The Voyage of Prince Edward the sonne of king Henry the third into Asia, in the yeere 1270.
About the yeere of our Lord, 1267. Octobonus the Popes Legate being in England, prince Edward the sonne of king Henry, and other Noble men of England tooke vpon them the crosse vpon S. Iohn Baptists day, by the sayd Legates hands at Northampton, to the reliefe of the Holy land, and the subuersion of the enemies of the crosse of Christ. For which purpose, and for the better furnishing of the prince towards the iourney, there was granted him a subsidie throughout all the realme, and in the moneth of May, in the yeere of our Lord 1270. he began to set forward.
At Michælmas following he with his company came to Eguemortes, which is from Marsilia eight leagues Westward, and there taking ship againe (hauing a mery and prosperous wind) within ten dayes arriued at Tunez, where he was with great ioy welcommed, and entertained of the Christian princes that there were to this purpose assembled, as of Philip the French King, whose father Lodouicus died a litle before, of Carolus the king of Sicilia, and the two kings of Nauarre and Arragon, and as this lord Edward came thither for his father the king of England, thither came also Henry the sonne of the king of Almaine for his father, who at his returne from the voyage was slaine in a chappell at Viterbium.
When prince Edward demanded of these kings and princes what was to be done, they answered him againe and sayd, the prince of this citie and the prouince adioyning to the same hath bene accustomed to pay tribute vnto the king of Sicily euery yere: and now for that the same hath bene for the space of seuen yeeres vnpaied and more, therefore we thought good to make invasion vpon him. But the king knowing the same tribute to be but iustly demaunded, hath now according to our owne desire satisfied for the time past, and also paid his tribute before hand.
Then sayd he, My Lords, what is this to the purpose? are we not here all assembled, and haue taken vpon vs the Lords Character to fight against the infidels and enemies of Christ? What meane you then to conclude a peace with them? God forbid we should do so, for now the land is plaine and hard, so that we may approch to the holy city of Ierusalem. Then said they, now haue we made a league with them, neither is it lawful for vs to breake the same. But let vs returne againe to Sicilia, and when the winter is past we may well take shipping to Acra. But this counsel nothing at all liked him, neither did he shew himselfe wel pleased therewith: but after hee had made them a princely banket, he went into his closet or priuy chamber from amongst them, neither would be partaker of any of that wicked money which they had taken. They notwithstanding continuing their purpose, at the next mery wind tooke shipping, and for want of ships left 200. of their men a shore, crying out, and pitiously lamenting for the peril and hazard of death that they were in: wherewith prince Edward being somewhat mooued to compassion: came backe againe to the land, and receiued and stowed them in his owne ships, being the last that went aboord.
Within seuen dayes after, they arriued in the kingdom of Sicilia, ouer agaynst the Citie Trapes,446 casting their ankers a league from thence within the sea, for that their shippes were of great burden, and throughly fraught: and from the hauen of the city they sent out barges and boates to receiue and bring such of the Nobilitie to land as would, but their horses for the most part, and all their armour they kept still within boord.
At length towards the euening the sea began to be rough, and increased to a great tempest and a mightie: insomuch that their ships were beaten one against anothers sides, and drowned. There was of them at that tempest lying at anker more then 120. with all their armour and munition, with innumerable soules besides, and that wicked money also which they had taken before, likewise perished, and was lost.
But the tempest hurt not so much as one ship of prince Edwards, who had in number 13. nor yet had one man lost thereby, for that (as it may be presupposed) he consented not to the wicked counsell of the rest.
When in the morning the princes and kings came to the sea side, and saw all their ships drowned, and saw their men and horses in great number cast vpon the land drowned, they had full heauie hearts, as well they might, for of all their ships and mariners, which were in number 1500. besides the common souldiers, there was no more saued then the manners of one onely ship, and they in this wise.
There was in that ship a good and wise Matrone, a Countesse or an Erles wife, who perceiuing the tempest to grow, and fearing her selfe, called to her the M. of the ship, and asked him whether in attempting to the shoare it were not possible to saue themselues: he answered, that to saue the ship it was impossible: howbeit the men that were therein by Gods helpe he doubted not. Then sayd the countesse, for the ship force no whit, saue the soules therein, and haue to thee double the value of the shippe: who immediatly hoising the sailes with all force, ran the shippe aground so neere the shore as was possible, so that with the vehemency of the weather and force he came withall, he brast the ship and saued all that was within the same, as he had shewed, and sayd before.
Then the kings and princes (altering their purpose after this so great a shipwracke) returned home againe euery one vnto their owne lands: onely Edward, the sonne of the king of England, remained behinde with his men and ships, which the Lord had saued and preserued.
The arriual of Prince Edward at Acra. Then prince Edward renouating his purpose, tooke shipping againe, and within fifteene daies after Easter arriued he at Acra, and went a land, taking with him a thousand of the best souldiers and most expert, and taried there a whole moneth, refreshing both his men and horses, and that in this space he might learne and know the secrets of the land. Nazareth taken by the prince. After this he tooke with him sixe or seuen thousand souldiers, and marched forward twenty miles from Acra, and tooke Nazareth, and those that he found there he slew, and afterward returned againe to Acra. But their enemies following after them, thinking to haue set vpon them at some streit or other advantage, were espied by the prince, and returning againe vpon them gaue a charge, and slew many of them, and the rest they put to flight.
A victorie against the Saracens wherein 1000 of them are slaine. After this, about Midsummer, when the prince had vnderstanding that the Saracens began to gather at Cakow which was forty miles from Acra, he marching thither, set vpon them very earely in the morning, and slew of them more then a thousand, the rest he put to flight, and tooke rich spoiles, marching forward till they came to a castle named Castrum peregrinorum, situate vpon the sea coast, and taried there that night, and the next day they returned againe toward Acra.
In the meane season the king of Ierusalem sent vnto the noble men of Cyprus, desiring them to come with speed to ayd the Christians, but they would not come, saying they would keepe their owne land, and go no further. The Princes of Cyprus acknowledge obedience to the kings of England. Then prince Edward sent vnto them, desiring that at his request they would come and ioyne in ayd with him: who immediatly thereupon came vnto him with great preparation and furniture for the warres, saying, that at his commandement they were bound to do no lesse, for that his predecessors were sometimes the gouernors of that their land, and that they ought alwayes to shew their fidelity to the kings of England.
Then the Christians being herewith animated, made a third voyage or road, and came as farre as the fort called Vincula sancti Petri, and to S. Georgius, and when they had slain certaine there, not finding any to make resistance against them, they retired againe from whence they came: when thus the fame of prince Edward grew amongst his enemies, and that they began to stand in doubt of him, they deuised among themselues how by some pollicy they might circumuent him, and betray him. Whereupon the prince and admirall of Ioppa sent vnto him, faining himselfe vnder great deceit willing to become a Christian, and that he would draw with him a great number besides, so that they might be honorably entertained and vsed of the Christians. This talke pleased the prince well, and perswaded him to finish the thing he had so well begun by writing againe, who also by the same messenger sent and wrote backe vnto him diuers times about the same matter, whereby no mistrust should spring.
This messenger (sayth mine author) was one ex caute nutritis, one of the stony hearted, that neither feared God nor dreaded death.
The fift time when this messenger came, and was of the princes seruants searched according to the maner and custome what weapon and armour he had about him, as also his purse, that not so much as a knife could be seene about him, he was had vp into the princes chamber, and after his reuerence done, he pulled out certaine letters, which he deliuered the prince from his lord, as he had done others before. This was about eight dayes after Whitsuntide, vpon a Tuesday, somewhat before night, at which time the prince was layed vpon his bed bare headed, in his ierkin for the great heat and intemperature of the weather.
When the prince had read the letters, it appeared by them, that vpon the Saturday next following, his lord would be there ready to accomplish all that he had written and promised. The report of these newes by the prince to the standers by, liked them well, who drew somewhat backe to consult thereof amongst themselues. Prince Edward traiterously wounded. In the meane time, the messenger kneeling, and making his obeisance to the prince (questioning further with him) put his hand to his belt, as though he would haue pulled out some secret letters, and suddenly he pulled out an enuenomed knife, thinking to haue stroken the prince in the belly therewith as he lay: but the prince lifting vp his hand to defend the blow, was striken a great wound into the arme, and being about to fetch another stroke at him, the prince againe with his foot tooke him such a blow, that he feld him to the ground: with that the prince gate him by the hand, and with such violence wrasted the knife from him, that he hurt himselfe therewith on the forehead, and immediately thrust the same into belly of the messenger and striker, and slew him.
The princes seruants being in the next chamber not farre off, hearing the busling, came with great haste running in, and finding the messenger lying dead in the floore, one of them tooke vp a stoole, and beat out his brains: whereat the prince was wroth for that he stroke a dead man, and one that was killed before.
But the rumour of this accident, as it was strange, so it went soone thorowout all the Court, and from thence among the common people, for which they were very heauy, and greatly discouraged. To him came also the Captaine of the Temple, and brought him a costly and precious drinke against poison, least the venime of the knife should penetrate the liuely blood, and in blaming wise sayd vnto him: did I not tell your Grace before of the deceit and subtilty of this people? Notwithstanding, said he, let your Grace take a good heart, you shall not die of this wound, my life for yours. But straight way the Surgions and Physicians were sent for, and the prince was dressed, and within few dayes after, the wound began to putrifie, and the flesh to looke dead and blacke: wherupon they that were about the prince began to mutter among themselues, and were very sad and heauy.
Which thing, he himself perceiuing, said vnto them: why mutter you thus among your selues? what see you in me, can I not be healed? tell me the trueth, be ye not afrayd. Whereupon one sayd vnto him, and it like your Grace you may be healed, we mistrust not, but yet it will be very painfull for you to suffer. May suffering (sayd he againe) restore health? yea sayth the other, on paine of losing my head. Then sayd the prince, I commit my selfe vnto you, doe with me what you thinke good.
Then sayd one of the Physicians, is there any of your Nobles in whom your Grace reposeth special trust? to whom the prince answered Yea, naming certeine of the Noble men that stood about him. Then sayd the Physician to the two, whom the prince first named, the Lord Edmund, The lord Edmond was the prince his brother. and the lord Iohn Voisie, And doe you also faithfully loue your Lord and prince? Who answered both, Yea vndoubtedly. Then sayth he, take you away this gentlewoman and lady (meaning his wife) and let her not see her lord and husband, till such time as I will you thereunto. Whereupon they tooke her from the princes presence, crying out, and wringing her hands. Then sayd they vnto her, Be you contented good Lady and Madame, it is better that one woman should weepe a little while, then that all the realme of England should weepe a great season.
Then on the morrow they cut out all the dead and inuenimed flesh out of the princes arme, and threw it from them, and sayd vnto him: how cheereth your Grace, we promise you within these fifteene dayes you shall shew your selfe abroad (if God permit) vpon your horsebacke, whole and well as euer you were. And according to the promise he made the prince, it came to passe, to the no little comfort and admiration of all his subiects.
When the great Souldan heard hereof, and that the prince was yet aliue, he could scarsely beleeue the same, and sending vnto him three of his Nobles and Princes, excused himselfe by them, calling his God to witnesse that the same was done neither by him nor his consent. Which princes and messengers standing aloofe off from the kings sonne, worshipping him, fell flat vpon the ground: you (sayd the prince) do reuerence me, but yet you loue me not. But they vnderstood him not, because he spake in English vnto them, speaking by an Interpreter: neuerthelesse he honourably entertained them, and sent them away in peace.
Thus when prince Edward had beene eighteene moneths in Acra, he tooke shipping about the Assumption of our Lady, as we call it, returning homeward, and after seuen weekes he arriued in Sicilia at Trapes, and from thence trauailed thorow the middes of Apulia, till he came to Rome, where he was of the Pope honorably entertained.
From thence he came into France, whose fame and noble prowesse was there much bruted among the common people, and enuied of the Nobility, especially of the Earle of Chalons, who thought to haue intrapped him and his company, as may appeare in the story: but Prince Edward continued foorth his iourney to Paris, and was there of the French king honourably entertained: and after certaine dayes he went thence into Gascoine, where he taried till that he heard of the death of the king his father, at which time he came home, and was crowned king of England, in the yere of our Lord 1274.
446Trapani, N.E. of Marsala.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55