Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A letter written from Manuel the Emperour of Constantinople, vnto Henrie the second King of England, Anno Dom. 1177. wherein mention is made that certaine of King Henries Noble men and subjects were present with the sayd Emperour in a battell of his against the Soldan of Iconium. Recorded by Roger Houeden, in Annalium parte posteriore, in regno Hen. 2. fol. 316, et 317.

Eodem anno Manuel Constantinopolitanus imperator, habito prælio campestri cum Soltano Iconij et illo devicto, in hac forma scripsit Domino regi Angliæ.

Manuel in Christo deo Porphyrogenitus, diuinitus coronatus, sublimis, potens, excelsus, semper Augustus, et moderator Romanorum, Comnenus, Henrico nobilissimo regi Angliæ, charissimo amico suo, salutem et omne bonum. Cum imperium nostrum necessarium reputet notificare tibi, vt dilecto amico suo, de omnibus quæ sibi obueniunt; ideò et de his quæ nunc acciderunt ei, opportunum iudicauit declarare tuæ voluntati. Igitur a principio coronationis nostræ imperium nostrum aduersus dei inimicos Persas nostrum odium in corde nutriuit, dum cerneret illos in Christianos gloriari, eleuatique in nomen dei, et Christianorum dominari regionibus. Quo circa et alio quidem tempore indifferentèr inuasit eos, et prout deus ei concessit, sic et fecit. Et quæ ab ipso frequenter patrata sunt ad contritionem ipsorum et perditionem, imperium nostrum credit nobilitatem tuam non latere. Quoniam autem et nunc maximum exercitum contra eos ducere proposuit, et bellum contra omnem Persidem mouere, quia res cogebat. Et non vt voluit multum aliquem apparatum fecit, sicut ei visum est. Veruntamen prout tempus dabat et rerum status, potentèr eos inuasit. Collegit ergo circa se imperium nostrum potentias suas: sed quia carpenta ducebat armorum, et machinarum, et aliorum instrumentorum conferentium ciuitatem expugnationibus, pondera portantia: idcircò nequaquam cum festinatione iter suum agere poterat. Ampliùs autem dum adhuc propriam regionem peragraret, antequam barbarorum aliquis aduersus nos militaret in bellis aduersarius, ægritudo difficillima fluxus ventris invasit nos, qui diffusus per agmina imperij nostri pertransibat, depopulando et interimendo multos, omni pugnatore grauior. Et hoc malum inualescens maximè nos contriuit. Ex quo verò fines Turcorum inuasimus, bella quidem primum frequentia concrepabant, et agmina Turcorum cum exercitibus imperij nostri vndique dimicabant. Sed Dei gratia ex toto à nostris in fugam vertebantur barbari. Post verò vbi ei qui illic adjacet angustiæ loci, quæ à Persis nominatur Cibrilcimam, propinquauimus, tot Persarum turmæ peditum et equitum, quorum pleræque ab interioribus partibus Persidis occurrerant in adiutorium contribulium suorum, exercitui nostro superuenerunt, quot penè nostrorum excederent numerum. Exercitu itaque imperii nostri propter viæ omnino angustiam et difficultatem, vsque ad decem milliaria extenso; et cum neque qui præibant possent postremos defendere, neque versa vice rursus postremi possent præeuntes inuare, non mediocritèr ab inuicem hos distare accidit. Sanè primæ cohortes permultùm ab acie imperij nostri diuidebantur, postremarum oblitæ, illas non præstolantes. Quoniam igitur Turcorum agmina ex iam factis prælijs cognouerant, non conforre sibi à fronte nobis repugnare, loci angustiam bonum subuentorem cum inuenissent, posteriora statuerunt inuadere agmina, quod et fecerunt. Arctissimo igitur vbique loco existente, instabant barbari vndique, à dextris et a sinistris, et aliundè dimicantes, et tela super nos quasi imbres descendentia interimebant viros et equos complures. Ad hæc itaque imperium nostrum vbi malum superabundabat, reputans secum oportunum iudicabat retrò expectare, atque illos qui illic erant adiuuare, expectando vtiquè contra infinita illa Persarum agmina bellum sustinuit. Quanta quidem, dum ab his circundaretur, patrauerit, non opus est ad tempus sermonibus pertexere, ab illis autem qui interfuerunt, forsitan discet de his tua nobilitas. Inter hæc autem existente imperio nostro, et omne belli grauamen in tantum sustinente, postremæ cohortes vniuersæ Gnecorum et Latinorum, et reliquorum omnium generum conglobatæ, quæ iaciebantur ab inimicis tela non sustinentes, impactione vtuntur, et ita violentèr ferebantur, dùm ad adiacentem ibi collem quasi ad propugnaculum festinarent: sed precedentes impellunt nolentes. Multo autem eleuato paluere, ac perturbante oculos, et neminem permittente videre quæ circa pedes erant, in præcipitium quod aderat profundissimæ vallis alius super alium homines et equi sic incontinentè portati corruerunt, quòd alij alios conculcantes ab inuicem interemerunt non ex gregarijs tantum, sed ex clarissimis et intimis nostris consanguineis. Quis enim inhibere poterat tantæ multitudinis importabilem impulsum? At verò imperium nostrum tot et tantis confertum barbáris saucians, sauciatúmque, adeò vt non modicam in eos moueret perturbationem, obstupentes perseuerant iam ipsius, et non remittebatur, benè iuuante deo, campum obtinuit. Neque locum illum scandere aduersarios permisit, in quo dimicauit cum barbaris. Nec quidem equum suum illorum timore incitauit, celerius aliquando ponere vestigia. Sed congregando omnia agmina sua, et de morte eripiendo ea, collocauit circa se: et sic primes attigit, et ordinatim proficiscens ad exercitus suos accessit. Ex tunc igitur videns Soltanus, quòd post tanta quæ acciderant exercitibus nostris, imperium nostrum, sicut oportunum erat, rem huiusmodi dispensauit, vt ipsum rursùm inuaderet: mittens supplicauit imperio nostro, et deprecatorijs vsus est sermonibus, et requisiuit pacem illius, promittens omnem imperij nostri adimplere voluntatem, et seruitium suum contra omnem hominem dare, et omnes qui in regno suo tenebantur captiuos absoluere, et esse ex toto voluntatis nostræ. Ibidem ergo per duos dies integros, in omni potestate morati sumtis, et cognito quòd nihil poterat fieri contra ciuitatem Iconij, perditis testudinibus et machins bellicis, eo quòd boues cecidissent a telis in modo pluuiæ iactis, qui eas trahebant: Simul autem eo quòd et vniuersa animalia nostra irruente in illa difficillima ægritudine laborabant, suscepit Soltani depræcationem et foedera et iuramenta peracta sub vexillis nostris, et pacem suam ei dedit. Inde ingressum imperium nostrum in regionem suam regreditur, tribulationem habens non mediocrem super his quos perdidit corisanguineis, maximas tamen Deo gratias agens, qui per suam bonitaiem et nunc Ipsum honorauit: Gratum autem habuimus, quòd quosdam nobilitatis tuæ principes accidit interesse nobiscum, qui narrabunt de omnibus quæ acciderant, tuæ voluntati seriem. Cæterum autem, licèt contristati simus propter illos qui ceciderunt: oportunum tamen duximus, de omnibus quæ; acciderant, declarare tibi, vt dilecto amico nostro, et vt permultùm coniuncto imperio nostro, per puerorum nostrorum intimam consanguinitatem. Vale. Data mense Nouembris, indictione tertia.

The same in English.

In the yeere 1177, Manuel the emperour of Constantinople hauing fought a field with the Soldan of Iconium, and vanquished him, wrote vnto Henry the second king of England in maner following.

Manuel Comnenus in Christ the euerliuing God a faithful emperour, descended of the linage of Porphyrie, crowned by Gods grace, high, puissant, mighty, alwayes most souereign, and gouernour of the Romans; vnto Henry the most famous king of England, his most deare friend, greeting and all good successe. Whereas our imperiall highnesse thinketh it expedient to aduertise you our welbeloued friend of all our affaires: We thought it not amisse to signifie vnto your, royal Maiestie certaine exploits at this present atchieued by vs. From the beginning therefore of our inauguration our imperiall highnes hath mainteined most deadly feod and hostility against Gods enemies the Persians, seeing them so to triumph ouer Christians, to exalt themselues against the Name of God, and to vsurpe ouer Christian kingdomes. For which cause our imperial highnesse hath in some sort encountered them heretofore, and did as it pleased God to giue vs grace. And we suppose that your Maiestie is not ignorant, what our imperiall highnesse hath often performed for their ruine and subversion. For euen now, being vrged thereunto, we haue determined to leade a mighty army against them, and to wage warre against all Persia. And albeit our forces be not so great as we could wish they were, yet haue we according to the time, and the present state of things strongly inuaded them. Wherefore our Maiestie imperiall hath gathered our armies together: but because we had in our armie sundry carts laden with armour, engines and other instruments for the assault of cities, to an exceeding weight we could not make any great speed in our iourney. Moreouer while our imperiall highnesse was yet marching in our owne dominions, before any barbarous enemy had fought against vs: our people were visited with the most grieuous disease of the fluxe, which being dispersed in our troups destroyed and slew great numbers, more then the sword of the enemy would haue done, which mischiefe so preuailing, did woonderfully abate our forces. But after we had inuaded the Turkish frontiers, we had at the first very often and hot skirmishes, and the Turks came swarming to fight against our imperiall troups. Howbeit by Gods assistance those miscreants were altogether scattered and put to flight by our souldiers. But as we approched vnto that strait passage which is called by the Persians Cibrilcimam, so many bands of Persian footemen and horsemen (most whereof came from the innermost parts of Persia, to succour their Allies) encountred our army, as were almost superiour vnto vs in number. Wherefore the army of our Imperiall highnesse, by reason of the straightnesse and difficultie of the way, being stretched ten miles in length; and the first not being able to helpe the last, nor yet contrarywise the last to rescue the first, it came to passe that they were very farre distant asunder. And in very deed the foremost troupes were much separated from the guard of our imperiall person, who forgetting their fellowes behind, would not stay any whit for them. Because therefore the Turkish bands knew full well by their former conflicts that it was bootlesse for them to assaile the forefront of our battell, and perceiuing the narownesse of the place to be a great aduantage, they determined to set vpon our rereward, and did so. Wherefore our passage being very straight, and the infidels assayling vs upon the right hand and vpon the left, and on all sides, and discharging their weapons as thicke as hailestones against vs, slew diuers of our men and horses. Hereupon, the slaughter of our people still encreasing, our maiestie imperiall deemed it requisite to stay behind, and to succour our bands in the rereward, and so expecting them we sustained the fierce encounter of many thousand Persians. What exploits our Imperiall person atchieued in the same skirmish, I hold it needlesse at this time to recount: your maiestie may perhaps vnderstand more of this matter by them which were there present Howbeit our Imperiall highnesse being in the middest of this conflict, and enduring the fight with so great danger, all our hindermost troups, both Greekes, Latines, and other nations, retiring themselues close together, and not being able to suffer the violence of their enemies weapons, pressed on so hard, and were caried with such maine force, that hastening to ascend the next hill for their better safegard, they vrged on them which went before, whether they would or no. Wherevpon, much dust being raised, which stopped our eyes and vtterly depriued vs of sight, and our men and horses pressing so sore one vpon the necke of another, plunged themselues on the sudden into such a steepe and dangerous valley, that treading one vpon another, they quelled to death not onely a multitude of the common souldiours, but diuers most honourable personages, and some of our neere kinsmen. For who could restraine the irresistable throng of so huge a multitude? Howbeit our Imperiall highnesse being enuironed with such swarmes of Infidels, and giuing and receiuing wounds (insomuch that the miscreants were greatly dismaied at our constancie) we gaue not ouer, but by Gods assistance wonne the field. Neither did we permit the enemie to ascend vnto that place, from whence we skirmished with him. Neither yet spurred wee on our horse any faster for all their assaults. But marshalling air our troupes together, and deliuering them out of danger, we disposed them about our Imperial person; and so we ouertooke the foremost, and marched in good order with our whole army. Nowe the Soldan perceiuing that notwithstanding the great damages which we had sustained, our Imperial hignes prouided to giue him a fresh encounter, humbly submitting himselfe vnto vs, and vsing submissive speaches, made suite to haue peace at our hands, and promised to fulfill the pleasure of our maiestie Imperiall, to doe vs seruice against all commers, to release all our subiects which were captiues in his realme, and to rest wholy at our commaund. [The citie of Iconium intended to haue bene besieged.] Here therefore we remained two dayes with great authoritie; and considering that wee could attempt nought against the citie of Iconium, hauing lost all our warrelike engines, both for defence and for batterie, for that the oxen which drew them were slaine with the enemies weapons, falling as thicke as hailestones: and also for because all our beasts in a maner were most grieuously diseased; our maiestie Imperial accepted of the Soldans petition, league, and oath being made and taken vnder our ensignes, and granted our peace vnto him. Then returned we into our owne dominions, being greatly grieued for the losse of our deere kinsmen, and yeelding vnto God most humble thanks, who of his goodnesse had euen now giuen vs the victory. [Sidenote: Certaine noblemen of the king of England were with the Emperor in his battell against the Soldan of Iconium.] We are right glad likewise that some of your maiesties princes and nobles accompanied vs in this action, who are able to report vnto you all things which haue happened. And albeit we were exceedingly grieued for the losse of our people; yet thought it we expedient to signifie vnto you the successe of our affaires, as vnto our welbeloued friend, and one who is very neerely allied vnto our highnesse Imperial, by reason of the consanguitie of our children Farewell. Giuen in the moneth of Nouember, and vpon the tenth Indiction.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hakluyt/voyages/v08/chapter23.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:52