Catholic Search
Custom Search

New Release! Chant Compendium 8 with beautiful Gregorian chant

An exciting novel about the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem!

Crusader King

Chapter 7

Baldwin wondered if he was ever going to get used to this, sitting at his father's place at the high table. After nearly a month, he still sometimes forgot and went to the wrong chair. But his attendants were always so patient, reminding him where to go, and for that he was relieved. Still, Baldwin felt as if he had taken something which shouldn't belong to him.

He had always known, of course, that he would someday be King, but he had never dreamed it would be so soon. No, he had just assumed that he would be a grown-up when his father died and left him with the weight of the entire Kingdom upon his shoulders. He begged God every day - countless times a day! - to make him a good and just ruler, to help him in all these immense responsibilities which had so suddenly fallen into his lap. His father had tried to prepare him for this during his whole life, but it was so different to actually do it in reality. And he missed his father so much!

He finished his meal, and a page came to refill his cup. Baldwin shook his head, unwilling to drink too much of the strong wine. Besides, it was the time of evening when the gates of the city were always locked for the night, and he liked to supervise this function whenever he could, as his father had done before him.

He silently said his own after-meal grace and rose to leave. Instantly every other person in the room stood up as well, and all conversation ceased. This, too, he would have to get used to. His attendants draped his royal robe around his shoulders and stepped forward to accompany him, but Baldwin motioned for them to stay behind. He didn't need a flock of pages trailing after him every single hour of the day! Instead his eyes traveled to the small group of squires at the far end of the hall, and he indicated for Theo alone to follow.

As Baldwin crossed the floor of the great hall everyone bowed respectfully, and it wasn't until he had stepped through the door and out of their presence that they resumed their seats.

He waited for Theo to join him, then said, "I'm going up to the walls. Want to come?"

Theo smiled. "You bet I do."

The garrison of Templars were the ones in charge of guarding the city, and once those gates were locked each evening, no one could get in or out without the consent of the Order's Military Marshal, Sir Gerard de Ridford. Together the two boys made their way through the palace and into the open air. "You know something?" Baldwin asked after a minute.
"No. What?"

"I'm starting to wish you didn't want to become a Templar once you're knighted."

Theo looked at him, surprised. "Why?"

Baldwin sighed. "Because my father's arrangements for Sibyl's marriage didn't work out, and now it's up to me to find a husband for her. You would have been my first choice."

Theo stopped walking and stared at him, stunned. "Hey! And I thought I was your friend!"

Baldwin nearly laughed at the look on his face. "You are my friend, dummy," he reassured with a grin. "Don't you realize I'm offering you the highest honor in the Kingdom?"

"Really? You could've fooled me."

"Don't you get it? Think. When I die someday, Sibyl will become the Queen. And that makes her husband the next King of Jerusalem."

Theo just stood there, dumbfounded, as the implication sank in. Baldwin, however, started walking again and Theo hurried to catch up. "Wait a minute," he objected. "That's not how it works. Your oldest son inherits the Throne, not your sister."

Baldwin felt that familiar sickening dread. "Not in my case," he said quietly. "I'm never going to have a son. I can't make anyone marry me." "What a crazy thing to say! You, of all people, can take your pick. And it's not just because you're the King either. Believe me, Dwin. I know about these things."

"But I'm sick, Theo. Remember? And it's only going to get worse. Sometimes I wish you'd just stop pretending I'm normal because—"

"You are normal, Dwin. You've caught some kind of infection, that's all. Besides, I ask God every single day to make you better, and He always hears our prayers."

Baldwin fell silent. There was no point arguing about God answering prayers in His own way. He knew Theo was sincere. But it had been a long time since Theo had seen the way his hands and arms actually looked.

He sighed and glanced at his friend. It was obvious that poor Theo was suddenly depressed. Baldwin forced a smile and gave him a playful punch. "Come on," he teased, "what do you say? Want to be the next King or not?"

Theo couldn't help it. He had to laugh. "Believe me," he answered, "I'd rather be the lowest serf who cleans the latrines than the mighty nobleman who gets stuck with your sister! Even if she is gorgeous and comes with a free Kingdom."

Now Baldwin laughed as well. "All right," he conceded. "Point taken. I'll let you off. Go ahead and be a monk."

"You know I'd make a rotten king anyhow."

Baldwin could have argued with that, but he didn't. He knew he would just have to choose another virtuous nobleman. Possibly one of the Ibelin brothers. Or better yet, that William de Montferrat, the one called Sir William Longsword.

They reached the city walls in silence and stopped to watch the locking of the gates below. Baldwin understood why his father had gone nearly every evening to see this. It was a sobering reminder that they were living in a state of constant warfare. They were never safe, never able to just go to bed without wondering if the city might be attacked as they slept. Saladin was always out there, waiting.

"Hey, Dwin," Theo spoke up, pointing into the distance. "Someone got locked out."

Baldwin had already spotted the lone knight galloping across the bleak desert sands. "I see him," he said. "The Templars will take care of it." They always did. It was their job to find out who the man might be and why he desired to enter the city after hours.

Sure enough, by the time he arrived, a pair of the warrior monks were waiting for him on the wall just above. The knight reined in, and even from where they stood the two boys could see how desperate and exhausted he looked. He had obviously ridden at great speed for a long time.

"Let me in!" he gasped, addressing the Templars.

"The gates are already locked," one of them called down. "First state your business, and we'll speak to our Marshal."

"I bear a message of utmost urgency for His Majesty the King. Please, I must see him!"

Before the Templars could reply, Baldwin moved closer and called down to the man himself. "I am the King, Sir Knight. What have you to say?"

The messenger looked up, confused for an instant, and Baldwin realized that the man had forgotten it was no longer Amalric who was king, but his son. The knight, however, recovered quickly and wasted no time. "My liege, the city of Aleppo is under attack. The Christian population there is large. They entreat you to send reinforcements."

Before Baldwin had time to say anything, Theo unintentionally blurted out, "Aleppo! That¹s hundreds of miles north! We could never get an army there in time!"

The knight was waiting for the King to answer.

Baldwin whispered a silent prayer for help, then turned to the Templars. "Open the gates," he ordered, "and let this man in."

Taken from Crusader King by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.

Historical Note

On November 27, 1095, in a town called Clermont, France, Pope Urban II addressed the clergy, princes and knights of Christendom in a sermon which, unknown to himself, was about to change the entire course of medieval history. During the last several centuries, the places sanctified by the earthly life, death and glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, namely the Holy Land, had been under the control of Muslims, followers of the religion of Islam, which had been founded by Mohammed in the 7th century. The Holy Land had more recently fallen into the hands of the fiercest and most fanatical of these Islamic sects, a race called the Seljuk Turks. As a result, those places held so dear to Catholics were desecrated, churches having been turned into mosques, and Christian pilgrims being robbed and often slain. The Holy Land had become a breeding ground for error and spiritual corruption. Furthermore, the insidious and false religion was threatening to spread westward.

Realizing the enormity of this danger to Holy Mother Church, the Pope made an urgent appeal to the whole of Catholic Europe, exhorting his faithful flock to lay aside all fighting between themselves and instead combine their forces in an attempt to vanquish the enemies of God and thus rescue the Holy Land from their grasp. To all those who were willing to leave behind their homes and families for the cause of this holy endeavor, the Pope offered the richest indulgences.

His proposal was received with overwhelming enthusiasm. Soon not only Clermont, but every town in Europe was resounding with the words that were to become a battle cry: "God wills it!"

Thousands upon thousands, knights and peasants alike, vowed to "take the cross" to Jerusalem. From this term came the word Crusade, the name by which we call this holy war and those that would eventually follow.

Within a year, four enormous armies had gathered from all parts of Europe. Like a tidal wave of humanity, these first brave Crusaders surged toward Palestine and, in 1099, reached Jerusalem itself. In a vicious and bloody battle they managed to capture this most revered city and reclaim it for Christ.

One of the armies' great leaders, Godfrey de Bouillon, was chosen to be the new ruler of Jerusalem, but he died shortly thereafter, leaving his brother to ascend the Throne as King Baldwin the First.

Victory after victory followed until the Catholics eventually gained possession of a large region of Palestine, which came to be known as Outremer, meaning "the land beyond the sea."

This newly restored Kingdom of Jerusalem, however, remained under constant threat from the Infidel - "the unbelievers," meaning the Muslims - so much so that in 1147 a second Crusade was launched to bolster the Christian position. Indeed, it would require such strengthening. For in 1137, a Muslim of Kurdish descent had been born who was to become the single most formidable enemy the Crusaders would ever have to reckon with, a man by the name of Salah-el-Din Yousouf, more commonly known as Saladin. By 1170 this military genius had made himself master of most of the ever-increasing Muslim territory surrounding Crusader lands. He would soon attain absolute power as the Turkish Sultan.

At this point in time, King Amalric the First was the Sovereign upon the Catholic Throne of Jerusalem, his heir being the young Prince Baldwin...

Other pages discussing Catholic doctrine and history:

Return to Catholic Doctrine Homepage