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HISTORY OF CYPRUS

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BENEDICT OF PETERBOROUGH. How Richard, king of England, seized and conquered Cyprus

Source: Exercpta Cyrpia: Materials for a History of Cyprus and an Attempt at a Bibliography of Cyprus, edited by Claude D. Cobham (Cambridge, 1908)

In the same month of April the king of England demolished the castle which he had built in the place called Mategriffon, and on Wednesday in Holy Week (April 10, 1191) he and all his army set sail from the port of Messina, on board 150 large ships, and 53 galleys. On Friday a terrible storm came up from the south, about the ninth hour of the day, and scattered his fleet.
The king however, with some of his ships, put in to the island of Crete, and thence crossed over to the island of Rhodes. But three large vessels from his fleet were driven by the aforesaid tempest to the island of Cyprus, and, being wrecked and broken up, sank in sight of the port of Limezum. With them went down certain soldiers and attendants of the king's household, amongst them being master Roger Malus Catulus, the king's vice­chancellor. The royal seal was found hung round his neck. Isaac the Emperor of Cyprus seized the chattels of those who were drowned, and robbed of their money all who escaped from the shipwreck.  Moreover, in the fury of his savagery, worse than any beast of prey, he refused permission to enter the port to a galliot which had been driven thither by the wind, and which carried the Queen of Sicily, and the daughter of the king of Navarre.
When news of this was brought to the king he hastened to their rescue, with many galleys and a great following of ships, and found the ladies outside the port of Limeszun, exposed to the winds and sea. Then in great wrath he sent messengers to the Emperor of Cyprus, once, twice, and yet a third time, making his request with mild entreaty, that his fellow pilgrims, whom the Emperor was keeping in durance, should be restored to him together with their belongings. To whom the Emperor made answer with proud words, refusing to surrender either the prisoners or their belongings, and saying that he had no fear of the king of England or of his threats.
Then spoke the king to all his army, saying, "To arms, and follow me! Let me take vengeance for the insults which this traitor bath put upon God and ourselves, in that he oppresses innocent men, whom he refuses to surrender to us. But truly, he who rejects the just demands of one armed for the fray, resigns all into his hands.  And I trust confidently in the Lord that He, will this day give us the victory over this Emperor and his people."
Meanwhile the Emperor had occupied the shore in every direction with his men.  Many of them were armed, but still more had no arms at all.  But the king of England and his men, as soon as they had armed themselves, disembarked from their large ships into their boats and galleys, and came to land with a rush.  The king, accompanied by his bowmen, was first to land, the rest followed, and as soon as they reached the shore one and all flung themselves upon the Emperor and his Griffons. The arrows fell like rain upon the grass. After a prolonged conflict the Emperor, having lost a multitude of his men, fled, and his entire host with him. The king of England, exulting in his great victory, pursued, and made a very great slaughter of all who resisted, and, had not night fallen soon, he would have taken the Emperor himself that day, either alive or dead. The king and his men however knew not the roads and mountain paths by which the Emperor and his followers made their escape, and would not pursue them further but returned with a great prey both of men and animals to the town of Limezun, whence the Griffons and Herminians (Greeks and Armenians) had fled, leaving it empty.
On the same day (May 6) the king of Navarre's daughter and the Queen of Sicily, who was sister to the king of England, entered the port of Limezun, attended by the king's fleet. The Emperor, having rallied round him his men, who were scattered amid the thickets in the mountain valleys, pitched his camp the same night on the banks of a river about five miles distant from the town of Limezun, declaring with an oath that he would fight the king of England on the morrow. The report whereof was brought by scouts to the king, who long before daylight armed himself and his men for battle, and advancing silently came upon the Emperor's men, whom he found asleep.  Then, with a loud and terrifying shout, he charged into their tents, and they, suddenly awakened from

 

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