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)
114 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 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.
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