What I Saw

04 Aug 2023

Benedict of Peterborough

The Abbot Benedict, of Peterborough, in his Chronicle under the title Oesta Regis Henrici IL et Ricardi, describes how Isaac Comnenus, Emperor of Cyprus tried to trick Richard the Lionheart.

On the same day the Emperor of Cyprus, seeing that all his people were deserting him, sent ambassadors to the king of England, to sue for mercy, and offered to make peace on these conditions, namely, that he should give the king of England 20,000 marks of gold, by way of compensation for the money taken from the bodies of those who had perished in the shipwreck, and surrender the persons and goods of the survivors; also, that he should himself accompany the king to Syria, and remain there in the service of (rod, together with a hundred men-at-arms, and four hundred Turcople horsemen, as long as the king stayed there; also, that he should deliver his only daughter and heiress into the king's hand to be married by him to whomsoever he would, and with her his Empire; furthermore, that he should surrender the castles of his realm to the king, as a pledge for the steadfast observance of the treaty.

These conditions having been proposed and accepted, the emperor came to the king of England, and, in the presence of the king of Jerusalem, the Prince of Antioch, and the rest of the Lords and of the princes of all his Empire, swore fealty to the king of England and his heirs, as his liege lords, against all men, binding himself also by his oath to keep and perform the aforesaid treaty, steadfastly and unshakeably, in good faith and without guile.

On the same day after the mid-day meal the emperor was in his tent: whilst the king's men-at-arms, into whose charge he had been given, took their mid-day sleep, the emperor, repenting of having made the abovementioned treaty with the king of England, secretly made his escape. Then he sent a message to the king to say that never would he keep peace or treaty with him. This, as it appeared, gave the king great pleasure, and, like a wary and prudent man, he immediately placed a large part of his army under the command of Guy, king of Jerusalem, and the other princes, saying to them, "Pursue and take the man, if you can. Meanwhile, I will sail around Cyprus with my galleys, and station guards all-round the island, lest that forsworn deceiver escapes my hands."

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

Discover More