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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter 5: October 1212

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Chapter 5: The Regent
October 1212


23rd of January Isabella bethroathed to Piere Capet.jpg


“So you would have my son give up his name and be subordinate to his wife?”

“I would think it would be more of a partnership than subordination. As to his name, well natural sons don’t pass along their father’s name so there isn’t much to give up. And he will be a King, which I assume is a higher station than you had planned for him.”

“That is a fair point. You know however I will not agree to a defensive alliance, save for the obligations we already owe the Kingdom as fellow Franks.”

20200531124649_1.jpg


“That is not ideal for us, but it is acceptable.” Jean of Beine hadn’t given him any further instructions on how to proceed. If the Pope insisted on keeping the man on as King-Regent, Jean would follow his instructions to the letter. But he would not do his politicking for him. If this fell through it would be on the regent’s shoulders, not his begrudging Chancoler.

“Bastards are always trouble. The whole point of the Holy Land is to empty the Kingdoms of their troublemakers.” Like Jean Of Briene?

“So we are agreed then?”

“Yes. You know I was thinking of sending the boy to the clergy before you came along with this offer.. I’m sure he will enjoy being a King far more. It is quite the unique position, or so I’ve been told.” Phillipe’s smile looked like that of a jin pretending to be human.

20200531120626_1.jpg


20200531131955_1.jpg


And just like that, Jerusalem’s fate was delivered into the tiny hands of a seven year old boy. Of course, he would be grown when he wed Isabelle, and he could suffer some sort of misfortune before that. But for all practical purposes, the matter was settled. The High Court would think as Jean of Breine had, that the sheer prestige of marrying the son of a King, even a bastard, would outweigh any other concerns.



The ceremony at Notre Dam had been grand. The wedding feast, held at the Castle of Melun, was lavish. Quite obviously beyond the means of the Count of Deux, but then the boy was known to be a wastrel.
Phillipa's husband the count of Deux.jpg

He had paid only a third of the cost of the wedding, still well beyond his means. The other two-thirds were paid by the King. The Count’s overlord, the young Count of Champaign might have contributed, but his mother, the Princess Blanka of Navarre had refused outright.
20200531124741_1.jpg

She feared the Count of Deux might press the claim of his wife, the daughter of the late Count Henri, Jean’s sister Isabelle’s second husband. She had taken every opportunity she could to terrorize poor Phillipa.

Henri of Champaign, Isabella's third husband.jpg

20200527171836_1.jpg

This had given his niece’s husband to be the opportunity to act as the noble protector, endearing himself to the notables of Champaign, and to his teenage bride. Both audiences cherished these displays of chivalry even if they knew they were somewhat cynical.

Though many thought the Infanta mad, Jean knew she was not entirely wrong in her suspicions. Phillipa might have seemed content, but Jean knew the women of his family better than that. They were content to bide their time to be sure, to endure setback after setback, but they would get what they wanted, and Jean knew Phillipa wanted Champaign.

20200531125027_1.jpg

It was, after all, hers by right if one discounted her elder sister and the King’s explicit proclamation that the line of her uncle would continue through his young son. But courts and Kings were fickle things. King Phillipe could one day find one set of de Blois cousins inconvenient and seek to elevate another. And who would step into that breach but Phillipa?

Her mother had always intended for her to become Countess of Champaign, though it was to be through marriage to little Thibault. But alas the Infanta of Navarre had not been keen on the match, believing that Phillipa would seek to usurp her husband and rule in her own right as soon as she touched ground in France. This paranoia had actually been to the benefit of Jerusalem in the past, Blanche had paid Alix's dowry specifically to keep her away from France. His own mother had been harsh to him at times, but Jean had no doubt she would have mercilessly destroyed anyone she perceived as a threat to her children.


Count Thiobalt the second of Champaign.jpg

The couple dined on strawberries, which they took turns feeding to one another, the bride often repaying the gifts with a chaste kiss upon her husband’s cheek. The bride and groom were engaged in conversation, and seemed to forget the rest of the world existed.

Parents told their children that marriage was about statecraft and politics, nothing more. And singers wove ballads of true love. Jean had found the truth was somewhere in the middle. No lord could truly put affairs of the heart to the side, but nor could he ignore the political costs of his actions. Many a conflict had started because of lust, with the lords involved claiming interests of state as a later justification. Likewise, chivalry and romance could prove a fine mask for cold calculating ambition, something the Lords of Champaign seemed to have down almost to a science.

Jean wondered what sort of balance young Peire would strike. He hardly knew the boy, but Jean doubted any man, even a bastard would-be keen to give up his name and take that of his wife, let alone allow her to hold power over him.

When the Queens of Jerusalem looked abroad for husbands they usually took men with decades of military and leadership experience.

Foulques of Anjou and Henri of Champaign had been powerful lords in their own right before traveling to the Holy Land to take up the Crown. Conrad of Montferrat had saved the Kingdom. Aimery de Lusiganan had risen through the ranks of the nobility until he became King of Cyprus, before he capped off his career by wedding Queen Isabelle. Even Jean of Brienne, for all of his many inadequacies, had at least led men into battle, even if most of those battles had been petty squabbles. The only King who had less previous experience than this Peire would be Aimery’s younger brother, Guy of Lusiganan

That was an unsettling thought. Pierre had a fine name to him true, but it could prove as much a hindrance as a help. The Cappets might aid their bastard relative in a war against the Saracens, but they might also do so if he sought to assert his perceived rights over his wife, or his vassals.


For now though the King was keeping his distance. He had ended his war with the Emperor, to what would surely be the great dismay of the Sicilians. In exchange the Pope had granted him an exemption from the Crusade. He would though encourage the French knights to head to the east and take up service, either with one of the Crusader States or the Latin Empire.


Jean wished he could talk to young Peiere. Even at such a tender age a future King should get to know his strongest vassal, and more importantly, know to show him favor. But Phillipe preferred to keep the boy hidden, under the care of his disgraced aunt Adele. So Jean would have to wait at least a decade to tell if Pierre Capet would be another Aimery the lawgiver, or another Guy de Lusignan, the King who lost Jerusalem.

20200531124831_1.jpg

In fact, few amongst the nobility seemed to know of his existence at all. It was surprising that the regent knew not only the secret but how to exploit it. Perhaps he possessed more subtlety than he gave him credit for. Being from Champaign probably helped, the King’s mother had been from the County, and so it’s lords were often amongst the royal favorites. It had been what netted both of the sons of Baron Erard de Briene, royal brides.

20200531124011_1.jpg

Why couldn’t Jean of Brienne have died like his brother, and left Maria alive?

It was things like this that led Jean to his cynicism towards god. He drank deep. The wine was fine, from Bordeaux. One of the few things the occident did better.

He wondered what Khalida was drinking. They wouldn’t give the good wine to servants, even those in the favor of a visiting dignitary. Phillipa and her husband at least seemed to enjoy the wine. He’d seen her last preparing Phillipa for the wedding. After that she’d disappeared off to wherever servants go. Which was a shame. He wanted to talk to her about the marvel that was Notre Dam, with it’s soaring spires and marvelous stained glass. Or for that matter all the other wonders they’d seen over the course of the journey.
20200531120631_1.jpg

Most of the nobles were huddled around the King. Ordinarily an envoy from the distant Holy Land would have been peppered with queries. But squabbling to see who could sit closest to the royal person took greater priority.


Near the end of the evening the King rose to give a speech. “My Lords and Ladies, the fine Counts and Dukes of France. I know this last years had proved..tumultuous for my house.”

Jean had heard all about the latest Capet marriage fiasco in Rome. Phillipe’s sister Adele had been promised to Richard the Lionheart as a young girl and had spent decades in the English court. Richard ended up spurning her, due in large parts to rumors his father had taken her as a lover. This provoked conflict with Phillipe. Eventually she was married to Count Guillaume of Ponthieu They had one daughter.

However, years later, the Pope declared that the marriage was invalid because a priest had confessed on his deathbed to having presided over the bigamous wedding of Adele to King Henry the Second, the King having been deluded enough to believe he would outlive his wife, Elanor of Aquitaine, or else just wished to spite the Church and his sons on his way to the grave. Things got even worse when a wetnurse confessed to having delivered the couple’s stillborn son. Adele herself confessed to her husband. Though a kind man, the Count had no choice but to put his wife aside, and faced with his sister’s own confession, the King had no choice but to accept. The outrage amongst the French nobility over one of their own being given “soiled goods” forced the king to wed his fourteen-year-old daughter to the Count, as compensation, and severely curtail his ambitions. And this wasn’t the first time the House of Capet had tangled with cannon law in regards to marriage.
Princess Adele of France.jpg

20200531122600_1.jpg

20200531122549_1.jpg

20200531122554_1.jpg

“Thankfully the Lord has blessed us with a new union. May the marriage between my cousins prove happy and fruitful. To the Houses Capet and Blois, and to France!”

“To France!”, the Lords raised their cups.

The King seemed all powerful. Yet Jean knew that even he had bowed to the will of the Church. He had been unable to annul his marriage to Ingeborg of Denmark and had been forced to set aside the woman he had married in the meantime, who had given him two sons.

Queen Inborg of Denmark..jpg

20200531133828_1.jpg


They stayed in Paris for a week, hunting and feasting with the King and his Court. When they departed Phillipa insisted on sending her uncle off with a puppy fathered by one of her husband’s finest dogs.
20200523174238_1.jpg

Many of Phillipa’s ladies would stay to keep her company in this far away land. Khalida though would be returning to Jeruslum with him.

He invited her to walk with him at the head of the column. She carried his new puppy in her arms.

“My Lord.”

“Khalida I have missed your company.”

“I serve at your pleasure my lord.”

“You like him don’t you?”

The little ball of fur licked her face. Khalida laughed. “I consider him to be my firstborn.” Jean smiled at that. His doubts were gone.

“You know I appealed to the Pope to make me regent in place of Jean of Brienne?”
20200523174214_1.jpg

“Of course he wouldn’t, my love. You are far more capable than that oaf. The Pope wants a dog he can lead around by the nose, not a real ruler.” He loved it when she talked like that.

“You once called me master of Jerusalem. That was incorrect. If I was master of Jerusalem I would be running the kingdom not running errands for the uncultured upjumped second son of a baron. All my life others have told me what to do, my father, my mother, god, the church, and I accept that to an extent. But doing the regent’s bidding has been a step too far.”

“You're breaking with him?”

“No. That would be too damaging to the Kingdom. I will remain steadfast in my duty. But I will not be a slave to the desires of others. If I am to endure I need the right partner by my side.”

“Jean my love are you saying what I think you're saying?”

“Yes.”

The tears of joy in her eyes were worth more than any regency.
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Excellent chapters, it'll be interesting to see how Jean's new wife fits into his family and realm and of course, how the crusade will unfold.
Thank you. Anges is very important to the future of the House of Briene. Jean himself has no sons and his daughter will be married in the future. If nothing else she represents an escape avenue. IRL he married Rita of Armenia and tried to press her claim to the throne of Cilicia. I tried to do something like that in-game, nit was turned down. Jean is trying a similar ploy with the Latin Empire. He has no land of his own, and his position depends on ruling on behalf of his wife or his daughter.

Finally had a chance to sit down and give this a good read-through, and I have to say I've been enjoying it immensely :) Definitely putting this one on my watchlist.
Thank you so much, that means a lot coming from you. I will try my best to write chapters worthy of your praise.

Khalida finally gets her way. Between the two of them, she and Ibelin could certainly make a dangerous couple -- de Brienne had better watch his back.
We'll see.

Thank you for your comments. I apologize for being late, and for not replying to comments before I posted the next chapter.
 
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There's a picture of Frida Kahlo in a red veil which eerily resembles our young Khalida, minus the mole. May it be a blessed union!
 
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Let us hope that the count is not successful in his scheme... Jerusalem must be led by a warrior during such troubling times. Hopefully the union between Isabelle and Pierre proves to be a happy one and failing that it will at least provide as useful alliance. Great chapter, it was very interesting!
 
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Hopefully Queen Isabelle's marriage will be a happy one! But if Perrie does not know that his place is to serve his wife he will have to be put down...
 
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There's a picture of Frida Kahlo in a red veil which eerily resembles our young Khalida, minus the mole. May it be a blessed union!
That's really cool. I had not noticed that. In-game they weren't actually in love, the chancellor just decided to mary a random courtier. I decided that nothing would justify such stupidity except love, and so I made them lovers using a console command. We will see if it stays that way.

Let us hope that the count is not successful in his scheme... Jerusalem must be led by a warrior during such troubling times. Hopefully the union between Isabelle and Pierre proves to be a happy one and failing that it will at least provide as useful alliance. Great chapter, it was very interesting!
The Count already failed in his scheme. Without the Pope, he has no hope of becoming regent, for the reasons his mother and you both pointed out. He could try to get Jean of Brienne replaced, but that would likely be with the head of one of the Holy Orders, who are stronger than Jean, and lack any agreements with the Ibelin family.

Hopefully Queen Isabelle's marriage will be a happy one! But if Perrie does not know that his place is to serve his wife he will have to be put down...
It is not a simple thing to kill the son of the King of France, even if he is only a bastard.

Thank you all for these comments. They really keep me going. The next chapter is delayed. It is the last chapter of 1212, and I wanted to make it a good one. That and recent political events kind of screwed with my headspace and made creative work differently. I don't anticipate the next few years requiring this many chapters.
 
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Chapter 6: November 1212

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Chapter 6: The Regent

November 1212


To his credit, the Bishop of Radwan fought like a man. Alas, his bare fists could do little against knights clad in mail. It took one blow from Jean’s gauntlet to throw teeth and blood from the bishop’s mouth and onto his colorful Persian carpet.

As Guilhem staggered to the ground Savvary slammed a blow into his gut. Even as Bishop Guilhem sunk to the ground, the cruel knight would not let up.

“Enough, Savary. If I wanted this man dead I would have told you so.”

“Always spoiling my fun”, Savary muttered sullenly. But still, he obeyed.

The two Saracen girls in his bed clutched the blanket, tears in their eyes. Jean recognized them as castle serving girls.


20200609150946_1.jpg

20200609150938_1.jpg





“This is an outrage, this goes against King Aimery’s laws. You can’t imprison a member of the council! The High Court will have your head!” The Bishop cried in protest.


27th of October Creepy priest must be fired before prison.jpg

“Your right Bishop. Imprisoning a member of the council would alienate the entire nobility and clergy of this kingdom. They’d run me out of the kingdom for it.”


Jean paused to allow hope to build in the treacherous priest’s heart.

“Fortunately, as was agreed upon in the council meeting you missed while attending to this lovely ladies, you are no longer a member of my council. As such it is my right and indeed my duty as a knight to imprison you for your crimes.”

“Your Grace, I have always been loyal to you. I brought the clergy to your side, I even officiated at your wedding. So I’ve enjoyed some women. I’m a man, I have my needs.”


“A man has his needs and I sympathize with anyone who needs to alleviate said needs, though when you pay to quench them I would advise you not to do so using my daughter’s coin.”


“What?”


“You really think I came here to involve myself in some trivial matter about some Saracen girls? The Spymaster has discovered your embezzlement and the only mistresses you will be seeing are the rats in your dungeon cell. Guards!” It was like pronouncing the wrath of God upon some poor peon. After feeling powerless for so long, it felt good to reduce another to such a state of helplessness.


The Bishop didn’t try to deny the accusations. All he could do was put on a brave face as he was clapped in irons and hauled off to the dungeon. A fate no man could envy.

“Mayhaps it is for the best. Away from the temptation of coin and women, I may finally make my peace with God.”


Jean scoffed.

“Protestations of piety will get you nowhere Bishop.”


“With you maybe, but I commend myself to the judgment of a higher power.”


Two guards hauled him off to the dungeon.


“Can I torture him?”, Savary begged.

“No.”

“Please.”


“No. We are preparing for a crusade in the face of a pandemic. I do not need to incur the wrath of either God or his representatives on Earth by torturing a man of the cloth, even if he is a soiled one.”
20200609151644_1.jpg

Maria Komnenos, his wife Agnes, and the rest of the council awaited him outside the room.

The Bishop had been taking many of his girls from the poorer segments of the Greek population, and as their semi-official representative, the dowager Queen felt it fitting to preside over his humiliation.

Agnes had insisted on coming along as well, no doubt trying to compete with the Queen dowager for status amongst the women of the Court. Jean refused her at first. Such worldly things, especially from a man of God, could be upsetting to a young woman such as herself. More importantly, her distress could make conceiving a son more difficult

She had not liked that explanation. “Am I nothing but an oven for you to bake your sons in, my lord husband?”

Yes, and also an outlet for my base desires, both political and sexual, but that had been an unwise thing to say, and so he brushed her off.

But she’d been so stubborn, an odd thing for one so outwardly shy and frigid. Seeing her insist on watching the arrest reminded him of some arguments he’d had with Alphonse. That made him more attracted to her, for some reason. Of course, her stubbornness was not the only strange thing about young Agnes.
Anges of the Latin Empire (wierd scholar).jpg

“What a disgusting false priest.”, said the Queen dowager.

“I would have taken his head”, declared Gurien

“It’s still not too late for torture”, said Count Balian.

“To think he officiated at our wedding”, remarked Agnes.

It fell upon Jean to be the voice of reason.

“Priests are like all men. It shouldn’t surprise you so if they fall prey to their vices.” That felt like something a wise person would say.

“Well, either way, we are short a priest.”, observed Grandmaster Guillaume.

“I’ll give the seat to Hubert, at least for the time being.” Jean had given the matter some thought. There were two other bishops under direct vassalage to the crown
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But Jean found them unfit for their jobs. The Bishop of Liddle was an arbitrary absent-minded ogre, while the Bishop of Latrun could hardly read.

“Is he not showing symptoms of consumption?” Maria Komnenos asked.

20200212180913_1.jpg

Consumption had broken out in Jaffa not long after the wedding. Jean had taken it as a sign from God that he did not want any waring amongst Christians before the launch of the Crusade, and so had pledged to refrain from all wars until the Crusade was launched. This was only bolstered by the news that Bohemond of Tripoli had been slain in battle.
20200609153747_1.jpg

The Death of Bohemond the third.jpg

Others said the disease was a punishment from God for something his wife Agnes had done. A few foolish people thought it was simply the result of packing so many people together in a small town with minimal sanitation.


“Hubert only showed symptoms. Besides, I would much rather have a priest who suffers from a physical ailment, rather than one of the spirit. Would you not agree?”


“You just keep him away from my great-granddaughter”, said the Queen Dowager.


“Do you really intend to elevate a mere courtier to the council? I admit the two Bishops directly sworn to the Crown are worthless, but surely the Archbishop of Tyre would make a fine addition to the Council.”
20200609151625_1.jpg

“Indeed he would, but alas he is directly sworn to you, my Count of Sidon. That would create a conflict of loyalties. Besides, he officiated my first wedding, and I believe I have bad luck when it comes to putting priests who officiated my weddings on the council. Regardless, the appointment is temporary. Are there any more objections?” There were none, which made Jean feel good.



He took his lunch in his solar with Alphonse, Raymonde, and his wife Agnes. Raymonde looked pale, and Alphonse’s posture was tense.

Jean told the story of how he had fled from his father, who had planned to send him to the church and gone on the road as an itinerant knight. He’d met Alphonse and Savary along the way. Alphonse had come to Jean’s defense after a sore loser from a tourney took a swing at Jean while he was staying at an inn. Out of gratitude, Jean had taken him into his service. They, journeyed from tourney to tourney, earning enough to keep their horses fed and their armor in good condition. As romantic a tale as ever told.

Especially when Jean left out the embarrassing parts, like the time a man eloping with a nun managed to outrace Jean, who had been determined to return the women to her convent, and secure the coin her “husband” had gathered for them. He would have returned it to the church, after helping himself to a generous finder’s fee of course. They’d been strapped for money, and Jean had figured god provided in mysterious ways.

The tale reached the part where they met Savary. He’d been a man at arms in service to a Baron whose tourney Jean and Alphonse had been attending. They’d been heading away, Jean having taken the champion’s purse when a certain soldier ran after them, offering to take up service. He needed to get away from his liege quickly, and they needed an extra squire, so it was a match made in heaven. Later Savary confused what had got him into such trouble. The castle cats had been overpopulating and so it’s lord had tasked Savary to drowning newborn litters of kittens.

“Naturally our dear friend took to the grim task with zeal. Unfortunately, this led him to drown the pet kittens of his liege’s beloved daughter. The Baron was furious and so Savary needed to find a new master with haste,”

“I am not surprised by this”, said Raymonde, who was somehow looking even paler. Jean also noticed that she had hardly touched her food. Does she think I am trying to poison her? Did Alphonse put her up to this?

“He still does this. Husband, I would like you to make him put a stop to this. I find it most...distasteful. And I am not the only one.”

“Alas, I cannot give you that comfort. I have known Savary for years. If he is not given some other helpless thing to torment he’ll resort torturing peasants.”

“Somedays I think we should have never taken him with us”, said Alphonse.

“Savary is a vicious dog, but a loyal one. One that knows to keep his nose out of his master’s business.” He glared at Alphonse, who seemed to pay him no mind. He had a hand on his wife’s shoulder and was asking after her health. He was always a dense one. Jean blamed it on Alphonse’s common blood.

At the end of the tail, the young knight returned to his father as a renowned tourney knight.

“What did your father say to that?”, asked Raymonde.

“He accepted me back with open arms. My father could be quite arbitrary and he was a humble man, able to reevaluate his choices. Truthfully I think he was just glad I had made something of myself. The whole reason he sent me to the Church was because he didn’t think he could find any land for a second son.”

Raymonde nodded. “My father could never bring himself to forgive me so openly. Even if he knew I was in the right, his pride would not allow it.”

And now the trap has sprung. Though it had taken long enough. “I see I see. Alphonse, what do you think of your father in law, our dear spymaster.”

Alphonse looked his oldest friend straight in the eye and lied. “I like him well enough.”

“Really. Because that’s not what I heard you and Baron Escalone talking about. You were talking about persuading myself and Count Jean that Count Balian should be replaced as spymaster by the Mayor of Acre.

7th November Alphonse plots to discredit his father in law..jpg

4th November, Baron Simon also told to stop ploting Balian's disgrace..jpg

“He’s a snake, not a soldier. Not one like you or me. In any case, Amedee would be a better spymaster. He has a true and loyal heart, not to mention all sorts of merchant connections.”


Mayor Amede of Ace.jpg

“Do you not think I know the objections you will raise? Balian Greinier is my spymaster and a good enough commander. More importantly, he is one of the most important nobles in the realm. And he, unlike you, has yet to plot behind my back.”

“I’ve fought beside you for years. How could you now accuse me of disloyalty?”

“What else do you call scheming to discredit a member of my council behind my back?”

“I call it giving good counsel.” Alphonse stood up, defiant.

Jean pounded his fist on the table. “You are the son of a blacksmith and a tavern wench you don’t get to have opinions, especially ones that are different from mine!”

Alphonse took in a breath. “Jean your getting too emotional.”

“I am not getting emotional! Dam it, you sit there with your perfect wife and your friendship with the Chancellor and all those things that I gave you and you dare to think you know better than me?! I made you dammit and I can unmake you to if I wish. I swear if I say the word it will be back to the road with you.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” He was starting to sweat. Alphonse was always the worrying type. Jean knew these types of threats horrified him. He could deflect a sword, but the lowborn knight had no defense against the sanction of his social betters.”

“Do you even know what that man is capable of? Raymonde, could you please tell the regent what you told me.”

He didn’t say my name. What am I to him?

Only now did Jean notice that both the women had stepped away from the table, putting a distance between themselves and the quarreling men.

“My father. My father is a cruel, proud, and ambitious man. He was unkind to myself, my mother, and I fear he will not prove a fitting father to my dear little brother Julian. With all that said, I believe him to be loyal. All my life my father has pursued his ambitions, but he has done so with caution. I believe he will be satisfied with a seat on the council. Removing him would not be to his benefit, your grace, nor would it be to yours, my dear husband.”

“Hah, even your own wife thinks you a fool”, Jean spat.

“Don’t think I’ll allow myself to be undone by this temper tantrum of yours.” He turned to his wife. “I knew some things are too good to be true.”

“It’s not a temper tantrum!” Jean exclaimed as he chucked the half-empty pitcher of wine at Alphonse. The Knight dodged. The wine splattered all over the fine carpentry of the room.

Raymonde frantically ran to her husband.

“Love, please. I love you and I know you are not a fool. But there are some things I know better than you, and this is one of them. Please do not move against my father. I told you of his nature because I wanted you to be warry of him. Please for the love of all that is Holy do not destroy yourself do not destroy what we..” As Raymonde’s voice reached it’s most frantic she lurched over and threw up contents of her meal before falling to the ground unconscious.

“Good God!”, Alphonse exclaimed.

“Raymonde!”, yelled Agnes, who ran to her friend.

Jean said nothing. Did I cause this? He had invited Alphonse along with his wife specifically because he felt having her here would have put him under greater pressure to back down. Agnes had to come along because doing otherwise would have raised suspicions.

Had he caused injury to a lady because of his pride, his envy of Alphonse, his fear of losing one of his only reliable supporters in the realm? If she dies, Alphonse will kill me.

They carried her to the court Physician, the ingenious Baron of Haifa.

20200612112726_1.jpg

. After a few minutes, he expelled the men and brought in a local woman healer.

The regent, his wife, and Alphonse waited outside the room.

As the sun began to set, the surgeon came to give his verdict. “Good god Sir Alphonse, you just had to upset her.”

“Is she alright?”, said Alphonse.

“Well, good ser Knight, your lady wife is in a delicate, but stable, condition. She should improve after nine months.”
Raymonde's difficult pregnancy.jpg

“Are you saying what I think you are saying?’

“Yes, your wife is with child.”

Alphonse rushed into the room, radiating sheer joy.

Raymonde was lying on the bed, tired but otherwise unhurt.

Alphonse took her hand and apologized profusely.

“All is forgiven. I told you about my father because I wanted you to be wary of him. I should have known better. We are too well matched. Hopefully, our child will have our best qualities, with perhaps a bit more patience.”

“I also width to apologize, to you Alphonse. I may also reconcile with you, Alphonse. I admit I may have been...overzealous in disciplining you. I recognize you did what you did out of loyalty to me, even if it was misjudged. In the future, I shall remember to ask for your advice when I have need of it.” The humiliation of admitting to this was his penance for his prideful display.

Alphonse took longer to respond than Jean had anticipated. “I remain your man, always and forever. I will reconcile with Count Grenier, for Raymonde’s sake if nothing else. But with all due respect, I must now think of my child’s future. I have served you loyally for years. Surely you can’t think of anyone better to govern some of the reclaimed lands.”

Jean smiled. “It would be my honor to have your line grow and prosper in this Kingdom.”


20th Novemebr Alphonse ends his schemining.jpg
 
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Good help is so hard to find sometimes... At least Humbert should be loyal and competent, if perhaps somewhat of a non-entity in the grand scheme of things.

I imagine that quarrels like this must not have been uncommon between Jean and Alphonse in the past. It is good that Jean recognizes the value of loyalty, and that Alphonse himself isn't one to nurse a grudge.
 
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The thing I took away from this is that Jean knows he is prideful and feels guilty when his pride hurts someone dear to him or his friends. That shows that Jean can actually put others above himself when it is not for his benefit.
 
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Good help is so hard to find sometimes... At least Humbert should be loyal and competent, if perhaps somewhat of a non-entity in the grand scheme of things.

I imagine that quarrels like this must not have been uncommon between Jean and Alphonse in the past. It is good that Jean recognizes the value of loyalty, and that Alphonse himself isn't one to nurse a grudge.
Alphonse is stubborn but this quarrel was especially vicious. Jean is a proud and envious man and doesn't like to see a lowborn like Alphonse do better than him. What holds him back from being as bad as some other AAR protagonists is that Jean wants to be the hero, and he knows heroes don't do things like throw away loyal knights out of envy. As for Alphonse, well they have been friends for years and the reality is that even if they weren't Alphonse needs his patron, now more than ever.

Jean's a bit of an ass. I like him.
Thanks. I worry sometimes I may have got the tone of the story wrong. I am really doing a lot of dark comedy for this part of the story, what I'm calling the regency arc. I worry some people might not get the joke or worse find it off-putting, or even worse think I agree with some of the stuff these people say. Jean's a prick. He isn't a monster, but at the same time he is a proud and envious man who loves to complain.

The thing I took away from this is that Jean knows he is prideful and feels guilty when his pride hurts someone dear to him or his friends. That shows that Jean can actually put others above himself when it is not for his benefit.
See above. Jean is an envious asshole but not an utter sociopath, at least not yet.

To all, I don't think I will be able to finish the next chapter by Saturday. I'll probably have it ready on Wednesday. I'll try to edit the already posted chapters and remove obvious errors, like the unremoved parenthesized notes from the rough draft. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
 
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Chapter 7: Febuary 1213

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Chapter 7: The Regent
February 1213

“You know they used to castrate men for things like that.” Jean looked up from the map.
“Forgive me my Count of Sidon, but if marrying a Maronite is grounds for castration, then I’d have to castrate my own physician.
20200616110004_1.jpg

I know you good men have acquired local customs, but I have no desire to be treated by a eunuch. And last I checked it was considered unknightly to bring up castration in front of a lady, especially if that lady is the mother of the intended castrati.”
“I assure you, men have said worse in front of me, the Count of Sidon knows this. You must not take offense on my account my Lord of Jerusalem. After all, it might do my son good to have only one head to think with,”, said Maria Komnenos, who was filling in on the council for her absent son.
“In any case, I did not mean the Count of Beirut, I was referring to our other befuddled bridegrooms”

20200616122746_1.jpg

20200616105941_1.jpg

Baron Yves of Monsinguard cropped.jpg

Baroness Hasanah of Monsinguard with child.jpg

“The sheer imprudence of it floors me more than anything else. Almost every highborn in the kingdom has a pretty serving girl to warm his bed when his wife grows frigid, but do these fools not understand the difference between a mistress and a wife? I dread to think of the world my children and grandchildren will inherit.” The spymaster knew enough about the Count of Sidon to know he was thinking of his eldest daughter, Alphonse’s wife, Raymonde.
“Hopefully it will be a world where the cross rules over Jerusalem.”

“I never would have taken the marshal for a heretic lover”, said Gurien.”
Guillaume muttered something in agreement. The stress of his work had been wearing on the young man, and he spoke rarely.
(picture.)

The priest took the situation the best. “Mayhaps it is a blessing in disguise. The good Constable is strong in his faith. He must be trying to bring his lady wife into the faith, adding yet another ewe to god’s flock.”

For all their bloviating and bellowing the council intended to do nothing to the Constable. The Baron had invested in equipping the men of Beirut and Sidon, as well as giving the Holy Orders great deference. They were furious, but Yves of Monsinguard was far too valuable to punish. And Jean couldn't do anything either. Both of the Barons held lands in Jaffa-Askelon, and were thus far too important to alienate. All Jean could do was pray that God would understand his predicament.

“I will talk to my son. Now can we get back to the topic of killing Saracens instead of bedding them?” Maria Komnenos slapped her palms on the table. If she were a man she might have pounded them. Still, the point was conveyed.
“The death of Bohemond has left the north of Outermreier in a delicate position. The Prince’s will had split his dominions between his sons.”
Count Raimond the Fifth of Tripoli.jpg

Duke Bohemond the 4th of Antioch (young).jpg

20200616103301_1.jpg

20200616103313_1.jpg


“The second youngest, Bohemond, has returned to Antioch with the Wasilid Emir as his captive.
20200220161327_1.jpg

He believes the war is over and has made peace with the Armenians, ceding his brother Phillipe’s county of Iskardon. He claims piety, the need to prepare his realm for the Crusade. However I have heard he wishes to consolidate his position in Antioch. The Prince rightly or wrongly fears some of his enemies in the Principality will launch a coup in the name of his brother, Henri the Count of Salone.
Either way the Prince has been reaching out for allies. King Hughes has wed his sister Sybille, my granddaughter, to the Prince. According to Alix she is very happy with her husband and glad to live in such a Holy City.”
Prince Bohemond of Antioch and Sybille bethroathed 16th of January.jpg

That brought a faint smile to Maria Komnenos’s old wrinkled lips.
“However, his brother Raimond is determined to fight his father’s wars to the end. He ravages the County of Beqa, hoping to avenge his father and end the threat to his lands. Phillipe, has sworn allegiance to the one brother who might help him keep his lands.”
“All this leaves Tripoli open for Raimond Roupen. Especially since the Prince’s Uncle, another Bohemond, it gets confusing with that blasted family, has taken young Raimond, also his nephew, under his wing”, explained the Spymaster.
20200616125552_1.jpg

20200616125604_1.jpg

20200616125600_1.jpg

“Has King Levon shown any signs of pressing the boy’s claim to Tripoli, he is after all the boy’s grand uncle on his mother’s side.”
“None that we’ve seen, Lord Regent. The King mostly seems focused on getting in one last conquest, and stabilizing the Kingdom’s frontiers. His only heir is after all a daughter, and he no doubt wishes to leave her a stable realm with hegemony in the north.”
Maria Komnenos spoke next. “Hopefully the Crusade will ease tensions. Roupen is the heir to poor Honfroy de Toron. We could offer to give him a part or all of Outerjordan and Galilee in exchange for dropping his claim to Tripoli. Count Raimond would be most grateful.” And Maria Komnenos’s own soul would be put at ease.
Jean needed to give this matter more consideration. He had a rough idea of what he wanted the Kingdom to look like at the end of the Crusade. Alphonse would be Duke of Outerjordan, the second most powerful man in the realm. That would elevate the Count of Sidon’s line, securing his continued loyalty, as well as giving Jean and Isabelle a stalwar ally. He supposed the boy Roupen could be Alphonse’s vassal. Nablus would go back to the Ibelin’s, obviously. The remaining lands would be doled out to a mix of claimants whose ancestors had lost them after Hatin, and friends and relatives of Jean’s. King Levon was not the only one who wished to leave his daughter a stable realm. Though if Jean was perfectly honest this was also for his own benefit. If he was ever to claim the Latin Empire he needed a stable power base with a loyal and pliant nobility.
“The war between Emperor Henri and Epirus is over. The Emperor is victorious, though he has been forced to give up hope of adding Epirus to his dominions, and rush back to defend Constantinople. The Empire faces threats from both peasant revolts and nomad raiders. Nicea is also expanding, and surely will try to launch a campaign of reconquest soon.”

Febuary 1st, Emperor Henri faces peasant rebelion.jpg

20200616124629_1.jpg

20200616124512_1.jpg

“I also believe the Despots wife, Helvis of Lusingion has been released from captivity”, added the Count of Sidon.
“That is very good to hear.”
Maria Komennos had often spoken of how close she was with her former sister in law, old Aimery de Lusingion’s first wife, Eschive de Ibelin. It was only natural that she wished the best for her children, even if they were not related by blood.”

“Will the Sultan not muster to defend his own vassal? Surely now would be the perfect time to strike us. Land a killing blow before the armies of the Crusade can muster.” Guilame of the Templars rubbed his temples and furrowed his brow.
In contrast the Hospitaller Grand Master remained unflappable. “If they do so, my order stands ready to defend the Holy Land. That said we have been given no indication the Sultan wishes to assist Damascus. Most likely this is because he is tied down countering the Armenian revolt.”
(pictures)
“Surely Damascus is much more important”, said the Count of Sidon.
“He needs to crush the Armenians while Levon is distracted. Or else he may move to aid his co-religionists. For now, the Sultan is content to let Armenia and Tripoli fight each other, and leave the Emir to his fate.”



Five men were arrayed before the regent in the practice yard. Savary, who was pummeling his boot on the ground as if he was stomping yet another puppy to death.

Alphonse was at his attention in his armor, glaring at his father in law, the Spymaster, Count Balian of Sidon, who was glaring right back with murder in his eyes.

The Court Physician, Arnol of Haifa, who though rumored to be a craven, possessed an undeniable genius for all things, warfare included.

The Mayor of Acre, Amedee, though Jean had turned down Alphonse’s request to make him spymaster, the regent had found him to be a skilled commander.

These were the men Jean would take Jeruslum besides, or else fall into shame and ruin.

“I assume you men know whey I’ve called you together. You are the men who will lead this Kingdom to Glory or destruction. You are my commanders, my brothers of battle, and I thought it fitting to spar together.”
“Why? Are we planing on killing one another? If so I call the craven”, Savary said, pointing his blade at the Baron of Haifa.
“What was that you fucking low born cutthroat. Say it again you dammed cow brained fuck! Go on I dare you!”
“Enough!”, Jean yelled. “We are here to respectfully spar so we know one another’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a warrior’s respect for one another. Like King Arthur and his Knights of the Round table.”
The Count of Sidon coughed and then spoke. “My Lord Regent forgive me, but you do know how King Arthur ended right?”
Jean sighed and reminded the Count was far too politically important to backhand. “We will be like the knights of the round table except for the part where Lancelot beds Arthur’s wife. And the part where Arthur’s bastard kills him, or the part where the Kingdom falls to ruin. Am I understood?’
“Aye my lord”, The Count of Sidon said in a tone that indicated only understanding, and not respect.
Jean divided the men into two groups. The first was led by Balian of Sidon, as befit his rank. It included Savary and Amede of Acre. The second group consisted of himself, Alphonse, and Arnol of Haifa.
“Give them hell my love!”, a voice called from the battlements overlooking the yard. Raymonde stood, waving at her husband, with Agnes in tow, little Isabelle dangling in her arms.
Alphonse called out to his wife. “You should be resting in bed not climbing the battlements. What if you get hurt?”
“And I also noticed you didn’t cheer me, daughter”, added Balian of Sidon.
“Raymonde is a lady of the court. When both Queens wish to entertain themselves, it is their duty to follow. Isn’t that right your grace?”
“Gumma Gumma”, Isabelle replied in a child’s mimicry of the word grandmother.
Arnol of Haifa sighed. “Just because your wife is carrying a child doesn’t mean she’s made of glass. I should know, my own wife just birthed a son. I spent almost her entire term away at court serving the Crown. Did I worry and moan about her and the child? No, and now God has blessed me with a healthy son.
Alldabert de Haifa.jpg

So quite your fretting and draw your steel, Sir!”
With that, the battle commenced.
Jean steeled himself. If he lost badly he would be humiliated in front of his commanders, his wife, and his daughter. In hindsight, this may not have been his most brilliant idea.
The two groups moved forward, eyeing each other warily. Jean was facing Amedee of Acre. The mayor held a defensive stance.
Alphonse and his father in law immediately came to blows. Savary came for Haifa like a dog that had flushed a hare.
“Time to batter a craven!”, Savary yelled.
“Oh, I’ve been waiting for this!” The Baron called back.
Jean’s blood rushed. He couldn’t wait. The song of battle called. He threw himself at the Amedee. The steel clashed with steel in a glorious song. The mayor kept his stance defensive, clearly hoping to exhaust Jean. He kept pressing forward hoping to make Amadee make a mistake. Jean would not lose a commoner. Before he realized it he had reached too far and left himself open. Yet the mayor did not go for the blow. Jean drove in for the “kill”, hitting his commander in the chest and driving him to the ground.
The sparing around him had died down. Alphonse had bested his father in law whilst Savary stood victorious over Arnol of Haifa, who lay on the ground cursing.
Jean heard the Queen call out “Papa! Papa! Papa!” as loud as her little lungs would allow.
“Are you crying, my lord?” asked Mayor Amedee.
“The dust got in my eyes good sirs, and don’t any of you dare say otherwise.”
"As you wish my lord, I am at your command."
 
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The split of Antioch and Tripoli between two feuding brothers has the potential to compromise the stability of the kingdom. Hopefully they won't come to blows while the kingdom itself is still surrounded by dangerous enemies. Still, with everyone's attention mostly focused on the Latins, Jerusalem might have enough of a respite to build up its strength in preparation for the coming reclamation of the Holy City itself.

Looks like a couple of pictures are missing, incidentally.
 
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The split of Antioch and Tripoli between two feuding brothers has the potential to compromise the stability of the kingdom. Hopefully they won't come to blows while the kingdom itself is still surrounded by dangerous enemies. Still, with everyone's attention mostly focused on the Latins, Jerusalem might have enough of a respite to build up its strength in preparation for the coming reclamation of the Holy City itself.
Antioch and Tripoli are not vassals of the Kingdom of Jerulseum at the present moment, though it has claimed hegemony over them in the past. That will come up. As for the brothers, well we will get into them in another chapter. I wish I had clarified that both in-game and in story the split was due to inheritance rules, not some sort of civil war. That said, Raymond is pissed at Bohemond for making a separate peace. The Kingdom of Jerulum's main advantage is that it is soo weak and pathetic that everyone is focused elsewhere. That said, it's ports provide valuable staging grounds for invasions into the Muslim world.

The next chapter is going to be another Tuesday. However, I discovered an interesting thing while using the observe console command. It really messed up my plans for some characters, but I think I ironed it away pretty well. You'll be the judge of that.
 
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(Note: This was a letter I found in the old Greinier collection at the University of Ascalon. It is as you can see dated to the year 1213, though alas the month is unclear. While what it says about certain historical personages may prove controversial, we believe it to be accurate, as it has connections to a letter found in the d’Ibelin Collection at the University of Cairo.)

To Count Balian Greinier of Sidon.

I received your letter, and I confess I found your suggestion to be most unorthodox. For better or worse both of us are too tied to the regent’s success to back out. That said, from my limited observations of the man I would have to agree with you. He is a petulant manchild consumed by envy and ambition. I would not go so far as to call him another Guy of Lusingion, he seems to possess some military skill, I would still rate him as a subpar leader.
I will not act to remove him immediately, the stakes are too high. Whilst our combined strength may be able to sway the High Court, it would be unable to stand against the strength of the Templars and Hospitallers, who would act either to avenge Innocent’s appointed ruler or else install his successor. I will only move to join you if we suffer a devastating reversal in this Crusade when the risks of letting the man live outweigh the dangers any instability upon his death would cause us. I have but one condition
That the life and health of my grandniece be preserved, though I suspect she would have to be married to a man of our choosing in order to keep her from acting to avenge the death of her father. That said, children are pliable, and I’m sure a good mentor could explain to the girl that we did what we did for her interests, and that Jean is responsible for the death of her mother.
I like Alphonse but I know where his loyalties lie, and I also know you would relish the chance to remarry Raymonde to a man of her station. I will try to keep my two eldest open for such an eventuality. That said it may prove difficult. My actions have undermined certain precedents. These next few years will be a trial, even if we come out alive on the other side.
If any of this gets out we both lose our heads. So you must burn this letter, just as I have burned the one you sent me. I swear if you do not burn this letter I will hunt you down and slay you!

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