthrown in 1453 by the Turks, who are still in possession.

One circumstance, connected rather with literature than politics, gives Frenchmen a particular interest in this conquest of the Greek empire by the Latin Christians; for it was a Frenchman, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, seneschal of Theobald III., Count of Champagne, who, after having been one of the chief actors in it, wrote the history of it; and his work, strictly historical as to facts, and admirably epic in description of character and warmth of coloring, is one of the earliest and finest monuments of French literature.

But to return to the real crusades.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, whilst the enterprises which were still called crusades were becoming more and more degenerate in character and potency, there was born in France, on the 25th of April, 1215, not merely the prince, but the man who was to be the most worthy representative and the most devoted slave of that religious and moral passion which had inspired the crusades. Louis IX., though born to the purple, a powerful king, a valiant warrior, a splendid knight, and an object of reverence to all those who at a distance observed his life, and of affection to all those who approached his person, was neither biassed nor intoxicated by any such human glories and delights; neither in his thoughts nor in his conduct did they ever occupy the foremost place; before all and above all he wished to be, and was indeed, a Christian, a true Christian, guided and governed by the idea and the resolve of defending the Christian faith and fulfilling the Christian law. Had he been born in the most lowly condition, as the world holds, or, as religion, the most commanding; had he been obscure, needy, a priest, a monk, or a hermit, he could not have been more constantly and more zealously filled with the desire of living as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, and of insuring, by pious obedience to God here, the salvation of his soul hereafter. This is the peculiar and original characteristic of St. Louis, and a fact rare and probably unique in the history of kings. (He was canonized on the 11th of August, 1297; and during twenty-four years nine successive popes had prosecuted the customary inquiries as to his faith and life.)

It is said that the Christian enthusiasm of St. Louis had its source in the strict education he received from Queen Blanche, his mother. That is overstepping the limits of that education and of her influence. Queen Blanche, though a firm believer and steadfastly pious, was a stranger to enthusiasm, and too discreet and too politic to make it the dominating principle of her son’s life any more than of her own. The truth of the matter is that, by her watchfulness and her exactitude in morals, she helped to impress upon her son the great Christian lesson of hatred for sin and habitual concern for the eternal salvation of his soul. “Madame used to say of me,” Louis was constantly repeating, “that if I were sick unto death, and could not be cured save by acting in such wise that I should sin mortally, she would let me die rather than that I should anger my Creator to my damnation.”


In the first years of his government, when he had reached his majority, there was nothing to show that the idea of the crusade occupied Louis IX.’s mind; and it was only in 1239, when he was now four and twenty, that it showed itself vividly in him. Some of his principal vassals, the Counts of Champagne, Brittany, and Macon, had raised an army of crusaders, and were getting ready to start for Palestine; and the king was not contented with giving them encouragement, but “he desired that Amaury de Montfort, his constable, should, in his name, serve Jesus Christ in this war; and for that reason he gave him arms and assigned to him per day a sum of money, for which Amaury thanked him on his knees, that is, did him homage, according to the usage of those times. And the crusaders were mighty pleased to have this lord with them.”

Five years afterwards, at the close of 1244, Louis fell seriously ill at Pontoise; the alarm and sorrow in the kingdom were extreme; the king himself believed that his last hour was come; and he had all his household summoned, thanked them for their kind attentions, recommended them to be good servants of God, “and did all that a good Christian ought to do. His mother, his wife, his brothers, and all who were about him kept continually praying for him; his mother, beyond all others, adding to her prayers great austerities.” Once he appeared motionless and breathless; and he was supposed to be dead. “One of the dames who were tending him,” says Joinville, “would have drawn the sheet over his face, saying that he was dead; but another dame, who was on the other side of the bed, would not suffer it, saying that there was still life in his body. When the king heard the dispute between these two dames, our Lord wrought in him: he began to sigh, stretched his arms and legs, and said, in a hollow voice, as if he had come forth from the tomb, ‘He, by God’s grace, hath visited me, He who cometh from on high, and hath recalled me from amongst the dead.’ Scarcely had he recovered his senses and speech, when he sent for William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris, together with Peter de Cuisy, Bishop of Meaux, in whose diocese he happened to be, and requested them ‘to place upon his shoulder the cross of the voyage over the sea.’ The two bishops tried to divert him from this idea, and the two queens, Blanche and Marguerite, conjured him on their knees to wait till he was well, and after that he might do as he pleased. He insisted, declaring that he would take no nourishment till he had received the cross. At last the Bishop of Paris yielded, and gave him a cross. The king received it with transport, kissing it, and placing it right gently Upon his breast.” “When the queen, his mother, knew that he had taken the cross,” says Joinville, “she made as great mourning as if she had seen him dead.”

Still more than three years rolled by before Louis fulfilled the engagement which he had thus entered into, with himself alone, one might say, and against the wish of nearly everybody about him. The crusades, although they still remained an object of religious and knightly aspiration, were from the political point of view decried; and, without daring to say so, many men of weight, lay or ecclesiastical, had no desire to take part in them. Under the influence of this public feeling, timidly exhibited but seriously cherished, Louis continued, for three years, to apply himself to the interior concerns of his kingdom and to his relations with the European powers, as if he had no other idea. There was a moment when his wisest counsellors and the queen his mother conceived a hope of inducing him to give up his purpose. “My lord king,” said one day that same Bishop of Paris, who, in the crisis of his illness, had given way to his wishes, “bethink you that, when you received the cross, when you suddenly and without reflection made this awful vow, you were weak, and, sooth to say, of a wandering mind, and that took away from your words the weight of verity and authority. Our lord the pope, who knoweth the necessities of your kingdom and your weakness of body, will gladly grant unto you a dispensation. Lo! we have the puissance of the schismatic Emperor Frederick, the snares of the wealthy King of the English, the treasons but lately stopped of the Poitevines, and the subtle wranglings of the Albigensians to fear; Germany is disturbed; Italy hath no rest; the Holy Land is hard of access; you will not easily penetrate thither, and behind you will be left the implacable hatred between the pope and Frederick. To whom will you leave us, every one of us, in our feebleness and desolation? “Queen Blanche appealed to other considerations, the good counsels she had always given her son, and the pleasure God took in seeing a son giving heed to and believing his mother; and to hers she promised, that, if he would remain, the Holy Land should not suffer, and that more troops should be sent thither than he could lead thither himself. The king listened attentively and with deep emotion. You say,” he answered, “that I was not in possession of my senses when I took the cross. Well, as you wish it, I lay it aside; I give it back to you;” and raising his hand to his shoulder, he undid the cross upon it, saying, “Here it is, my lord bishop; I restore to you the cross I had put on.” All present congratulated themselves; but the king, with a sudden change of look and intention, said to them, “My friends, now, assuredly, I lack not sense and reason; I am neither weak nor wandering of mind; and I demand my cross back again. He who knoweth all things knoweth that until it is replaced upon my shoulder, no food shall enter my lips.” At these words all present declared that “herein was the finger of God, and none dared to raise, in opposition to the king’s saying, any objection.”

In June, 1248, Louis, after having received at St. Denis, together with the oriflamme, the scrip and staff of a pilgrim, took leave, at Corbeil or Cluny, of his mother, Queen Blanche, whom he left regent during his absence, with the fullest powers. “Most sweet fair son,” said she, embracing him; “fair tender son, I shall never see you more; full well my heart assures me.” He took with him Queen Marguerite of Provence, his wife, who had declared that she would never part from him. On arriving, in the early part of August, at Aigues-Mortes, he found assembled there a fleet of thirty-eight vessels with a certain number of transport-ships which he had hired from the republic of Genoa; and they were to convey to the East the troops and personal retinue of the king himself. The number of these vessels proves that Louis was far from bringing one of those vast armies with which the first crusades had been familiar; it even appears that he had been careful to get rid of such mobs, for, before embarking, he sent away nearly ten thousand bow-men, Genoese, Venetian, Pisan, and even French, whom he had at first engaged, and of whom, after inspection, he desired nothing further. The sixth crusade was the personal achievement of St. Louis, not the offspring of a popular movement, and he carried it out with a picked army, furnished by the feudal chivalry and by the religious and military orders dedicated to the service of the Holy Land.

The Isle of Cyprus was the trysting-place appointed for all the forces of the expedition. Louis arrived there on the 12th of September, 1248, and reckoned upon remaining there only a few days; for it was Egypt that he was in a hurry to reach. The Christian world was at that time of opinion that, to deliver the Holy Land, it was necessary first of all to strike a blow at Islamism in Egypt, wherein its chief strength resided. But scarcely had the crusaders formed a junction in Cyprus, when the vices of the expedition and the weaknesses of its chief began to be manifest. Louis, unshakable in his religious zeal, was wanting in clear ideas and fixed resolves as to the carrying out of his design; he inspired his associates with sympathy rather than exercised authority over them, and he made himself admired without making himself obeyed. He did not succeed in winning a majority in the council of chiefs over to his opinion as to the necessity for a speedy departure for Egypt; it was decided to pass the winter in Cyprus, and during this leisurely halt of seven months, the improvidence of the crusaders, their ignorance of the places, people, and facts amidst which they were about to launch themselves, their headstrong rashness, their stormy rivalries, and their moral and military irregularities aggravated the difficulties of the enterprise, great as they already were. Louis passed his time in interfering between them, in hushing up their quarrels, in upbraiding them for their licentiousness, and in reconciling the Templars and Hospitallers. His kindness was injurious to his power; he lent too ready an ear to the wishes or complaints of his comrades, and small matters took up his thoughts and his time almost as much as great.

At last a start was made from Cyprus in May, 1249, and, in spite of violent gales of wind which dispersed a large number of vessels, they arrived on the 4th of June before Damietta.

The crusader-chiefs met on board the king’s ship, the Mountjoy; and one of those present, Guy, a knight in the train of the Count of Melun, in a letter to one of his friends; a student at Paris, reports to him the king’s address in the following terms: “My friends and lieges, we shall be invincible if we be inseparable in brotherly love. It was not without the will of God that we arrived here so speedily. Descend we upon this land and occupy it in force. I am not the King of France. I am not Holy Church. It is all ye who are King and Holy Church. I am but a man whose life will pass away as that of any other man whenever it shall please God. Any issue of our expedition is to usward good; if we be conquered we shall wing our way to heaven as martyrs; and if we be conquerors, men will celebrate the glory of the Lord; and that of France, and, what is more, that of Christendom, will grow thereby. It were senseless to suppose that God, whose providence is over everything, raised me up for nought: He will see in us His own, His mighty cause. Fight we for Christ; it is Christ who will triumph in us, not for our own sake, but for the honor and blessedness of His name.” It was determined to disembark the next day. An army of Saracens lined the shore. The galley which bore the oriflamme was one of the first to touch. When the king heard tell that the banner of St. Denis was on shore, he, in spite of the pope’s legate, who was with him, would not leave it; he leaped into the sea, which was up to his arm-pits, and went, shield on neck, helm on head, and lance in hand, and joined his people on the sea-shore. When he came to land, and perceived the Saracens, he asked what folk they were, and it was told him that they were the Saracens; then he put his lance beneath his arm and his shield in front of him, and would have charged the Saracens, if his mighty men, who were with him, had suffered him.

This, from his very first outset, was Louis exactly, the most fervent of Christians and the most splendid of knights, much rather than a general and a king.

Such he appeared at the moment of landing, and such he was during the whole duration, and throughout all the incidents of his campaign in Egypt, from June, 1249, to May, 1250: ever admirable for his moral greatness and knightly valor, but without foresight or consecutive plan as a leader, without efficiency as a commander in action, and ever decided or biassed either by his own momentary impressions or the fancies of his comrades. He took Damietta without the least difficulty. The Mussulmans, stricken with surprise as much as terror, abandoned the place; and when Fakr-Eddin, the commandant of the Turks, came before the Sultan of Egypt, Malek-Saleh, who was ill, and almost dying, “Couldst thou not have held out for at least an instant?” said the sultan. “What! not a single one of you got slain!” Having become masters of Damietta, St. Louis and the crusaders committed the same fault there as in the Isle of Cyprus: they halted there for an indefinite time. They were expecting fresh crusaders; and they spent the time of expectation in quarrelling over the partition of the booty taken in the city. They made away with it, they wasted it blindly. “The barons,” said Joinville, “took to giving grand banquets, with an excess of meats; and the people of the common sort took up with bad women.” Louis saw and deplored these irregularities, without being in a condition to stop them.

At length, on the 20th of November, 1249, after more than five months’ inactivity at Damietta, the crusaders put themselves once more in motion, with the determination of marching upon Babylon, that outskirt of Cairo, now called _Old Cairo,_ which the greater part of them, in their ignorance, mistook for the real Babylon, and where they flattered themselves they would find immense riches, and avenge the olden sufferings of the Hebrew captives. The Mussulmans had found time to recover from their first fright, and to organize, at all points, a vigorous resistance. On the 8th of February, 1250, a battle took place twenty leagues from Damietta, at Mansourah (the city of victory), on the right bank of the Nile. The king’s brother, Robert, Count of Artois, marched with the vanguard, and obtained an early success; but William de Sonnac, grand master of the Templars, and William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, leader of the English crusaders but lately arrived at Damietta, insisted upon his waiting for the king before pushing the victory to the uttermost. Robert taxed them, ironically, with caution. “Count Robert,” said William Longsword, “we shall be presently where thou’lt not dare to come nigh the tail of my horse.” There came a message from the king ordering his brother to wait for him; but Robert made no account of it.” I have already put the Saracens to flight,” said he, “and I will wait for none to complete their defeat; “and he rushed forward into Mansourah. All those who had dissuaded him followed after; they found the Mussulmans numerous and perfectly rallied; in a few moments the Count of Artois fell, pierced with wounds, and more than three hundred knights of his train, the same number of English, together with their leader, William Longsword, and two hundred and eighty Templars, paid with their lives for the senseless ardor of the French prince.

The king hurried up in all haste to the aid of his brother; but he had scarcely arrived, and as yet knew nothing of his brother’s fate, when he himself engaged so impetuously in the battle that he was on the point of being taken prisoner by six Saracens who had already seized the reins of his horse. He was defending himself vigorously with his sword, when several of his knights came up with him, and set him free. He asked one of them if he had any news of his brother; and the other answered, “Certainly I have news of him: for I am sure that he is now in Paradise.” “Praised be God!” answered the king, with a tear or two, and went on with his fighting. The battle-field was left that day to the crusaders; but they were not allowed to occupy it as conquerors, for, three days afterwards, on the 11th of February, 1250, the camp of St. Louis was assailed by clouds of Saracens, horse and foot, Mamelukes and Bedouins. All surprise had vanished, the Mussulmans measured at a glance the numbers of the Christians, and attacked them in full assurance of success, whatever heroism they might display; and the crusaders themselves indulged in no more self-illusion, and thought only of defending themselves. Lack of provisions and sickness soon rendered defence almost as impossible as attack; every day saw the Christian camp more and more encumbered with the famine-stricken, the dying, and the dead; and the necessity for retreating became evident. Louis made to the Sultan Malek-Moaddam an offer to evacuate Egypt, and give up Damietta, provided that the kingdom of Jerusalem were restored to the Christians, and the army permitted to accomplish its retreat without obstruction. The sultan, without accepting or rejecting the proposition, asked what guarantees would be given him for the surrender of Damietta. Louis offered as hostage one of his brothers, the Count of Anjou, or the Count of Poitiers. “We must have the king himself,” said the Mussulmans. A unanimous cry of indignation arose amongst the crusaders. “We would rather,” said Geoffrey de Sargines, “that we had been all slain, or taken prisoners by the Saracens, than be reproached with having left our king in pawn.” All negotiation was broken off; and on the 5th of April, 1250, the crusaders decided upon retreating.

This was the most deplorable scene of a deplorable drama; and at the same time it was, for the king, an occasion for displaying, in their most sublime and most attractive traits, all the virtues of the Christian. Whilst sickness and famine were devastating the camp, Louis made himself visitor, physician, and comforter; and his presence and his words exercised upon the worst cases a searching influence. He had one day sent his chaplain, William de Chartres, to visit one of his household servants, a modest man of some means, named Gaugelme, who was at the point of death. When the chaplain was retiring, “I am waiting for my lord, our saintly king, to come,” said the dying man; “I will not depart this life until I have seen him and spoken to him: and then I will die.” The king came, and addressed to him the most affectionate words of consolation; and when he had left him, and before he had re-entered his tent, he was told that Gaugelme had expired. When the 5th of April, the day fixed for the retreat, had come, Louis himself was ill and much enfeebled. He was urged to go aboard one of the vessels which were to descend the Nile, carrying the wounded and the most suffering; but he refused absolutely, saying, “I don’t separate from my people in the hour of danger.” He remained on land, and when he had to move forward he fainted twice. When he came to himself, he was amongst the last to leave the camp, got himself helped on to the back of a little Arab horse, covered with silken housings, and marched at a slow pace with the rear-guard, having beside him Geoffrey de Sargines, who watched over him, “and protected me against the Saracens,” said Louis himself to Joinville, “as a good servant protects his lord’s tankard against the flies.”

Neither the king’s courage nor his servants’ devotion was enough to insure success, even to the retreat. At four leagues’ distance from the camp it had just left, the rear-guard of the crusaders, harassed by clouds of Saracens, was obliged to halt. Louis could no longer keep on his horse. He was put up at a house,” says Joinville, “and laid, almost dead, upon the lap of a tradeswoman from Paris; and it was believed that he would not last till evening.” With his consent, one of his lieges entered into parley with one of the Mussulman chiefs; a truce was about to be concluded, and the Mussulman was taking off his ring from his finger as a pledge that he would observe it. “But during this,” says Joinville, “there took place a great mishap. A traitor of a sergeant, whose name was Marcel, began calling to our people, ‘Sirs knights, surrender, for such is the king’s command: cause not the king’s death.’ All thought that it was the king’s command; and they gave up their swords to the Saracens.” Being forthwith declared prisoners, the king and all the rear-guard were removed to Mansourah; the king by boat; and his two brothers, the Counts of Anjou and Poitiers, and all the other crusaders, drawn up in a body and shackled, followed on foot on the river bank. The advance-guard, and all the rest of the army, soon met the same fate.

Ten thousand prisoners–this was all that remained of the crusade that had started eighteen months before from Aigues-Mortes. Nevertheless the lofty bearing and the piety of the king still inspired the Mussulmans with great respect. A negotiation was opened between him and the Sultan Malek-Moaddam, who, having previously freed him from his chains, had him treated with a certain magnificence. As the price of a truce and of his liberty, Louis received a demand for the immediate surrender of Damietta, a heavy ransom, and the restitution of several places which the Christians still held in Palestine. “I cannot dispose of those places,” said Louis, “for they do not belong to me; the princes and the Christian orders, in whose hands they are, can alone keep or surrender them.” The sultan, in anger, threatened to have the king put to the torture, or sent to the Grand Khalif of Bagdad, who would detain him in prison for the rest of his days. “I am your prisoner,” said Louis; “you can do with me what you will.” “You call yourself our prisoner,” said the Mussulman negotiators, “and so, we believe you are; but you treat us as if you had us in prison.” The sultan perceived that he had to do with an indomitable spirit; and he did not insist any longer upon more than the surrender of Damietta, and on a ransom of five hundred thousand livres (that is, about ten million one hundred and thirty-two thousand francs, or four hundred and five thousand two hundred and eighty pounds, of modern money, according to M. de Wailly, supposing, as is probable, that livres of Tours are meant). “I will pay willingly five hundred thousand livres for the deliverance of my people,” said Louis, and I will give up Damietta for the deliverance of my own person, for I am not a man who ought to be bought and sold for money.” “By my faith,” said the sultan, the Frank is liberal not to have haggled about so large a sum. Go tell him that I will give him one hundred thousand livres to help towards paying the ransom.” The negotiation was concluded on this basis; and victors and vanquished quitted Mansourah, and arrived, partly by land and partly by the Nile, within a few leagues of Damietta, the surrender of which was fixed for the 7th of May. But five days previously a tragic event took place. Several emirs of the Mamelukes suddenly entered Louis’s tent. They had just slain the Sultan Malek-Moaddam, against whom they had for some time been conspiring. “Fear nought, sir,” said they to the king; “this was to be. Do what concerns you in respect of the stipulated conditions, and you shall be free.” Of these emirs one, who had slain the sultan with his own hand, asked the king, brusquely, “What wilt thou give me? I have slain thine enemy, who would have put thee to death, had he lived;” and he asked to be made knight. Louis answered not a word. Some of the crusaders present urged him to satisfy the desire of the emir, who had in his power the decision of their fate. “I will never confer knighthood on an infidel,” said Louis; “let the emir turn Christian; I will take him away to France, enrich him, and make him knight.” It is said that, in their admiration for this piety and this indomitable firmness, the emirs had at one time a notion of taking Louis himself for sultan in the place of him whom they had just slain; and this report was probably not altogether devoid of foundation, for, some time afterwards, in the intimacy of the conversations between them, Louis one day said to Joinville, “Think you that I would have taken the kingdom of Babylon, if they had offered it to me?” “Whereupon I told him,” adds Joinville, “that he would have done a mad act, seeing that they had slain their lord; and he said to me that of a truth he would not have refused.” However that may be, the conditions agreed upon with the late Sultan Malek-Moaddam were carried out; on the 7th of May, 1250, Geoffrey de Sargines gave up to the emirs the keys of Damietta; and the Mussulmans entered in tumultuously. The king was waiting aboard his ship for the payment which his people were to make for the release of his brother, the Count of Poitiers; and, when he saw approaching a bark on which he recognized his brother, “Light up! light up!” he cried instantly to his sailors; which was the signal agreed upon for setting out. And leaving forthwith the coast of Egypt, the fleet which bore the remains of the Christian army made sail for the shores of Palestine.

The king, having arrived at St. Jean d’Acre on the 14th of May, 1250, accepted without shrinking the trial imposed upon him by his unfortunate situation. He saw his forces considerably reduced; and the majority of the crusaders left to him, even his brothers themselves, did not hide their ardent desire to return to France. He had that virtue, so rare amongst kings, of taking into consideration the wishes of his comrades, and of desiring their free assent to the burden he asked them to bear with him. He assembled the chief of them, and put the question plainly before them. “The queen, my mother,” he said, “biddeth me and prayeth me to get me hence to France, for that my kingdom hath neither peace nor truce with the king of England. The folk here tell me that, if I get me hence, this land is lost, for none of those that be there will dare to abide in it. I pray you, therefore, to give it thought, for it is a grave matter, and I grant you nine days for to answer me whatever shall seem to you good.” Eight days after, they returned; and Guy de Mauvoisin, speaking in their name, said to the king, “Sir, your brothers and the rich men who be here have had regard unto your condition, and they see that you cannot remain in this country to your own and your kingdom’s honor, for of all the knights who came in your train, and of whom you led into Cyprus twenty-eight hundred, there remain not one hundred in this city. Wherefore they do counsel you, sir, to get you hence to France, and to provide troops and money wherewith you may return speedily to this country, to take vengeance on these enemies of God who have kept you in prison.” Louis, without any discussion, interrogated all present, one after another, and all, even the pope’s legate, agreed with Guy de Mauvoisin. “I was seated just fourteenth, facing the legate,” says Joinville, “and when he asked me how it seemed to me, I answered him that if the king could hold out so far as to keep the field for a year, he would do himself great honor if he remained.”

[Illustration: Sire de Joinville—-55]

Only two knights, William de Beaumont and Sire de Chatenay, had the courage to support the opinion of Joinville, which was bolder for the time being, but not less indecisive in respect of the immediate future than the contrary opinion. “I have heard you out, sirs,” said the king: “and I will answer you, within eight clays from this time, touching that which it shall please me to do.” “Next Sunday,” says Joinville, “we came again, all of us, before the king. ‘Sirs,’ said he, ‘I thank very much all those who have counselled me to get me gone to France, and likewise those who have counselled me to bide. But I have bethought me that, if I bide, I see no danger lest my kingdom of France be lost, for the queen, my mother, hath a many folk to defend it. I have noted likewise that the barons of this land do say that, if I go hence, the kingdom of Jerusalem is lost. At no price will I suffer to be lost the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I came to guard and conquer. My resolve, then, is, that I bide for the present. So I say unto you, ye rich men who are here, and to all other knights who shall have a mind to bide with me, come and speak boldly unto me, and I will give ye so much that it shall not be my fault if ye have no mind to bide.'”

Thus none, save Louis himself, dared go to the root of the question. The most discreet advised him to depart, only for the purpose of coming back, and recommencing what had been so unsuccessful; and the boldest only urged him to remain a year longer. None took the risk of saying, even after so many mighty but vain experiments, that the enterprise was chimerical, and must be given up. Louis alone was, in word and deed, perfectly true to his own absorbing idea of recovering the Holy Sepulchre from the Mussulmans and re-establishing the kingdom of Jerusalem. His was one of those pure and majestic souls, which are almost alien to the world in which they live, and in which disinterested passion is so strong that it puts judgment to silence, extinguishes all fear, and keeps up hope to infinity. The king’s two brothers embarked with a numerous retinue. How many crusaders, knights, or men-at-arms, remained with Louis, there is nothing to show; but they were, assuredly, far from sufficient for the attainment of the twofold end he had in view, and even for insuring less grand results, such as the deliverance of the crusaders still remaining prisoners in the hands of the Mussulmans, and anything like an effectual protection for the Christians settled in Palestine and Syria.

Twice Louis believed he was on the point of accomplishing his desire. Towards the end of 1250, and again in 1252, the Sultan of Aleppo and Damascus, and the Emirs of Egypt, being engaged in a violent struggle, made offers to him, by turns, of restoring the kingdom of Jerusalem if he would form an active alliance with one or the other party against its enemies. Louis sought means of accepting either of these offers without neglecting his previous engagements, and without compromising the fate of the Christians still prisoners in Egypt, or living in the territories of Aleppo and Damascus; but, during the negotiations entered upon with a view to this end, the Mussulmans of Syria and Egypt suspended their differences, and made common cause against the remnants of the Christian crusaders; and all hope of re-entering Jerusalem by these means vanished away. Another time, the Sultan of Damascus, touched by Louis’s pious perseverance, had word sent to him that he, if he wished, could go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and should find himself in perfect safety. “The king,” says Joinville, “held a great council; and none urged him to go. It was shown unto him that if he, who was the greatest king in Christendom, performed his pilgrimage without delivering the Holy City from the enemies of God, all the other kings and other pilgrims who came after him would hold themselves content with doing just as much, and would trouble themselves no more about the deliverance of Jerusalem.” He was reminded of the example set by Richard Coeur de Lion, who, sixty years before, had refused to cast even a look upon Jerusalem, when he was unable to deliver her from her enemies. Louis, just as Richard had, refused the incomplete satisfaction which had been offered him, and for nearly four years, spent by him on the coasts of Palestine and Syria since his departure from Damietta, from 1250 to 1254, he expended, in small works of piety, sympathy, protection, and care for the future of the Christian populations in Asia, his time, his strength, his pecuniary resources, and the ardor of a soul which could not remain icily abandoned to sorrowing over great desires unsatisfied.

An unexpected event occurred and brought about all at once a change in his position and his plans. At the commencement of the year 1253, at Sidon, the ramparts of which he was engaged in repairing, he heard that his mother, Queen Blanche, had died at Paris on the 27th of November, 1252. “He made so great mourning thereat,” says Joinville, “that for two days no speech could be gotten of him. After that he sent a chamber-man for to fetch me. When I carne before him, in his chamber where he was alone, so soon as he got sight of me, he stretched forth his arms, and said to me, ‘O, seneschal, I have lost my mother!'” It was a great loss both for the son and for the king. Imperious, exacting, jealous, and often disagreeable in private life and in the bosom of her family, Blanche was, nevertheless, according to all contemporary authority, even the least favorable to her, “the most discreet woman of her time, with a mind singularly quick and penetrating, and with a man’s heart to leaven her Woman’s sex and ideas; personally magnanimous, of indomitable energy, sovereign mistress in all the affairs of her age, guardian and protectress of France, worthy of comparison with Semiramis, the most eminent of her sex.” From the time of Louis’s departure on the crusade as well as during his minority she had given him constant proofs of a devotion as intelligent as it was impassioned, as useful as it was masterful. All letters from France demanded the speedy return of the king. The Christians of Syria were themselves of the same opinion; the king, they said, has done for us, here, all he could do; he will serve us far better by sending us strong re-enforcements from France. Louis embarked at St. Jean d’Acre, on the 24th of April, 1254, carrying away with him, on thirteen vessels, large and small, Queen Marguerite, his children, his personal retinue, and his own more immediate men-at-arms, and leaving the Christians of Syria, for their protection in his name, a hundred knights under the orders of Geoffrey de Sargines, that comrade of his in whose bravery and pious fealty he had the most entire confidence. After two months and a half at sea, the king and his fleet arrived, on the 8th of July, 1254, off the port of Hyeres, which at that time belonged to the Empire, and not to France. For two days Louis refused to land at this point; for his heart was set upon not putting his foot upon land again save on the soil of his own kingdom, at Aigues- Mortes, whence he had, six years before, set out. At last he yielded to the entreaties of the queen and those who were about him, landed at Hyeres, passed slowly through France, and made his solemn entry into Paris on the 7th of September, 1254. “The burgesses and all those who were in the city were there to meet him, clad and bedecked in all their best according to their condition. If the other towns had received him with great joy, Paris evinced even more than any other. For several days there were bonfires, dances, and other public rejoicings, which ended sooner than the people wished; for the king, who was pained to see the expense, the dances, and the vanities indulged in, went off to the wood of Vincennes to put a stop to them.

So soon as he had resumed the government of his kingdom, after six years’ absence and adventures, heroic, indeed, but all in vain for the cause of Christendom, those of his counsellors and servants who lived most closely with him and knew him best were struck at the same time with what he had remained and what he had become during this long and cruel trial. “When the king had happily returned to France, how piously he bare himself towards God, how justly towards his subjects, how compassionately towards the afflicted, and how humbly in his own respect, and with what zeal he labored to make progress, according to his power, in every virtue, all this can be attested by persons who carefully watched his manner of life, and who knew the spotlessness of his conscience. It is the opinion of the most clear-sighted and the wisest that, in proportion as gold is more precious than silver, so the manner of living and acting which the king brought back from his pilgrimage in the Holy Land was holy and new, and superior to his former behavior, albeit, even in his youth, he had ever been good and guileless, and worthy of high esteem.” These are the words written about St. Louis by his confessor Geoffrey de Beaulieu, a chronicler, curt and simple even to dryness, but at the same time well informed. An attempt will be made presently to give a fair idea of the character of St. Louis’s government during the last fifteen years of his reign, and of the place he fills in the history of the kingship and of politics in France; but just now it is only with the part he played in the crusades and with what became of them in his hands that we have to occupy our attention. For seven years after his return to France, from 1254 to 1261, Louis seemed to think no more about them, and there is nothing to show that he spoke of them even to his most intimate confidants; but, in spite of his apparent calmness, he was living, so far as they were concerned, in a continual ferment of imagination and internal fever, ever flattering himself that some favorable circumstance would call him back to his interrupted work. And he had reason to believe that circumstances were responsive to his wishes. The Christians of Palestine and Syria were a prey to perils and evils which became more pressing every day; the cross was being humbled at one time before the Tartars of Tchingis-Khan, at another before the Mussulmans of Egypt; Pope Urban was calling upon the King of France; and Geoffrey de Sargines, the heroic representative whom Louis had left in St. Jean d’Acre, at the head of a small garrison, was writing to him that ruin was imminent, and speedy succor indispensable to prevent it. In 1261, Louis held, at Paris, a parliament, at which, without any talk of a new crusade, measures were taken which revealed an idea of it: there were decrees for fasts and prayers on behalf of the Christians of the East and for frequent and earnest military drill. In 1263, the crusade was openly preached; taxes were levied, even on the clergy, for the purpose of contributing towards it; and princes and barons bound themselves to take part in it. Louis was all approval and encouragement, without declaring his own intention. In 1267, a parliament was convoked at Paris. The king, at first, conversed discreetly with some of his barons about the new plan of crusade; and then, suddenly, having had the precious relics deposited in the Holy Chapel set before the eyes of the assembly, he opened the session by ardently exhorting those present “to avenge the insult which had so long been offered to the Saviour in the Holy Land and to recover the Christian heritage possessed, for our sins, by the infidels.” Next year, on the 9th of February, 1268, at a new parliament assembled at Paris, the king took an oath to start in the month of May, 1270.

Great was the surprise, and the disquietude was even greater than the surprise. The kingdom was enjoying abroad a peace and at home a tranquillity and prosperity for a long time past without example; feudal quarrels were becoming more rare and terminating more quickly; and the king possessed the confidence and the respect of the whole population. Why compromise such advantages by such an enterprise, so distant, so costly, and so doubtful of success? Whether from good sense or from displeasure at the burdens imposed upon them, many ecclesiastics showed symptoms of opposition, and Pope Clement IV. gave the king nothing but ambiguous and very reserved counsel. When he learned that Louis was taking with him on the crusade three of his sons, aged respectively twenty-two, eighteen, and seventeen, he could not refrain from writing to the Cardinal of St. Cecile, “It doth not strike us as an act of well- balanced judgment to impose the taking of the cross upon so many of the king’s sons, and especially the eldest; and, albeit we have heard reasons to the contrary, either we be much mistaken or they are utterly devoid of reason.” Even the king’s personal condition was matter for grave anxiety. His health was very much enfeebled; and several of his most intimate and most far-seeing advisers were openly opposed to his design. He vehemently urged Joinville to take the cross again with him; but Joinville refused downright. “I thought,” said he, “that they all committed a mortal sin to advise him the voyage, because the whole kingdom was in fair peace at home and with all neighbors, and, so soon as he departed, the state of the kingdom did nought but worsen. They also committed a great sin to advise him the voyage in the great state of weakness in which his body was, for he could not bear to go by chariot or to ride; he was so weak that he suffered me to carry him in my arms from the hotel of the Count of Auxerre, the place where I took leave of him, to the Cordeliers. And nevertheless, weak as he was, had he remained in France, he might have lived yet a while and wrought much good.”

All objections, all warnings, all anxieties came to nothing in the face of Louis’s fixed idea and pious passion. He started from Paris on the 16th of March, 1270, a sick man almost already, but with soul content, and probably the only one without misgiving in the midst of all his comrades. It was once more at Aigues-Mortes that he went to embark. All was as yet dark and undecided as to the plan of the expedition. Was Egypt, or Palestine, or Constantinople, or Tunis, to be the first point of attack? Negotiations, touching this subject, had been opened with the Venetians and the Genoese without arriving at any conclusion or certainty. Steps were taken at haphazard with full trust in Providence and utter forgetfulness that Providence does not absolve men from foresight. On arriving at Aigues-Mortes about the middle of May, Louis found nothing organized, nothing in readiness, neither crusaders nor vessels; everything was done slowly, incompletely, and with the greatest irregularity. At last, on the 2d of July, 1270, he set sail without any one’s knowing and without the king’s telling any one whither they were going. It was only in Sardinia, after four days’ halt at Cagliari, that Louis announced to the chiefs of the crusade, assembled aboard his ship the Mountjoy, that he was making for Tunis, and that their Christian work would commence there. The King of Tunis (as he was then called), Mohammed Mostanser, had for some time been talking of his desire to become a Christian, if he could be efficiently protected against the seditions of his subjects. Louis welcomed with transport the prospect of Mussulman conversions. “Ah!” he cried, “if I could only see myself the gossip and sponsor of so great a godson!”

But on the 17th of July, when the fleet arrived before Tunis, the admiral, Florent de Varennes, probably without the king’s orders and with that want of reflection which was conspicuous at each step of the enterprise, immediately took possession of the harbor and of some Tunisian vessels as prize, and sent word to the king “that he had only to support him and that the disembarkation of the troops might be effected in perfect safety.” Thus war was commenced at the very first moment against the Mussulman prince whom there had been a promise of seeing before long a Christian.

At the end of a fortnight, after some fights between the Tunisians and the crusaders, so much political and military blindness produced its natural consequences. The re-enforcements promised to Louis, by his brother Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, had not arrived; provisions were falling short; and the heats of an African summer were working havoc amongst the army with such rapidity that before long there was no time to bury the dead, but they were cast pell-mell into the ditch which surrounded the camp, and the air was tainted thereby. On the 3d of August Louis was attacked by the epidemic fever, and obliged to keep his bed in his tent. He asked news of his son John Tristan, Count of Nevers, who had fallen ill before him, and whose recent death, aboard the vessel to which he had been removed in hopes that the sea air might be beneficial, had been carefully concealed from him. The count, as well as the Princess Isabel, married to Theobald the Young, King of Navarre, was a favorite child of Louis, who, on hearing of his loss, folded his hands and sought in silence and prayer some assuagement of his grief. His malady grew worse; and having sent for his successor, Prince Philip (Philip the Bold), he took from his hour-book some instructions which he had written out for him, with his own hand and in French, and delivered them to him, bidding him to observe them scrupulously. He gave likewise to his daughter Isabel, who was weeping at the foot of his bed, and to his son-in-law the King of Navarre, some writings which had been intended for them, and he further charged Isabel to deliver another to her youngest sister, Agnes, affianced to the Duke of Burgundy. “Dearest daughter,” said he, “think well hereon: full many folk have fallen asleep with wild thoughts of sin, and in the morning their place hath not known them.” Just after he had finished satisfying his paternal solicitude, it was announced to him, on the 24th of August, that envoys from the Emperor Michael Palaeologus had landed at Cape Carthage, with orders to demand his intervention with his brother Charles, King of Sicily, to deter him from making war on the but lately re-established Greek empire. Louis summoned all his strength to receive them in his tent, in the presence of certain of his counsellors, who were uneasy at the fatigue he was imposing upon himself. “I promise you, if I live,” said he to the envoys, “to cooperate, so far as I may be able, in what your master demands of me; meanwhile, I exhort you to have patience, and be of good courage.” This was his last political act, and his last concern with the affairs of the world; henceforth he was occupied only with pious effusions which had a bearing at one time on his hopes for his soul, at another on those Christian interests which had been so dear to him all his life. He kept repeating his customary orisons in a low voice, and he was heard murmuring these broken words: “Fair Sir God, have mercy on this people that bideth here, and bring them back to their own land! Let them not fall into the hands of their enemies, and let them not be constrained to deny Thy name!” And at the same time that he thus expressed his sad reflections upon the situation in which he was leaving his army and his people, he cried from time to time, as he raised himself on his bed, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! We will go up to Jerusalem!” During the night of the 24th 25th of August he ceased to speak, all the time continuing to show that he was in full possession of his senses; he insisted upon receiving extreme unction out of bed, and lying upon a coarse sack-cloth covered with cinders, with the cross before him; and on Monday, the 25th of August, 1270, at three P.M., he departed in peace, whilst uttering these his last words: “Father, after the example of the Divine Master, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!”

[Illustration: The Death of St. Louis—-64]


That the kingship occupied an important place and played an important part in the history of France is an evident and universally recognized fact. But to what causes this fact was due, and what particular characteristics gave the kingship in France that preponderating influence which, in weal and in woe, it exercised over the fortunes of the country, is a question which has been less closely examined, and which still remains vague and obscure. This question it is which we would now shed light upon and determine with some approach to precision. We cannot properly comprehend and justly appreciate a great historical force until we have seen it issuing from its primary source and followed it in its various developments.

At the first glance, two facts strike us in the history of the kingship in France. It was in France that it adopted soonest and most persistently maintained its fundamental principle, heredity. In the other monarchical states of Europe–in England, in Germany, in Spain, and in Italy–divers principles, at one time election, and at another right of conquest, have been mingled with or substituted for the heredity of the throne; different dynasties have reigned; and England has had her Saxon, Danish, and Norman kings, her Plantagenets, her Tudors, her Stuarts, her Nassaus, her Brunswicks. In Germany, and up to the eighteenth century, the Empire, the sole central dignity, was elective and transferable. Spain was for a long while parcelled out into several distinct kingdoms, and since she attained territorial unity the houses of Austria and Bourbon have both occupied her throne. The monarchy and the republic for many a year disputed and divided Italy. Only in France was there, at any time during eight centuries, but a single king and a single line of kings. Unity and heredity, those two essential principles of monarchy, have been the invariable characteristics of the kingship in France.

A second fact, less apparent and less remarkable, but, nevertheless, not without importance or without effect upon the history of the kingship in France, is the extreme variety of character, of faculties, of intellectual and moral bent, of policy and personal conduct amongst the French kings. In the long roll of thirty-three kings who reigned in France from Hugh Capet to Louis XVI. there were kings wise and kings foolish, kings able and kings incapable, kings rash and kings slothful, kings earnest and kings frivolous, kings saintly and kings licentious, kings good and sympathetic towards their people, kings egotistical and concerned solely about themselves, kings lovable and beloved, kings sombre and dreaded or detested. As we go forward and encounter them on our way, all these kingly characters will be seen appearing and acting in all their diversity and all their incoherence. Absolute monarchical power in France was, almost in every successive reign, singularly modified, being at one time aggravated and at another alleviated according to the ideas, sentiments, morals, and spontaneous instincts of the monarchs. Nowhere else, throughout the great European monarchies, has the difference between kingly personages exercised so much influence on government and national condition. In that country the free action of individuals has filled a prominent place and taken a prominent part in the course of events.

It has been shown how insignificant and inert, as sovereigns, were the first three successors of Hugh Capet. The goodness to his people displayed by King Robert was the only kingly trait which, during that period, deserved to leave a trace in history. The kingship appeared once more with the attributes of energy and efficiency on the accession of Louis VI., son of Philip I. He was brought up in the monastery of St. Denis, which at that time had for its superior a man of judgment, the Abbot Adam; and he then gave evidence of tendencies and received his training under influences worthy of the position which awaited him. He was handsome, tall, strong, and alert, determined and yet affable. He had more taste for military exercises than for the amusements of childhood and the pleasures of youth. He was at that time called Louis the Wide-awake. He had the good fortune to find in the Monastery of St. Denis a fellow-student capable of becoming a king’s counsellor. Suger, a child born at St. Denis, of obscure parentage, and three or four years younger than Prince Louis, had been brought up for charity’s sake in the abbey, and the Abbot Adam, who had perceived his natural abilities, had taken pains to develop them. A bond of esteem and mutual friendship was formed between the two young people, both of whom were disposed to earnest thought and earnest living; and when, in 1108, Louis the Wide- awake ascended the throne, the monk Suger became his adviser whilst remaining his friend.

A very small kingdom was at that time the domain belonging properly and directly to the King of France. Ile-de-France, properly so called, and a part of Orleanness (_l’Oreanais_), pretty nearly the five departments of the Seine, Seine-et-Oise, Seineet-Marne, Oise and Loiret, besides, through recent acquisitions, French Vexin (which bordered on the Ile-de- France and had for its chief place Pontoise, being separated by the little River Epte from Norman Vexin, of which Rouen was the capital), half the countship of Sens and the countship of Bourges–such was the whole of its extent. But this limited state was as liable to agitation, and often as troublous and as toilsome to govern, as the very greatest of modern states. It was full of Petty lords, almost sovereigns in their own estates, and sufficiently strong to struggle against their kingly suzerain, who had, besides, all around his domains, several neighbors more powerful than himself in the extent and population of their states. But lord and peasant, layman and ecclesiastic, castle and country and the churches of France, were not long discovering that, if the kingdom was small, it had verily a king. Louis did not direct to a distance from home his ambition and his efforts; it was within his own dominion, to check the violence of the strong against the weak, to put a stop to the quarrels of the strong amongst themselves, to make an end, in France at least, of unrighteousness and devastation, and to establish there some sort of order and some sort of justice, that he displayed his energy and his perseverance. “He was animated,” says Suger, “by a strong sense of