Page images

vigour and care than before. Means were taken to render the blockade more complete, but this object had not been effected, when news reached both the city of Antioch and the host of the cross, that a fresh body of crusaders had reached the shores of Syria by sea, and were lying with their fleet, in the small port of St. Simeon. This force consisted of Genoese and Pisans, and besides the number of fresh and unwearied troops which the two Republics sent, the fleet conveyed a large quantity of provisions, which were at that moment more wanted than any other kind of assistance. No sooner was the arrival of the Italian ships known, than mul. titudes of the famishing crusaders hastened down to the port to supply their necessities; and Boemond, with Raymond of St. Giles, were sent to escort their new allies and the precious stores which they bore, to the camp under the walls of Antioch.

To destroy the hopes of his adversaries and supply his own wants, was now the object of Baguisian; and the moment he heard that Boemond and the Count of Toulouse were absent from the Christian host, he made a vigorous attack upon the remaining forces, in which, it would appear, he obtained some success. Four days afterwards, learning that Boemond, loaded with stores, and followed by an unruly rabble, was advancing from the mouth of the Orontes towards Antioch, he sent out a large force to attack that leader, and so skilfully was the expedition conducted, that the Prince of Tarentum

[ocr errors]


was entrapped into an ambuscade amongst the mountains, where he and the Count of Toulouse were completely and signally defeated by the Turks. The two leaders resisted some time, but then fled from the field of battle, the whole of the rest of the crusaders following their example, and escaping as best they might among the woods and hills. The Turks, eager for booty, fell upon the baggage, and thus the number of slain was not so great as might have been expected.

Exaggerated tidings of this event soon reached the Christian camp, and for a time it was supposed that all the troops of Boemond and the Count had perished. Rage took possession of Godfrey and the other leaders, and issuing forth from the camp, followed by the whole disposable forces of the crusade, that great commander prepared to take vengeance on the enemy. With the wisdom which he always displayed in cases of importance, the Duke of Lorraine made his dispositions for giving battle to the hostile force, on its return. While he sent various bodies of men to the other side of the river, he seized in person upon an elevated position opposite to the bridge over the Orontes, and thus guarded himself against attack from the city, while he cut off the Turkish army from their only means of retreat.

Loaded with the spoil, and fancying their tri. umph complete, the forces of Baguisian marched back towards Antioch; but they found themselves

suddenly attacked by Hugh of Vermandois, the Count of Flanders, the Duke of Normandy, and the very same leaders whom they had put to flight in the morning, but who had rallied their troops, and came up in time to take part in the engagement. Endeavouring to force their way back into the town, they were met by Godfrey and the chivalry of Lorraine, and a terrible slaughter took place. The infidels fought with the most determined valour, and Baguisian, we are told, in order to give them the courage of despair, shut the gates of the town, as an intimation that they must conquer or die.* But they were far outnumbered by the Christian chivalry, and there is no occasion on which such acts of personal daring and strength are recorded, during the whole course of the first crusade, as in this battle under the walls of Antioch. All the figures which the imagination can supply, are exhausted by contemporaries, to represent the sweeping manner in which the crusaders destroyed their enemies; but amongst the achievements of the individual leaders, one act is told of Godfrey, in regard to which all the authorities are so generally agreed, that we are forced to receive the statement in its literal sense. While

* I am inclined to give but little credit to this tale which is given by Raymond, for Baguisian, though the Arabian writers themselves acknowledge that he was a tyrant, was not without those talents which might well become a grandson of Malek Shah; and this act, if it did take place, was certainly as stupid as it was base.



that prince was defending the pass towards the bridge, a Turkish horseman of great height and strength, whom Robert the Monk compares to Goliath, spurred on his horse, we are told, upon the Duke of Lorraine, and at one blow cleft his shield in two. Godfrey returned the stroke, aiming at the head of his adversary; but the infidel turned aside, and the blade catching him on the left shoulder, clove its way through, and came out just above the right hip, leaving one half of the Turk prostrate on the field of battle, while the left arm and the lower part of the body was borne by the horse to the gates of the city.

None of the leaders of the crusade showed themselves backward in the work of destruction, and the Turks were slain in multitudes, both by the fresh troops of Godfrey and his companions who had remained in the camp while Boemond and Raymond had gone to the port, and by the followers of those two princes, many of whom had reached the vicinity of Antioch before those who had despoiled them, and now lined the banks of the river, precipitating the infidels that gained the bridge, into the rushing stream below. The carnage continued till sunset, and the Christians did not return to their camp till they had recovered the whole of the spoil which had been taken by the Turks in the morning.

The numbers of the slain were never ascer. tained; for multitudes of the Mussulmans perished


in the river, and multitudes had just strength to make their way to the city and die in the midst of familiar faces. About two thousand, however, fell on the field of battle, and the crusaders, with all the savage and implacable spirit of the age, dug up the dead bodies which the Turks had found means to bury during the night, and cast them into the Orontes, the rapid current of which carried them down to the port, announcing to the Genoese seamen the victory which the host of the cross had obtained.

This success, the spoil which had been acquired, and the provisions with which the Italian ships supplied the camp of the crusaders, raised their spirits, and roused their energies, notwithstanding the earthquakes, thunderstorms, comets, and torrents of rain, which, in those ages, might well be considered as evil auguries, and many of which were, in truth, solid and troublesome realities.

The blockade of the town was at length, by measures upon which I cannot dwell, rendered very nearly complete, though not till the fifth month of the siege, and the miseries of famine which the crusaders had so long been feeling, now fell in turn upon the people of Antioch. Baguisian, however, had already made his situation known to all the neighbouring princes of the same faith, and they had not been inactive in preparing to send him assistance. A large body had been collected in the neighbourhood of Aleppo, and

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »