Siege of Acre
The crusaders, led by Archbishop Baldwin and sailing directly from Marseilles to Outremer, landed safely at Tyre on 16 September 1190.
|Here for Some Time
into the Fray
Archbishop Baldwin's men joined a foraging party to Caiphus, hoping to find a store of food - supplies are becoming low. Unfortunately, they found no food but plenty of Saracens and had to fight their way back along the banks of the river Belus. Ambushed by more Saracens at the river bridge, Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, led a charge with five other knights and valiantly cut a swath through the infidels to force a path back to their camp at Acre.
Food supplies are meagre for both Saracen and crusader. The Saracen defenders, crammed into Acre's small houses and narrow dusty streets, are short of water, half starved and under constant bombardment from the siege machines of the crusaders.
In scorching heat beneath the city walls, the growing numbers of crusaders huddle in trenches, or swelter in their tents amongst their animals, baggage and supplies. Whilst they attack the city, Saladin's army, less than a mile away inland, attack them from their rear.
There is little respite from the flies and diseases where, amid constant dust storms, sand blows everywhere - up noses, in ears, into mouths and eyes, and into the food. With winter looming and fewer ships bringing vital food and provisions into Acre, distress is increasing.
The price of food rapidly rises - a sack of grain costs 20 shillings, a chicken 3 shillings, an egg 12 pence, and beef and mutton cannot be had at any price. Famished men are beginning to eat the meat of horses, and even donkeys and mules.
It is over a year now since King Richard sold everything at home to pay for the crusade - lordships, earldoms, sheriffdoms, castles, towns and even royal manors were sold, every last penny wrung from the kingdom. Even those who took the cross, but changed their minds, had to pay in cash for release from their vow. 'I would sell London if I could find anyone rich enough to buy it,' King Richard had said.
Now everyone asks: 'When are fresh food supplies coming? Where is King Richard and the rest of the army?' Without relief, a harsh winter is ahead for the crusaders at Acre. Suffering from disease and starvation and forced to fight off attacks from their rear from Saladin's forces, they will need all their resilience and courage to sustain them.
They may have been drawn here by a sense of adventure and a valiant holy cause but their only bolster now is their deep sense of sacrifice . . . and a promise of eternal life if they fail.