Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The art and architecture of the crusader states
I: Life Among the Europeans in Palestine and Syria in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, pp. 3-35
Ch. I LIFE AMONG THE EUROPEANS IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA 35 sides stood ready to shoot stray individuals and to prevent boarding.254 A certain amount of ramming must have been practised, but this was no longer the efficient attack that it had been in the ancient world. Ships did not have the proper metal beaks for the purpose, and their crews could not develop sufficient speed at the oars. The captain of a ship stood aft on the deck, where he could handle a double steering oar 255 and direct the use of the capstan, a wheel with projecting marlin spikes which turned perpendicularly to the deck, not horizontally. The mast could be easily stepped with the aid of a rope around the drum of such a wheel, and by the same means a heavy sail could be raised or lowered. Presumably the kegs of Greek fire were lifted through a hatch from the hold. The owner or chief guest would repose under the awning of the rear castle, from which he could watch fascinated by the drive and labor of the oars men. The anchor was carried on the side of the ship's bow.256 In the defense of harbors it was not uncommon to employ fishermen, who would stretch their nets underwater to catch swimmers;257 for instance, a Turkish swimmer who was carrying Greek fire in a pelle lutrina was thus intercepted at Acre. Entry of strange ships into a harbor was prevented by heavy chains stretched across the entrance towers. Such ships might be privateers or pirate vessels, such as those maintained by Gerard of Sidon, which sometimes pillaged Christians as well as Moslems. (King Baldwin III of Jerusalem, "irrité contre lui," managed to capture and bum Gerard.)258 The Venetians and Genoese, the crusaders' naval allies, kept control of the eastern Mediterranean until long after the fall of Acre in 1291; it was only this dominance that had enabled the remnant of the Latin states to survive for more than six generations. 254. Gerbert de Mez, p. 202, vv. 7526-7544. 255. Ibn-Juoair, p. 336; Joinville, p. 198. 256. As portrayed on many bas-reliefs of ships. 257. Itinerarium, pp. 105-106. 258. Michael the Syrian, "Chronique," RHC, Arm., I (Paris, 1869), 354.
Copyright 1977 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. Use of this material falling outside the purview of "fair use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. To buy the hardcover book, see: http://www/wisc/edu/wisconsinpress/books/1735.htm