Post-classical history

Ambroise

Author of L’Estoire de la Guerre Sainte, an Old French verse history of the Third Crusade (1189-1192) over 12,000 lines long. Ambroise gave a pious fighting man’s view of the crusade, in which King Richard I of England and Earl Robert of Leicester were the great heroes. His work brings the reader close to individual acts of prowess and courage, and to the swings of mood in the crusader camp. Capable of admiring Muslim bravery, he was fiercely critical of the conduct of King Philip II of France and Hugh III, duke of Burgundy. For the early history of the siege of Acre, he embellished the narrative in the chronicle known as the Itinerarium Peregrinorum, but for events from the time of Richard I’s landing in Sicily (September 1190), Ambroise may himself have been the eyewitness on whose account L’Estoire is based. In its extant form, the text was probably completed in the late 1190s. It was known to, and extensively used by, Richard de Templo, author of the Itinerar- ium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, though today, apart from one short fragment, it survives in just a single manuscript (MS Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg.lat.1659).

Ambroise wrote of the exploits of Richard I during the Third Crusade. (Archivo Iconografico, S.A./Corbis)

Ambroise wrote of the exploits of Richard I during the Third Crusade. (Archivo Iconografico, S.A./Corbis)

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