Puslapio vaizdai

collectively known as Syrians, were the most favoured. Baldwin I gave them marked privileges at Jerusalem, and they could give evidence on oath. But they were of little use in war, except as archers; and are accused by Jacques de Vitry of betraying the secrets of the Christians to the Saracens, whose customs they largely imitated. The Maronites of the Lebanon were, however, noted for their military prowess and for the help which they rendered to the Franks.

Next to the Syrians came the Armenians, reckoned the best fighters of the Orientals, who, from the proximity of the kingdom of Lesser Armenia to the County of Edessa, often assisted the Frank Counts, and copied their feudal arrangements. The Greeks were regarded as opponents of the Latins; and, when Saladin took Jerusalem, he allowed them to remain.

Historians of the Moslem Arabs admit that, except in war time, Christians and Moslems lived together in harmony. There are examples of friendship, and even of adopted brotherhood, between Frank barons and Moslem emirs, who used to grant each other permits to hunt. Every reader of 'The Talisman' knows of the mutual courtesies between Richard I and Saladin, who sent medical aid to a sick opponent; but even more curious was the action of Guy de Lusignan, whose first act, on exchanging the kingdom of Jerusalem for that of Cyprus, was to ask his former captor how to keep the island. Many Franks spoke Arabic; and it was even found necessary for commercial purposes to coin money bearing in Arabic characters the name of Mohammed and the date of the Moslem era! The merchants of Tyre and Acre, where these heretical coins were minted, protested that business is business'; but the Papal Legate, who accompanied Louis IX on the Sixth Crusade, was so scandalised that he reported the matter to Pope Innocent IV, who excommunicated all who coined them. Like Frederick II in Sicily, the later Princes of Antioch and Counts of Tripolis had Saracen guards; and, under the name of Turcoples, given originally to Turks born of Greek mothers, Moslems entered the Christian armies as light cavalry. Of actual Turks there were few, for they had overrun Syria too short a time before the Crusades to take root in Palestine.

[ocr errors]

Like the Franks, and like the Turks in the Balkans, they were only a garrison.

Special interest attaches to the Jews, at this period only a small section of the population, and, as usual, exclusively urban. Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Palestine about 1173, found two hundred Jews in the ghetto at Jerusalem beneath the Tower of David, where they had a monopoly of the dyeing trade, and twelve, all dyers, at Bethlehem. The largest Jewish colonies were, as was natural, in the great commercial towns, Tyre and Acre; and the total in the whole of the Latin states was only 7000 to 8000. They could not hold land, and were classed below the Moslems, but practised successfully as doctors and bankers, and had their own judges. Many had come from the south of France.

Below all these freemen came the slaves, including Christians, partly prisoners of war and partly imported. The Assizes of Jerusalem' contain special regulations for the slave-trade (largely in Venetian and Genoese hands), but the legislators felt some scruples about allowing a Christian slave to be sold to a Moslem. There was one other very undesirable element in the population-persons who had left their country for their country's good; for it was not unusual to pardon criminals on condition that they made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and never returned. The Bishop of Acre complains of this practice of making the Holy Land a convict station; and he quotes the Horatian tag, that people who cross the sea change the climate, but not their character. Nor does he approve of the tourist who came from mere curiosity and not from devotion.

[ocr errors]

Among this heterogeneous mass the smallness of the Frankish forces makes us marvel that the Latin kingdom lasted for 103 years at Jerusalem and for nearly 200 at Acre. The Assizes' inform us that the paper strength of the Royal army was only 577 knights and 5025 footsoldiers, to which we must add the contingents of the two great Military Orders and the Turcoples. At no time, in actual warfare, did the total armed forces of the four crusading states much exceed 25,000. At Hattin --the Hastings of the Holy Land-Guy de Lusignan had only some 21,000 men under his command; Baldwin I crossed the Euphrates with only 80 knights to take

Edessa; and some of the great battles of Tancred were fought by only 200 knights. William of Tyre,* writing a few years before the catastrophe of 1187, explains the greater success of the Franks in the earlier years of the kingdom by their piety and courage, as contrasted with the immorality and diminished martial spirit of his contemporaries. Other causes were the lack of military skill in the Moslems of that generation, and the disunion of their chiefs. When, however, Saladin united Syria and Egypt in his strong hand, the fate of the Frankish colony was sealed. Disunion among the allies neutralised the splendid courage of our Richard I in his attempt to restore what had been lost; Frederick II was a Crusader malgré lui; and in the 13th century many Franks, realising that the end was at hand, left for the Lusignan kingdom of Cyprus, or for Armenia, leaving as the most important factors in the Latin population the Italian colonies and the Religious Orders.

The Knights of St John, who originally took their name from St John the Merciful,† a Cypriote who became Patriarch of Alexandria, arose at the time of the conquest in connexion with the hospital founded at Jerusalem a generation earlier by a citizen of Amalfi. Their first aim was to tend and nourish the sick, then to guard pilgrims up from the coast, and next to fight against the Infidels. They never forgot their original object; and pilgrims were enthusiastic in their praise. Indeed, Saladin is said to have gained admission to their hospital at Acre as a patient to see whether all that he heard about their beneficence was true. Gradually, as the feudal barons found it harder to defend their castles, they handed them to the Knights, who specially chose difficult frontier positions. Margat, Krak des Chevaliers, Chastel-Rouge, Gibelin, and Belvoir were their chief fortresses; and Mount Tabor was one of their possessions.

The Templars, founded in 1118 to protect the pilgrims on their way from the coast, enjoyed a less enviable reputation. William of Tyre remarks,‡ that 'for a long time they maintained their original object, but subsequently forgot the duty of humility.' They were accused of greed and selfishness, and of being too anxious

* Bk xxi, 7. † Jacques de Vitry, p. 1082. William of Tyre, Bk xii, 7.

to stand well with Moslem princes, with whom they sometimes made a separate peace, to the detriment of Christendom. Their treachery to the sect of the Assassins scandalised the Court of Jerusalem and immensely damaged Christian interests. The chief of that terrible community, the 'Old Man,' as he was called, whose territory was separated from the County of Tripolis by boundary stones, marked on the Christian side with a cross, on that of the Assassins with a knife, had sent an envoy to King Amaury I, offering to embrace Christianity, on condition that the Templars consented to forgo the tribute paid to them by the Assassins. All had been arranged, and the diplomatist was on his way home, when the Templars assassinated the Assassin.*

The Templars' vow of poverty contrasted ill with their immense wealth, which enabled them, in 1191, to buy Cyprus from Richard I, and to lend a large sum to our Henry III. They acted as bankers; and through their hands passed the money collected in the West for future crusades. They were suspected, too, of heretical opinions, and were accused of initiating their novices with pagan rites. They possessed eighteen fortresses, of which Tortosa was the most important; but the Order did not long survive the loss of the Holy Land, being abolished by Clement V in 1312.

Palestine was a fruitful land during the Frankish period. Contemporary visitors wrote enthusiastically about the gardens of Jericho and the fertile plains of Jezreel; also about Tripolis, with its vineyards, its oliveyards, and its sugar plantations, whence the cane was taken to the factory at Tyre. The wines of Engaddi were as noted as in the Song of Solomon; and the vintages of Bethlehem and Jerusalem were highly esteemed. Jericho produced grapes so huge that 'a man could scarcely lift a bunch of them '-a statement which shows that the vines had not degenerated since the days of Moses. Even the silent waters of the Dead Sea were then traversed by fruit barges; and in the so-called 'Valley of Moses' to the south of it the olive-trees formed 'a dense forest.' There was more wood than now, and consequently more water, but corn had to be imported,

* William of Tyre, Bk xx, 29–30; Jacques de Vitry, p. 1063.

for the harvests of Moab, Hebron, Bethlehem (the house of bread'), and Jericho did not suffice to feed the population. The Sea of Galilee was as full of fish as in the time of Our Lord, and boats plied upon its waters. But, owing to the general insecurity of the open country, few of the cultivators of the soil were Franks; and, where we find Latin peasants, they are usually not far from the shelter of fortified towns. Of manufactures the most important were those of silk at Tripolis, Tiberias, and Tyre, dyeing, and pottery; the glass of Tyre is specially praised by its archbishop, and the goldsmiths had a street all to themselves at Jerusalem.

Civilisation, so far as comfort was concerned, had reached a high level. Every castle had its baths; and minstrels and dancers appeared at the entertainments of the barons, while we read of theatrical performances at a coronation. A considerable amount of gambling went on in royal circles. Baldwin III was devoted to dice; the Prince of Antioch and the Count of Edessa were so busy with their dice-boxes during a campaign, that they demoralised many of their officers; the Count of Jaffa was so deeply engrossed in a game of dice which he was playing in the street of the Tanners at Jerusalem, that he allowed himself to be assassinated. Hunting with the falcon, and, in Arab fashion, with the cat-like animal known as the carable, were favourite amusements. It seems strange that nothing was done to encourage horse-breeding; and, as the Moslems were loth to sell horses to be used against themselves, the Franks usually imported their steeds from Apulia. Every spring it was the custom of the Frankish chivalry to take their horses to feed on the rich grass at the foot of Mt Carmel; and there, by the brook Kishon, where Elijah slew the prophets of Baal, tournaments were held, in which Saracen chiefs sometimes took part, and after which the combatants refreshed themselves with sherbet, made from the snows of Lebanon.

We must not expect a military colony, always fighting for its existence, to be very productive of literature. But perhaps the best specimen of medieval history, the great work of William of Tyre, was produced by a Frank born in the Holy Land. The author possessed the two greatest qualities for writing the history of his own

« AnkstesnisTęsti »