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Geoffrey de Villehardouin

Thus their peril and toil lasted for nearly ten days, until, on a Thursday morning (I7th July I203) all things were ready for the assault, and the ladders in trim; the Venetians also had made them ready by sea. The order of the assault was so devised, that of the seven divisions, three were to guard the camp outside the city, and other four to give the assault. The Marquis Boniface of Montferrat guarded the camp towards the fields, with the division of the Burgundians, the division of the men of Champagne, and Matthew of Montmorency.

Now let us leave speaking of those who avoided the host, and speak of those before Constantinople.

The marquis then took leave, and went towards Salonika with his people, and with his wife; and with him rode the envoys of the emperor; and as they went from castle to castle, each, with all its lordship, was restored to the marquis on the part of the emperor. So they came to Salonika, and those who held the place for the emperor surrendered it. Now the governor, whom the emperor had left there, and whose name was Renier of Mons, had died; he was a man most worthy, and his death a great mischance.

Thus they waited till it was night; and when it was night the Doge of Venice left the camp, as had been arranged, and Geoffry the Marshal formed the rear-guard. And they departed at foot pace, and took with them all their people mounted and dismounted, the wounded as well those who were whole-they left not one behind. And they journeyed towards a city that lies upon the sea, called Rodosto, and that was full three days' journey distant. So they departed from Adrianople, as you have heard; and this adventure befell in the year of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ twelve hundred and five.

Afterwards the barons held a parliament at Soissons, to settle when they should start, and whither they should wend. But they could come to no agreement, because it did not seem to them that enough people had taken the cross. So during all that year (1200) no two months passed without assemblings in parliament at Compiègne. There met all the counts and barons who had taken the cross.

When Johannizza heard that the Franks were coming, he did not dare to abide, but burned his engines of war, and broke up his camp. So he departed from Demotica; and you must know that this was accounted by all the world as a great miracle. And Henry, the Regent of the empire, came on the fourth day (28th June) before Adrianople, and pitched his cainp near the river of Adrianople, in the fairest meadows in the world. When those who were within the city saw his host coming, they issued forth, bearing all their crosses, and in procession, and showed such joy as had never been seen.

Then arose much debate. The abbot of Vaux, of the order of the Cistercians, spoke, and that party that wished for the dispersal of the host; and they said they would never consent: that it was not to fall on Christians that they had left their homes, and that they would go to Syria.

When the marquis had come to Messinopolis, he did not remain there more than five days before he rode forth, by the advice of the Greeks of the land, on an expedition to the mountain of Messinopolis, which was distant a long day's journey. And when he had been through the land, and was about to depart, the Bulgarians of the land collected and saw that the marquis had but a small force with him. So they came from all parts and attacked the rear-guard. And when the marquis heard the shouting, he leapt on a horse, all unarmed as he was, with a lance in his hand.

Now may you hear of a strange deed of prowess; for the Doge of Venice, who was an old man, and saw naught (seeing he was blind), stood, fully armed, on the prow of his galley, and had the standard of St. Mark before him; and he cried to his people to put him on land, or else that he would do justice upon their bodies with his hands. And so they did, for the galley was run aground, and they leapt therefrom, and bore the standard of St. Mark before him on to the land.

The fleet was very well prepared and armed, and provisions were got together for the pilgrims. On the Thursday after mid-Lent (8th April 1204), all entered into the vessels, and put their horses into the transports. Each division had its own ships, and all were ranged side by side; and the ships were separated from the galleys and transports. A marvellous sight it was to see; and well does this book bear witness that the attack, as it had been devised, extended over full half a French league.

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