I write this history lest the true story be lost, like countless truths before it. History bends and warps until truth is lost and this I hope to avoid. If possible, I will stay with my own observations and thoughts but I will offer that of others if I was not present.
As to who am I? That would be quite a long story in itself but I am known as Matthias de Molay, a name that should be known to the astute among you. For was it not Jacques de Molay who burned at the stake so many years ago when the greedy French king Philip the Fair seized Knight Templar lands and executed many members of that former Order? I remember that day all too well and those brothers died protecting a secret, my secret. I remember earlier times than even this. I remember when the Arabs swept out of Arabia in 632, or the fall of Rome in 410 when the Visigoths and their King Alaric sacked the city. I even remember Caesar Augustus and even Herod, yes, I lived even in those times and it was there, in Judea, that my most heinous crime was committed. Folly, such folly yet how was I to know but I had my orders but following orders is no defense in the eyes of the Lord. I ramble on and babble like an old fool. Enough of my woes!
The Grand Commander of the Order and I meet on the first of the year and the following exchange occurred.
"Marshal, what are the strengths of our forces?"
"Some 9,000 foot and 1,000 horse plus we have our fleet of galleys, ample enough to carry the entire army and then some."
"I see. Treasurer, how stands our finances?"
"We are very poor, Commander. Ever since our preceptories in Europe have stopped sending us men and monies we are in a desperate situation."
"I see. So, gentlemen, what do we do?"
A host of ideas were presented. The Treasurer wished internal development and the building of trade. The Hospitaller wished an increase in non-military functions, care for pilgrims and such. The Drapier, or quartermaster, said we should horde our wealth and lend it to other nations. The Turcopolier called for increased raids on sea and land to get the wealth we would need.
"And what do you think, Marshal?"
"Development is a good idea but the Island of Rhodes is beyond poor. If you have nothing and double it, you still have nothing, no? I also agree that care of pilgrims is something we should be concerned about yet this will not feed us for the most part. As for banking, the Templars tried that and look where that got them. I do not wish to burn. Increasing raids against the infidel on land and sea would gain us plunder but in the end saps our strength and will make us a target for retribution and as you know, we cannot take the Turks."
"Well said but you have not answered my question." the Commander said testily.
"I push for a bold move to propel us to power. A move that is true to the Crusades that saw this Order formed. I suggest this. That the Treasurer seek to procure us a loan against our revenue for the next five years and we use this for three things; to expand our trading abilities, to extend our infrastructure and finally for a bold strike against the Muslims."
"And against whom would you strike against, Marshal? said the Turcopolier and all eyes were riveted upon me.
"To one of the graineries of ancient Rome. A strike on the weak Hafsid Empire. Weak, yet far wealthier than we for the grain of Tunisia will feed us and the armies and the ivory of Tripolitania will be a highly desired export as we have no use for it as we are but simple warrior-monks."
The room erupted in dissent yet above all, the sound of the Commander could be heard.
"I have planned for such a strike, de Molay, and if you hurry you can catch the galley in the harbor that waits for you. The army needs it's commander. Good luck, brother, and remember we fight for Christ!"
A bold gamble that would see us succeed and become strong or fail and see us fade from the Earth.
Edit: A date, nothing major.