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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

X: The Kingdom of Cyprus, 1291-1369,   pp. 340-360 PDF (8.0 MB)

Page 360

the knights in his room: and he says to them: "Faithless traitors, what are
you doing at this hour in my room, attacking me?" And there were there, Sir
Philip d'Ibelin, the Lord of Arsuf, and Sir Henry de Giblet and Sir John
de Gaurelle; these three went in at once and drew their swords and gave him
each one of them three of four wounds: and the king cried out: "Help, mercy,
for the love of God!" And immediately Sir John Gorap, the steward of the
court, pushed his way in, and found him in a faint: and he draws his sword
and cut off his head, saying: "You wished today to cut off my head, and I
will cut off yours, and your threat shall fall upon your own self." And thus
the knights came in one after the other, and they all laid their swords (upon
him) because of their oath.16 
 Peter I had raised his island realm to the height of its reputation with
friend and foe alike. The murder by an infuriated baronage of the outstanding
Lusignan monarch and one of the most conspicuous figures of his age put a
premature and pitiful end to a career of glorious promise not wholly unfulfilled.
Chaucer is more generous to Peter than is Dante to his great-uncle Henry.
His judgment in The Mon kes Tale on the luckless monarch is kindly to his
faults, does not withhold credit for his performance, and is alive to the
significance of Cyprus, through Peter, to the western world: 
O worthy Petro, king of Cypre, also, 
That Alisaundre wan by heigh maistrye, 
Ful many a hethen wroghtestow ful wo, 
Of which thyn owene liges hadde envye, 
And, for no thing but for thy chivalrye, 
They in thy bedde han slayn thee by the morwe. 
Thus can fortune hir wheel governe and gye, 
And out of Ioye bringe men to sorwe.17 
16. Machaeras, Recital (ed. and trans. Dawkins), pp. 264—269. 
17. Walter W. Skeat, ed., The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, IV (Oxford,
256, lines 401—408. 

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