ABSTRACT

In the year from the Incarnation of the Word 1187 the sins of men decreed that ‘the Lord made a way for his anger’11 over the holy city and the whole kingdom of Jerusalem, so that their wretched grief and wailing could equal the lamentations of Jeremiah. It was not through any act but by divine judgement that almost the whole of Christianity overseas was given over to destruction and ruin; for ‘there was no truth in the Land’,12 faith and justice were shut out, it flourished as the root and nursery of all evil, ‘greed undermines the hearts of men, and turns them away from the path of truth’. For, according to the poet, ‘blind love of gold does not force mortal breasts to hear’;13 thus, while a seven-year peace had been previously established between the kingdom of Jerusalem and saladin and confirmed on oath by both sides, it happened that within that same period companies of merchants, which are called in the vernacular ‘caravans’, who were subject to saladin, were travelling from Aleppo to Babylon with uncountable merchandise of great value,

stepfather of Prince Bohemond of Antioch, acting treacherously and in defiance of the truce, captured these various companies and laid rapacious hands on them and their money just as they liked, as ‘young lions that roar after their prey’.15 Because he was weighed down by debts to others, rainald was shamefully consumed by greed for money, and he preferred shamelessly to commit the crime of perjury rather than respecting the aforesaid truce and heeding saladin’s requests that he restore his plunder. Thus he kept the booty for himself and consigned the men to imprisonment, to the shame and dishonour both of himself and of the whole land. saladin therefore immediately sent an embassy to king Guy asking that, in accordance with the laws and customs of the Christians, he have the case heard by the barons and men learned in the law at his royal court to decide whether the booty should be returned or retained. Even after he was unable to secure this, he was [still] willing to forego any legal complaint and abandon any compensation for the stolen money if his men who were being held in prison were immediately granted their freedom. But when this too was refused to him and his envoys returned emptyhanded, he was extremely annoyed. From that time onwards he undoubtedly sought an opportunity to attack the kingdom of Jerusalem, and he mustered a very great and powerful army from the different nations of the saracens.