Carmen Ambrosii

In the opinion of Dr. Stubbs, the Itinerarium was written originally in Latin and not in French, though this editor even in 1864 admitted that the hasty notes on which he supposed it to have been based might have been jotted down in the latter tongue. But the work, as it is now preserved, could not possibly, he contended, be a translation from the French or even a free rendering of a French history. On the other hand, as Dr. Stubbs himself pointed out, there was the distinct assertion of the author of the Chronicon Terrae Snnctae that the stoiy of Richard's expedition was to be found fully treated in the book which the prior of the Holy Trinity at London caused to be translated out of French (ex Gallica lingua) into English. Trivet also, as noticed above, declares the author of our Itinerarium, from which he quotes, to have written his work both in prose and verse. Hence the only way to reconcile the statements of Trivet and the author of the Chronicon is to assume that the Itinerarium was based on a French poem— a theory which a remarkable discovery of the last few years has rendered highly probable.

In 1873 an entirely new light was thrown upon the question by MM. Gustave Monod and Gaston Paris. These scholars drew attention to a late thirteenth century MS. the value of which, though it had long been known to exist in the National library at Paris, they were the first to appreciate.

This MS. written in seven-syllabled rhyming couplets of French verse turned out to be an account of Richard I.'s Crusade, and at a first glance was seen to correspond to Books II.-VI. of the Itinerarium. Its author more Jhan once discloses his name, Ambrose; and from his calling the Normans his ancestors it would seem that he was a Norman by birth, or at least by origin. He is probably to be identified with a certain Ambrose, one of the king John's Jrrlvswho in the English Rolls receives a payment for singing a hymn at king John's second coronation [Oct. 2, 1200].

There can be no doubt that Itinerarium is based upon the Carmen Ambrosii, or vice versa. The close resemblances of the two narratives can be explained on no other supposition. Of the two alternatives, even if we set aside Trivet's evidence, there need be no hesitation in embracing the first. The Itinerarium is plainly a rhetorical exercise, and is from this point of view distinctly a development of the simple rhymes of the Noiman poet. Again, where the two writers make any allusion to themselves the author of the Itinerarium uses the vague "we" a striking contrast to the direct use of the first person singular which we find in Ambrose.

From these remarks it will be seen that there are elements of truth in the statements made both by the author of the Chronicon Terra Sanctce and Nicholas Trivet. For, as we have just shewn, the Itinerarinm is closely related to a French poem.

There still however remains the problem as to how a writer who was so plainly amplifying and embellishing an earlier work could possibly speak of the Itinerarium as drawn up amid the din of camps. The full solution of the difficulty must be left till we have the edition of the whole poem promised us by MM. Monod and Paris. Till then it would seem either that Richard de Templo, if he be the author of the Itinerarium, was uttering a deliberate falsewood or, we must assign to Ambrose not only the French original but also the Latin translation. The latter alternative seems preferable, and indeed is in closer consonance with the words of the Chronicon Terroe Sanctce, which does not say that the Prior of the Holy Trinity translated his work but caused it to be translated (ex Gallica lingua in Latinum fecit transferri) . It is well however to notice that the writer of the Itinerarium appears to have reached the Holy Land along with Archbishop Baldwin in Sept. 1190; whereas Ambrose was still in Sicily at Christmas.

Dr. Stubbs has recorded his opinion that there is no difference of style between the earlier and later books of the Itinerarium. This is a very delicate topic on which to touch ; but, to the present editor, it seems indisputable that the later books (perhaps even including the second itself) are written with far more rhetorical display than the first. They may possibly be the work of the same author, but they are far more verbose than the earlier one. Now, as the preface, in one MS. at least, belongs to this first book only, there is nothing to prevent us from holding that the writer is there offering his apology for the somewhat blunt and, as he would think, inartistic style of these early chapters which he may actually have written, in their first form, during the siege of Acre. Later, when he completed his history and touched up the entire narrative, he may not have been unwilling to allow his original preface to stand for an introduction to the whole work, as a kind of apology for any short-comings and an assurance to his readers that they had not yet got the best he was capable of giving them. If this be so, the Itinerarium in its present form holds towards the original first book and the Song of Ambrose much the same position as Baldric of Dol holds to Tudebodc, or the author of the Gesta Francorum among the historians of the first Crusade.


1- Ambroise, The third crusade : an eyewitness account of the campaigns of Richard Coeur-de-Lion in Cyprus and the Holy Land,    Folio Society, 1958.

2- Edbury (E.), Third Crusade, Pearson Education, Limited.

3- Tyerman (Ch.), The Third Crusade: 1188-1192, Folio Society, 2004.

Itinerarium Peregrinorum

The Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi is the chief European account of the Third Crusade. After a minute examination of all the evidence that could be collected, Dr.Stubbs in 1864 came to the conclusion that this work is the production of a certain Richard, canon of the Holy Trinity in London. Richard, we learn ofNich0lais Trivet, a Franciscan writer of the early fourteenth century, “ wrote an itinerary of this king in prose and verse.” Trivet then proceeds to quote a phrase from the preface to the Itinerarium, and the exact words in which the author of the Itinerarium , as now preserved and translated in this book, describes Richarcl’s character and personal appearance. From such evidence it would seem that Trivet in this passage was alluding to our Itinerarium, which in this case can hardly fail to be the production of Richard of the Holy Trinity, despite the fact that one MS. refers it to Geoffrey Vinsauf.

This Richard of the Holy Trinity, according to Dr. Stubbs, is probably to be identied with “ Richard de Temple,” who was clcctcd prior of the Holy Trinity in I222 A.D., and died perhaps about I250. His name, if the De Templo is not a surname, would scein to imply that he was a Templar; in which case he was perhaps only a chaplain and not a knight of that Order.

The writer of the Itinerarium, whoever he may have been, declares in his prologue that he was an eye witness to the things he narrates, and that he has written them out while they were still “ warm ” in his memory. He excuses his want of rhetorical grace on the ground that he jotted down his story in the din of war, and he bids the reader remember that it was while engaged on the campaign that he wrote : “ auditor noverit nos in castris fuisse cum scripsimus.” This passage Dr. Stubbs has interpreted to mean that he made hasty notes for his work during the Crusade itself, and afterwards worked these notes up into the elaborate treatise as we now have it. The work itself, in Dr.Stubbs’ opinion, was certainly composed in Latin and not in French.

The Itinerarium, is divided into six books of which the first is devoted to the expedition of Frederic Barbarossa and the siege of Acre down to Lent I191. Book II. conducts Richard on his way through I


William Stubbs, Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis Ricardi, London, 1864.

Mayer (H. E.), Das Itinerarium Peregrinorum. Eine zeitgenössische englische Chronik zum dritten Kreuzzug in ursprünglicher Gestalt. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1962.

Primary Sources of the Third Crusade

Group 1:

Contemporary writers who, for the most part, were in Palestine when the events they described took place.

1. Author of the Itinerarium.

2. Bohadin. (بهاء الدين بن شداد)

3. Ernoul.

4. Ambrose.

5. Ansbert.

6. (Pixie Rolls).

7. Epistolae Cantuarienses.

8. Rymer's Foedera

Group 2:

Contemporary writers who, for the most part, were mu‘ in Palestine when the events they describe occurred.

1- Roger of Howden.

2- Benedict.

3- Rigord

4- William le Breton

5- Ralph of Coggeshall.

6- Richard of Devizes.

7- Ibn Alathir.

8- William of Newburgh.

9- Ralph de Dicto

Group 3:

Writers of the next generation who lived in Syria or, having visited it, could there pick up the living tradition of the third crusade.

1- Joinvillo.

2- Le Estoire d’Eraclés.

3- Gregory Abulfaraj (Bar Hebraeus) (1226-1286) (ابن العبري)

Group 4:

Writers of the next generation who were not in the Holy Land.

1- Vincent of Beauvais.

2- Roger of Wendover.

3- Matthew Paris.

4- Caesar of Heisterbach.

5- Franciscus Pipplnus belongs to a generation later still.


Archer (T. A.), The Crusade of Richard I (1189-1192), London, 1912.

Edbury (P. W.), The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade: Sources in Translation, Ashgate 1998.