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KING RICHARD AT MESSINA
 ALTHOUGH Richard came down to the Italian shore, opposite to Messina, almost unattended and alone, and under
circumstances so ignoble—fugitive as he was from a party of peasants whom he had incensed by an act of petty
robbery—he yet made his entry at last into the town itself with a great display of pomp and parade. He remained
on the Italian side of the strait, after he arrived on the shore, until he had sent over to Messina, and
informed the officers of his fleet, which, by the way, had already arrived there, that he had come. The whole
fleet immediately got ready, and came over to the Italian side to take Richard on board and escort him over.
Richard entered the harbor with his fleet as if he were a conqueror returning home. The ships and galleys were
all fully manned and gayly decorated, and Richard arranged such a number of musicians on the decks of them to
blow trumpets and horns as the fleet sailed along the shores and
 entered the harbor that the air was filled with the echoes of them, and the whole country was called out by the
sound. The Sicilians were quite alarmed to see so formidable a host of foreign soldiers coming among them; and
even their allies, the French, were not pleased. Philip began to be jealous of Richard's superior power, and to
be alarmed at his assuming and arrogant demeanor. Philip had arrived in Messina some time before this, but his
fleet, which was originally an inferior one, having consisted of such vessels only as he could hire at Genoa,
had been greatly injured by storms during the passage, so that he had reached Messina in a very crippled
condition. And now to see Richard coming in apparently so much his superior, and with so evident a disposition
to make a parade of his superiority, made him anxious and uneasy.
The same feeling manifested itself, too, among his troops, and this to such a degree as to threaten to break
out into open quarrels between the soldiers of the two armies.
"It will never answer," thought Philip, "for us both to remain long at Messina; so I will set out again myself
as soon as I possibly can."
 Indeed, there was another very decisive reason for Philip's soon continuing his voyage, and that was the
necessity of diminishing the number of soldiers now at Messina on account of the difficulty of finding
sustenance for them all. Philip accordingly made all haste to refit his fleet and to sail away; but he was
again unfortunate. He encountered another storm, and was obliged to put back again, and before he could be
ready a second time the winter set in, and he was obliged to give up all hope of leaving Sicily until the
The two kings had foreseen this difficulty, and had earnestly endeavored to avoid it by making all their
arrangements in the first instance for setting out from England and France in March, which was the earliest
possible season for navigating the Mediterranean safely with such vessels as they had in those days. But this
plan the reader will recollect had been frustrated by the death of Philip's queen, and the delays attendant
upon that event, as well as other delays arising from other causes, and it was past midsummer before the
expedition was ready to take its departure. The kings had still hoped to have reached the Holy Land before
winter, but now they found themselves
 stopped on the way, and Philip, with many misgivings in respect to the result, prepared to make the best
arrangements that he could for putting his men into winter quarters.
Richard did in the end become involved in difficulties with Philip and with the French troops, but the most
serious affair which occupied his attention was a very extraordinary quarrel which he instigated between
himself and the king of the country. The name of this king was Tancred.
The kingdom of Sicily in those days included not merely the island of Sicily, but also nearly all the southern
part of Italy—all that part, namely, which forms the foot and ankle of Italy, as seen upon the map. It has
already been said that Richard's sister Joanna some years ago married the king of this country. The name of the
king whom Joanna married was William, and he was now dead. Tancred was his successor, though not the regular
and rightful heir. In order that the reader may understand the nature of the quarrel which broke out between
Tancred and Richard, it is necessary to explain how it happened that Tancred succeeded to the throne.
If William, Joanna's husband, had had a
 son, he would have been the rightful successor; but William had no children, and some time before his death he
gave up all expectation of ever having any, so he began to look around and consider who should be his heir.
He fixed his mind upon a lady, the Princess Constance, who was his cousin and his nearest relative. She would
have been the heir had it not been that the usages of the realm did not allow a woman to reign. There was
another relative of William, a young man named Tancred. For some reasons, William was very unwilling that
Tancred should succeed him. He knew, however, that the people would be extremely averse to receive Constance as
their sovereign instead of Tancred, on account of her being a woman; but he thought that he might obviate this
objection in some degree by arranging a marriage for her with some powerful prince. This he finally succeeded
in doing. The prince whom he chose was a son of the Emperor of Germany. His name was Henry. Constance was
married to him, and after her marriage she left Sicily and went home with her husband. William then assembled
all his barons, and made them take an oath of allegiance to Constance and Henry, as rightful sovereigns
 after his decease. Supposing every thing to be thus amicably arranged, he settled himself quietly in his
capital, the city of Palermo, intending to live there in peace with his wife for the remainder of his days.
When he married Joanna, he had given her, for her dower, a large territory of rich estates in Italy. These
estates were all together, and comprised what is called the promontory of Mont Gargano. You will see this
promontory represented on any map of Italy by a small projection on the heel, or, rather, a little way above
the heel of the foot, on the eastern side of the peninsula. It is nearly opposite to Naples. This territory was
large, and contained, besides a number of valuable landed estates, several castles, with lakes and forests
adjoining; also two monasteries, with their pastures, woods, and vineyards, and several beautiful lakes. These
estates, and all the income from them, were secured to Joanna forever.
Not very long after William had completed his arrangements for the succession, he died unexpectedly, while
Constance was away from the kingdom, at home with her husband. Immediately a great number of competitors
started up and claimed the crown. Among them was
 Tancred. Tancred took the field, and, after a desperate contest with his rivals, at length carried the day. He
considered Joanna, the queen dowager, as his enemy, and either confiscated her estates or allowed others to
seize them. He then took her with him to Palermo, where, as Richard was led to believe, he kept her a prisoner.
All these things happened a few months only before Richard arrived in Messina.
Palermo, as you will see from any map of Sicily, lies near the northwest corner of Sicily, and Messina near the
northeast. In consequence of these occurrences, it happened that when Richard landed in Sicily he found his
sister, the wife of the former king of the country, a widow and a prisoner, and her estates confiscated, while
a person whom he considered a usurper was on the throne. A better state of things to furnish him with a pretext
for aggressions on the country or the people he could not possibly have desired.
As soon as he had landed his troops, he formed a great encampment for them on the sea-shore, outside the town.
The place of the encampment was bordered at one extremity by the suburbs of the town, and at the other
extremity was a monastery built on a height.
 As soon as Richard had established himself here, he sent a delegation to Tancred at Palermo, demanding that he
should release Joanna and send her to him. Tancred denied that Joanna had been imprisoned at all, and, at any
rate, he immediately acceded to her brother's demand that she should be sent to him. He placed her on board one
of his own royal galleys, and caused her to be conveyed in it, with a very honorable escort, to Messina, and
there delivered up to Richard's care.
In respect to the dower which Richard had demanded that he should restore, Tancred commenced giving some
explanations in regard to it, but Richard was too impatient to listen to them. "We will not wait," said he to
his sister, "to hear any talking on the subject; we will go and take possession of the territory ourselves."
So he embarked a part of his army on board some ships and transported them across the Straits, and, landing on
the Italian shore, he seized a castle and a portion of territory surrounding it. He put a strong garrison in
the castle, and gave the command of it to Joanna, while he went back to Messina to strengthen the position of
the remainder of his army there.
 He thought that the monastery which flanked his encampment on the side farthest from the town would make a good
fortress if he had possession of it, and that, if well fortified, it would strengthen very much the defenses of
his encampment in case Tancred should attempt to molest him. So he at once took possession of it. He turned the
monks out of doors, removed all the sacred implements and emblems, and turned the buildings into a fortress. He
put in a garrison of soldiers to guard it, and filled the rooms which the monks had been accustomed to use for
their studies and their prayers with stores of arms and ammunition brought in from the ships, and with other
apparatus of war. His object was to be ready to meet Tancred, at a moment's warning, if he should attempt to
Soon after this a very serious difficulty broke out between the soldiers of the army and the people of Messina.
There is almost always difficulty between the soldiers of an army and the people of any town near which the
army is encamped. The soldiers, brutal in their passions, and standing in awe of none but their own officers,
are often exceedingly violent and unjust in their demeanor toward unarmed and helpless
 citizens, and the citizens, though they usually endure very long and very patiently, sometimes become aroused
to resentment and retaliation at last. In this case, parties of Richard's soldiers went into Messina, and
behaved so outrageously toward the inhabitants, and especially toward the young women, that the indignation of
the husbands and fathers was excited to the highest degree. The soldiers were attacked in the streets. Several
of them were killed. The rest fled, and were pursued by the crowd of citizens to the gates. Those that escaped
went to the camp, breathless with excitement and burning with rage, and called upon all their fellow-soldiers
to join them and revenge their wrongs. A great riot was created, and bands of furious men, hastily collected
together, advanced toward the city, brandishing their arms and uttering furious cries, determined to break
through the gates and kill every body that they could find. Richard heard of the danger just in time to mount
his horse and ride to the gates of the city, and there to head off the soldiers and drive them back; but they
were so furious that, for a time, they would not hear him, but still pressed on. He was obliged to ride in
among them, and actually beat them back with
 his truncheon, before he could compel them to give up their design.
The next day a meeting of the chief officers in the two armies, with the chief magistrates and some of the
principal citizens of Messina, was held, to consider what to do to settle this dispute, and to prevent future
outbreaks of this character. But the state of excitement between the two parties was too great to be settled
yet in any amicable manner. While the conference was proceeding, a great crowd of people from the town
collected on a rising ground just above the place where the conference was sitting. They said they only came as
spectators. Richard alleged, on the other hand, that they were preparing to attack the conference. At any rate,
they were excited and angry, and assumed a very threatening attitude. Some Normans who approached them got into
an altercation with them, and at length one of the Normans was killed, and the rest cried out, "To arms!" The
conference broke up in confusion. Richard rushed to the camp and called out his men. He was in a state of fury.
Philip did all in his power to allay the storm and to prevent a combat, and when he found that Richard would
not listen to him, he declared that he had
 a great mind to join with the Sicilians and fight him. This, however, he did not do, but contented himself with
doing all he could to calm the excitement of his angry ally. But Richard was not to be controlled. He rushed
on, at the head of his troops, up the hill to the ground where the Sicilians were assembled. He attacked them
furiously. They were, to some extent, armed, but they were not organized, and, of course, they could not stand
against the charge of the soldiers. They fled in confusion toward the city. Richard and his troops followed
them, killing as many of them as they could in the pursuit. The Sicilians crowded into the city and shut the
gates. Of course, the whole town was now alarmed, and all the people that could fight were marshaled on the
walls and at the gates to defend themselves.
Richard retired for a brief period till he could bring on a larger force, and then made a grand attack on the
walls. Several of his officers and soldiers were killed by darts and arrows from the battlements, but at length
the walls were taken by storm, the gates were opened, and Richard marched in at the head of his troops. When
the people were entirely subdued, Richard hung out his flag on a high tower in token
 that he had taken full and formal possession of Tancred's capital.
Philip remonstrated against this very strongly, but Richard declared that, now that he had got possession of
Messina, he would keep possession until Tancred came to terms with him in respect to his sister Joanna. Philip
insisted that he should not do this, but threatened to break off the alliance unless Richard would give up the
town. Finally the matter was compromised by Richard agreeing that he would take down the flag and withdraw from
the town himself, and for the present put it under the government of certain knights that he and Philip should
jointly appoint for this purpose.
After the excitement of this affair had a little subsided, Richard and Philip began to consider how unwise it
was for them to quarrel with each other, engaged as they were together in an enterprise of such magnitude and
of so much hazard, and one in which it was impossible for them to hope to succeed, unless they continued
united, and so they became reconciled, or, at least, pretended to be so, and made new vows of eternal
friendship and brotherhood.
Still, notwithstanding these protestations, Richard went on lording it over the Sicilians
 in the most high-handed manner. Some nobles of high rank were so indignant at these proceedings that they left
the town. Richard immediately confiscated their estates and converted the proceeds to his own use. He proceeded
to fortify his encampment more and more. The monastery which he had forcibly taken from the monks he turned
into a complete castle. He made battlements on the walls, and surrounded the whole with a moat. He also built
another castle on the hills commanding the town. He acted, in a word, in all respects as if he considered
himself master of the country. He did not consult Philip at all in respect to any of these proceedings, and he
paid no attention to the remonstrances that Philip from time to time addressed to him. Philip was exceedingly
angry, but he did not see what he could do.
Tancred, too, began to be very much alarmed. He wished to know of Richard what it was that he demanded in
respect to Joanna. Richard said he would consider and let him know. In a short time he made known his terms as
follows. He said that Tancred must restore to his sister all the territories which, as he alleged, had belonged
to her, and also give her "a golden chair, a golden table twelve feet
 long and a foot and a half broad, two golden supports for the same, four silver cups, and four silver dishes."
He pretended that, by a custom of the realm, she was entitled to these things. He also demanded for himself a
very large contribution toward the armament and equipment for the crusade. It seems that at one period during
the lifetime of William, Joanna's husband, her father, King Henry of England, was planning a crusade, and that
William, by a will which he made at that time—so at least Richard maintained—had bequeathed a large
contribution toward the necessary means for fitting it out. The items were these:
1. Sixty thousand measures of wheat.
2. The same quantity of barley.
3. A fleet of a thousand armed galleys, equipped and provisioned for two years.
4. A silken tent large enough to accommodate two hundred knights sitting at a banquet.
These particulars show on how great a scale these military expeditions for conquering the Holy Land were
conducted in those days, the above list being only a complimentary contribution to one of them by a friend of
the leader of it.
Richard now maintained that, though his
fa-  ther Henry had died without going on the crusade, still he himself was going, and that he, being the son, and
consequently the representative and heir of Henry, was, as such, entitled to receive the bequest; so he called
upon Tancred to pay it.
After much negotiation, the dispute was settled by Richard's waiving these claims, and arranging the matter on
a new and different basis. He had a nephew named Arthur. Arthur was yet very young, being only about two years
old; and as Richard had no children of his own, Arthur was his presumptive heir. Tancred had a daughter, yet an
infant. Now it was finally proposed that Arthur and this young daughter of Tancred should be affianced, and
that Tancred should pay to Richard twenty thousand pieces of gold as her dowry! Richard was, of course, to take
this money as the guardian and trustee of his nephew, and he was to engage that, if any thing should occur
hereafter to prevent the marriage from taking place, he would refund the money. Tancred was also to pay Richard
twenty thousand pieces of gold besides, in full settlement of all claims in behalf of Joanna. These terms were
finally agreed to on both sides.
 Richard also entered into a league, offensive and defensive, with Tancred, agreeing to assist him in
maintaining his position as King of Sicily against all his enemies. This is a very important circumstance to be
remembered, for the chief of Tancred's enemies was the Emperor Henry of Germany, the prince who had married
Constance, as has been already related. Henry's father had died, and he had become Emperor of Germany himself,
and he now claimed Sicily as the inheritance of Constance his wife, according to the will of King William,
Joanna's husband. Tancred, he maintained, was a usurper, and, of course, now Richard, by his league, offensive
and defensive, with Tancred, made himself Henry's enemy. This led him into serious difficulty with Henry at a
subsequent period, as we shall by-and-by see.
The treaty between Richard and Tancred was drawn up in due form and duly executed, and it was sent for safe
keeping to Rome, and there deposited with the Pope. Tancred paid Richard the money, and he immediately began to
squander it in the most lavish and extravagant manner. He expended the infant princess's dower, which he held
in trust for Arthur, as freely as he did the other money. Indeed, this
 was a very common way, in those days, for great kings to raise money. If they had a young son or heir, no
matter how young he was, they would contract to give him in marriage to the little daughter of some other
potentate on condition of receiving some town, or castle, or province, or large sum of money as dower. The idea
was, of course, that they were to take this dower in charge for the young prince, to keep it for him until he
should become old enough to be actually married, but in reality they would take possession of the property
themselves, and convert it at once to their own use.
Richard himself had been affianced in this way in his infancy to Alice, the daughter of the then reigning King
of France, and the sister of Philip, and his father, King Henry the Second, had received and appropriated the
Indeed, in this case, both the sums of money that Richard received from Tancred were paid to Richard in trust,
or, at least, ought to have been so regarded, the one amount being for Arthur, and the other for Joanna.
Richard himself, in his own name, had no claims on Tancred whatever; but as soon as the money came into his
hands, he began to expend it in the most profuse and lavish manner. He adopted
 a very extravagant and ostentatious style of living. He made costly presents to the barons, and knights, and
officers of the armies, including the French army as well as his own, and gave them most magnificent
entertainments. Philip thought that he did this to secure popularity, and that the presents which he made to
the French knights and nobles were designed to entice them away from their allegiance and fidelity to him,
their lawful sovereign. At Christmas he gave a splendid entertainment, to which he invited every person of the
rank of a knight or a gentleman in both armies, and at the close of the feast he made a donation in money to
each of the guests, the sum being different in different cases, according to the rank and station of the person
who received it.
The king, having thus at last settled his quarrels and established himself in something like peace in Sicily,
began to turn his attention toward the preparations for the spring. Of course, his intention was, as soon as
the spring should open, to set sail with his fleet and army, and proceed toward the Holy Land. He now caused
all his ships to be examined with a view to ascertain what repairs they needed. Some had been injured by the
storms which they had
 encountered on the way from Marseilles or by accidents of the sea. Others had become worm-eaten and leaky by
lying in port. Richard caused them all to be put thoroughly in repair. He also caused a number of battering
engines to be constructed of timber which his men hauled from the forests around the base of Mount Ętna. These
engines were for assailing the walls of the towns and fortresses in the Holy Land.
In modern times walls are always attacked with mortars and cannon. The ordnance of the present day will throw
shot and shells of prodigious weight two or three miles, and these tremendous missiles strike against the walls
of a fortress with such force as in a short time to batter them down, no matter how strong and thick they may
be. But in those days gunpowder was not in use, and the principal means of breaking down a wall was by the
battering-ram, which consisted of a heavy beam of wood, hung by a rope or chain from a massive frame, and then
swung against the gate or wall which it was intended to break through. In the engraving you see such a ram
suspended from the frame, with men at work below, impelling it against a gateway.
 Sometimes these battering-rams were very large and heavy, and the men drew them back and forth, in striking the
wall with them, by means of ropes. There are accounts of some battering-rams which weighed forty or fifty tons,
and required fifteen hundred men to work them.
The men, of course, were very much exposed while engaged in this operation, for the people whom they were
besieging would gather on the walls above, and shoot spears, darts, and arrows at them, and throw down stones
and other missiles, as you see in the engraving.
Then, besides the battering-ram, which, though very efficient against walls, was of no service against men,
there were other engines
 made in those days which were designed to throw stones or monstrous darts. These last were, of course, designed
to operate against bodies of men. They were made in various forms, and were called catapultas, ballistas,
maginalls, and by other such names. The force with which they operated consisted of springs made by elastic
bars of wood, twisted ropes, and other such contrivances.
Some were for throwing stones, others for monstrous darts. Of course, these engines required for their
construction heavy frames of sound timber. Richard did not expect to find such timber in the Holy Land, nor did
 to consume the time after he should arrive in making them; so he employed the winter in constructing a great
number of these engines, and in packing them, in parts, on board his galleys.
Richard performed a great religious ceremony, too, while he was at Sicily this winter, as a part of the
preparation which he deemed it necessary to make for the campaign. It is a remarkable fact that every great
military freebooter that has organized an armed gang of men to go forth, and rob and murder his fellow-men, in
any age of the world, has considered some great religious performance necessary at the outset of the work, to
prepare the minds of his soldiers for it, and to give them the necessary resolution and confidence in it. It
was so with Alexander. It was so with Xerxes and with Darius. It was so with Pyrrhus. It is so substantially at
the present day, when, in all wars, each side makes itself the champion of heaven in the contest, and causes Te
Deums to be chanted in their respective churches, now on this side and now on that, in pretended gratitude to
God for their alternate victories.
Richard called a grand convention of all the prelates and monks that were with his army,
 and performed a solemn act of worship. A part of the performance consisted of his kneeling personally before
the priests, confessing his sins and the wicked life that he had led, and making very fervent promises to sin
no more, and then, after submitting to the penances which they enjoined upon him, receiving from them pardon
and absolution. After the enactment of this solemnity, the soldiers felt far more safe and strong in going
forth to the work which lay before them in the Holy Land than before.
Nor is it certain that in this act Richard was wholly hypocritical and insincere. The human heart is a mansion
of many chambers, and a religious sentiment, in no small degree conscientious and honest, though hollow and
mistaken, may have strong possession of some of them, while others are filled to overflowing with the dear and
besetting sins, whatever they are, by which the general conduct of the man is controlled.