Page images


and put to death innocent men, the crusading princes were prepared to avenge the blood of their brethren. . This message was faithfully delivered to the King by Godfrey de Ascha, and Carloman immediately entered into explanations of his conduct. He showed the provocation that he had received, the crimes which the preceding crusaders had committed, and acknowledged and justified the retribution which he had inflicted upon them. At the same time, however, he professed the utmost reverence for Godfrey's character, and his willingness to suffer him to pass tranquilly through his territories; inviting him to a conference, at which the terms of peace might be fully arranged between them. After a preliminary interview, during which each prince was accompanied by a numerous train, Godfrey determined to trust himself in the hands of the King of Hungary, and entered that monarch's dominions escorted by only twelve of his followers. Long discussions ensued; for the army of Godfrey was so much more formidable by its numbers, its arms, and its discipline, than any of those that preceded it, that not even the honourable reputation of the leader could calm the fears of the Hungarian nobles, or induce them to suffer the crusading force to enter their territory without giving hostages of a high rank for the conduct of the troops. This demand was so reasonable that God. frey agreed to it at once; and a treaty was entered into between him and Carloman, by which it was


stipulated that his army, and all subsequent bodies of crusaders, should be permitted to pass peaceably through Hungary, and should be furnished during their march, on due payment, with all the necessaries of life.

The hostages required by the King of Hungary were the Duke's brother Baldwin, with his wife, and his whole household ; but when Godfrey, on his return to the camp, informed Baldwin of what had been demanded, that prince resisted the unpalatable task, and declared that nothing should induce him to place himself in the power of the King of Hungary. The generous nature of the great leader now shone out conspicuous; and he replied, that since such was Baldwin's repugnance to become a hostage, his brother should remain and command the crusading force, while he, Godfrey, would undertake to be the pledge of his followers' good faith and peaceable demeanour, and give himself into the power of Carloman till his troops had effected their march across that monarch's territories.

His brother's noble conduct moved Baldwin more than any persuasions had previously done; he would not suffer the sacrifice proposed to be carried into execution, but yielded himself as a hostage to Carloman, and the army commenced its progress through Hungary. Everything passed in tranquillity; and on the confines of Carloman's dominions, Baldwin and his family being set at li.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

berty, Godfrey and the other leaders parted from the Hungarian King, who had accompanied them on their way, with many tokens of regard and esteem.

They now entered Bulgaria, not without alarm, for rumour, which often divulges men's intentions long before they are openly avowed, led the crusaders to believe that the Emperor Alexius had sent a large force to oppose their passage over the Save, and prevent their entrance into his dominions. They crossed the river, however, without difficulty, no hostile force presenting itself, and on the contrary, after advancing some way in Bulgaria, envoys from the Emperor appeared, beseeching Godfrey to restrain his troops from all pillage of the country, and offering in return, a free passage and liberty of trade. Godfrey promised to maintain order, strictly forbade plunder, and advanced tranquilly to Nissa, * where the storehouses of the Emperor were opened for the benefit of the crusaders, and the riches of the country astounded the children of the less fruitful north.

Everything was now joy and contentment, and the military pilgrims marched on in the hope of receiving every assistance from the eastern emperor. At Philippopoli the same hospitable reception awaited them, and they paused for eight days to

* The word has been thus translated, though I find no city exactly so called in that part of the country. The word in the original, however, is spelt “Niezh.” Perhaps Nisa is the place intended.




refresh themselves after the fatigues of their journey; but here the treacherous designs of the Greek monarch were first discovered to Godfrey, the news reaching him that Hugh the Great, brother of the King of France, and one of the principal leaders of the crusade, was detained in prison by the emperor, and even loaded with chains.

Ere we notice the farther proceedings of Godfrey, we must pause for a moment to examine the character of Hugh, and to notice the events which had brought him into the situation in which he was now placed.* We are informed by Guibert, that none of the princes who embraced the cross carried with them a higher reputation than Hugh the Great for courage and skill in war, integrity of conduct, honourable moderation, and humility towards the clergy. To the character thus assigned to him, in every point except the last, Hugh of Vermandois gave the lie in the course of the first crusade; showing himself arrogant and presumptuous, timid, unskilful, vacillating, treacherous, and dishonest.

Proud and vain to a very high degree, the very words of his eulogists show that the motives which led him into Palestine were anything but pity for the suffering christians of the east, or zeal for the deliverance of the Holy City. “A number of


* Many of the particulars regarding the march of Hugh of Vermandois are derived from Guibertus, Abbot of Nogent, in the diocese of Laon.

great nobles joined themselves to him,” says Gui. bert, “with the intention of electing him as king, if they could obtain any territory by conquering the infidels;" and no doubt Hugh of Vermandois himself was not unconscious of their intention.

Forming part of the division of the crusading force, which seems to have commenced its march under this prince were the forces of Robert Count of Flanders, a brave and determined soldier, but as far as we can discover, destitute of those chivalrous qualities and personal graces which distinguished almost all the other leaders. Here also appeared Stephen Count of Blois, one of the most wealthy, powerful, and politic princes of the time, who had married the daughter of William the Conqueror, and had acquired a high reputation in Europe by his skill in affairs of state. His renown for courage, indeed, was at no time very high, and diminished lamentably during the course of the crusade. With him appeared in the field his brother-in-law, Robert Duke of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror, a gallant and daring knight, a skilful and active general, an eloquent and powerful orator, but a prince eaten up with vices and weaknesses, prodigal to a crime, given to every sensual gratification, rash, imprudent, and vehement; though disinterested, generous, and benevolent. In order to furnish forth the means of joining the crusade with splendour, he at once proposed to mortgage his duchy, which seems to have been the only property that he now pos

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »