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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 divers other Noble men of England tooke upon them the crosse upon S. John Baptists day, by the sayd Legates hands at Northampton , to the reliefe of the Holy land, and the subversion of the enemies of the crosse of Christ. For which purpose, and for the better furnishing of the prince towards the journey, 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 Michaelmas following he with his company came to Eguemortes, which is from Marsilia eight leagues Westward, and there taking ship againe (having a mery and prosperous wind) within ten dayes arrived at Tunez , where he was with great joy welcommed, and entertained of the Christian princes that there were to this purpose assembled, as of Philip the French King, whose father Lodovicus died a litle before, of Carolus the king of Sicilia , and the two kings of Navarre 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 province adjoyning to the same hath bene accustomed to pay tribute unto the king of Sicily every yere: and now for that the same hath bene for the space of seven yeeres unpaied and more, therefore we thought good to make invasion upon him. But the king knowing the same tribute to be but justly demaunded, had now according to our owne desire satisfied for the time past, and also paled his tribute before hand.

Then sayd he, My Lords, what is this to the purpose? are we not here all assembled, & have taken upon us the Lords Character to fight against the infidels & 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 ye holy city Jerusalem. Then said they, now have we made a league with them, neither is it lawful for us to breake the same. But let us 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 privy 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 mooved to compassion, came backe againe to the land, and received and stowed them in his owne ships, being the last that went aboord.

Within seven dayes after, they arrived in the kingdom of Sicilia , over agaynst the Citie Trapes, casting their ankers a league from thence within the sea, for that their shippes were of great burden, and throughly fraught: and from the haven of the citie they sent out barges and boates to receive 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 evening the sea began to be rough, & 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 upon the land drowned, they had full heavie 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 saved then the mariners of one onely ship, and they in this wise.

There was in that ship a good & wise Matrone, a Countesse or an Erles wife, who perceiving the tempest to grow, & fearing her selfe, called to her the M. of the ship, & asked him whether in attempting to the shoare it were not possible to save themselves: he answered, that to save 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, save the soules therein, and have to thee double the value of the shippe: who immediatly hoising the sailes with all force, ran the shippe aground so nere the shore as was possible, so that with the vehemency of the weather & force he came withall, be brast the ship and saved 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 every one unto their owne lands: onely Edward the sonne of the king of England, remained behinde with his men and ships, which the Lord had saved and preserved.

Then prince Edward renovating his purpose, tooke shipping againe, and within fifteene daies after Easter arrived he at Acra, and went aland, 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. After this he tooke with him sixe or seven 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 have set upon them at some streit or other advantage, were espied by the prince, and returning againe upon them gave a charge, and slew many of them, and the rest they put to flight.

After this, about Midsummer, when the prince had understanding that the Saracens began to gather at Cakow which was forty miles from Acra, he marching thither, set upon 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 upon the sea coast, and taried there that night, and the next day they returned againe toward Acra.

In the meane season the king of Jerusalem sent unto 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. Then prince Edward sent unto them, desiring that at his request they would come and joyne in ayd with him: who immediatly thereupon came unto him with great preparation & furniture for the warres, saying, that at his commandement they were bound to do no lesse, for that his predecessors were sometimes the governors 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 devised among themselves how by some pollicy they might circumvent him, and betray him. Whereupon the prince and admirall of Joppa sent unto him, faining himselfe under 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 used 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 unto him divers 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 servants 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 up into the princes chamber, and after his reverence done, he pulled out certaine letters, which he delivered the prince from his lord, as he had done others before. This was about eight dayes after Whitsuntide, upon a Tuesday, somewhat before night, at which time the prince was layed upon his bed bare headed, in his jerkin, for the great heat and intemperature of the weather.

When the prince had read the letters, it appeared by them, that upon 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 themselves. 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 have pulled out some secret letters, and suddenly he pulled out an invenomed knife, thinking to have stroken the prince into the belly therewith as he lay: but the prince lifting up 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 immediatly thrust the same into the belly of the messenger and striker, and slew him.

The princes servants 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 up a stoole, and beat out his braines : 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 heavy, 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 lively blood, and in blaming wise sayd unto him: did I not tell your Grace before of the deceit and subtilty of this people? Notwithstanding, sayd 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 themselves, and were very sad and heavy.

Which thing he himself perceiving, said unto them: why mutter you thus among your selves? what see you in me, can I not be healed? tell me the trueth, be ye not afrayd. Whereupon one sayd unto 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 unto 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, and the lord John Voisie, And doe you also faithfully love your Lord and Prince? Who answered both, Yea undoubtedly. 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 unto her, Be you contented good Lady & 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 invenimed flesh out of the princes arme, and threw it from them, and sayd unto him: how cheereth your Grace, we promise you within these fifteene dayes you shall shew your selfe abroad (if God permit) upon your horsebacke, whole and well as ever 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 subjects.

When the great Souldan heard hereof, and that the prince was yet alive, he could scarsely beleeve the same, and sending unto 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 upon the ground: you (sayd the prince) do reverence me, but yet you love me not. But they understood him not, because he spake in English unto them, speaking by an Interpreter: neverthelesse 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 seven weekes he arrived in Sicilia at Trapes, and from thence travailed 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 envied of the Nobility, especially of the earle of Chalons, who thought to have intrapped him and his company, as may appeare in the story: but Prince Edward continued foorth his journey 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.

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