Page images
PDF
EPUB

for although the extent of the walls was too great perhaps to permit the crusaders actually to surround the city, yet the very narrowness of the space between the river and the mountains, the depth and swiftness of the Orontes, the marshes, and in fact, all the circumstances which defended the place from assault, rendered it easy to establish an efficient blockade. It does not appear that at any time during the siege, the garrison of Antioch was cut off from communication with the neighbouring country, and the only means to which the crusaders had recourse, were those which had been employed against Nicea. But the walls and towers of Antioch set catapults and mangonels at defiance, and in the meanwhile, the Christians, by their improvidence, waged war against themselves, with greater success than they carried it on against the Turks.

The riches and fertility of the neighbouring country were so great, that the Frankish host seems to have considered them as inexhaustible, and the most scandalous waste and profusion at first took place, the crusaders with wanton luxury refusing to eat any but choice parts of the beasts that were slaughtered. The punishment soon followed the offence; the provisions which in the beginning were scorned, were soon sought with avidity, but could not be obtained ; scarcity and famine, with disease in the train of want, now visited the Christian camp, and the Emir, who had taken care to guard against the same evils, by laying up ample stores

ne:

and expelling a part of the superfluous population,* harassed the crusaders day by day, with sallies and attacks from the walls, the Franks having pitched their tents so near that many of them were killed in their camp, by arrows shot from the city. Their parties also, when sent forth to procure forage and provisions, were cut off by detachments either from the garrison of Antioch, or from the troops at Aleppo and other towns in the vicinity; and at the same time means were taken to sweep the country of all the cattle, and drive the sheep up into the mountains. The inclemency of the season too aided the efforts of the enemy, and the peculiar severities of an eastern winter were terribly felt by men who were forced to dwell in tents, where humidity could less be guarded against than even cold.

The Christians arrived before Antioch in the end of September, or the beginning of October, t and all the first operations were carried on in the most adverse season of the year. The evils which fell upon the crusading army were aggravated by the illness of Godfrey, who for many weeks was

se seas

man

* Ibn Giouzi informs us that Baguisian before the crusaders actually appeared at Antioch, expelled all the Christians from the city.

† William of Tyre says that the crusaders encamped under the walls of Antioch, on the 18th October, while Kemaleddin declares that they arrived before Antioch, on the 28th of September. VOL II.

сс

confined to his bed ; while amongst the soldiery vice followed hard upon the steps of want and disease. The purity which had distinguished the Christian camp under the walls of Nicea was now altogether forgotten ; adultery, prostitution, robbery, and gaming, seem to have been common ; drunkenness of course accompanied other vices, and the whole was crowned by famine, producing cannibalism, the living feeding upon the bodies of the slain. To remedy these disorders, the admonitions of the clergy were first employed with prayer, fasting, and penance, and judges were then appointed with power to inspect the camp, remove the vicious, and punish offenders.

Some successful expeditions were made for the purpose of dispersing the troops of Turks which hovered round the Christian force, and of obtaining supplies; but in general, no sooner was any scheme formed by the crusaders, than it was known to the enemy, and it became evident that the camp was full of spies. The operations of these persons were greatly facilitated by the mixture of nations that existed in the host of the cross, and also by the variety of tribes by which it was surrounded, for dressed as Greek, Armenian, or Syrian believers, the spies were freely admitted by every division of the army, and enacted the part they assumed so well that they were seldom detected.

To remedy this evil a stratagem was devised by Boemond, to which the famine in the Christian camp

mer

gave countenance. He caused several of the intruders who had been taken to be slain and roasted, pretending that it was the intention of the leaders to make all persons of the same honourable profession who might be caught, serve as food for the hungry soldiery. The movements of the crusaders, after this period, were effected with greater security; for such is the force of imagination, that the men who willingly risked death, shrunk from the idea of being roasted and eaten afterwards.

Provisions, however, still remained as scarce as ever, and desertion showed itself in the camp of the crusaders. Amongst the first who withdrew, was the representative of the Emperor Alexius. That monarch, although he had evaded taking any active part in the crusade, upon various frivolous pretences, had always kept alive the expectation that he would carry the imperial arms to Jerusalem. To watch the proceedings of the crusaders rather than to assist them, he had sent Taticius with a small force; and although the presence of the Greek emissary had been of no service to the Latin princes, his desertion now produced the utmost evil. He pretended indeed, that he went solely for the purpose of hastening the march of his master, and sending supplies from the stores of Constantinople; but his real purposes were well understood, and his conduct was speedily imitated. Several bodies of crusaders abandoned the army, and took refuge in the different Christian states that still existed

in the neighbourhod of Antioch. Some pursued their way back towards Constantinople; some sought out Baldwin ; some offered their services in towns which had been freed from the Turkish yoke. The Count de Melun, known by the name of William the Carpenter, attempted to fly for the purpose, it would seem, of finding more profitable and less tedious adventures, than the siege of Antioch; and Peter the Hermit himself gave way, amid famine, privation, and neglect, and sought to quit a camp where he was treated with less distinction, than his zeal, courage, and services really merited. The Count and the Hermit, however, were met together by Tancred, while they were endeavouring to effect their flight, and brought back with shame ; but the most painful act of desertion which was to occur, did not yet take place.

Nevertheless, various events tended at this time to give fresh courage to the crusaders; an embassy from the Khalif of Egypt, reached the host, and although the messengers had been instructed to mingle threats with promises, yet they encouraged an expectation of cooperation from the Egyptian sovereign against the Turks of Syria, whom he looked upon as heretics and usurpers. No important results proceeded from this mission, except that renewal of energy which always accompanies the rising of new hopes. Deputies were sent back from the Christian camp to conclude a treaty with the Khalif, and the siege of Antioch proceeded with greater

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »