ABSTRACT

When I consider the desolation and the miserable captivity through which the land of the Lord and the city of the king of all kings, which was once the Lady of [all] peoples and the ruler of every province, is now made subject to the slavery of barbarian foulness, I judge it worthy of lamentation by every Christian. For when I think how the worship of the Christian religion has collapsed there, where the origin of our salvation is derived and the Catholic faith had its beginning, as I think over the praiseworthy struggles of these men and that ‘those who stood against the wall for the house of the Lord’1 did deeds worthy of memory, I am compelled to weep with the prophet and with Him in whom the truth of all prophecy is explained. For indeed this truth, and the prophet of the truth, challenges us to sorrow as we weep over the various ruins of that same city, and especially since the reason for the lamentation in our time is much more serious than the previous evil that gave rise to lamentation. But, according to the dispensation of human destiny, when we read that Jesus wept over the ruin of this same city and had mercy upon it, we hope and trust that we shall appease this manifestation of His wrath and anger, which we have undoubtedly deserved and it is certain that we have provoked against us, and we shall receive assistance through His pious compassion: ‘for though He cause us grief, He who has smitten us will revive us’,2 namely so that Jerusalem will be restored to those of us who survive on earth, and those who die for this same land will receive as reward the vision of eternal peace in that heavenly homeland, whose citizens are they who prove through their triumph in a glorious battle that it is granted [to them] as a habitation. Therefore, among other matters and after other grave and frequent desolations, I propose to describe what took place in the year of our Lord 1187, in the time of the most glorious Frederick, august Emperor of the romans, when the church beyond the seas started to be shaken by saladin of Egypt, insofar as I can reveal it from the truthful account of those who were present at this capture, desiring to recount this not as a history but as a lamentable tragedy.