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Military Orders

Ricaut Bonomel, Ir'e dolors s'es dins mon cor asseza

Translation and notes by Helen J. Nicholson

Ed. note: the following original translation was provided to ORB by Dr. Helen Nicholson, who teaches at the University of Wales-Cardiff College.

INTRODUCTION by Helen Nicholson

Written by a Templar brother in the Holy Land, in 1265 or early 1266. This is an important historical source for the events in the Holy Land during Baibars' invasions. The poet complains that the French are crusading with Count Charles of Anjou in Italy against the supporters of the Staufen, rather than coming to the Holy Land to fight the Mamluk sultan Baibars. The writer refers to the loss of the castle of Arsuf or Arsur, held by the Hospitallers, which fell to Baibars at the end of April 1265, but does not refer to the loss of the Templars' castle of Saphet in late July 1266; hence the poem was composed some time between these two defeats.


1. Anger and grief are so set in my heart That I all but kill myself at once; Or lay down the cross I took up In honour of Him Who was put on the Cross; For neither cross nor law helps nor guides me Against the evil Turks, God curse them! Rather it seems to me, as far as one can tell, That God wishes to help them destroy us.

2. At the first assault, they conquered Caesarea, And the strong castle of Arsuf was taken by force, Alas! Lord God, and what was their end, All those knights, all those sergeants, all those townsfolk Who were within the walls of Arsuf? Alas! the kingdom of Syria Has lost so much, if one may speak the truth, It will never recover again.

3. Then whoever fights the Turks is a real fool Since Jesus Christ certainly does not attack them; They have conquered and will conquer, it grieves me to say, Franks and Tartars, Armenians and Persians. And we are defeated every day For God sleeps, who used to stand watch, And Bafometz [Mohammad] acts with all his power And spurs on Melicadefer [Baibars].

4. Nor does it seem to me that he will ever retreat, No, he has sworn and said openly That no one who believes in Christ Will remain in this country, if he has his way... No, he will build a mosque Out of the Church of St. Mary And since Her Son, who ought to be grieved Wishes and is pleased with this, it must therefore please us.

5. The pope is very generous with his indulgences Against Italians, to Charles and the French, But he makes great profits out of us, For he pardons for money people who have taken our cross; And if anyone wishes to swop the Holy Land For the war in Italy Our legate allows them to do so For he sells God and indulgences for cash.

6. O French lords! Alexandria Has done you more harm than Italy, For here the Turks are overrunning us, Capturing and conquering and giving us away for cash.

Translated from the edition by A. de Bastard, 'La colère et la douleur d'un templier en Terre Sainte', Revue des langues romanes, 81 (1974), 333-373.

Further reading: On events in the Holy Land in the 1260s, see H. Mayer, The Crusades, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1988), chapter 14.

On the crusades in Italy, see N. Housley, The Italian Crusades. The papal-Angevin alliance and the crusades against Christian lay powers, 1254-1343 (Oxford, 1982).

Copyright (C) 1998, Helen J. Nicholson. All rights reserved.. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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