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Thread: Road to Jerusalem. A collaborative AAR.

  1. #21
    Alfred Packer: Thank you! And the Crusade’s not even fully assembled yet!

    Rex Angliae: Very nice naval stuff here – rare for CK and thus doubly prescious. Also, I liked the introduction about San Marco. Atmospheric, that, and a fine way to dress the stage for what's to come.

    Maver1ck: Thank you. And to clarify the confusion: This is not a spin off from Furor Normannicus, but neither is it a true multiplayer AAR, the difference being that – I admit it readily – no actual gameplay is involved. Every participant is free to decide wether to make up something completely new for his chapters, or to base them more or less closely on some other AAR of their’s. For my part I have chosen the latter approach,making my own chapters indeed into an offshoot from Furor Normannicus, with Roger Borsa as he is portrayed in that AAR as main character.

    And, RGB – I haven’t forgotten you, but I leave the answer to the author himself.

  2. #22
    Off Again Alfred Packer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    Alfred Packer: Thank you! And the Crusade’s not even fully assembled yet!
    Yeah, I just saw Rex's piece...I've always been a big fan of his work and this installment is no exception!

  3. #23
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maver1ck View Post
    Can someone just clear this up for me though, is this a multiplayer AAR.... or a spin off of Furor Normannicus :S
    Yes.


  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    Venetians heading towards Constantinople?

    I don't know why but I have a creeping suspicion they may just be up to no good.

    The Duke as a Captain of Venice - that's interesting. Not something I considered but it must have happened a fair bit that noblemen got themselves hired as captains in other countries at the time.

    RGB,
    This is a spin off from my current Burgundian AAR. Although I've not reached 1095 in that AAR I have in game play and the duke becomes a crusader and celibate. And this was before I was invited aboard this collaboration! It just fitted perfectly and I will of course mirror this when I catch up with my AAR.

    Alfred Packer, you honour me sir. Thank you.

    And The Guiscard, glad you like the naval bit. And I do like writing atmospheric stuff so pleased you liked the intro too.

    And to my fellow collaborators, one word. Brilliant. I am really enjoying reading your work.
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  5. #25
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    La Serenissima's the name for one of the audio files in CK! Nice work as always, gents!
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  6. #26
    Chapter Five: Young Richard Arrives In Bari

    by phargle

    The hustle and bustle of the coastal city of Bari dazzled young Richard of Normandy. There was a treat for each of his senses: beautiful and exotic Greek women for his eyes; the aroma of intriguing hodge-podge cuisine being proffered by sandy-skinned street vendors for his nose; a Babel of tongues, but most of all his own Norman French for his ears; the intense flavor of salt coming off the Adriatic that he could taste in his throat; and the warmth of the Mediterranean seeping through his cloak and the armor underneath for his sense of touch. The streets were filled with people to the point of bursting, and Richard found himself jostled a lot as he shoved his way through the crowd. Mindful of what his mentor Stephen Longsword had said, he kept one hand firmly on his purse and the other on his sword as he followed Stephen to where everyone seemed to be going: the docks.

    The narrow streets seemed to link together a series of secrets in the cramped city, with each one opening up into something new. The first courtyard held an ancient white statue, some Byzantine affair hearkening back to pagan days, and around it there was a entranced crowd of angry peasants listening to a street preacher. The man, a strange hermit with a vaguely Normano-French accent, was speaking with an unhinged fervor of the need to head for Constantinople. Stephen and Richard pushed their way through what must have been a crowd of hundreds to get to the twisting alley on the other side of the square. In another courtyard, strange merchants speaking some sort of Italian Lombard language seemed to be menacing a large and confused group of peasant women and children. Many of the peasants had crosses sewn into their clothes. Richard paused to look, but Stephen was intent on urging his ward onward, and so they left the scene behind.



    The two emerged from the crowded and crooked alley. Stephen squinted at the ships and pointed one out to Richard, but an older, heavy-set man with a stout nose and a coarse tunic approached before he could speak. The Norman knight grinned sunnily as the newcomer approached, and the man - the knight's servant - nodded respectfully and returned the greeting.

    "I've passage for us in the morning," Mauger said soberly, his consonants punctuated with a deep nasal sound. He pointed out a ship with bright sails on which several would-be crusaders could already be seen. "A good fee too, sir," the servant continued, and handed a purse over to Stephen.

    "Well done, and my thanks, Mauger," Stephen replied, and pressed the purse back into his servant's hands. "We'll need a place to stay, food and lodging." Mauger nodded obediently and turned to leave, but stopped when Richard spoke up.

    "Any news?" the young man asked, trying to sound as casual as he could.

    "News," Mauger rumbled. "The Normans of this land are crusading, but I think not their king, and the Danes, but I think not through Bari, and . . ."

    "Any news of my father?"

    "Your father," Mauger repeated slowly. "The news is that my lord Robert is already sailed for Greece, left not many days before, and well-financed he was, too."

    Stephen smiled widely, and turned to face Richard. "We managed to miss him again, it seems. Come, Richard, let us settle in for the night. I'm sure we'll find him in Jerusalem." When Richard's expression went a little strange, Stephen added, "Or miss him, if that's more to your liking."

    "I mean-"

    "Lodging first," Stephen declared. "I will present myself to the ship's captain, and we'll meet you back here."

    Mauger nodded and left, and Stephen and Richard walked to the crowded vessel. When Stephen was finished, the two walked back down the pier to the row of buildings clustered along the harbor. While Stephen was eying them to see if he could see his servant, Richard saw one of the peasant woman from the courtyard being marched onto another ship. One of the men, dressed like a Venetian trader, shoved the woman forward when she paused. Richard pointed urgently. "What are they doing?" he asked.

    Stephen turned to look and frowned slightly when he recognized what was happening. Like many, the peasants were responding to the crusading call, but were unequipped to fight and unprepared to pay for passage to Greece. He thought for a few moments before answering. "Many took up the call who should have remained home," he finally said. "Come on, let's find Mauger."

    "Where are they taking her?" Richard demanded.

    "Richard," the Norman knight said slowly. "The holy mission to save Constantinople is for knights and kings, those as can protect themselves." He nodded to the Venetian ship. "Things like that is why many who came should have stayed home rather than end up taken advantage of or enslaved or the like."

    "Enslaved?"

    Stephen struggled to turn the conversation away from the unfortunate scene at the piers. "They probably agreed to passage fees they'll never be able to pay. Come along, we've got to- hey!" Before Stephen could catch him, Richard had run towards the Venetian ship and grabbed one of the traders. Stephen jogged up and started to speak. "I am sorry for my ward, but-"

    Richard pushed the Venetian against a post. "Where are you taking these people?" With a gesture, he waved a hand at the crowd of woman and children huddled on the pier.

    The Venetian smiled nervously, and replied hopefully and with a thick accent, "Constantinople?" He glanced furtively as his cohorts, who were reaching for hidden clubs and signalling men on the ship for help.

    One of the women spoke up. "We tried to pay, but the fee is very great, and we could not afford what they asked!"

    With a hard shove, Richard held the merchant firmly. "What then?"

    A merchant stepped down from the boarding plank with a club in his hands. "Then I advise you to unhand my friend, boy," the man boomed.

    At that, Stephen shrugged back his cloak and revealed both his sword and mail hidden beneath. With a hand on the hilt, he stared at the armed merchant. "Use that at your peril, friend," the knight said carefully. For several moments, everyone stood still, waiting for someone else to act. Richard angrily held his grabbed merchant firmly, while the trader on the pier never moved his worried gaze from Stephen. The peasants kept quiet and shifted nervously and the two traders guiding them just held their clubs and stood still.

    Eventually, Richard had to say something. "You're not taking these people anywhere," he insisted angrily.

    "But sir, we want to go to the Holy Land!"

    "You hear? We are only doing as they request!"

    "Richard, I think you should let the trader go-"

    "Who are you selling them to?" Richard demanded. "Answer me!" With that, he shoved the merchant again, and a purse fell from the Venetian's pockets and scattered out onto the wood of the pier. Glittering golden coins spun every which way, with one of them - a Fatimid dinar - landing on Richard's boot. Richard and his captive trader both looked down at it, and then up at each other. The trader smiled toothily, and Richard hit him.

    In the scuffle that ensued, the peasants fled back into the city of Bari and Richard and Stephen escaped with minor bruises and cuts. As they fled, Stephen turned to Richard and spoke. "I think I'll have Mauger reschedule our departure for today," he said between pants for air. Richard only grinned and nodded.


    Phargle is the author of more AARs than I can number, but the chapter above is done in the style of his most recent oeuvre, the English AAR Thrones, which, even though written for Europa Universalis 3, sits still squarely in the timeframe of Crusader Kings. If you enjoyed his writing above, you might want to give it a try as well. If you want a sample of his work for Crusader Kings, written in all conceivable styles, look no further than preferably Solomon of Itil, or maybe a throwaway AAR to tide phargle over for a bit, or the legendary Knut Knýtling, Prince of Denmark.

  7. #27
    GunslingAAR coz1's Avatar
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    Great writing, everyone. I like the premise. Very unique. One question though - why aren't people posting their own entries? Seems odd and I can't come up with a compelling reason to have one person do it since it's not really time sensitive.
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  8. #28
    demokratickid: I didn’t know that about the audio files, but ‘La Serenissma’ is an Italian name for Venice, just like Chicago is often called the ‘Windy City’, only one that has become widely famous. It is short for the complete name of the Venetian state, which is ‘La Serenissma Repubblica di San Marco’, ‘The most serene Republic of San Marco’.

    phargle: I loved your description of lively Bari. Your opening paragraph with the different senses was almost as if written by a writer’s guide to make scenes multisensorial.

    Also, very good that you afforded us a glance at one of the darkest side of the Crusades. Even though the Fatimids did never mint gold as currency.

    coz1: Thank you very much, coz1, on behalf of all of us. The basic idea is AlexanderPrimus’, so it is him who is to take credit for it.

    Concerning me posting everything: It is not yet apparent, but this AAR is indeed time sensitive. It is subject to a framework of unobtrusive writers’ guidelines by which every contributor will take his contingent through various stages on the ‘Road to Jerusalem’. The initial intent was to have everybody post his own chapters, but I soon found out that coordinating just when each and every contributor would have to post his chapter would require a very high level of communication and checking back that I decided that it would be easier by far if I did it all, of course making sure that the writers get ample credit for their contribution.

  9. #29
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    Also, very good that you afforded us a glance at one of the darkest side of the Crusades. Even though the Fatimids did never mint gold as currency.
    Really? I don't know much of anything about it, and went with some light googling to see if any such gold dinars existed. Curse you, The_Guiscard!

    <runs screaming into the night>

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by phargle View Post
    Really? I don't know much of anything about it, and went with some light googling to see if any such gold dinars existed. Curse you, The_Guiscard!

    <runs screaming into the night>
    Come back, phargle, no need running away! Fatimid gold dinars did actually exist, it's just that they were not used as regular currency. They were handed out singly by the Caliph as kind of commemorative pieces to high officers and court functionaries. Which isn't to say that they did not eventually end up as currency anyway - just not in sufficient quantity to fill a slaver's purse. Think of them as of silver dollars nowadays. Sure, you could pay with them well enough, but you would not encounter anybody with a wallet full of them.

  11. #31
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    demokratickid: I didn’t know that about the audio files, but ‘La Serenissma’ is an Italian name for Venice, just like Chicago is often called the ‘Windy City’, only one that has become widely famous. It is short for the complete name of the Venetian state, which is ‘La Serenissma Repubblica di San Marco’, ‘The most serene Republic of San
    Well that explains a lot!
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  12. #32
    Chapter Six

    by crusaderknight

    The walls of Constantinople loomed on the horizon. Tall and majestic, they signaled the end of the first leg of the journey. Gruffydd ap Urien gazed up at the sight in awe, his heart filled with wonder. He had seen the occasional stone fortress in his home of Wales, and in other parts of Britannia. As he had traveled through France and Germany, he had seen real castles as well. Yet nothing compared to the sight he now saw. The City of Constantine shone is all its regal splendour. For seven centuries this city had been the heart of the greatest empire the world had ever known. There was no city that could claim to be its equal. Jerusalem may be the Holy City, and Rome may be the seat of the Papacy, but neither one could stand next the Constantinople. A seat of both Imperial Power and the Eastern Church, a place where the East met the West in astonishing colours, of shrewd commerce and fervent piety, of tranquil spleandour and military might, the home to both the beautiful imperial palace and the dark intrigues of the court.

    His weary bones ached from all the marching, and he was more than ready for a little respite. He turned, and looked back at his men. Though small in number, and from such differing backgrounds, they had already found a bond, and had become such a unified force, that he was certain there were no warriors on earth to match them. Neither Moslem heathens nor his fellow Christian warriors were a match for the men who had come to be known as Gruffydd’s Wolves. They had already come a long way, both in distance and as men. Most of them had less than savory pasts: criminals, exiles, rebels. Most had no homes to return to, no families. They came on this Crusade seeking redemption from their sins, and a new life in the Holy Land. But Gruffydd was different. He was not here seeking redemption, but to find his name. He was not here seeking a new life, but rather to return to his old life with the respect of his fellows.

    He was the lord of a minor estate in the realm of Powys, in northern Wales. Yet despite his family’s status as nobility, they had never been viewed with anything less than contempt by their peers. Not even the Kings of Gwynedd showed them any respect. He was descended from a bastard son of Rhodri the Great, the King of Gwynedd who united the realms of Gwynedd and Powys, and fought against the Saxons and Mercians who sought to bring Wales into submission. Rhodri had loved all of his children, even this bastard son. Yet for both his sake and the child’s, he had made certain that the nature of the child’s birth was never revealed. However, secrets are impossible to keep in a royal court, and word soon got out. Rhodri admitted that he had fathered the child, and was pressured by his nobles to dispose of the child, lest it bring a curse upon the kingdom. Rhodri would not kill the child, and so instead sent him to live with his cousin in Powys. When the child grew up, he was given a small estate in Powys, which he passed on to his son, who passed it on to his son, in succession until now it rested in Gruffydd’s hands, two centuries later. To the Mathrafal Dynasty, the Kings of Gwynedd, his family was a stain upon the Mathrafal name, and they despised him. And whenever a non-Mathrafal had taken the throne, they viewed Gruffydd’s family as a threat, for bastard line though they were, they were still Mathrafals, and therefore a threat to the legitimacy of any non-Mathrafal king. His father had always taught him that it was by God’s Grace alone, through the protection of Saint David, patron saint of Wales, that their family had retained their lands for so long.

    A tear came to Gruffydd’s eye as he remembered his father. Urien had died shortly before the Crusade began. His father had always been a staunch defender of the Mathrafal Dynasty, despite their hatred of him. In Gruffydd’s eyes, Urien was the most heroic of men, and far more worthy of the throne than the “legitimate” Mathrafal line, but Urien would not tolerate such talk from Gruffydd. Urien was especially supportive of King Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, who had restored the Mathrafal Dynasty to power after King Gruffydd ap Llewellyn had been slain by Harold Godwinson. Bleddyn had been of a different disposition than the kings of the past, and had treated Urien and his household kindly. In return, Urien was an extremely zealous defender of Bleddyn’s crown. Urien had led the men of his estate alongside Bleddyn and the Mercian Eadric the Wild during their raids upon William the Bastard’s England from 1067 to 1069. In 1070, the sons of King Gruffydd ap Llewellyn rebelled, and Urien once more fought for Bleddyn at the Battle of Mechain. The rebels were defeated, in part due to Urien’s valour.

    In 1075, Bleddyn was murdered by Rhys ap Owain of Deheubarth. Bleddyn’s cousin, Trahaearn ap Caradog succeeded him to the throne. But Trahaearn did not look upon Urien as kindly. He returned to the old hatred the Mathrafals felt for this bastard line. However, for Bleddyn’s sake, Urien supported Trahaearn. When the new kind declared that he was going to march against Deheubarth to subdue them, Urien quickly offered his men to join the army of Gwynedd, eager to avenge Bleddyn. They met the forces of Deheubarth at the Battle of Gwdig, and defeated them. Rhys was killed soon after, and it was said that the blood of Bleddyn had been avenged. In 1081, Gruffydd ap Cynan invaded to take the throne from Trahaearn. Urien was ill at the time, and unable to render assistance. Trahaearn was killed, and Gruffydd ap Cynan had become the new king.

    The new king was also a Mathrafal, of another line: The House of Aberffraw. But he was still a Mathrafal. This meant that Urien declared for him, and in return, he despised Urien’s illegitimate descent. Gruffydd ap Urien always asked his father why they supported men who hated them. Urien would always tell his son, “They are protected by God and Saint David as we are. To attack them is to forfeit the love of God and Saint David. Gruffydd, my boy, always put your trust in God and in our patron saint. They will not lead you astray.” That last sentence reverberated in the young lad’s ears. He was only eight years old, but those words stayed with him.

    Urien had died in 1095, when Gruffydd was 22. His dying words had been to remind his son, “Gruffydd, my boy, always put your trust in God and in our patron saint. They will not lead you astray.” Gruffydd ap Urien was now lord of estate. It was a small land. It had never even been given a name, nobody had cared to name the land of a bastard line. It was simply “The Estate”. Twenty families worked the land, and thirty soldiers called Urien, and now Gruffydd, their lord. One of these, the captain’s son, Rhodri ap Cadell, was Gruffydd’s friend, so close were they, that they loved each other as brothers. He put his hand on Gruffydd’s shoulder and said, “I am here for you, brother.” Cadell himself, captain of the thirty men of The Estate, saluted, and said, “My Lord Gruffydd, I and my men are at your command.” Gruffydd smiled. There was not much to this estate, but it was his now. Twenty peasant families, plus thirty soldiers and their families, now looked to him for leadership. He swore he would not fail them.

    However, first, he needed to seek guidance. Remembering his father’s words, a few days after the funeral Gruffydd rode to Tyddewi, the site of Saint David’s burial, and the most holy place in Wales. Only Rhodri accompanied him on this pilgrimage. While they were still in Powys, they passed by the estate of Cadwgon ap Bleddyn, the son of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, and “King” of Powys, though his station was more akin to that of a duke, for he was vassal to King Gruffydd ap Cynan. As the two passed by Cadwgon’s estate, Gruffydd stopped for a moment and sighed. Within those walls was Gwyn, Cadwgon’s niece, and the one woman Gruffydd had ever loved. He knew he loved her, and what’s more, he knew she loved him as well. But she lived under Cadwgon’s roof, for her father was dead, and Cadwgon was not about to allow his brother’s daughter to marry Gruffydd. Indeed, he did not permit them to even meet. But that did not stop them. Gwyn would often go to the stables, take a horse, and go riding. Often during her rides, she would escape from her escort and meet Gruffydd.


    Gruffydd and Gwyn


    With another sigh, Gruffydd began to ride away, Rhodri silently at his side. When they were just out of sight of the estate, they heard a horse coming up behind them. They turned, and saw Gwyn. When she had caught up to them, she smiled, and with her hands she smoothed down her long red hair. Suddenly, though, her face turned somber, and she said, “Gruf, I heard about your father. I’m terribly sorry. Urien was a good man, and well beloved of my grandfather. Why my father hated him, and why my uncles do, I cannot understand. Why should it matter that your ancestor two centuries ago was a bastard? Your family is every bit as Christian and Noble as the other lines of the Mathrafal Dynasty!”

    Gruffydd shook his head, “It is alright, Gwyn.”

    There was a moment of silence. Then Gwyn smiled again, to lighten the mood, and asked, “Where are you two off to on this lovely day?”

    “To Tyddewi,” Gruffydd replied, “to seek the counsel of Saint David.”

    Before Gwyn could answer, they heard more horse hooves falling on the path behind them. Gwyn said, hurriedly, “My escort! Quick, they must not know we have been talking, or else my uncle will be most displeased!”

    Gruffydd and Rhodri dug their heels into their horses and spend away. Rhodri looked to his friend and said, “Brother, I don’t know what you love more: the girl, or the fact that the time you spend with her angers her uncle to no end!”

    Gruffydd just smiled, and sped on, saying, “Race you!”

    ---


    There was nothing visually impressive about Tyddewi. It was just a monastery and a small village. But Gruffydd wasn’t here to see, he was here to pray. The abbot led him to the statue of Saint David, while another monk showed Rhodri around. When he came before the statue, Gruffydd knelt, and said, “Saint David, patron saint of Wales and defender of my family, I ask for your guidance. I know not what to do. I am young, and I do not know how to rule an estate, even one so small as mine. Nor do I know how to reclaim my family’s honour, which is lost because of my ancestor’s illegitimate birth. Please, great saint, help me! Give me a sign! Tell me what I should do!”

    Not a moment later, one of the monks came to him and said, “My lord Gruffydd, I apologize for the interruption, but there is a man here with a message for you. He says it is from the king, and it is most urgent.”

    Gruffydd thanked the monk and went to the door of the monastery. There was Cadfan, his family’s retainer. Cadfan bowed and said, “My lord Gruffydd, not two days after you left, a message arrived at your estate. I rode with all haste to catch you. The king is holding a council in Caernarfon, and requests the presence of all nobles of the realm, including you, sire. You are summoned to Caernarfon at once!”

    Gruffydd called Rhodri, and together with Cadfan they rode at fast as they could to Caernarfon. They arrived just in time. As the council began, King Gruffydd ap Cynan rose, and all others rose with him. He looked over all of his nobles, and said, “We have received news from Rome, from Pope Urban II himself! A council has been held at Clermont, in France. For centuries Jerusalem, the Holy City, has been in the hands of Moslem heathens. Now they turn to active assaults against the Christians of the Holy Land, and against the Greek Empire of Alexius Comnenus. The East is no longer safe for Christians. Pope Urban urges all the lords of Christendom to unite in Crusade against this threat. However, this presents me with a problem. King William II of England has given no indication that he intends to Crusade. He may intend to invade Wales. Therefore, I cannot commit an army to aid in this Holy War. Yet I do not wish to look impious and send no aid. I have called you here to seek your counsel. How should Wales respond?”

    Gruffydd felt something in his heart leap. This could be his chance! What if this was the sign from Saint David. He muttered a quick prayer under his breath, “Saint David, if this is the sign you have given me, then please, let what I am about to propose come to be.” Then he spoke up, “My king, I have a proposition. One which I believe will be beneficial to yourself, to myself, and to my lord Cadwgon.”

    Cadwgon, being one of the “kings” who served under the king, was already near to the king, and whispered in his ear, “This is the one, my lord. Gruffydd ap Urien. The one of bastard lineage.”

    The king whispered back, “He offers a proposition which may benefit both you and me. Let us hear what he has to say before we silence him.” The king then said out loud, “You may speak, Gruffydd ap Urien.”

    Gruffydd took a deep breath and said, “Forgive me my lord, but it is no secret that the legitimate lines of the Mathrafal Dynasty look upon my family with no small measure of ill regard. You think me and my family to be a blight upon the Mathrafal name. You wish to be rid of me. I offer you that chance. I will go on this Crusade with my household guard, and any volunteers who will join me. This will not be a serious drain upon Wales’ manpower, so you will still be able to defend against William if he invades, yet this will also satisfy your majesty’s piety, as you will be sending a Welsh contingent to Crusade.”

    “You would do this for me?” asked the king.

    “Yes,” replied Gruffydd. “But I am not my father. I will not do this out of altruistic loyalty as he did. This is where the proposal comes in. If I do this for you, then should I return, I ask one thing of you my king, and one thing of my lord Cadwgon.”

    “Go on,” said the king.

    “If I should return victorious, then of you, my king, I ask that my family’s name be legitimized. That we be seen as true Mathrafals, and not as the filth of Wales. And of my lord Cadwgon, I would ask for his niece’s hand in marriage. I would ask for the Lady Gwyn.”

    The king said, “I find this acceptable.”

    But Cadwgon interjected, “My king I do not! I will not marry my niece to this man!”

    “I can sweeten the deal,” said Gruffydd. “My lord Cadwgon, if you will agree to my condition, then I offer you this: if I should be killed, or if I should live but the Crusade should fail, then all my lands pass to you, and you will never hear from me again. You will be rid of me and my family forever, and no more will you have to look upon this blight on the Mathrafal name.”

    Cadwgon was about to refuse again, out of sheer contempt, but the king whispered to him, “Give in to the boy. Honestly, what are his chances of success? He has a household guard of thirty men, does he not? And how many volunteers do you think he will get? He will die on this Crusade. If we accept, then as he said, we shall be rid of his family forever. No more bastard line to shame the name of the Mathrafal Dynasty. As your king, I am ordering you to accept his proposition.”

    Cadwgon sighed and said, “I accept.”

    The king then spoke to the council, “It is decided then. Lord Gruffydd ap Urien shall lead his men, and any volunteers, to join this Crusade. Should he return, his family shall be legitimized, and he shall marry the Lady Gwyn. Should he fail, he will never return to Wales, and his lands shall pass to King Cadwgon of Powys.” The king then looked straight at Gruffydd, and said, “But Gruffydd, know this: you are on your own. I will not provide you with men, nor provisions, not ships.”

    Gruffydd nodded and said, “That is acceptable, sire. God will provide what I need.”

    ---


    Gruffydd left ten of his men at The Estate. He left Cadell in charge of The Estate, and brought Rhodri along as his lieutenant, and Cadfan to continue serving as personal retainer. Together with their twenty men they prepared in early 1096 for their departure, but were astounded when the volunteers began pouring in. More and more Welshmen came: most of them peasants, though there were some lesser nobles among them. Seven hundred men came, and swore to fight and die alongside Gruffydd. They had brought weapons and provisions, but none had any boats with which to cross to the mainland of Europe.

    Gruffydd made the decision to march the army into Herefordshire in England. The army marched under the sign of the Cross, and bore Papal protection as a Crusader Army. William would not touch them. But perhaps in Herefordshire, or further south, they could procure ships. But in a tavern near Hereford, they found something else entirely.

    Gruffydd and Rhodri were discussing their situation over some ale, when a bearded, and clearly drunk, Saxon wandered over to them, and said, “*hic* I hear… I hear you’re looking for *hic* looking for transport*hic* transportation to the mainland. *hic*”

    The Welshmen were not used to speaking English, but they knew how. Gruffydd answered, “We are. But uh… what do you have to offer?”

    The Saxon replied, “Do you even*hic* Do you even known to whom you are*hic* to whom you are speaking?”

    Gruffydd shook his head, “I’m afraid I do not, boyo.”

    The Saxon leaned in close and said, “I am *hic* I am Edgar Aetheling. The *hic* the true King of England*hic*. And over*hic* over there, you see? Those men*hic* those men are mine. I have more*hic* more, too. Two*hic*hundred to be precise. Two hundred *hic* Saxon warriors.”

    “That is impressive, Edgar,” said Gruffydd with a nod. “But what of this transportation you spoke of?”

    “Trans*hic* transportation? Oh! Oh yes. I *hic* I *hic* I *hic* I know a man. He’s *hic* he’s Cornish. Derrick is his *hic* his name. He knows a man who has plenty *hic* plenty of boats. He can *hick* get you to *hic* to Brittany if you want.”

    “I thank you for this information, Edgar. Tell me, what can I do to repay you?”

    Edgar sat down at the table and grabbed Rhodri’s ale. Rhodri was about to protest, the Gruffydd stopped him. Edgar drank the whole ale, and then said, “Take me *hic* take me with you. And my *hic* my men. Let us join you *hic* let us join you on this Crus*hic*Crus*hic*Crusade.”

    Rhodri shook his head at Gruffydd and said, “Not worth it.”

    Gruffydd replied, “Where else will we find boats to take us across the channel? Besides, 200 Saxons would make a great addition to our army! We’ll have almost 1,000 men now! And a king at our side!”

    “A drunken ex-king,” said Rhodri.

    Edgar pointed an accusing finger at Rhodri and said, “I… I… *hic*” then he sighed, dropped his hand to his side, and sighed, “I guess *hic* I guess I can’t argue with that.”

    Gruffydd said, “You and your men may join us, Edgar, on one condition. No getting drunk. I understand your pain. It must be hard to have lost your throne to a Norman bastard like that. But if you are to Crusade with us, we will need you at your best, and that means you cannot be drunk. Can you do it? Can you Crusade without drunkenness?”

    It took Edgar a moment, but he at last said, “That *hic* That *hic* That I can do… *hic*”


    “I am *hic* I am Edgar Aetheling”

    ---


    As the now 900 man strong force of Crusaders marched further south towards Cornwall, Gruffydd and Edgar became fast friends. Gruffydd offered to Edgar shared leadership of the group, on account of his status as rightful King of England, but the Saxon declined. His response was, “Your friend was right when he called me a ‘drunken ex-king’. I may be getting better at avoiding the drunkenness, but I am still an ex-king. You are the only one of us with any real title to his name. Let me be a lieutenant alongside your friend there, and let me continue to command my men, and I will be happy.” So it was agreed.

    When they at last arrived in Cornwall, Edgar led them to the town where Derrick lived. Derrick was only too happy to help, because like his friend, he perceived from this Crusade a chance to make a new life for himself. Derrick was a rebel. He despised the Normans. But there were too few rebels in England these days. Derrick could no longer fight the Normans, but he refused to live under them. He arranged transportation for the Crusaders, but made them promise to take him with them.


    Derrick of Cornwall


    Once they landed in Brittany, the Crusaders encountered someone else. He said his name was Corentin, which is Breton for hurricane. It certainly was a fitting name. He was a man on the run. He insisted that he was a good man at heart, but that trouble always seemed to find him. He never knew his parents. He was an orphan from a very young age, and had to steal in order to survive. But he only ever stole enough to live. He never wanted to hurt anyone. He tried to keep to himself.

    But about a month ago, while he was wandering in the woods, he found several bodies sprawled on the ground. He noticed the coat of arms on the shields. These were men in the service of one of the local counts. They were all dead. He also found the bodies of a few bandits. But these were well equipped bandits. Armour and longswords. He knew they must have been robber knights. As he looked over the bodies, he noticed the body of a young girl, perhaps fourteen years old, lying on the ground. She was covered and blood and bruises, and at first he thought she too was dead. But then Corentin had seen her stomach rising and falling, just barely. She was breathing! She was alive! Judging by her dress, and by the likelihood that the fallen warriors were her escorts, he decided she must be the count’s daughter. He picked her up gently, and found one of the guards’ horses a short ways off. He put her on the horse, and mounted it as well, and rode full speed to the castle, hoping to be able to save her.

    When he arrived at the castle, the guards took the girl from him and some maid servants came to care for her. But when one of the guards recognized Corentin as the poor lad who had to steal to survive, he accused Corentin of being the girls attacker. Corentin tried to protest: if he were her attacker, why would he bring her back? But they did not listen and came to arrest him. He quickly turned the horse around and fled. When he reached the place where the attack had occurred, he dismounted, took one of the fallen knights’ swords, remounted, and rode off. He had been in hiding ever since. He begged them to let him join their Crusade, that he might find forgiveness for his sins, and find a new life in the Holy Land. Gruffydd could not refuse him.


    Corentin of Brittany

    ---


    So this was the contingent which had crossed Europe to join the Crusade, and which now stood at the gates of Constantinople. Seven hundred Welshmen, led by Gruffydd ap Urien, a shamed and unwanted noble, seeking to reclaim his family’s honour and to marry the woman he loved; two hundred Saxons, led by Edgar Aetheling, a dethroned and exiled king, seeking to make something of his life; Derrick, the Cornish rebel who lived for battle and for killing, and who refused to live under Norman rule; and Corentin, the Breton orphan who sought forgiveness of sins and new life abroad. Such different men, from such different walks of life, Crusading for such different reasons. Yet they had found a bond with each other, for they were all seeking something in this Crusade, and they could only find it if they stood as one. They knew not what the future had in store for them. But whatever it was, they would meet it together.


    crusaderknight is the author of the Byzantine AAR The Morea, a Palaeologid AAR. If you enjoyed his writing aboe, you might also want to give it a try as well. Or maybe his other AAR, The Heirs of King Arthur – A History of Wales, which is brimming with Welshmen.

  13. #33
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    This aar is great!
    With great authors, you get great updates!

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    Another smashing piece of work, sirs!
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  16. #36
    Chapter Seven: The Champion

    by AlexanderPrimus

    The palatial citadel at Burgos was not renowned for being an especially tranquil place, but on this particular day, its occupants were more festive and raucous than usual, if such a thing were even possible. The cause of this unbridled jubilation was neither the celebration of some religious holiday, nor a great victory on the field of battle; it was merely the return of a single knight. Some might have considered the arrival of one man to be unworthy of such celebration, were that man not Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known to all Spain as “El Cid Campeador.”

    The Cid’s shining reputation was so legendary that his very presence ignited spontaneous celebration wherever he went, and thus his arrival at the king’s capital city was an occasion for extraordinary festivities. The great royal hall was arrayed with the very finest and most elaborate decorations that could be provided, and the tables were laid with a sumptuous feast fit for a king; rather, since there was kingly repasts were always served at the royal hall, this evening’s banquet was more like a feast fit for two kings, for El Cid might as well have been a king, when one considers the glory lavished upon him by his sovereign liege.

    Some may have considered King Sancho to be an exceedingly munificent ruler, or perhaps just exceptionally foolhardy for vesting this degree of honor in a single subject, yet Sancho was neither a fool nor a particularly generous man. He was quite simply a grateful king, who understood just where he ought to place due credit for his many successes. After all, Sancho had not become the King of All the Spains through his own merits. Everyone knew that he owed all of his gains -- and even his very life -- entirely to the Cid. Thus, King Sancho announced that Don Rodrigo’s arrival would be a time for the greatest revelry.


    King Sancho II of Castille, called “el Fuerte” (the Strong), First King of All the Spains.


    El Cid’s arrival at the banquet was announced by a fanfare of trumpets, and then the doors to the great hall burst open, and the legendary knight strode into the room, accompanied by his entire entourage. These noble retainers were joined by a group of well-dressed Moors, wearing gilded helmets and brightly colored robes.

    The hall was immediately filled with the astonished gasps of the courtiers and a few enraged shouts from some of the more hotheaded knights. Why would anyone bring unbelievers to the king’s table, even the celebrated Cid?

    “Don Rodrigo,” said the King, rising to his feet, “Who are these Mohammedan dogs you bring with you? Have you brought our enemies into the very heart of my kingdom?!”

    “Be at peace, sire!” said the Cid, his voice as always like the roaring of a mighty lion, “These are not lowborn infidels, but kings! And more importantly, they are friends!”

    “You call these infidels your friends?” said Sancho.

    “I do,” answered El Cid, “And you would be wise to do the same, for they have come to pledge an alliance with our people! You should know, my king, that the blackguard Yusuf ibn Tashfin of Morocco and the band of pirates that he calls his army have raided their shores as well as ours. They know your Highness to be an honorable man, and thus they have no fear of allying themselves with us against this greater foe. Did you not wonder where I have been these many months?”

    Dumbfounded, Sancho could only cock his head to the side and blink, his mouth gaping open.

    “This is my gift to you, sire,” continued Rodrigo, “Not a gift of riches or lands, but of peace! With these noble lords fighting under your banner, this realm shall finally know a lasting peace!” Rodrigo’s eyes met Sancho’s, and the King quailed slightly under the piercing gaze of the Cid.

    “Sit down then,” blurted Sancho, unable to think of a suitable response, and Rodrigo’s Muslim companions joined their Christian counterparts at the many tables in the hall. The Cid himself was seated in the place of honor at the King’s right hand, while his lady, the beautiful Ximena of Oviedo, was placed at Sancho’s left.


    The Cid Arrives at Burgos.


    As the roast venison was served, the King finally found his voice. “You have been my champion for thirty years, Rodrigo. Thirty! In all that time you have not asked for anything, and I have bestowed numberless gifts upon you all the same. I have enfeoffed you with the lands at Valencia which you won for me in battle, I even married my beloved daughter Bianca to your only son Diego Rodríguez. If that had not been enough, I would have given you anything you desired, even to the half of my kingdom. God knows, you probably deserve it. Yet I fear that this thing you now ask of me is too much. I am a Christian king, Rodrigo. I cannot set aside my faith for any man, not even you!”

    “I am a man of honor,” responded the Cid, “And I could not ask such a heinous thing of you, nor would I. I do not ask you to forsake our faith in Christ, my King, only to fight alongside those who would be your friends. Surely you can see that we need their support? We would be overwhelmed if the lords of the south joined the Blackguard, but with them as our allies, we are undefeatable and Yusuf naught but a petty nomad! You must remember that there are greater things at stake than petty disputes, and greater foes to fight than these men ever could be.”

    “It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth,” answered Sancho, “But I will permit it, as long as you will personally vouch for their loyalty. You are renowned as the purest, most honorable knight in Christendom, and your promises are as good as gold.”

    “That brings to mind another matter, sire,” said El Cid, “I have another boon that I must ask of you, and this shall be the last thing that I ever beseech of your Highness.”

    “So far, your only request has nearly tried me beyond what a man can bear,” said the King, “But I will hear you. Say on, and let your last request not be near as taxing as your first.”

    Rodrigo took a long draught of wine, and then spoke. “You have heard how the Pope has issued a call to arms to rescue the Jerusalem from the hands of the Turk,” said the Cid, “I ask your permission to join the Lord’s host, and lead a band of Spaniards to liberate the Holy City!”

    “What? You saddle me with these infidel friends of yours, and now you tell me you wish to leave to travel to the ends of the earth?” asked Sancho, incredulously, “How can you do this? You cannot abandon your king.” His voice lowered to a hushed whisper, “I am nothing without your help!”

    “Sire,” said Rodrigo, “For thirty years I have labored to set an example for this kingdom, to set your realm on the path to victory and peace. Now at last I have given you peace, in the form of a half-dozen Muslim allies. You are King of Spain, by God’s grace. Oh, be wise, and do not abandon this gift. What can I say more?”

    “I am king by your grace,” reproached Sancho, “It was you who saved me from the assassin sent by my treacherous sister and brother. And now you would preach to me, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar? You say that I am king, but methinks it is not Sancho el Fuerte who really rules over Spain, but El Cid Campeador!”

    El Cid furrowed his brow, “Heaven forfend. And I shudder to think what might have been if I had not been able to save your life, and your brother Alfonso had inherited the crown. Think of what he might have done in your shoes, sire, and take heart.”

    Rodrigo’s comment broke the tension, and Sancho laughed. “He would probably have lost the entire kingdom by now!” Then the King’s expression changed abruptly from jollity back to pensiveness.

    “What is it, sire?” asked the Cid, “Forgive me if I have offended you.”

    “No -- I have an idea,” said Sancho, “Concerning my recalcitrant siblings. Well, only my brother, really. Urraca can stay locked in her tower where she belongs, and rot. But Alfonso… he is too much trouble to leave in ‘secluded retirement’ on his estate. Yes, Rodrigo, you shall go to the Holy Land, but on one condition: you must take my worthless younger brother with you.”


    Prince Alfonso, troublesome brother to the King.


    “But your Highness,” said Rodrigo, “What of the succession? Alfonso is your heir, for you have no sons.”

    “Do not remind me,” said the King, “No one is more aware than I that God has not blessed me with a son. But my only child Bianca is wise beyond her years. When I am gone, the Spains must accept her as Queen.”

    The Cid raised his eyebrows at his King’s suggestion.

    “Yes, I know the people will want the strong arm of a man of war to protect them from the infidel,” said Sancho, “And who better to be Lord Protector of the Realm than the son of the legendary Cid, who also happens to be my son-in-law? Let Diego reign along side my daughter as King-Consort.”

    Now Rodrigo choked on his wine, which caused Sancho to burst into another fit of raucous laughter.

    “You see, Rodrigo?” laughed Sancho, “I cannot help but lavish rewards upon you, even when you try my patience. I have just granted your wish for permission to go on crusade, and in addition, promised you that your descendants shall be hereditary Kings of All the Spains! How does that sound to you? Am I not a gracious sovereign?”

    “Your Majesty is more generous than I deserve,” said El Cid, “But as ever, let it be as my King desires.”

    “What your king desires??” said Sancho, stifling a chuckle, “Ha! You always get your way, Rodrigo. And what of Valencia? Will you just forsake my gift to you like a man rids himself of a dead dog?”

    “I would not dare to be so presumptuous,” said Rodrigo, “Let my dear Ximena rule as chatelaine in my absence. My son Diego shall protect both my wife and my fief, if your Highness would be so gracious as to bestow him with a reasonable number of knights to be his retainers.”

    The King was about to agree, when Ximena, who had been silent the entire evening, interrupted.

    “Certainly not!” she said, taking both her husband and her king by surprise, “I am not some trophy to be lightly set aside. You have asked your King for consent to depart, but you have not gained my consent. If you are going to end your days on this great adventure, then at least have the courtesy to take your wife along! Let my two daughters stay and be guarded by their brother; I am going with you to Jerusalem!”


    Ximena de Oviedo, Rodrigo’s fiery wife.


    There was an awkward pause, and then King Sancho began to laugh again. After a moment, Rodrigo joined him. “What can I say, Rodrigo?” said the King, “It seems you have harsher masters than I! Let it be as the Lady Ximena wishes. Go to Jerusalem, both of you, and with my blessing. May Santiago and the Blessed Virgin watch over you.”

    And thus the great adventure began.

    ***


    AlexanderPrimus is the author of the English AAR Æthellan: A Tale of Kings. If you enjoyed his writing above, you might also want to give it a try as well. Or maybe his Jerusalem-AAR The Chronicles of the Golden Cross.
    Last edited by The_Guiscard; 22-01-2009 at 19:35.

  17. #37
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    Now that's quite someone to send to a crusade.

    ----

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    Duke of Bonbon, and also Chevalier Grand Croix of the Ordre Militaire du Saint Christophe.

  18. #38
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    Now that's quite someone to send to a crusade.

    What's that film?
    Thanks, I thought it would shake things up a bit.
    As for that film, it is none other than El Cid!

  19. #39
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    El Cid on crusade? Now that should be interesting. I just hope Sancho's fears are unfounded and Spain doesn't fall apart without it's champion.
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  20. #40
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    Oh, how I miss Charlton Heston... Good work, though, on a lighter note!
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