- Sep 2, 2012
Deus Vult!The story of the Latin Empire is written in blood. The blood soaked ground at the Horns of Hattin in 1187 is where we begin our tale. That accursed day when God punished the sinful Christians by allowing the infidel to destroy them. With his enemies defeated, the great Sultan Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn was able to conquer most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When news of the fall of the Holy City reached Europe, the stage was set for a Third Crusade, the glory of which is still remembered fondly by both sides. The names of Richard the Lionheart, Fredrick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus and Saladin are still spoken in awed tones, as if they still have some hidden power. The battles of Acre, Jaffa and beyond ensured the survival of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but failed to recapture Jerusalem for Christ.
Prologue: The Kinslayer
Prologue: The Kinslayer
It also failed to restore the home of one Richard Clement, who shall be the first subject of our tale. We know little of his origins, save that he shared his name with his father. This has led many to believe he was a bastard of some Outremer noblewoman, a rumor that Richard himself did nothing to deny. His name Clément is Frankish in origin, but he is unrelated to any known noble house in France. He entered the service of the Knights Templar as a stable hand, but was quickly poached by one of the knights as his personal squire. He taught Richard everything he knew about warfare, which after thirty years fighting the Turks was quite a lot. Unfortunately for Richard, his master was to die at the Battle of Hattin before his education could be completed. Richard barely escaped himself, and carried the news to Jerusalem of the army’s defeat. For a month he remained there, as Saladin slowly made his way south to the Holy City. Refugees flooded in from the countryside, but precious few of them had any military training.
Finally the commander of the city garrison, Balian of Ibelin, began knighting any man of noble birth who could swing a sword. Richard, having some military training, was one of the first to receive this honor, and so became a Knight of Jerusalem. He fought hard during the month long siege, and left with Balian when the city was surrendered on October 2nd 1189. Upon arriving in Tripoli, Richard was appalled to see that the local Frankish rulers were robbing the refugees of their possessions, and then expelling them from the county. Richard was surprised to find his father leading some of the robbers, and even more surprised when the men with his father attacked him. A furious battle ensued, with the younger Richard abandoning himself into primal rage at this betrayal. When the dust cleared, Richards father lay dead at his feat, stuck down by his own son. Bohemond of Tripoli sought to arrest the so called “murderer” but Richard was saved by his patron Balian of Ibilin. Bohemond, knowing that he needed Balian's support for his county to survive, agreed to release Richard. Despite the circumstances, Richard was marked as a kinslayer by all in Christendom. This made him a pariah in Outremer, and he soon left for France.
The Crusader army is destroyed at Hattin...
He arrived in 1190, and for the next several years spent his time in the service of Baldwin of Flanders, a powerful lord in northern France. During this time Richard discovered that the women of France were far more beautiful and plentiful than they had been in Outremer, and developed a well-deserved reputation as a “fornicator extraordinaire”. Amazingly he is not known to have any children from this time, but did fight several duels with angry husbands of his conquests. He served his lord admirably, but because of his status with the church Baldwin was prevented from granting him lands in recompense. He was also denied any possibility of a noble marriage, for no lord wanted his daughter to marry a landless knight who was bound to Hell. Some have asked why Richard did not seek penance from the church, and the answer is quite complicated. His experiences in Outremer had shaken his faith in god, and taught him nothing but contempt for the Church. This anger led him to ignore the calls from the priests to repent, and to scoff at the idea of a holy pilgrimage. That is until his lord heard the preaching of one Fulk of Neuilly, a celebrated preacher who successfully convinced many lord to take the Cross. Baldwin of Flanders was inspired, and Richard was duty bound to accompany his lord. As one who had fought against the Saracens before, he was immediately raised to one of the top advisors to the Crusade’s leaders. Unfortunately for Richards’s spiritual health, the Crusade became hopelessly mired in debt to the Venetians, and they were diverted to the city of Zara on the coast of Croatia. The Catholic inhabitants there were surprised to see a Crusader army attacking their city, and the subsequent sack left a dark shadow over the rest of the expedition.
Zara is besieged by the Crusaders
Still short of funds to pay the debts, the commanders of the Crusade now heard a plea from Alexios IV, a prince of Byzantium. He promised to pay the entire cost of the expedition, along with providing military aid, if he was made Basileus by the Crusaders. Desperate, and with great prodding by the Venetians, the Crusaders sailed north, conquering several islands in the Aegean before landing across the Bosporus from The City. The daring naval assault and subsequent flight of Basileus Alexios III and his army allowed the Crusaders to besiege the city. After three days fierce fighting the Crusaders entered the city, only to find that the “pretender” Alexios III had fled and the former Basileus Isaac II had been re crowned. The blind Isaac was persuaded to crown his son Alexios IV co-emperor, and the Crusaders withdrew from the city to await payment. But Alexios IV could not raise the funds, and his attempts to do so greatly angered his vassals. When Isaac II died in January 1204, the people had had enough. Alexios IV was deposed, and on February 5th Alexios Doukas was proclaimed Basileus by the people of the city. Alexios V now tried to negotiate with the Crusaders, who were still awaiting payment for their services. They refused, claiming to still be bound by the terms of their agreement with Alexios IV. When Alexios V ordered the execution of his predecessor, the Crusaders declared their intent to conquer Constantinople and take their payment by force. By late March the Crusaders had taken up position in Galata, just across the Golden Horn from the city. Finally on April 12th, fine weather permitted the Venetians to bring their navy up to the walls. Richard himself was one of the seventy Crusaders who managed to scale the walls, and despite his wounds successfully broke open the walls in the northern area of Blachernae, allowing the Crusaders to pour into the City. He was struck by a rock thrown from the walls, and did not awake for two days.
The Venetian forces storm ashore...
The historian Seperos Vryonis relates the horror of the Sack that followed
“The Latin soldiery subjected the greatest city in Europe to an indescribable sack. For three days they murdered, raped, looted and destroyed on a scale which even the ancient Vandals and Goths would have found unbelievable. Constantinople had become a veritable museum of ancient and Byzantine art, an emporium of such incredible wealth that the Latin’s were astounded at the riches they found. Though the Venetians had an appreciation for the art which they discovered and saved much of it, if only to return to Venice for display in St. Marks, the French and others destroyed indiscriminately, halting to refresh themselves with wine, violation of nuns, and murder of Orthodox clerics. The Crusaders vented their hatred for the Greeks most spectacularly in the desecration of the greatest Church in Christendom. They smashed the silver iconostasis, the icons and the holy books of Hagia Sophia, and seated upon the patriarchal throne a whore who sang coarse songs as they drank wine from the Church's holy vessels…”
The Sack of Constantinople...
Richard, which supposed anything he had seen in the Holy Land. Even the Saracens had let the citizens of Jerusalem pay a ransom, rather than slaughtering them as the First Crusaders had. He tried in vain to restrain his men, pulling them off of women in the streets, even drawing his sword to defend a family in the Hagia Sophia. It was here that Baldwin found him, facing down seven blood crazed soldiers with several young children and their mother behind him. After ordering his soldiers to stand down, Baldwin turned to his friend. “Richard, I didn’t know you were awake.” Sheathing his sword, but still standing between the soldiers and the civilians, Richard replied “The shrieks of dying men and raped women roused me. My lord, why have you allowed this to happen! Christian nuns raped in the streets, churches burned to the gro-“Baldwin stopped him with a wave of his hand “I know Richard, by God I know. But what’s done is done, and we now have to deal with the consequences.” Richard stood, staring at his liege with an angry expression on his face. “This Crusade is over Richard, the Venetians have already sailed home. The other leaders are planning to declare a new Imperium Romaniae, and they want me to become Emperor.” Richard, a crestfallen expression on his face, spoke “Congratulations lord, I wish you the best of fortune.” Baldwin now smiled “I refused their offer Richard. I want you to be Emperor.” Richards’s mouth fell open, and he gaped silently at his liege. Baldwin smiled again. “I know this is a shock, but I feel that you are the best choice for the job. You are intelligent, charismatic and well skilled in the arts of war. Your actions on the walls also earned the admiration of the entire army. Beyond all that, I think you are the one person who can make something good out of all this horror. No matter what the Pope may say all the men in this army are dammed for this.” Richard now recovered his composure, and began to protest. Baldwin silenced him, and then said “This is my last order as your liege lord. Richard Clement, Knight of Jerusalem and Soldier of Christ, take up now the crown of this Empire and lead it to glory, and redeem all our souls before the eyes of God.” Baldwin now walked away, leaving the new Emperor of the Latin Empire standing alone beneath the basilica…
Authors Note: This is a retrial of an earlier AAR titled The Knight of Jerusalem. I reused some of the writing from the intro, but the gameplay and everything after this point is all new. Ruler designed character, ironman mode