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THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS
 ONE of the greatest sources of trouble and difficulty which Richard experienced in managing his heterogeneous
mass of followers was the quarrel which has been already alluded to between the two knights who claimed the
right to be the King of Jerusalem, whenever possession of that city should by any means be obtained. The reader
will recollect, perhaps, that it has already been stated that a very renowned Crusader, named Godfrey of
Bouillon, had penetrated, about a hundred years before this time, into the interior of the Holy Land, at the
head of a large army, and there had taken possession of Jerusalem; that the earls, and barons, and other
prominent knights in his army had chosen him king of the city, and fixed the crown and the royal title upon him
and his descendants forever; that when Jerusalem was itself, after a time, lost, the title still remained in
Godfrey's family, and that it
de-  scended to a princess named Sibylla; that a knight named Guy of Lusignan married Sibylla, and then claimed
the title of King of Jerusalem in the right of his wife; that, in process of time, Sibylla died, and then one
party claimed that the rights of her husband, Guy of Lusignan, ceased, since he held them only through his
wife, and that thenceforward the title and the crown vested in Isabella, her sister, who was the next heir;
that Isabella, however, was married to a man who was too feeble and timid to assert his claims; that,
consequently, a more bold and unscrupulous knight, named Conrad of Montferrat, seized her and carried her off,
and afterward procured a divorce for her from her former husband, and married her himself; and that then a
great quarrel arose between Guy of Lusignan, the husband of Sibylla, and Conrad of Montferrat, the husband of
Isabella. This quarrel had now been raging a long time, and all attempts to settle it or to compromise it had
proved wholly unavailing.
The ground which Guy and his friends and adherents took was, that while they admitted that Guy held the title
of King of Jerusalem in the right of his wife, and that his wife was now dead, still, being once invested with
 it was his for life, and he could not justly be deprived of it. After his death it might descend very properly
to the next heir, but during his lifetime it vested in him.
Conrad, on the other hand, and the friends and adherents who espoused his cause, argued that, since Guy had no
claim whatever except what came in and through his wife, of course, when his wife died, his possession ought to
terminate. If Sibylla had had children, the crown would have descended to one of them; but she being without
direct heirs, it passed, of right, to Isabella, her sister, and that Isabella's husband was entitled to claim
and take possession of it in her name.
It is obvious that this was a very nice and delicate question, and it would have been a very difficult one for
a company of gay and reckless soldiers like the Crusaders to settle if they had attempted to look at it simply
as a question of law and right; but the Crusaders seldom troubled themselves with examining legal arguments,
and still less with seeking for and applying principles of justice and right in taking sides in the contests
that arose among them. The question for each man to consider in such cases was simply, "Which side is it most
inter-  ests and those of my party that we should espouse? We will take that;" or, "Which side are my rivals and enemies, or
those of their party, going to take? We will take the other."
It was by such considerations as these that the different princes, and nobles, and orders of knights in the
army decided how they would range themselves on this great question. As has already been explained, Richard
took up the cause of Guy, who claimed through the deceased Sibylla. He had been induced to do so, not by any
convictions which he had formed in respect to the merits of the case, but because Guy had come to him while he
was in Cyprus, and had made such proposals there in respect to a conjunction with him that Richard deemed it
for his interest to accept them. In a similar way, Conrad had waited upon Philip as soon as he arrived before
Acre, and had induced him to espouse his, Conrad's, side. If there were two orders of knights in the army, or
two bodies of soldiery, that were at ill-will with each other through rivalry, or jealousy, or former quarrels,
they would always separate on this question of the King of Jerusalem; and just as certainly as one of them
showed a disposition to take the side of Guy, the other would immediately go
 over to that of Conrad, and then these old and half-smothered contentions would break out anew.
Thus this difficulty was not only a serious quarrel itself, but it was the means of reviving and giving new
force and intensity to a vast number of other quarrels.
It may seem strange that a question like this, which related, as it would appear, to only an empty title,
should have been deemed so important; but, in reality, there was something more than the mere title at issue.
Although, for the time being, the Christians were excluded from Jerusalem, they were all continually hoping to
be very soon restored to the possession of it, and then the king of the city would become a very important
personage, not only in his own estimation and in that of the army of Crusaders, but in that of all Christendom.
No one knew but that in a few months Jerusalem might come into their hands, either by being retaken through
force of arms, or by being ceded in some way through Richard's negotiations with Saladin; and, of course, the
greater the probability was that this event would happen, the more important the issue of the quarrel became,
and the more angry with each other, and
 excited, were the parties to it. Thus Richard found that all his plans for getting possession of Jerusalem were
grievously impeded by these dissensions; for the nearer he came, at any time, to the realization of his hopes,
the more completely were his efforts to secure the end paralyzed by the increased violence and bitterness of
the quarrel that reigned among his followers.
The principal supporters of the cause of Conrad were the French, and they formed so numerous and powerful a
portion of the army, and they had, withal, so great an influence over other bodies of troops from different
parts of Europe, that Richard could not successfully resist them and maintain Guy's claims, and he finally
concluded to give up, or to pretend to give up, the contest.
So he made an arrangement with Guy to relinquish his claims on condition of his receiving the kingdom of Cyprus
instead, the unhappy Isaac, the true king of that island, shut up in the Syrian dungeon to which Richard had
consigned him, being in no condition to resist this disposition of his dominions. Richard then agreed that
Conrad should be acknowledged as King of Jerusalem, and, to seal and settle the
 question, it was determined that he should be crowned forthwith.
It was supposed at the time that one reason which induced Richard to give up Guy and adopt Conrad as the future
sovereign of the Holy City was, that Conrad was a far more able warrior, and a more influential and powerful
man than Guy, and altogether a more suitable person to be left in command of the army in case of Richard's
return to England, provided, in the mean time, Jerusalem should be taken; and, moreover, he was much more
likely to succeed as a leader of the troops in a march against the city in case Richard were to leave before
the conquest should be effected. It turned out, however, in the end, as will be seen in the sequel, that the
views with which Richard adopted this plan were of a very different character.
Conrad was already the King of Tyre. The position which he thus held was, in fact, one of the elements of his
power and influence among the Crusaders. It was determined that his coronation as King of Jerusalem should take
place at Tyre, and, accordingly, as soon as the arrangement of the question had been fully and finally agreed
upon, all parties proceeded to Tyre, and there commenced at once the
prepa-  rations for a magnificent coronation. All the principal chieftains and dignitaries of the army that could be
spared from the other posts along the coast went to Tyre to be present at the coronation, the whole army, with
the exception of a few malcontents, being filled with joy and satisfaction that the question which had so long
distracted their councils and paralyzed their efforts was now at length finally disposed of.
These bright prospects were all, however, suddenly blighted and destroyed by an unexpected event, which struck
every one with consternation, and put all things back into a worse condition than before. As Conrad was passing
along the streets of Tyre one day, two men rushed upon him, and with small daggers, which they plunged into his
side, slew him. They were so sudden in their movement that all was over before any one could come to Conrad's
rescue, but the men who committed the deed were seized and put to the torture. They belonged to a tribe of
Arabs called Hassassins.
This appellation was taken from the Arabic name of the dagger, which was the only armor that they wore. Of
course, with such a weapon as this,
 they could do nothing effectual in a regular battle with their enemies. Nor was this their plan. They never
came out and met their enemies in battle. They lived among the mountains in a place by themselves, under the
command of a famous chieftain, whom they called the Ancient,
and sometimes the Lord of the Mountains. The
Christians called him the Old Man of the Mountains, and under this name he and his band of followers acquired
They were, in fact, not much more than a regularly-organized band of robbers and murderers. The men were
extremely wily and adroit; they could adopt any disguise, and penetrate without suspicion wherever they chose
to go. They were trained, too, to obey, in the most unhesitating and implicit manner, any orders whatever that
the chieftain gave them. Sometimes they were sent out to rob; sometimes to murder an individual enemy, who had,
in some way or other, excited the anger of the chief. Thus, if any leader of an armed force attempted to attack
them, or if any officer of government adopted any measures to bring them to justice, they would not openly
resist, but would fly to their dens and fastnesses, and
 conceal themselves there, and then soon afterward the chieftain would send out his emissaries, dressed in a
suitable disguise, and with their little hassassins under their robes, to watch an opportunity and kill the
offender. It is true they were usually, in such cases, at once seized, and were often put to death with
horrible tortures; but so great was their enthusiasm in the cause of their chief, and so high the exaltation of
spirit to which the point of honor carried them, that they feared nothing, and were never known to shrink from
the discharge of what they deemed their duty.
The stabs which the two Hassassins gave to Conrad were so effectual that he fell dead upon the spot. The people
that were near rushed to his assistance, and while some gathered round the bleeding body, and endeavored to
stanch the wounds, others seized the murderers and bore them off to the castle. They would have pulled them to
pieces by the way if they had not desired to reserve them for the torture.
The torture is, of course, in every respect, a wretched way of eliciting evidence. So far as it is efficacious
at all in eliciting declarations, it tends to lead the sufferer, in thinking what he shall say, to consider,
not what is the truth,
 but what is most likely to satisfy his tormentors and make them release him. Accordingly, men under torture say
any thing which they suppose their questioners wish to hear. At one moment it is one thing, and the next it is
another, and the men who conduct the examination can usually report from it any result they please.
A story gained great credit in the army, and especially among the French portion of it, immediately after the
examination of these men, that they said that they had been hired by Richard himself to kill Conrad, and this
story produced every where the greatest excitement and indignation. On the other hand, the friends of Richard
declared that the Hassassins had stated that they were sent by their chieftain, the Old Man of the Mountain,
and that the cause was a quarrel that had long been standing between Conrad and him. It is true that there had
been such a quarrel, and, consequently, that the Old Man would be, doubtless, very willing that Conrad should
be killed. Indeed, it is probable that, if Richard was really the original instigator of the murder, he would
have made the arrangement for it with the Old Man, and not directly with the subordinates. It was, in fact, a
part of the regular and settled
busi-  ness of this tribe to commit murders for pay. The chieftain might have the more readily undertaken this case
from having already a quarrel of his own with Conrad on hand. It was never fully ascertained what the true
state of the case was. The Arab historians maintain that it was Richard's work. The English writers, on the
contrary, throw the blame on the Old Man. The English writers maintain, moreover, that the deed was one which
such a man as Richard was very little likely to perform. He was, it is true, they say, a very rude and violent
man—daring, reckless, and often unjust, and even cruel—but he was not treacherous. What he did, he did in the
open day; and he was wholly incapable of such a deed as pretending deceitfully that he would accede to Conrad's
claims with a view of throwing him off his guard, and then putting him to death by means of hired murderers.
This reasoning will seem satisfactory to us or otherwise, according to the views we like to entertain in
respect to the genuineness of the sense of generosity and honor which is so much boasted of as a characteristic
of the spirit of chivalry. Some persons place great reliance upon it, and think that so gallant and courageous
 a knight as Richard must have been incapable of any such deed as a secret assassination. Others place very
little reliance upon it. They think that the generosity and nobleness of mind to which this class of men make
such great pretension is chiefly a matter of outside show and parade, and that, when it serves their purpose,
they are generally ready to resort to any covert and dishonest means which will help them to accomplish their
ends, however truly dishonorable such means may be, provided they can conceal their agency in them. For my
part, I am strongly inclined to the latter opinion, and to believe that there is nothing in the human heart
that we can really rely upon in respect to human conduct and character but sound and consistent moral
At any rate, it is unfortunate for Richard's cause that among those who were around him at the time, and who
knew his character best, the prevailing opinion was against him. It was generally believed in the army that he
was really the secret author of Conrad's death. The event produced a prodigious excitement throughout the camp.
When the news reached Europe, it awakened a very general indignation there, especially among those who were
 to be hostile to Richard. Philip, the King of France, professed to be alarmed for his own safety. "He has
employed murderers to kill Conrad, my friend and ally," said he, "and the next thing will be that he will send
some of the Old Man of the Mountain's emissaries to thrust their daggers into me."
So he organized an extra guard to watch at the gates of his palace, and to attend him whenever he went out, and
gave them special instructions to watch against the approach of any suspicious strangers. The Emperor of
Germany too, and the Archduke of Austria, whom Richard had before made his enemies, were filled with rage and
resentment against him, the effects of which he subsequently felt very severely.
In the mean time, the excitement in the camp immediately on the death of Conrad became very strong, and it led
to serious disturbances. The French troops rose in arms and attempted to seize Tyre. Isabella, Conrad's wife,
in whose name Conrad had held the title to the crown of Jerusalem, fled to the citadel, and fortified herself
there with such troops as adhered to her. The camp was in confusion, and there was imminent danger that the two
parties into which
 the army was divided would come to open war. At this juncture, a certain nephew of Richard's, Count Henry of
Champagne, made his appearance. He persuaded the people of Tyre to put him in command of the town; and
supported as he was by Richard's influence, and by the acquiescence of Isabella, he succeeded in restoring
something like order. Immediately afterward he proposed to Isabella that she should marry him. She accepted his
proposal, and so he became King of Jerusalem in her name.
The French party, and those who had taken the side of Conrad in the former quarrel, were greatly exasperated,
but as the case now stood they were helpless. They had always maintained that Isabella was the true sovereign,
and it was through her right to the succession, after Sibylla's death, that they had claimed the crown for
Conrad; and, now, since Conrad was dead, and Isabella had married Count Henry, they could not, with any
consistency, deny that the new husband was fully entitled to succeed the old. They might resent the murder of
Conrad as much as they pleased, but it was evident that nothing would bring him back to life, and nothing could
prevent Count Henry being now universally regarded as the King of Jerusalem.
 So, after venting for a time a great many loud but fruitless complaints, the aggrieved parties allowed their
resentment to subside, and all acquiesced in acknowledging Henry as King of Jerusalem.
Besides these difficulties, a great deal of uneasiness and discontent arose from rumors that Richard was
intending to abandon Palestine, and return to Normandy and England, thus leaving the army without any
responsible head. The troops knew very well that whatever semblance of authority and subordination then existed
was due to the presence of Richard, whose high rank and personal qualities as a warrior gave him great power
over his followers, notwithstanding their many causes of complaint against him. They knew, too, that his
departure would be the signal of universal disorder, and would lead to the total dissolution of the army. The
complaints and the clamor which arose from this cause became so great in all the different towns and fortresses
along the coast, that, to appease them, Richard issued a proclamation stating that he had no intention of
leaving the army, but that it was his fixed purpose to remain in Palestine at least another year.