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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

III: The Crusades of Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI,   pp. 86-122 PDF (14.1 MB)


Page 94

94 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II  
remaining counts. Count Rupert of Nassau was made their standardbearer in
absentia. A fifth division was formed at Philippopolis of foot-soldiers and
the sturdier serving-men. Here, too, the army was given a tighter judicial
organization. The emperor divided the army into units of fifty, for each
of which was appointed a judge for civil and military cases, with reservation
only of the jurisdiction of the imperial marshal. Frederick also chose here
a council of sixty men (later reduced to sixteen) to advise him in military
matters. 
 The five weeks' march through Hungary was calculated to inspire in the hearts
of the crusaders great hopes for an easy, pleasant journey all the way to
their goal. It was to impress them also with the proper way in which foreign
monarchs should receive the German 'army of the Lord'. Bela III had sent
forward his ambassadors to greet the crusaders at Pressburg, and on June
4 he, together with his queen, received Frederick personally in the neigh
borhood of Gran (Esztergom). Queen Margaret presented the emperor with a
magnificent and roomy tent. The king entertained him for two days 'on his
rather extensive private hunting preserve situated on an island in the Danube'.
The expedition was provided with ships, wagons laden with supplies, and three
camels. It was quartered in luxuriant pasture. In Gran itself houses stuffed
with provisions were set aside for the poor pilgrims. Bela had commanded
the towns and bishoprics to receive the emperor with great ceremony. When,
in comparison with what they had to endure elsewhere, the crusaders thought
back on the passage through Hungary, these seemed halcyon weeks. 'We passed
through . . . in the greatest tranquillity and with the air smiling upon
us with much more than usual mildness and agreeableness. Indeed, the gnats,
gadflies, insects, and snakes, which seriously disturb those making a journey
on horses in the summertime in Hungary, not only did not hurt us or the animals,
but were rarely even seen by us.'6 The only unpleasant thing the Germans
resented about their Hungarian experience was the extremely unfavorable rate
of exchange. 
 A shocking contrast came with the entrance into Byzantine territory at Branits
on July 2. No better short account of the incidents of the subsequent march
through Bulgarian territory to Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and no better commentary
upon the German reaction to these, can be had than in the letter which Frederick
sent back on November 1 6 to his son Henry VI: 'As soon as we reached the
borders of our imperial brother, the emperor 
 6 Ansbert, p. 27, lines 2-7. 


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