Gaucher de Chatillon’s Death: A Lesson on How the Lower Exists to Serve the Higher

June 11, 2020

The Saracens did not require a miracle to triumph over a dispersed army reduced to so small a number of combatants. The rearguard of the Christians, always pursued and unceasingly attacked, arrived with much difficulty before the little town of Minieh. The king, escorted by a few knights, preceded the troops into the city, where he alighted as weak “as a child in its mother’s lap,” says Joinville. Fatigue, sickness, and the grief which such disasters caused him, had so overcome him, that all believed (we still quote the same author) he was about to die.

Gaucher de Chatillon

The intrepid Gaucher de Chatillon watched over his safety; alone, he for a length of time defended the entrance of a narrow street, which led to the house in which his faithful servants were endeavoring to recall the exhausted monarch to life. At one moment he rushed like lightning upon the infidels, dispersed them, cut them down; then, after turning to pull from his cuirass, and even his body, the arrows and darts with which he was stuck all over, he flew again upon the enemy, rising from time to time in his stirrups, and shouting with all his force, “Chatillon, knights! Chatillon, to the rescue! Where are ye, my gallant men?” The remainder of the rearguard were still at some distance; nobody appeared, but the Saracens, on the contrary, came up in crowds; at length, overwhelmed by numbers, bristling with arrows, and covered with wounds, he fell; none of the Crusaders could succor him, not one could witness his heroic end! His horse, one sheet of blood and foam, became the prey of the infidels, and his last exploits were narrated by a Mussulman warrior, who exhibited his sword, and boasted of having killed the bravest of the Christians.

Joseph François Michaud, History of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (London: George Routledge and Co., 1852), 2:427.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 730

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