A Muslim Emir Submits Seeing Godfrey of Bouillon Behead a Camel With One Stroke

November 5, 2020

The punishment fell once more on Heavy Lout. Tired of paying the price on behalf of a stronger or more skillful ally, but who, after having compromised him, never bothered to send him any help, Heavy Lout realized that there was nothing left to do but to submit with good cheer, to the law of the conqueror. Thus, he went in person to ask the king of Jerusalem what his conditions were. A secret curiosity also urged him to take this step, not just his dire straits. He had heard so many wonderful anecdotes about Godfrey, and his renown was so fabulous that he had long harbored a desire to see him. The special quality that touched him the most and that he specifically wanted to ascertain in the French hero was his muscular strength, of which, it was said, he was gifted to an incredible degree.

So Heavy Lout wanted to test him. He showed him a camel, which he had brought along for this purpose, begging Godfrey to behead him with a sword, saying that it would do him great honor among his people if he could boast of having witnessed such a feat.

The king consented to this strange request, which painted his guest so well, justifying the nickname the Christians had given him.

Drawing his sword, he struck the camel’s neck, cutting it “as neatly as a goose’s.” For a moment, Heavy Lout stood just amazed. Then, with that humble and sly smile so common to people of his kind, he said: “It remains to be seen if the king could do the same with another sword.”

Godfrey immediately took the emir’s scimitar and sliced off the head of a second camel, and just as easily.

This double experience fully convinced the overweight Muslim leader, whose enthusiasm now knew no bounds. He offered the king a rich collection of jewels and precious stones and withdrew, filled with religious admiration for such a solid wrist. He no longer entertained the slightest hint of revolt. The superiority of his new master had been affirmed before him in too luminous a manner!

This adventure, carefully recorded by contemporary chroniclers, as well as the visit of the Samarian emirs during the second siege of Arsouf, deserved not to be forgotten. They show what feelings Godfrey of Bouillon inspired in the Muslims of Palestine, and what prestige he already exercised over the fiery imaginations of the Orientals. A prince combining such remarkable military qualities with the ascendancy of virtue seemed made to overcome all the obstacles that threatened the future of his nascent empire and to fulfill all of the crusade’s hopes.

 

Alphonse Vétault, Godefroi de Bouillon (Cadillac, France: Éditions Saint-Remi, 2019), 300–1. (Nobility.org translation.)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 751

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