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Second Lieutenant
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Jan 12, 2013
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"Starting as a wide-spread pilgrimage, the First Crusade swiftly expanded into a military expedition from Roman Catholic Europe to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim Conquests of the Levant (632-661 Anno Domini). It was launched on 27 November 1095 Anno Domini by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius, who requested that western volunteers come to his aid and help to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia. However the principal objective swiftly became the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule. During the crusade, knights, peasants and serfs from many nations of Western Europe traveled over land and by sea, first to Constantinople and then on towards Jerusalem. En route to the Holy City, they established the crusader states of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa. The Crusaders arrived at Jerusalem, launched an assault on the city, and captured it in July 1099, massacring many of the city's Muslim, Christian, and Jewish inhabitants in the subsequent sack.

The brave Crusaders who met in the Holy Sepulchre on 15 July 1099 had a hard decision before them. Yes they had succeeded in liberating the Holy Lands where Christ walked the earth, but the harder prospect was in keeping them. Many of the Crusader Princes - their sins remitted in heaven - were already planning the return journey to their lands and estates. Most among the lower born foot soldiery were equally intent on returning to their families in Europe. A powerful lord of the Crusade, Raymond of Toulouse, was offered the crown of this new Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, yet refused it. Was all this journey for naught? Who would stand the long watch against the looming darkness of the Infidel Menace on all sides bar the friendly western seas? Who would lead in this far-flung bastion of Christianity?

It was then that Godfrey of Bouillon - brother to the Lord of Edessa and first over the walls into Jerusalem - stepped forward, his voice resonant in the hush of the holy structure. 'I will lead,' he said. 'I will stand guard at the door of the House of God, that Christians and the Church may return to these blessed lands; yet not as King. I will never wear a crown of gold where my Saviour wore a crown of thorns - it is Jesus Christ who reigns as King in Jerusalem once more, I will stand merely as steward of His earthy realm here beyond the seas in Outremer.' There was a hush and then the other Princes stood in mass acclamation of his words."
-Liber Regni Caelori, author unknown


Jerusalem returned to Christ - praise be to God!

Welcome to Blood on the Sand, friends. I will be writing this as a narrative roleplay-style AAR from the point of view of Godfrey of Bouillon and his successors (may there be many!). This means that if it would not be in character for our viewpoint character to do something, he won't, even if it makes a tremendous amount of game sense - no assassinations from Godfrey, for example! This is also my first experience with the HIP mod, so we'll see how that plays out. Will it be a Megacampaign? I'd like that, but we'll have to see if a viable Kingdom of Jerusalem survives that long (and if you kind folk want me to continue the AAR that long, of course). In our timeline the Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted under a century, was reforged in Acre five years later and survived another 99 years before its final demise in 1291.

We will see if our ragta- er, noble princes under Christ can do better!


Book I: Godefroy the Holy (1099 - 1136)
Prelude: Portrait of a Princeps
I: A Kingdom of Heaven
II: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
III: A Pilgrim's Reward
IV: Deus Vult
V: From Triumph to Tragedy
VI: A Mighty Fortress
VII: The Hyenas Laugh
VIII: Father Time
IX: Primus Inter Pares

Interlude: Magna Mundi 1138

Book II: Blanche I (1136 - ????)
Prelude: A Queen's Quandary
I: A Council of State
II: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
III: The Night is Dark, and Full of Terrors
IV: Bee-ing Blanche de Boulogne
V: Blood on the Nile
VI: A Short, Victorious War
VII: State Matrimonial
VIII: Things Fall Apart
IX: Croix Sanguinaire
X: The Legion of the Crown
XI: Born in the Purple
XII: The Baqtash Affair
XIII: The Prince's Paper
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Prelude: Portrait of a Princeps​


They caught my good side, don't you think?

I am Godefroy de Boulogne, Steward of God in this, Christ's Kingdom of Jerusalem. I have - somewhat reluctantly - already been forced to assume the title of Princeps in dealing with some of the Italian traders that are already coming to call at the ports of our new Kingdom. They don't seem able to comprehend that I stand in His stead and need no kingly title of my own. Still, I'm fairly certain I managed to get the point across to Giuseppe Albertini this afternoon and now I find myself kneeling in prayer, back in the Holy Sepulchre where only this morning I took on the leadership of this Kingdom. Then it seemed like my words came from on-high, but now I have the leisure for peaceful reflection I am not ashamed to own I know this will be no easy task ahead of me.


No, I said I wasn't wearing a crown of gold!

In truth I am humbled by the challenges facing us here in God's Kingdom on earth. I know not how many of our brave crusaders are going to stay here in the Levant now the war is won, or how many will be willing to follow the leadership of one who was just one of many (nor even one of the greatest) such a short time gone. The Knights Hospitaller will be an aid of course; they kept a presence here in the Holy Land even through the infidel occupation and they approve of my charity and my diligence - they will surely come in our time of need, should we call them. Am I worthy to represent Christ in His Kingdom? I grow wroth when I face the infidel in battle, but surely that is the stuff of courage rather than a mortal sin?


Kingdom of Jerusalem at its founding, 15 July 1099
I: A Kingdom of Heaven​

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
-Matthew 5:3​

I am determined to see Jerusalem become the focuspoint of a Kingdom of Heaven on this sinful earth, as it was given in the bible. I am more a man of the sword than of the quill, but Bishop Guichard of Lidde - my trusted spiritual advisor and court chaplain - assures me it is my duty as God's Steward to found a new line of guardians of the faith here in the Levant. I am obviously already allied with my brother Baudoin of Edessa, but I have no treaties with Duke Bohemond of Antioch save for a mutual circumstance; we are both responsible for Catholic Crusader states here in the midst of myriad infidels and heretics, with the questionable support of Emperor Alexius of the Greeks in the north. I send him a messenger asking for the hand of his sister Cecile and then sit down with my Council to discussion o the infidel states that beset us. In the north is a scattering of smaller Sunni states, many of them aligned with the Great Turk in the east while others took the opportunity of our great host passing through the region to declare their own independence. No great threat or obstruction to the pilgrims passing between the Crusader States will be found there, though it would still be good to draw them beneath the mantle of Holy Mother Church if the opportunity arose. Further north of course was the Turk of Rum, but he had his fangs pulled in the great battles of Nicaea and Dorylaeum and was now under constant pressure from the Byzantine Alexius, as well as the independent Armenian states.

To the East is another matter.


Sultan Barkiarok of the Great Seljuk, first of his name

Replacing his aged and complacent father, Barkiarok is a young and dynamic Sultan already known for his martial prowess. In his short time on the throne he has already drawn several tributary Sunni states firmly back under his aegis, and if he is left unchallenged will surely seek to reclaim the Levantine coast. His armies are reportedly more than tenfold the number that answer to the Kingdom of Jerusalem's banner, and his family is known for their lean and pious outlook, leading his followers to fight with a holy fervour. I remark that in any case we carry Lord Jesus with us as our bannerman and need not fear any number of infidel that may be arrayed against us, but Baron Jourdain of Arsaur seems less than convinced and quickly turns our attention to the great peril to our south.


Caliph al-Mustali of the Fatimid Shia Caliphate

Older and more decadent, Caliph al-Mustali is on the face of it a lesser threat than the great peril in the East. His holdings in Egypt are less populous, his support among his vassals less certain and he is an older, fearful man rumored to be much occupied with finding more young wives with which to enrich his dynasty. But he is also a man of great angers, and in seizing Jerusalem from him we have dealt a blow to his prestige. His place over his vassals may depend on how he responds to the mailed gauntlet we have flung into his face. As we see about getting the running of God's Kingdom in order, I despatch the Mayor of Jaffa to treat with the Caliph and see about soothing his hot temper with the suggestion that we can act as a bar on any further hostilities between he and his great Sunni rival.

The next day a great proclamation is read out at the Temple Mount: the establishment of a new holy order, the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici, or Knights Templar as they are more colloquially known. Several of the knights I feared would leave us for the safety of Western Europe have instead taken up the red cross of the Temple of Solomon and vowed to join us in defence of the Holy Land. God be praised!

Events move swiftly in Jerusalem, and in the weeks ahead my commanders and I set upon a short campaign to bring the infidel Lord of Tyre firmly under the rein of the Dukes of Acre as of old. As the greater Mahommetan states around us adjust to what our presence here means to the political landscape, we can steal a march to strengthen our position here. Then an event takes place that drives all thought of warfare from my mind. My bride arrives in at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem.


Our wedding portrait

The Lady Cecile de Hautville is some ten years younger than I and more beauteous by far. We spoke formally upon our first meeting, affirming the ties of friendship and alliance between Jerusalem and Antioch and I welcomed her to our city; yet in truth I was struck by the warmth in her green eyes. While no bones were made that this marriage was anything but a formal seal of our alliance, I could not help but feel that there were the roots of a real connection that could grow between us. We had scarce time to speak before we were wed, and at the feast that followed the ceremony Grandmaster Radolf of the Templars requested a boon in honour of our marriage. I exchanged looks with my new Lady and agreed to hear him out. An older man with flowing white beard, he asked that we grant the Templar Knights land on which to build a castle within the bounds of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Remembering the words of my Constable Jourdain, I assented and gave them land at Beit Dejan in the south, near the Egyptian border. Dear friends, I own that when I looked across at my bride I more than half expected to see some degree of dissatisfaction that I was already giving away territories that our children might hope to rule over in Christ's name, but instead I was given a small smile of approval. My Lady is good and kind and charitable, and gave me fond and warm farewell in our bedchamber that night.

The next morning I left the city at the head of a long column of knights and men at arms, bound for the sun-drenched port city of Tyre. Our campaign against Sheikh Murad was a brief one - though he send out many messengers for help, none had arrived by the time our host brought his to brook behind a river still running shallow in the first days of autumn. The battle was brief, our victory complete although the Sheikh managed to escape to his Castle at Megedel. By the end of the month that stronghold had fallen as well, betrayed by the weak northern wall the Sheikh and his ancestors had never sought to repair since the infidel seized the Levant in the 7th century. Truly the Mahommetan is a lazy man, his time so occupied with turning his face away from God that he has none to spare for basic maintenance unless it is forced upon him. We made it clear that his continued tenure at Tyre was dependent on his conducting the repairs he had long neglected, as well as placing him beneath Christ's aegis as a vassal of Jerusalem and the man hastily agreed. Releasing his family - taken in the assault - we returned to our homes and castles to celebrate a first Christmas in the Holy Land.

With most of the crusaders who planned to return home already gone, the days leading up to Christ's birth were quiet ones in the upper city of Jerusalem, yet there were still plenty who joined with my Lady and I in our pilgrimage to Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Christ-Child. Bishop Guichard leads a mass in thanks for our victories and in praise of God in the highest, and announced that he had already begun the conversion of several of the local Levantine nobles to the true faith. Glory be to God! Surely with the coming of the new century we were entering a new age of Christ's holiness brought to this earth!

When we returned to Jerusalem early in the new year, we found that this new world would not yet come without bloodshed; Caliph al-Mustali had pronounced a holy war against us in a bid to drive us from the Levant before the locals could grow accustomed to Christ's hand once more. Straightaway I called up my allies, and both Holy Orders sworn to defend Christianity in the east. The military orders are always ready for combat with the infidel and so I directed both the Templar and Hospitaller orders to take the Egyptian citadel of Arish under siege while my other levies mustered from across the Kingdom, forming up behind them at Ascalon. Under the command of Grandmaster Radolf, they were in the process of reducing the fortress when word arrived of an approaching Fatimid host half again their strength. Naturally as soon as word of this reaches me I led my growing host to relieve them and by the grace of god arrived in excellent time to save the day.


The moment of decision at the Battle of Arish

Let me aver now that I fully believe Grandmaster Radolf's proud boasts that the holy orders could have defeated the infidel host even without our assistance and to be sure the banners of the holy orders were proudly flying high above the armoured ranks of knights and heavy spears while the Egyptians washed around them like water against a rock. Yet the sudden arrival of another four thousand warriors of Christ on their left soon put the infidel to flight as we rode after them in hot pursuit. With the battle over we found that we had lost somewhat under a thousand good Christians while close to four thousand of the enemy had been slain or locked in our prisons, including a number of their scouts and the commander of the citadel garrison who had attempted to slip through our siege lines in the chaos of the battle. Given the Royal Levies of Jerusalem were still mustering, I sent the Holy Orders in pursuit of the last fleeing Fatimids while my army took over the siege.

We were starting to feel more confident in our position blocking the land route north into the Kingdom when dire news reached us from Tripoli; some two thousand Fatimids had landed from a fleet there and were investing our cities in turn. Immediately I gave the order for a like number of our own levies (still proceeding south to join us) to turn about and form on the heights overlooking the siege until such time as we could join them. I also sent a messenger in pursuit of Grandmaster Radolf, who had not sent any report of his deeds since disappearing west. Without any notion of how large a host might be converging on our positions at Arish I dared not send any more men north than I already had. Of course, when a tired and dusty messenger arrived at our camp four days later the report was naught that I could have imagined.


God be praised!

Lady Cecile was pregnant! God had decided to grant me a son to serve Him after me! In my excitement at the news I was scarce aware of a second messenger arriving from the south in the livery of the Knights Hospitaller. It seemed the Knights were striking deep into Fatimid territory, had broken several smaller armies and were at that moment cutting down a fifth in the delta of the Nile. I at once deemed that the Knights had seen enough battle for what was after all a defensive war and recalled them to take over the siege at Arish, freeing me to hasten north and join my armies in relieving the siege of Tripoli. Riding ahead of my van I managed to secure a week to care for my wife in the Tour de David at Jerusalem, showering her with such jewels and gifts as the Kingdom's finances could stretch to in wartime. Rejoining my host as it neared Tripoli my mood was ecstatic - but it could not last.

I tell myself now that my presence could not have averted this, that it would only have put me in the same plight, yet I find I cannot forgive myself for the Battle of Meshtage. Unbeknownst to me, the Fatimid host had been reinforced by sea and marched to intercept the Crusader army waiting on the heights above Tripoli. Now outnumbering them by a substantial margin, even the defensive advantage of the mountain failed to save them and only ensured that scarce six-score of the Christian host managed to escape the field of death. The triumphant infidel camped upon the field and commenced reorganizing their ranks as they plotted their next dastardly move against the Kingdom. Two days later my vengeful armies fell upon them and slew them in windrows. The battle lasted well into the night and the following morn, and when the sun reached its peak above Meshtage once more, not one of the infidel host still drew breath; yea, even their commander Emir Dawlat, leaving the al-Quadir Emirate without heir. The brisk campaign had proved a salutary lesson to me and I vowed that in the future I must be more skillful, swifter to march and formidable in my use of the heavy chivalrous cavalry that was the loyal friend of the Crusader States in our fight against those who would see us blotted from this earth.

Returning to Jerusalem, I found to my horror that the trade in false relics - a foul practice I hoped I had seen the last of in leaving France - in God's own city! I gave an order that they all be expelled from the city as once Christ expelled them from his temple. The Lord willing we will one day drive them all the way from this earth, but that would be for later, another man to come after me. A better man, for surely it was wrong of me to dictate the terms of his surrender to the Caliph with the dead of Meshtage still raging in my heart. Two weeks later I received his response along with the first payment of his annual tribute to the Kingdom. In celebration of our triumph I gave the order for a Grand Tournament across Christmas of this year, Anno Domini 1100 and named my noble Count of Acre, Tancred, Duke of the same region with our new infidel vassal under him. A week of preparation for the Tournament and several lords of the Kingdom had already arrived in Jerusalem when the news reached us that after he sent the order for the tribute to be paid the Caliph went into his pleasure gardens with his four young wives yet found no joy of them. In the morning he was found to have hung himself in his humiliation, leaving his four year old son in charge of the fractious Caliphate.


God's will be done
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Looks like you're off to a solid start there. Glad to see you were able to fend off the Fatimids' first real challenge to the Kingdom.

I've always found Godfrey of Bouillon to be a rather fascinating character, more so as I've read more about him over the years -- an able warrior and commander, seemingly sincere enough in his piety and humility to refuse the title of "King" when offered, and yet ambitious enough to aspire to lead the Crusader armies himself (or perhaps more to the point, to keep Jerusalem out of the hands of the likes of Raymond of Toulouse).
Thanks for your wonderful support friends, I thought this might be an interesting tale to tell. Possibly very brief, but interesting. I accidentally started the game in vanilla first (without remembering I had to tick the box to enable HIP) and in my first month of play had Jihads declared on me from Sunni and Shia alike (two weeks apart o_O).

His Holiness helpfully declared a crusade for Andalusia.

In this case I took the liberty of playing out the first 18 months just to be sure that there was going to be a campaign to talk about rather than a very brief massacre on the desert sands, but happily I didn't have to restart so we'll be continuing wherever the story takes us for as long as we're interested - and we're already up to my save point, so while I know what I want to do next we'll see how much bearing that has on what actually happens.

@Specialist290: I rather like him as well; I half expected him to die early on and Baldwin to move in as his heir but I'm rather pleased to see him surviving so far. I like his christian ethics and while he isn't a zealot his humility will serve him well in the days ahead. I wonder how many generations we'll see before there is an earthly King of Jerusalem?

@DeamonBlackfyre: De nada, I didn't really regard the Prelude as the First Chapter either but I understood what you meant given the post times. I'm planning on doing a Prelude/Interlude with each succession both to introduce the new ruler (and their voice) and give a rundown on how I interpret their traits and thus how I plan on playing them.
I'm liking your writing style, and hoping you last a bit more than 18 months!
Yup I'm liking the style of this one. Count me in!
Thanks for your kind words, friends!

Chapter II takes us from 1101 through to the end of 1103, marking four and a half years since the founding of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. And we aren't dead yet!
II: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished​

Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path.
-Spredemann, Codex Irremissible Secretum​


He has my eyes

Paeans of joy ring out across the Holy City at the news that my son and heir has been born of my lovely Norman bride. Edouard de Boulogne is born a wrinkle-faced bundle of shrieks and wails, yet the first time he opens his eyes I recognize something of myself in him. I am determined not to be like those old-fashioned noble fathers in the West who only notice their son when he turns six and then only enough to choose whose service to place him in as page. Though the business of the Kingdom may not allow me to spend as much time with my family as I will, yet I will take such moments as I can. Speaking of the business of Jerusalem, I have the most unusual conversation in the days before the Tournament.

I am speaking with Abdul Wahad, one of the local Levantines who has turned to Christ since our arrival. He has since become a worthy member of my council, with whom I was met to decide on our next course of action. Roubaud the Sly had brought word that the Great Turk Barkiarok was embroiled in civil war, while the Turk of Rum was warring with Cilician Armenia in the distant north. With the young Caliph entertaining a war of his own as well as a rebellion in Sinai, might this not be our opportunity to strike at Damascus all along the long border we share with them?

Abdul Wahad: I assure you my liege, there are many prospective converts to be had in Outrejordain; their souls cry out for the proper sustenance of the word of God.

Bishop Guichard: Then we must bring it to them, should we not my Lord?

Me: This is certainly true, though there are infidels a-plenty upon all sides of us. God has given us a wealth to choose from! Importantly, it would also help to reduce their own ability to strike at us, and drive them from their rich cities along the east banks of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. If we can push them them into the sandy wastes...

Onfroy of Jaffa: There is the matter of Armenia, my Lord. They have sent a call to arms, asking us to join them in their fighting against the Turk of Rum. What response should we give them?

Me: Armenia? I don't recall our having alliance with them. Did we ask them to come to our aid when the Egyptians warred upon us?

Onfroy: We did, my Lord. They replied that they had no alliance with us and were reluctant to journey such a long way through hostile lands.

Me: Valid points both, and equally true of us. Reply in the same words, I am sure they will not mistake our meaning.

Roubaud: Especially since word has reached us that Damascus is marching to join that war. Their levies are in motion all along our border, headed north.​

Clearly my Council are all in agreement that this was our opportunity to strike at Damascus in the East. The Infidel's allies were occupied and he himself was stripping his cities of their greatest defense. Was this not a God-given opportunity? I feel moved to agree with them and begin to do so when my Lady Cecile comes into the chamber, young Edouard cradled against her tender bosom. A hush fills the room as my council and I all respond to her appearance in our very different ways. She is remarkably beautiful in the full glow of motherhood, the last signs of the strain of childbirth already fading from her visage.


Lady Cecile takes the floor

Cecile: My Lords, I could not help overhearing your... boisterous conversation from the nursery, and I intended to ask you to address the volume of your speech. Yet as I neared I heard more of your words, and felt moved to offer my counsel, an' you will accept it. Baron Jourdain, may I ask the strength of the realm's levies?​
He hesitates, glancing across to me and then responds at my silent nod.​
Jourdain: They are still somewhat depleted from our war against the old Caliph-that-was, though they are back up above half strength.

Cecile: And the Damascene levies, good Roubaud?​

He looks startled as well, though whether because of my Lady's keen wit allied with her sex or being labelled 'good' for the first time, I cannot say. He holds a keener appraisal of the way the wind is blowing however, and did not wait for my approval.
Roubaud: They are some thousands stronger than our own, my Lady.

Abdul: Yet with the Holy Orders at your side and your own recognized martial prowess my Lord, I have no doubt of the outcome. Surely God would have it no other way!

Onfroy: And also let us not forget that the levies of Damascus are on their way north even now.

Cecile: My Lords, no; there will surely come a time for conflict with Damascus, it is inevitable - but it is not now. They may be vulnerable but we are not ready, and there is still scope for us to strengthen our position by extending the Kingdom north along the Levantine coast. Do not forget that Raymond of Tripoli is up there, separated from us by many lands and perhaps in danger of forgetting where his allegiances lie. He may be your vassal, Lord Husband, but when has he last sent any of his levies to your call? It may be time to remind him that he serves King Jesus, not King Raymond.​

Abdul seems strangely intent upon his course, but he can tell he was losing the council and makes a final plea to Cecile directly.​
Abdul: But my Lady, the Seljuk is distracted - a moment like this may not come again!

Cecile: That is as may be, but I am not sure he is as distracted as we may wish to assume. He is fighting a revolt, to be sure - but his armies are without number. Are you so sure he cannot spare a few thousand in defense of his vassal, with many more to follow? No my Lords; while of course you may do as you will, if you desire my council it is this: do not wake the baby.​

She strokes my sleeping son's forehead and leaves the room with an enigmatic smile, taking my thoughts with her - indeed it is some moments before I recollect myself and return my gaze to my council.​
Me: There you have it my Lords and Bishops; we will not wake the baby in the East. Let us to Beirut, to add another safe port at which pilgrims may land. But not until after the Tournament is complete; we must show our confidence in the Lord, and in our security here in His hands.​

The tournament itself is a glorious success, granting the time for the new noble houses of the Kingdom to meet and make plans together while those of a more martial inclination take to the lists and the melees in full view of the masses. We show the locals what military prowess Christ's Crusade has brought to shield them, and hone our skills before the war in Beirut. Before the eyes of God and man I triumph in the Tourney with barely three bruised ribs to show for it and am granted a crown of fruited laurels for my prowess; one crown I am not ashamed to wear!

As the tourney comes to a close, there is a great feast held at the Tower of David, at which we proclaim a Holy War against the Sheikh of Beirut. Determined not to leave good Christians in danger without me, I lead an advance guard of some tenscore of my household knights north to the fords of Megedel on our northern border with Beirut. Many of the locals are still adjusting to the realities of Christ's rule, and several of our outriders report locals cursing at them in their indecipherable local tongue, muttering dire imprecations and shaking their fists at us. An unsettling experience to be sure! Yet this must surely be expected when those who have dwelt so long in darkness abruptly find themselves thrust into the light by no will of their own.


Um... guys?

The Battle of Megedel is already sung of in the marketplaces of the Kingdom, so I am sure I need not recall the precise details here. The swift march of Sheikh Musa southwards, tempted to vainglory in his desire to take me captive or put me to the sword. The first confrontation when my household was confronted with six times our number across the ford, the Sheikh's charge and then the savage fighting in which Baron Joscelin with a mere forty knights shattered the infidel wing opposite him and - rather than pursue them into oblivion - wheeled around to take the hundreds pressing our center in their own flank. How he and I fought back to back for near an hour as the remaining infidel host swept around our closing ring, and then how Grandmaster Hamelin of the Knights Hospitaller led a fresh column down from the hills into the Sheikh's rear, a hammer to our anvil. At the end of the day, although half my household lay fallen around me the enemy are annihilated and our armies head north to take the Sheikh's holdings under siege. All of them.

It is strange how the attitudes of the locals change after that.

I am in the siegelines at Sarepta when word reaches me of the horrific consequence of my choices. I had chosen to lead my household ahead of the Kingdom's levies, and so we had been fiercely embattled but I could live with that far better than another Meshtage. Given his Armenian wife, my brother Baudoin had chosen to lead Edessa to answer the call of her kin against the Sultan of Rum. As his levies streamed west, he and a body of his men had found themselves engaged from an unexpected direction; a host of men coming up from the south. The very host of men from Damascus I had earlier declined to engage in favour of strengthening the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It is reported that Baudoin fought in heroic single combat against Beylerbey Radwan of Qinnasrin, the heir to Damascus. In better time Radwan and I might have become friends once he saw the light; he is reportedly kind, generous and humble, all traits that I admire. Yet when his blade slid between Baudoin's ribs that future died along with my younger brother. As Baudoin's child was yet unborn, Edessa passed to my greedy older brother Eustache, Count of Boulogne and a number of surrounding territories in France.


I will kill him one day

The war against Cilician Armenia ends shortly therafter, and soon Damascus decides to join the war in Beirut. Reports of their levies begin to reach our siege camps around the various holdings in the Sheikhdom and I think surely God has heard my prayers for vengeance and is surely delivering my foe to me where I stand. But it is not to be; with the fall of Belfort so too fails the Sheikh's will to resist, and he bends the knee and surrenders his titles to me. The Patriarch of Jerusalem - who accompanied me on this campaign - appoints two new bishops that day, and also counselled me on my obvious disappointment. The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that the Lord says, "Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" I will try to leave it to the Lord to deal out the vengeance that is due to my brother's killer, yet I cannot help but nurse a burning resentment in my heart, a canker mixed with guilt. Had I turned the Kingdom's armies east instead of north, or defended the Orthodox kingdom in the north, would my brother still be alive? I am truly a sinful man, for I find it hard to come to peace with this and trust that it is all part of God's plan. I confide this to Bishop Guichard also and he counsels me to a penitential pilgrimage, to be carried out within two years.

The Kingdom's hosts return to their homes and loved ones, and a time of peace ensues. We invest the funds seized from the infidel of Beirut into the expansion of the Tower of David, and raise two new Counts from among the bravest of the Battle of Megedel. It is not enough to be a clever man here in the Kingdom; to be a worthy steward of Christ's Kingdom or part therof one must also be a fierce warrior in order to preserve the Treasures of God from thieves and ruffians who would otherwise despoil them. When word arrives from my brother-in-law the Duke of Norman Puglia of a rebellion against his authority, the Kingdom's treasuries are ominously bare. I briefly consider cancelling the expansion of the Tower, yet that would not bring back the funds already invested. Instead I send my household knights, some five hundreds strong. They will not be the most numerous contingent in defense of Cecile's brother's rights, yet they are both heroic and brave out of all proportion to quantity and I am determined that never again will I leave a call for my aid unanswered, e'en though it may not be of earthly benefit to me to do so.


The War of the Two Brothers

After my men arrive and the first reports come back, I discern the true complexity of the issue. My ally Duke Bohemond of Antioch has also answered his brother's call, with a full six men. I ask the messenger to confirm this and he does so. What in the world can he be thinking? Then my wife storms in and the full story comes out. It appears this is a civil war to grant the Duchy of Puglia to Duke Bohemond. While he is fighting in support of his brother's legal rights, it is perhaps not surprising that his support is less than full-throated. While my chevaliers siege the rebel keep, word soon returns that the war is over and Duke Bohemond now holds the Norman duchy. With Edessa now married to France and Antioch to Norman Sicily, the crusader states are rapidly being drawn into the morass of European politics. What happened to the prospect of a new, holier, godlier land over the seas? Do none of my fellow crusaders understand?

While I am saddened by this and mulling over the failings of man with a cup of wine, another letter arrives from the west. A new Pope has been anointed, taking the name Ioannes XIX. Did His Holiness Pope Urban pass away? No, he did not; this is a rival pope, an anti-pope if you will. Set up by the Holy Roman Emperor himself and taking half the College of Cardinals with him, this is a monumental blow to Catholicism. I send a letter to Rome, assuring his Holiness that the Kingdom remains loyal to the true faith and devote my time to my family. In truth I am not blind to the flaws in Pope Urban the man. While his diligence and zeal is commendable, he is perhaps a little too trusting when the powerful monarchs of the west attempt to lead him astray - though is it his fault that a man so close to God is taken off guard by the sins of this mundane world? Some would call his focus on financial matters 'greed', but can enriching the coffers of Mother Church truly be a sin? In any case he is well known for his devotion to tending to the spiritual well-being of the younger novices and nuns in and around Rome, ensuring they are not led astray by worldly concerns. In any case, he is God's choice and who are we to judge? He knows what He is doing, and if we trust in Him our devotion is rewarded.


The Cardinals of the Holy Land

In the Kingdom's case, with the elevation of two of our finest Bishops to the College of Cardinals, including good Guichard of Lidde, my personal Chaplain. A third is chosen from the Duchy of Antioch. The Pope recognizes the good work they are doing in proselytizing to the unbeliever here in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and appreciates their expressed support in this time of strain and division among the servants of Mother Church. With the growing troubles in Europe, we see a surge in the number of pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land. Unlike our journey here or the first eighteen months after the Kingdom of Jerusalem was proclaimed, the remainder of the year passes in peace and calm within our borders and at Christmas Mass I am delighted to proclaim my Lady Cecile is pregnant once more. Another son? Or a daughter, a desert rose? God's Peace does not extend beyond our borders however, and we soon hear that Egypt is focused on new conquests to the south, while the Great Turk is making war upon his vassal of Damascus. Is this the wrath of God the Patriarch told me of, or simply another example of the godless falling out amongst themselves? I listen daily for any news of Beylerbey Radwan, but as the year draws to a close there is no word of him.​
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Glad to see the capture of Beirut went without a hitch, relatively speaking. A shame it had to come at such a price, though; I'm sure Godefroy will be haunted by his brother's loss for the rest of his life.

Also, I have to say that I greatly enjoy how you manage to tie the personal events together with the Big Picture in the narrative. It adds that extra little bit of verisimilitude that I like to see in narrative AARs.
Yes a very interesting way of capturing the 1st person narrative with the historical. Good work.
III: A Pilgrim's Reward​

“Whatever the motive for setting out, whatever the hardships encountered along the way, the pilgrim’s reward is the secret joy of spiritual discovery.”

-Sugden, Vota Proficere​

The new year brought, not word of my enemy the Beylerbey of Qinnasrin but of the death of Raymond of Tripoli. My recalcitrant vassal to the north had passed away from injuries taken fighting local bandits, and without an heir of his body his lands and title passed to his cousin, a vassal of the King of France although not the same vassal as was presently ruling over Edessa. Christ's Earthly Kingdom was being nibbled away into the hands of men, although I was pleased to hear that King Louis took his obligations as a Crusader Lord seriously; he was already conducting a holy war against the Sheikh of Tarabulus, completing my work of the previous year and joining the Kingdom to the other Catholic states northwards. From Fatimid Sinai to the shrunken remnants of Cilician Armenia in the north, the coastal Levant was in the hands of Catholic Franks. While the Fatimids fought Abyssinia in the south and Damascus and the Great Turk warred in the desert, the Kingdom enjoyed a time of peace and security. I decided it was the best time to take the penitential pilgrimage laid on me by Cardinal Guichard.


To the Eternal City!

I waited to leave while my dear Cecile swelled and one spring day gave birth to a second son as I waited without her chamber. Truly the Lord had blessed us both, and in thanks we named him after the bedrock of His Church; Pierre. I set off for the city of St Peter the next day, leaving Roubaud the Sly as my regent while my Lady recovers and sees to the care of our sons. If any of my trusted advisers have 'gone native' it is he; he has married a local woman called Khaterah. Although she has yet to see the light and convert to the true faith, she can be seen every Sunday by his side in the church. While sometimes this gives him a little too much sympathy for the local infidel, his intellect should help him to keep ahead of the machinations of any of the local nobles and he will surely avoid upsetting any of the locals or starting any new wars in my absence. My last act before taking ship from Acre was to grant the Barony of Schuf to the Knights Hospitaller, that they may ward the pilgrim roads from the north as do the Templars from their castle on our southern border.

I was travelling as anonymously as I could, for it is no pilgrimage of penitence if I travel as some pampered oriental potentate. In truth I found myself enjoying the chance to get away from my servants and hangers on as I did in the days of my youth, riding through the countryside of Boulogne with two of my friends. Once more I was simply Godefroy, Pilgrim, and I was glad of it. The first voyage took us to Piraeus and was peaceful, the gentle rock of the waves against the hull easing my cares. The Byzantine port official at the docks did not appear to recognize us, which brought a small smile to my face. Did he not expect to find the Princeps of Jerusalem travelling without a retinue - or did the arrogant Greek simply not care about any Catholic title? Josselin seemed less impressed as he doled out a handful of silver into the Greek's hand, and then we made our way to the nearest pilgrim hostel. One of the less welcome perquisites of the anonymous pilgrim's path was sharing the loft with twoscore snoring folk, each laying on a cot specially designed to be two inches too narrow for a man's shoulders. I finally managed to drift off to sleep, only for my dreams to darken. It was as though I could hear a dark infernal laughter, and a sooty smell as though Lucifer himself was mocking me. Wait - soot?

I came awake with a start, the smell of smoke coming more clearly to me now. Alerting the other pilgrims with a cry, my companions and I began to hasten them out the window and away from the blaze. Finally we were the last three in the room and I helped Gui and Josselin out to safety ahead of me. I was about to join them when I heard a frantic shouting and pounding through the floor beneath me. I did not hesitate, I turned my back on the window and charged down the smoldering stairs. The man in distress seemed to be one of the wealthier travelers and had secured a private room in the hostel; his desire for greater comfort risked proving his undoing, for a burning beam had fallen across his doorway, one he could not shift from within. Hauling it out of the way cost me a nasty burn along my sword arm, but the look of fearful relief on the plump merchant I found within rendered any pain worthwhile. I helped he and his wife out of the building without further incident, and met with my companions outside - and his worried son, who had slept in the stable with the merchant's beasts for safekeeping.

That was how I met Fortun of Navarre.


Fortun of Navarre, his wife, son and Juba (R to L)

On the road the next day Fortun insisted that his rescuer and his friends travel with his family, "For protection, you know!" It seemed that he was a successful merchant in Christian Spain, who having just come into a substantial inheritance felt that it was time to properly thank God for his blessings by completing a pilgrim's circuit. He was freshly come from Jerusalem having seen all the wonders of the Holy Land and was due to make a last stop at Rome on his way home. He introduced me to his wife and son, and also to his semi-tame cat Juba, who seemed to be utterly convinced that he was a fearsome leopard or lion. We did battle a number of times for my signet before he reluctantly conceded my prior claim. We followed a bright pilgrim's star across Byzantine Greece, enjoying the cultivation of this declining Empire until at last we reached Epirus - but recently reclaimed from the Queen of Sicily. We were able to book passage on a ship of the Knights Templar, insisting that our new friends be given safe passage as well. Fortun looked a bit askance at this, but I managed to keep my identity from him under the guise of the anglicized Godfrey and indicating that I had a place in service to the King at the Tower of David; all true, if not as he understood it. Josselin and Gui took great amusement in sharing tales of 'our' service there, and the King's strange habits. I allowed them to twit me about 'his' insistence on being known only as Princeps, for in truth I knew they were far from the first.

Arriving in Rome, I was struck by the presence that remains there even now. Though it may be much depopulated from its days of yore, the city remains immense and still boasts an impressive population concentrated around the Tiber. We visited the twin basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, early churches of the faith and the site of more than one martyrdom. The city was even more stuffed with visitors than I could have imagined, as it seemed Pope Urban had been taken unto God and there was an election to be held. While we stood in the square before the great structure, we saw the puff of smoke that confirmed the choice of the Preferati, now Pope Marcellus II. Born a dwarf, His Holiness had risen above the challenges that God laid before him to command the forces of the Papal State. He was ordained after grievous battlefield injuries made it impossible for him to stride the battlefield once more, yet the zealous fire of a true champion of Christ continued to blaze within him; a godly man indeed.

Once again I was struck by the babble of different tongues mingling with one another in the packed streets of the Eternal City, and I was able to make myself understood in at least two tongues I had scarce heard of by the time we left; my parting with Fortun was hard, for he had grown strangely dear to me in our brief time travelling together. We pledged that if I were ever in Navarre, or he were ever in Jerusalem again, we would seek out the other to catch up on the time in between. I would introduce him to my wife, he to his daughters. With this promise made, we turned to our respective journeys and left. They say a thousand roads lead to Rome; what they do not say is that just as many lead away from it. I knew I would never see him again.

Arriving back in Jerusalem, I was a happier man. The burdens of the Kingdom, the guilt for my brother's demise, it was all lifted from me and when I saw my dear Cecile waiting above the gateway into the newly expanded keep of the Tower of David I knew that the poison of vengeance no longer dwelt in my chest. We shared a heartfelt reacquaintment, and the next morn I visited with my sons. I had been away for so much of their young lives, and I vowed that I would find a way to spend more time with them than the pressures of rulership had as yet allowed. The remainder of the day was spent with my erstwhile regent and council, finding out that overall the situation had not changed. The French had completed their conquest to the north and our borders now touched. The Fatimids were still embroiled with their own affairs, and the great hosts of Damascus and Seljuk were still tearing at one another somewhere out in the sandy wastes east of the Holy City. With the levies refreshed I sent a missive to the Beylerbey of Damascus the next day and led all the hosts of the Kingdom to the north and east; it was time to complete the liberation of Galilee.


Filling in the gaps

As ever I rode with the lead elements of our massing armies, my household knights around me. Arriving at Chastelet we laid out the siege lines for our gathering host to fill as they arrived and then called on Bey Yahya to yield the castle to us. Unsurprisingly he refused us and send a band of messengers off rapidly in the other direction before we had the numbers to complete his encirclement. From that point onward a sergeant could have directed the siege and it was mostly a matter of waiting. Without the necessary wood in the area to complete proper siege towers all we could do was wait to starve them out and send occasional patrols out to ensure no infidel host could surprise us. As the last band of our host trickled in I came down with a chills and a fever that struck me to the core. I spent the next week tossing and turning in my tent in a blood-red haze, my vision filled with images of savage unending battle, swordplay that drove me beyond exhaustion until at the very long last I stood alone without friend or companion in the midst of a great field of corpses. My horror had just long enough to sink in when I looked up and saw a great enemy host charging toward me, their faces twisted as the sunlight shone off raise Damascus steel, and I... and I alone. I awoke in a cold sweat as my fever broke at last.


Is this a warning, Lord?

Was God warning me against my campaigns into Damascus? Still weak as a kitten I lay prostate in my tent as the siege wore on, searching the darkest corners of my heart. Was I here out of vengeance, out of hatred for the infidel? Surely it was merely out of a desire to secure the borders of the Holy Land, but as the Lord said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Perhaps I should not be so sure that my journey of remittance had cleansed all hatred from my heart. My companions covered for my illness, telling the men that I was merely occupied in planning each day's strategy but I knew that should the expected infidel host arrive from the east I would not be able to avoid taking my place in the line of battle. However, the infidels never came. Chastelet fell, and with it the territory along the northern bank of the Sea of Galilee. I gave the order to march deeper into Damascene territory, seek out the infidel army and force the Beylerbik's surrender; and lo, as we left the siege lines and headed south the illness lifted from me as though it had never been. By the time we were five miles down the road I sat straight in my saddle with all the vigor of a man half my age.

Word reached us before we gained the next city that the Beylerbey acknowledged our conquest and would yield us Bey Yahya as our new vassal. We had a newly recalcitrant lord to replace Raymond of Tripoli, although one without the same ties to the Kingdom of France! All that was needed was to convince him to see the true faith, and our priests were already hard at work among his court doing just that. Peace descended once more across the Kingdom in a time of healing, of building and laying the foundations for the future. Olives grew once more on the mount overlooking Jerusalem, and the pilgrim roads grew ever more used. We even had immigrants, Franks, Normans and Lombards alike seeking a new life over the seas and away from the internecine warfare that gripped the south of Europe. It was then that I first heard the name our countrymen back home gave to these new lands restored to Christ's hand; "Outremer", the lands over the sea. Jerusalem replaced all its lost citizens and more, and the tongues of Europe mingled with those of the Levant all o'er the court in a way that reminded me irresistibly of my time in Rome. I wondered how my friend Fortun was faring, and if he would ever suspect his travelling companion's true role in the Kingdom.

Around that time the Damascene court moved from Monreal in Outrejordain to Hauran - the last of his territories that with coast on the Sea of Galilee, as though a touchstone for what the Mohammedan had lost in the Holy Land since the return of Christ's servants. Mayor Onfroy sent word from the Beylerbey's court that he had accustomed the Sunni to our conquests and that he was content to let them be while affairs in the east occupied his attention, but pleaded that I leave some time before I sought war with them again. Mindful of the God-given warning I had received and the visions of the bloody field, I said as much to my council and settled in for as many glorious years of peace as God would give us. That is not to say that our time was without tragedy, for as I broke my fast with my Lady one morn in our nightshifts good Gui burst into the room with a look of horror on his face that made me forgive his breach of a treasured private spell.


I have my eye on you, Munawwar!

My boon companion Josselin had been found that morn fallen from the high window of his quarters on the east side of the Tower of David. Since our return from Rome he had put his mind to his succession and wed a local maiden, the daughter of a swordsmith. As the wife of Roubaud, she had not yet taken the True Faith but over the scant months of their marriage she had shown a regular observance that was pleasing both to her husband and the clergy fresh come to this land. However she was also the only one known to have access to the room that none who saw might question, as well as an unwholesome fascination with blades unbefitting her sex. I had also caught her glances my way, oft as sharp as daggers, yet said nothing for my friend truly seemed to care for her. Now he was dead, and my heart cried out for me to see her punished for her foul murder and yet... there was no proof, and she truly seemed grief-stricken. I asked Roubaud to keep one of his eyes on her and stayed my hand - for now.

Soon therafter war erupted once more in the godless lands to our east, as another of the Beylerbey's brothers rose up for his claim to the Damascene throne. With our north and southern borders secure (the Fatimids enjoying another of their annual revolts in Sinai) this seemed an opportunity handed us by God. Mindful of his earlier warning I declared war instead on the Beylerbey's avaricious rival and saw to breaking one of his larger armies and securing a hold on Monreal on the east bank of the Dead Sea. This time we were less fortunate and while we were able to face down any force save the mightiest on either side without a fight, with our entry to the war scores of infidel bands spilled out across the Kingdom, raiding and harrying any of the pilgrims or travelers who ventured out from their fortified castles. The Templars and Hospitallers did what they could, but in time I was forced to lead my household knights out as well in an ugly series of little battles scarce worthy of mention. That time became known as the Harrowing of the East, and it ended with a double blessing as we took stock of our losses after the only true battle of the war, in which we trapped the main Rebel army against the shores of the Dead Sea and conducted them appropriately for the locale. When I slid off my horse at my tent and handed my blood-flecked gauntlets to my squire for cleaning, he handed me two missives in return.


The war is over! Home to my Lady!

It seemed that in the seizure of the castle of Sela to our north the main Kingdom army had secured the entire extended family of the would-be Beylerbey including all four wives and his primary heir. Combined with the destruction of his largest army, he saw the merits of suing for peace; a peace I was all too willing to grant given the inducements to return to Jerusalem. The ride home was a wonderful release of all the pent up pressures from the war, each town we rode through singing our praises for delivering them from the raiders so recently seeded through our land. It seemed at every by-way and crossroads a small band of men would split off on their way home. God had not chosen to warn me again, for my health had remained strong. Surely this meant that I had not been mistaken and the opportunity had indeed been God's gift to us, to strengthen His servants in this arid land.

When at last we passed through the Golden Gate and into Jerusalem I was relieved to hear that at long last the local dignitaries had ceased to call me King in a bid to flatter me. I was less impressed to hear the clergy hail me as the Sword of God, an honour I hardly felt worthy to claim. The Patriarch was so emollient in his speeches that I grew swiftly uncomfortable and excused myself, making my way through the halls of the Tower toward my family quarters where my Lady and children surely awaited. There I could be simply Godefroy again, and not this 'Sword of God' monstrosity they were trying to hang about my neck. Unfortunately they do not call Reybaud the Sly for nothing - he knew me well and ambushed me two corners shy of my door and drew me into a side chamber. It seemed that his eyes had smelt out a foul-smelling fruit indeed, and one that reeked of treachery. A light had been seen flashing from Josselin's quarters three days of the week, just past noon and an answering light flickering back from the desert beyond Jerusalem's walls. After the first two times they had confirmed Munawwar was the only person in the room at the time, although the code was not something they could decipher. Reybaud sought my blessing to bring her in for questioning to determine what she was saying and to whom, but suddenly I felt thoroughly sick with the business of rulership and slapped my hand against the wall, cutting him short. "No. I don't care what reasons she felt she had, and I don't want to know how it happened. She was Josselin's wife and I believe he loved her, and I will not see her tortured for that. Hang her from the walls and be done with it. Oh, and take Mirabel for your excellent work in this matter." With that I stepped away and made my way to the sanctuary of my wife and sons, vowing that whatever the Kingdom's armies were required to do in defense of the land, I would take God's warning to heart and would not go to war again unless He willed it of me.

One month later a messenger was conveyed through the Tower to where I was working through an endless list of tasks awaiting my attention with my scribe in a sunlit chamber overlooking the Temple Mount. He bore the crossed keys of the Papal regalia, and so I looked up attentively as he held out a scroll, waving it to my scribe while I arched a bushy brow in question. "His Holiness has decided to answer the cries of the poor oppressed Christians in the land of Misr, and calls upon all men of might and valour across Europe to take up arms to secure them from the clutches of the infidel servants of Mahommet! Your valour against the enemies of Jesus being well-known all across the courts of Europe, he hopes that you will agree to lead a powerful force in the service of the Lord!"

"Of course I shall," I barked, coming up out of my seat. Could there be a clearer sign of God's Will in this endeavour? "You may tell His Holiness that I will bring as many men as I can without neglecting the security of the Kingdom. Marcel, write down something formal that the lad can give the Papal Legate." We sat and watched as my scribe wrote a lengthy missive encompassing most of a page and sealed it. Then the young man raced out of the tower, apparently imagining he could run all the way back to Acre before his ship left. I smiled in amusement, then set to considering some of the logistics of the move.

"Ah, Marcel?"

"Yes, my Lord?"

"Where is the Kingdom of Misr?"

He goggled at me for a moment, looked down at his feet and then back up with an earnest expression. "It... it is the name the local Arabs give the Kingdom of Egypt, my Lord."

"The Fatimids."

"Yes, my Lord."



God, it seems, is not without a sense of irony
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Yes, I actually did say 'yes' before doing a Search Title to find out where or what the Kingdom of Misr was. I assumed it was some 2-3 county area on the border of Abyssinia or someplace near Spain. To borrow Godefroy's words, "Oh."

Thanks again for your praise my friends, and sorry this one took a little longer to write than I expected. I had a minor glitch with my computer and had to rewrite the latter half of the chapter which hadn't autosaved for some reason. I definitely appreciate your enjoyment of the personal characterization, since it felt a little stiff at first but I think I'm really getting into Godefroy's head at this point. The Pilgrim events were fun, and gave me plenty of story fodder.
Yup your style really captures the King Khryses. Good update. A crusade to Egypt...wow. That will be some task. Good luck lol
I've now played to the end of the Misrian Crusade, and interestingly somewhere in all the mayhem Godefroy appears to have picked up the 'Ambitious' trait, while retaining his humility. I'm inclined to read that as "ambitious for his children", what do you think?

Chapter IV will go up later today.