Arrival at Acre
King Richard joins the besiegers at Acre with his own relieving force.
|Arrival at Acre
King Richard's fleet, passing close to Beirut, hailed a passing broad and deep drafted galley. The captain answered that his ship was French en route to Acre from Antioch. Richard was suspicious and when he ordered his ships to close, the crew of the galley began firing arrows. In truth, it was a Saracen ship carrying 700 fighting men, a cargo of supplies and victuals, bows, spears, cross-bows and phials of Greek fire. It also carried 200 snakes intended to be set amongst the Christian besiegers at Acre in order to spread confusion.
Cutting and slashing with their swords against fierce Saracen opposition, Richard's men boarded the galley but the Saracen captain prevented his ship from falling into Christian hands by deliberately holing and sinking it. Many Saracens were killed and many more drowned. When Saladin heard of it, 'thrice in wrath he tore his beard.'
The crusading fleet sailed on to Acre where 'bells rang and trumpets blew; horns, pipes and other music too' as soon as King Richard set foot on land. Having taken Cyprus, the King had now come to take Acre and 'through the night such lights and torches as there beamed, so that unto Turks it seemed, as if the valley all entire, kindled in a blazing fire.'
The Saracens defending the town became afeared.
|King of Jerusalem
Sybelle, loving wife of Guy of Lusignon (pictured right) and Queen of Jerusalem had died in the autumn, and Conrad of Montferrat immediately married her younger sister Isabella who succeeded as heiress to the kingdom. Queen Isabella already had a husband but this is a small matter in the struggle for power. When an archbishop pronounced her first marriage void and a bishop obligingly married the couple, Conrad claimed to be the rightful King of Jerusalem.
Hunger and disease have beset the besiegers right through the winter. They subsisted on herbs and plants that they had grown themselves 'so that there might be flesh for folk to eat, they skinned full many a steed of war and ate thereof with greed.' The healthier preferred to steal their bread rather than beg. And with the rains came the scurvy that swelled limbs and faces and made teeth drop out.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Hubert Walter, took charge of the English contingent when Archbishop Baldwin died in the siege and treated the starving crusaders with Christian compassion. When relief finally came with a barge full of grain, he admonished those who had eaten flesh during Lent with three light strokes of a stick upon their backs - like a kind father.
|King Richard's Arrival Changes Everything
The besieging crusaders warmly welcomed King Philip of France at Easter but became ecstatic at the sight of our valiant King Richard when he entered the fray with a relieving force of brave knights that included William of Tancarville, cousin of William Marshal, and Ralph of Taissons who holds lands in Nottinghamshire. The King's reputation put fear into the hearts of the Saracen defenders and his generosity lifted Christian hearts.
King Philip offered only three besants a week to serve under his banner while King Richard offered four. Count Henry of Champagne, Philip's own nephew and many Germans under Duke Leopold of Austria who were dissatisfied with their own leader's niggardly pay, flocked to King Richard's banner.
Contrasting sharply with King Philip who sat gloomily in his tent, King Richard seemed to be everywhere at once - criticising yet encouraging. Though struck down by a disease that made his hair and nails fall out, Richard still continued to direct operations from his sick bed.
Sending a message to Saladin, along with a gift of a negro slave, Richard suggested they might meet. Saladin politely replied that a better time for a meeting was when peace was in prospect and sent Richard a bowl of fruit with wishes for his speedy recovery.
Though King Richard consulted with King Philip on the surest way to capture Acre it was against his advice that Philip ordered two attacks on the walls, both of which failed leaving many dead and wounded.
It was then that Richard offered a gold piece to any man who brought him back a stone from the walls of the city.