University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

III: The Crusades of Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI,   pp. 86-122 PDF (16.5 MB)

Page 114

 The German army was in Christian territory at last. The Chief obstacles
to their arriving at their goal had now been surmounted. When Ansbert compares
his meager account of the journey through Anatolia with what more gifted
authors might have written, he excuses himself with the thought that even
they would have been unequal to it. "For I think that if faced with
an adequate and full description of such great labor, the famous Homer, or
the eloquent Lucan, or the bard of Mantua himself, would as if speechless
have placed a finger on his mouth." Here they were greeted by friendly
local princes and envoys of the Roupenid prince of Armenia, Leon II. 
 Yet the bitterest disappointment still faced them. The mountainous approach
across the Taurus range to the valley of the "Saleph" river (Calycadnus)
was very difficult, and to avoid it Frederick, following the advice of local
guides, sought a more circuitous and also difficult route. He arrived at
the stream while the main army was still straggling over the mountain passes
"in the summer sun and the boiling heat. . . . He tried," Ansbert
says, "to swim the channel of the Saleph river, a very rapid one,"
in order to cool himself off and "to detour the jagged mountains. In
spite of everyone's attempt to dissuade him, he entered the water, and, submerged
in a whirlpool, he who had often avoided great dangers miserably perished."
When "other nobles near him hastened to help him, . . . they were too
late. . . . They then took him out and brought him to the bank. Everyone
was upset by his death and struck with such violent grief that . . . some
ended their lives with him, but others in despair and, as it were, seeing
that God had no care of them, renounced the Christian faith and went over
to the heathen. The death of such a prince warranted the lamentation and
immoderate grief which took possession of everyone's heart."36 
 The death of the emperor (June 10, 1190) turned the German crusade into
something like a funeral procession, breaking its spirit and its unity. A
western army, the news of whose approach had terrified Saladin and which,
together with powerful English and French armies, was calculated to break
his power, was now rendered progressively impotent. From the day it had set
out from Regensburg until after the victory at Iconium it had lost something
like sixty thousand men. If duke Frederick, its newly elected leader, 
 36 The account of Frederick's drowning is in Ansbert, pp. 91, lines 20-36,
and 92, lines 1-9. 

Go up to Top of Page