Chapter 46 – The Reign of Theodorus I, part 13
1174 – 1175
Camel, from a Mediaeval Bestiary.
The War Against Egypt
From the Royal Archives, Jerusalem
Let every able-bodied man of the Kingdom report to his liege lord, and prepare for the mustering of the fyrd. Take up spear and shield, and stand ready to defend God’s land against His Enemies!
December 2nd, 1174
Duke Sigebert of Edessa to Cosmas, King’s Shieldbearer
For the second time we met the armies of the Egyptian King outside the city of Asas, and again we were victorious. Our shieldwall held strong, and the servants of Satan were routed from the field. We are now pursuing them into Syria, to lay waste to their cities and strongholds.
January 11th, 1175
Duke Sigebert of Edessa to Cosmas, King’s Shieldbearer
The castle at Bichri is safely in our control, and its pitiful wretch of a lord lies humbled at my feet. The meagre defences erected by the infidels were no obstacle to our armies, who fought with the ferocity of a host of angels, and overcame the defenders easily. I have, however, received disturbing reports that the armies of the Emir of Mosul have overrun the castle at Sinjar. Having restored order here, we shall proceed immediately against the Mosulites.
January 15th, 1175
Cosmas to the Lady Godfigu
The war against the infidels proceeds smoothly. In Syria our armies have driven the infidel from his hiding places and captured his fortified lairs. In Sinai too, my fyrdsmen are victorious, and press ever onwards to the Egyptian king’s palaces.
Duke Sigebert to the Lady Godfigu
Lately our armies did battle with the wicked Emir of Mosul himself, and though the battle was hard-pressed, we were driven from the field by them. The horsemen of the infidels were as howling daemons appearing from the sand, covered from head to toe in mail shirts and armour. Our men, while strong in the faith of the Lord, stood firm against the enemy footsoldiers, but were shaken to their core by the encirclement of the diabolic hordes. The strong line of our spearsmen gave way, and our manoeuvrable Syrian cavalrymen, were chased from the field. Now we will regroup in Aleppo, before returning, to evict the Mohammadeans from the citadel at Bichri.
Cosmas, King’s Shieldbearer, to the Lady Godfigu
Our armies have reached the shores of the Red Sea, and as Moses parted their waters to escape from Egypt, so we shall cross the desert and march into the land of the infidels. Our armies shall chastise the heathens for their long-ago enslavement the Hebrews, and their lands and riches shall become ours.
March 20th, 1175
King Theodorus to Abdul-Aziz, Emir of Mosul
This is not your war, and nor has it ever been. It perplexes me that you and your ancestors have often sought to take advantage of our weaknesses and to make war against our people. We are, as your bishops say, all ‘people of the book’. Does that not mean we should live in peace and harmony with one another? My earls urge me to continue to make war against your lands, but the Good Lord preaches forgiveness, and I desire only peace in this land. Our conflict against the King of the Egyptians was only begun to ensure good order in Syria, that our pilgrims would not be attacked when they sought to worship at our holy places. If your soldiers can guarantee that order as well as ours, I see no reason for me to insist on English authority over the cities of Sinjar or Bichri. If I have your sacred oath to allow all pilgrims safe access through Syria, and to halt the nomads who make raids against our farmers, then there may be peace between our peoples.
March 23rd, 1175
Archbishop Stephen to Philip, Count of Eliat
Your loyal service to God and to the Kingdom has not gone unnoticed. By the power granted unto me by His Majesty the King, and by His Holiness, I hereby appoint you Duke of the desert of Sinai, and lord of all the lands between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Unto you falls the responsibility to protect the Kingdom against the Egyptian armies, and to protect those pilgrims making the journey from Alexandria to Jerusalem.
June 14th, 1175
Cosmas, King’s Shieldbearer to the Lady Godfigu
We have wrested control of the mouth of the mighty river Nile from the infidels. Soon all the ports of the Mediterranean in Egypt will be under our protection, and the Egyptians will no longer be able to deny pilgrims and traders access to these cities. The King of Egypt himself once resided in the palace here, and we have unearthed many wondrous treasures. Surely more are to be discovered as we make our way inland.
July 21st, 1175
Thurcytel, Duke of Baghdad to the Lady Godfigu
Our armies finally encountered the forces of the cowardly Egyptian King outside of his city of Manupura today. Abandoned by all but a few of his followers, the infidel’s armies proved no match for ours, and the king himself was nearly captured by our men. We now hold him prisoner in his own fortress, which will fall by siege within the month. Surely there is nothing to stop us confiscating the entire country from his unworthy grasp now?
August 18th, 1175
King Theodorus to Archbishop Stephen
I have, with some difficulty, given my illness and the apparent disobedience of many of the palace servants, remained abreast of your progress over the last months. While I applaud your success and admire your zealotry, it is my belief that our war aims have been well accomplished by now. Some of the earls, it seems, would like to evict the Egyptian King and all his vassals from Egypt all together. But to my mind, this would only create more problems than it would solve, particularly in the enmity it would engender among the common people. It is my sincere wish, therefore, that, having secured the branches of the Nile and the Mediterranean ports, we allow King Hamad to remain upon his throne. Moreover, I believe that we have captured Hamad’s son, who commands the castle at Pelusia? I am willing to sponsor him to be baptised in the True Faith, and wish you to perform the ritual, with me as his godfather. With luck, this young man will lead his people into the light of the Lord, and they will grow to be allies of ours.
Duke Thurcytel to Archbishop Stephen
Surely the King is not sincere in this wish? He desires that we not only excuse the Egyptian King for his crimes, but that we adopt his son as one of our own? Does the King not realise the extent of our success? It appears to me, and to many of the other Earls, as if the King wishes to hand Egypt back to our enemy and his son! Or if not to him, perhaps to the armies of Henry the Norman, who even now watch from the other bank of the Nile, eager to finish the work our men have begun! Such a treaty will do nothing to dispel the King’s reputation as a coward.
The Lady Godfigu to Archbishop Stephen
I am aware of your concerns and those of the earls, but the King will not be dissuaded in this. How he came by the reports of the war, I do not know, for I have endeavoured to keep his attention elsewhere. Nevertheless, his meddling cannot now be undone, for he has already proclaimed his treaty to the people of the city, and presented it as a victory. We cannot very well override his wishes without completely destroying what little royal authority remains. Our only option now is to enact his will and portray it as a victory for the Kingdom.
(The blue is the County of Sarqiyah, the last remains of the Swedish Duchy of the Nile)