When they had told him, he said he must by some means or other win these men over. ” And if this is done ‘ then with their help discord can be introduced and that will split up the body of the Frankish army.” This plan he communicated to the men just mentioned, and begged each of the three to lend him one of their trusted servants who knew how to hold his tongue ; and they willingly agreed to give him their best servants. When the men came, he invented the following scheme.
He composed letters which were apparently answers to some of Bohemund’s most intimate friends and were conceived on the assumption that the others had already written to him, wooing his friendship and revealing the tyrant’s secret intentions. So he sent them these letters in which he pretended to offer them most grateful thanks and to be ready to accept their kind feelings toward him.
These men were Guido, Bohemund’s own brother, and another called Copnsianus, one of the most renowned men, the third was Richard, the fourth Principatus, a brave man who held the highest rank in Bohemund’s army, and several others. To these he addressed the false letters. For the Emperor had not received any letter of the kind from the other side, either from Richard or anybody else, with suggestions of good-will and trust; but he alone out of his own brain conceived this species of letter.
The object of this dramatic business was that, if the treachery of these men of such high-standing should come to Bohemund’s ears, and he believe that they had become disaffected towards him and gone over to the Emperor’s side, he would in his perturbation revert to his natural barbarity, treat those men ill and compel them to break with him and then in consequence of Alexius’ trick they would do what had never entered their heads, namely, secede to the latter. For methinks the General knew that every opponent is strong, provided the whole tribe is welded and bound together, but when at odds and split into several parties it becomes feebler and in consequence falls an easy prey to those warring against it. Such was the deep conception and hidden guile of those letters.
Alexius carried out the affair as follows. He sent each letter to those men by a different messenger with orders to deliver it personally. Those letters did not merely convey his thanks but spoke of gifts and royal presents and extravagant promises, and coaxed them to bear and show good-will to him in the future and not conceal any secret from him. On their heels he sent one of his most trusty servants to follow the messengers without being seen and told him that when he saw they were close to the camp he was to slip past and outrun them and find Bohemund.
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