Post-classical history

§ Examples of Ignorance: Playing with Fire

Indeed, every act in which reason is absent results in error and failure. Here is an example. Once, the Franks encamped against Hama in its fields, [86] in which there was a fat harvest of corn; they pitched their tents right in the midst of that harvest. Now, a group of robbers came out from Shayzar to reconnoitre the Frankish army and rob them, and they noticed their tents were pitched in the corn.

So the next morning, one of them went before the lord of Hama and said, ‘Tonight I will burn up the entire Frankish army.’

‘If you do that,’ replied the lord, ‘I will cover you with honours.’

Once evening fell, the robber went out with a group of like-minded companions, and they started the fire in the corn west of the tents, so that the breeze would drive the flames towards the tents of the enemy. Thanks to the light of the fire, the night became like day, so the Franks caught sight of them, rushed towards them and killed most of them. Only those who threw themselves in to the river and swam over to the other side managed to escape. And so here we see the impact of ignorance and its consequences.

I happened to witness a similar case, though it did not take place during combat. The Franks had amassed their troops in great numbers against Banias, and they were accompanied by their patriarch.149 The patriarch had pitched a large tent to use as a church in which they could pray. An old deacon was responsible for maintaining the church and he had covered the floor using rushes and grass, which infested the place with fleas. It then occurred to that deacon to burn the rushes and grass so as to burn up the fleas. So he set the rushes and grass – which had all dried out – on fire. The flames rose higher and higher and caught on the tent, leaving it a pile of ashes. Reason was surely not present in this man.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!