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The time of old gods

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Christa Jenneman
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Posts: 3568

« on: September 05, 2010, 04:59:30 pm »

The time of old gods

"Step not there -

it is where the gods sleep...

This is V�."

A History

 Here we intend to flesh out the background of our story, by lending a history to our story, and defining key characters.

The timeline we are using is entirely accurate and historically correct, verifiable from a number of noted sources.

This information relies heavily on Wikipedia and is largely pulled together from that source.


Note: Ghosts in the �V� is a work of fiction, with use of supernatural, occult and fantastical events. V� is not intended as a history or documentary. We intend to utilise the factual history of the period to lend authenticity to our characters and their behaviour, not deliver an archeologist perspective of the time and places. We therefore reserve the right to be inaccurate, or to take liberties with the source material.


Our story takes place in the year 1138; The first crusade was inititated in 1095, at the request of Alexius I of Constantinople.
As a prelude to what would become the crusades, the crusader armies of the 4 princes landed in Constaninople 1097 to converge, and set in play the events leading to our story,  41 years later.
The following information is offered to show how those 41 years developed. Critical events, that establish plot points in our story are included in orange highlighted text.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2010, 05:00:48 pm »

The First Crusade and Viking involvment in it:
Whatever the ultimate causes of the crusade were, the most immediate factor was a request for assistance from Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Alexius was worried about the advances of the Turks, who had reached as far west as Nicaea, not far from Constantinople.
Story: Alexius has pledged to defend pilgrims to the holy city of Jerusalem, but is unable to divert arms to do so due to the increasing Turk threat at his borders. His request for help is largely to protect innocent travellers, as exemplified in the later actions of the Knights Hospitaller and Templar.
For the story, we define Alexius as a noble and chivalric man, who intended only an honourable act of protection , but instead who lived to regret unleashing Christian wrath upon the holy land.
The Byzantine Emperor was notable in having as his elite bodyguard a small contingent of Viking mercenaries known as the Varengian Guard. These were considered to be some of the finest warriors alive.
Story: The Varengian guard shall hold prominence in our story, as we shall assume that all critical tasks were assigned to them. Heading the Varengian guard shall be the fictional leader Beornulf.
In March of 1095, Alexius I sent envoys to the Council of Piacenza to ask Pope Urban II for aid against the Turks. Urban responded favourably, perhaps hoping to heal the Great Schism of forty years prior and re-unite the Church under papal primacy by helping the Eastern churches in their time of need.
For the story we shall define Pope Urban as an honorable and holy man, who is concerned only for the welfare of christian travellers.
Story: Alexius� party of envoys was under the protection of the Varengian guard, including the (fictional charater) young Varengian Fenrik, son of Beornulf, who shall be at the center of our main storyline (Search for Fenrik).
In July of 1095, Pope Urban turned to his homeland of France to recruit men for the expedition. His travels there culminated in the Council of Clermont in November, where, according to the various speeches attributed to him, he gave an impassioned sermon to a large audience of French nobles and clergy, graphically detailing the fantastic atrocities being committed against pilgrims and eastern Christians
Story: Urban takes several Varengians as his contingent, as proof of the ernestness of Alexius� claims. One of these is Fenrik. We thus establish Fenrik as a seasoned traveller, hugely knowledgeable, and eye witness to the critical events leading up to the crusades.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2010, 05:01:20 pm »

Pope Urban's speech had been well-planned; he had discussed the crusade with Adhemar, Bishop of Le Puy, and Raymond IV of Toulouse, and instantly the expedition had the support of two of southern France's most important leaders.
Adhemar himself was present at the Council and was the first to "take the cross." For the rest of 1095 and into 1096, Urban spread the message throughout France, and urged his bishops and legates to preach in their own dioceses elsewhere in France, Germany, and Italy as well. However, it is clear that the response to the speech was much larger than even the Pope, let alone Alexius, expected.
During his tour of France, Urban tried to forbid certain people (including women, monks, and the sick) from joining the crusade, but found this nearly impossible. In the end most who took up the call were not knights, but peasants who were not wealthy and had little in the way of fighting skills, in an outpouring of a new emotional and personal piety that was not easily harnessed by the ecclesiastical and lay aristocracy.
Typically preaching would conclude with every volunteer taking a vow to complete a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; they were also given a cross, usually sewn onto their clothes.

People's Crusade

The great French nobles and their trained armies of knights were not the first to undertake the journey towards Jerusalem.

Urban had planned the departure of the crusade for 15 August 1096, the Feast of the Assumption, but months before this a number of unexpected armies of peasants and petty nobles set off for Jerusalem on their own, led by a charismatic priest named Peter the Hermit of Amiens.

Story: Peter the Hermit shall be fictionally described as a fanatical Rasputin-like figure who incited a massive hatred of Jews and Muslims as part of what he saw as the salvation of the holy land from other religions. In our story, and as is shown through history, it is this hatred that turned the crusades from a mission of protection, to one of anti-semetic annihilation. Until this time the holy land had been a sanctuary of coexistence for all religions. 50 years later, �Wolves of Peter� is a fictional league of assassins inspired by this priest.

Despite the popular enthusiasm of the masses, however, Urban ensured that there would be an army of knights, drawn from the French aristocracy.

Aside from Adhemar and Raymond, the leaders he recruited throughout 1096 were Bohemond of Taranto, a southern Italian ally of the reform popes; Bohemond's nephew Tancred; Godfrey of Bouillon, who had previously been an anti-reform ally of the Holy Roman Emperor; his brother Baldwin of Boulogne; Hugh of Vermandois, brother of the excommunicated King Philip I of France; Robert of Normandy, brother of King William II of England; and his relatives Stephen of Blois and Robert of Flanders.

Story: Godfrey of Bouillon is given the fictional role of father figure to Fenrik, and inspires him to become the first Viking knight.

The crusaders represented northern and southern France, Germany, and southern Italy, and so they were divided into four separate armies which were not always cooperative, although they were held together by their common ultimate goal.



Princes' Crusade


Route of the leaders of the first crusade

The four main crusader armies left Europe around the appointed time in August 1096.

They took different paths to Constantinople and gathered outside its city walls between November 1096 and April 1097;

Hugh of Vermandois arrived first, followed by Godfrey, Raymond, and Bohemond.

Crusader military historian David Nicolle considers the armies to have consisted of about 30,000-35,000 crusaders, including 5,000 cavalry. Raymond had the largest contingent of about 8,500 infantry and 1,200 cavalry.

The princes arrived in Constantinople with little food and expected provisions and help from Alexius.

Alexius had the Varangian guard, an elite viking escort, to prevent trouble.

Perhaps the most famous member of the Varangian Guard was the future king Harald Sigurdsson III of Norway, known as Harald Hardr�de ("Hard-ruler"). Having fled his homeland, Harald went first to Gardariki and then on to Constantinople, where he arrived in 1035. He participated in eighteen battles and during his service fought against Arabs in Anatolia and Sicily under General George Maniakes, as well as in southern Italy and Bulgaria.

Story: One of the guard was of course was the Beserker Fenrik (April 1097 - Age 21).

Alexius was understandably suspicious after his experiences with the People's Crusade, and also because the knights included his old Norman enemy, Bohemond, who had invaded Byzantine territory on numerous occasions with his father, Robert Guiscard, and may have even attempted to organize an attack on Constantinople while encamped outside the city. The crusaders may have expected Alexius to become their leader, but he had no interest in joining them, and was mainly concerned with transporting them into Asia Minor as quickly as possible.

Story: Bohemond shall be given the fictional title of �The demon�, and is given a supernatural status. Legend tells of his becoming possessed by some diabolical entity soon after breaching the walls of Jerusalem. He breaks his vows before God and he and his men commit atrocities that defy reason.

In return for food and supplies, Alexius requested the leaders to swear fealty to him and promise to return to the Byzantine Empire any land recovered from the Turks.

Story: He also requires that the covenant of the four cups is kept. This is a fictional pledge made by Christians, Orthadox, Jews and Muslims that safeguards the holy city of Jerusalem for all religions, and is the prime mortivation for his request for the crusades: Protection from Turk banditry.

Godfrey was the first to take the oath, and almost all the other leaders followed him, though only after warfare had almost broken out in the city between the citizens and the crusaders who were eager to pillage for supplies.

Raymond alone avoided swearing the oath, instead pledging that he would simply cause no harm to the Empire.

Before ensuring that the various armies were shuttled across the Bosporus, Alexius advised the leaders on how best to deal with the Seljuk armies that they would soon encounter.

Story: To ensure their pledge is kept, he chose several of his men to go with them, in their own contingent: led by the now grown Fenrik.

Fenrik is to become most famous of the Jerusalem Captains, the first to step foot in Jerusalem, and is the first viking knight.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2010, 05:02:24 pm »

More on the crusade campaign:


The crusader armies crossed over into Asia Minor throughout the first half of 1097, and were joined by Peter the Hermit and the remainder of his little army. Alexius also sent two of his own generals, Manuel Boutoumides and Taticius, to assist the crusaders.

Their first objective was Nicaea, an old Byzantine city, but now the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of R�m under Kilij Arslan I. Arslan was campaigning against the Danishmends in central Anatolia having left behind his treasury and his family, and having underestimated the strength of these new crusaders.

The city was subjected to a lengthy siege, and when Arslan heard of it, he rushed back to Nicaea and attacked the crusader army on 16 May. He was driven back by the unexpectedly large crusader force, but with heavy losses being suffered on both sides.

The siege continued but the crusaders had little success, as they could not blockade the lake on which the city was situated, and from which it could be provisioned. Alexius sent ships, rolled over land on logs, and at the sight of them the Turkish garrison surrendered on June 18.

The city was handed over to the Byzantine troops, which has often been depicted as a source of conflict between the Empire and the crusaders; Byzantine standards flew from the walls, and the crusaders were forbidden from looting the city or even entering it except in small escorted bands.

However, this was in keeping with the oaths made to Alexius, and the emperor ensured that the crusaders were well-paid for their support. As Thomas Asbridge says. "the fall of Nicaea was a product of the successful policy of close co-operation between the crusaders and Byzantium." The crusaders now began the journey to Jerusalem. Stephen of Blois, in a letter to his wife Adela, wrote that he believed it would take five weeks. In fact, the journey would take two years.



At the end of June the crusaders marched on through Anatolia. They were accompanied by some Byzantine troops under Taticius, and still hoped that Alexius would send a full Byzantine army after them. They also divided the army into two more easily-manageable groups, one led by the Normans, and the other led by the French.
The two groups intended to meet again at Dorylaeum, but on 1 July, the Normans, who had marched ahead of the French, were attacked by Kilij Arslan. Arslan had gathered a much larger army after his defeat at Nicaea, and now surrounded the Normans with his fast moving mounted archers.
The Normans "were deployed in a tight-knit defensive formation", surrounding all their equipment and the non-combattants who had followed them along the journey, and sent for help from the other group. When they arrived, Godfrey broke through the Turkish lines, and the legate Adhemar outflanked the Turks from the rear; the Turks, who had expected to destroy the Normans and did not anticipate the quick arrival of the French, fled instead of facing the combined crusader army.
The crusaders' march through Anatolia was thereafter unopposed, but it was unpleasant, as Arslan had burned and destroyed everything he left behind on his retreat.
It was the middle of summer and the crusaders had very little food and water; many men died, as did many horses.
Christians, in Asia as in Europe, sometimes gave them gifts of food and money, but more often the crusaders looted and pillaged whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Individual leaders continued to dispute the overall leadership, although none of them were powerful enough to take command; still, Adhemar was always recognized as the spiritual leader. After passing through the Cilician Gates, Baldwin of Boulogne set off on his own towards the Armenian lands around the Euphrates.
In Edessa early in 1098, he was adopted as heir by King Thoros, an Armenian Greek Orthodox ruler who was disliked by his Armenian subjects for his religion. Thoros was soon assassinated and Baldwin became the new ruler, thus creating the County of Edessa, the first of the crusader states.

Siege of Antioch
A mitred Adh�mar de Monteil carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade
The crusader army, meanwhile, marched on to Antioch, which lay about half way between Constantinople and Jerusalem. On 20 October 1097 the crusader army set Antioch to a siege which lasted almost eight months,during which time they also had to defeat two large relief armies under Duqaq of Damascus and Ridwan of Aleppo.
Antioch was so large that the crusaders did not have enough troops to fully surround it, and thus it was able to stay partially supplied.
In May 1098, Kerbogha of Mosul approached Antioch to relieve the siege. Bohemond bribed an Armenian guard named Firuz to surrender his tower, and in June the crusaders entered the city and killed most of the inhabitants.
However, only a few days later the Muslims arrived, laying siege to the former besiegers. At this point a minor monk by the name of Peter Bartholomew claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance in the city, and although some were skeptical, this was seen as a sign that they would be victorious.
Story: Peter Bartholomew: Adventures of Fenrik in obtaining the Holy lance, as well as a secret books: the light and the dark. Fenrik takes the book of light. Bartholomew presents the book of the dark to Bohemond.
The books shall serve as grimoires: one evil and one good, by which spirits can be summoned and the dead spoken to. THis is an underlying concept for our story.
Bohemond of Taranto alone mounts the rampart of Antioch, in an engraving by Gustave Dor�.
On 28 June 1098 the crusaders defeated Kerbogha in a pitched battle outside the city, as Kerbogha was unable to organize the different factions in his army. While the crusaders were marching towards the Muslims, the Fatimid section of the army deserted the Turkish contingent, as they feared Kerbogha would become too powerful if he were to defeat the Crusaders. According to legend, an army of Christian saints came to the aid of the crusaders during the battle and crippled Kerbogha's army.
Story: These summoned spiris are the basis of our search for Fenrik: it is stated that he did the summoning.
Bohemond argued that Alexius had deserted the crusade and thus invalidated all of their oaths to him. Bohemond asserted his claim to Antioch, but not everyone agreed, notably Raymond of Toulouse, and the crusade was delayed for the rest of the year while the nobles argued amongst themselves. It is a common historiographical assumption that the Franks of northern France, the Proven�als of southern France, and the Normans of southern Italy considered themselves separate "nations" and that each wanted to increase its status. This may have had something to do with the disputes, but personal ambition was just as likely to blame.
Meanwhile, a plague broke out, killing many, including the legate Adhemar, who died on 1 August.
Story: Plague called by Bohemond.
There were now even fewer horses than before, and Muslim peasants refused to give them food. In December, the Arab town of Ma'arrat al-Numan was captured after a siege, which saw the first occurrence of cannibalism among crusaders.
Story: Cannibalism: demonism of Behemonds warriors.
The minor knights and soldiers became restless and threatened to continue to Jerusalem without their squabbling leaders.
Finally, at the beginning of 1099, the march was renewed, leaving Bohemond behind as the first Prince of Antioch.
Story: Dark prince of Antioch lays claim to the city and starts gutting it.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2010, 05:03:05 pm »

Path of the First Crusade
Siege of Jerusalem (1099)
See also: Letter of the Karaite elders of Ascalon
Proceeding down the coast of the Mediterranean, the crusaders encountered little resistance, as local rulers preferred to make peace with them and give them supplies rather than fight. On 7 June the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuks by the Fatimids of Egypt only the year before. Many Crusaders wept on seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach.
As with Antioch, the crusaders put the city to a siege, in which the crusaders themselves suffered many casualties, due to the lack of food and water around Jerusalem. By the time the Crusader army reached Jerusalem, it has been estimated that only 12,000 men including 1,500 cavalry remained.
Faced with a seemingly impossible task, their morale was raised when a priest, by the name of Peter Desiderius, claimed to have had a divine vision instructing them to fast and then march in a barefoot procession around the city walls, after which the city would fall, following the Biblical example of Joshua at the siege of Jericho. On 8 July 1099 the crusaders performed the procession as instructed by Desiderius.
The Genoese troops, led by commander Guglielmo Embriaco, had previously dismantled the ships in which the Genoese came to the Holy Land; Embriaco, using the ship's wood, made some siege towers and seven days later on 15 July, the crusaders were able to end the siege by breaking down sections of the walls and entering the city. Some Crusaders also entered through the former pilgrim's entrance.
Over the course of that afternoon, evening, and next morning, the crusaders are alleged by some to have murdered almost every inhabitant of Jerusalem.
However, this claim seems to be a projection of the great massacre of Muslims that the eyewitness sources agree took place on the Temple Mount, into the city as a whole, which was not subjected to such a wholesale slaughter.
Contrary to what is sometimes alleged, no eyewitness source refers to Crusaders killing Eastern Christians in Jerusalem, and early Eastern Christian sources (Matthew of Edessa, Anna Comnena, Michael the Syrian, etc.) make no such allegation about the Crusaders in Jerusalem.
According to the Syriac Chronicle to 1234 Christians had already been expelled from Jerusalem before the "Franks" arrived.
Presumably this would have been done by the Fatimid governor to prevent their possible collusion with the Crusaders.
Gesta Francorum claims that on Wednesday August 9, two and a half weeks after the siege, Peter the Hermit encouraged all the "Greek and Latin priests and clerics" to make a thanksgiving procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This indicates that some Eastern Christian clergy remained in or near Jerusalem during the siege. In November 1100, when Fulcher of Chartres personally accompanied Baldwin on a visit to Jerusalem, they were greeted by both Greek and Syrian clerics and laity (Book II, 3), indicating an Eastern Christian presence in the city a year later.
Although many Muslims sought shelter in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Jews in their synagogue by the Western wall, the crusaders spared few of them.
According to the anonymous Gesta Francorum, referring to the massacre on the Temple Mount area, "... our men followed, killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles ..." According to Raymond of Aguilers, again referring only to the Temple Mount area: "in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins." However, this imagery should not be taken literally since it was taken directly from the biblical passage Apocalypse 14:20.
Writing about the Temple Mount area alone Fulcher of Chartres, who was not an eyewitness to the Jerusalem siege because he had stayed with Baldwin in Edessa at the time, says: "In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain.
But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared".
The chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi states the Jewish defenders sought refuge in their synagogue, but the "Franks burned it over their heads", killing everyone inside.
The Letter of the Karaite elders of Ascalon and a few other Cairo Geniza documents are eyewitness sources referring to massacres of Jews in Jerusalem, although the same sources also clearly indicate that some Jews survived the conquest.
Since eyewitness Western sources do not refer to the killing of Jews in Jerusalem at all, although they unabashedly boast about the slaughter of large numbers of Muslims on the Temple Mount, the killings are likely to have been a spillover effect by ad hoc groups of particularly anti-Jewish Crusaders, rather as happened during various Crusader marches through the Rhineland in Europe.
Tancred claimed the Temple quarter for himself and offered protection to some of the Muslims there, but he was unable to prevent their deaths at the hands of his fellow Crusaders.
The eyewitness Gesta Francorum states that some people managed to escape the siege unharmed. Its anonymous author wrote, "When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished."
Later the same source says, "[Our leaders] also ordered all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses; and so the living Saracens dragged the dead before the exits of the gates and arranged them in heaps, as if they were houses. No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids, and no one knows their number except God alone.
But Raymond caused the Emir and the others who were with him to be conducted to Ascalon, whole and unhurt."
The other eyewitness source, Raymond of Aguilers, also reports that Raymond allowed some Muslims to leave unharmed: "[they] took refuge in the Tower of David, and, petitioning Count Raymond for protection, surrendered the Tower into his hands."
A version of this tradition is also known to the later Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (10, 193-95), who recounts that after the city was taken and pillaged: "A band of Muslims barricaded themselves into the Oratory of David (Mihrab Dawud) and fought on for several days. They were granted their lives in return for surrendering. The Franks honoured their word, and the group left by night for Ascalon."
On 22 July, a council was held in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Raymond of Toulouse at first refused to become king, perhaps attempting to show his piety but probably hoping that the other nobles would insist upon his election anyway.
Godfrey, who had become the more popular of the two after Raymond's actions at the siege of Antioch, did no damage to his own piety by accepting a position as secular leader.
Raymond was incensed at this development and took his army out into the countryside. The exact nature and meaning of Godfrey's title is somewhat of a controversy. Although it is widely claimed that he took the title Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri ("advocate" or "defender" of the Holy Sepulchre), this title is only used in a letter which was not written by Godfrey.
Instead, Godfrey himself seems to have used the more ambiguous term princeps, or simply retained his title of dux from back home in Lower Lorraine. According to William of Tyre, writing in the later 12th century when Godfrey was already a legendary hero in crusader Jerusalem, he refused to wear "a crown of gold" where Christ had worn "a crown of thorns".
Robert the Monk is the only contemporary chronicler of the crusade to report that Godfrey took the title "king".
In the last action of the crusade, Godfrey defeated an invading Fatimid army at the Battle of Ascalon.
He died in July 1100, and was succeeded by his brother, Baldwin of Edessa, the first to take the title King of Jerusalem.
The First Crusade succeeded in establishing the "Crusader States" of Edessa, Antioch,Jerusalem, and Tripoli in Palestine and Syria (as well as allies along the Crusaders' route, such as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia).
Back at home in western Europe, those who had survived to reach Jerusalem were treated as heroes. Robert of Flanders was nicknamed "Hierosolymitanus" thanks to his exploits. The life of Godfrey of Bouillon became legendary even within a few years of his death.
In some cases, the political situation at home was greatly affected by crusader absences: while Robert Curthose was away, England had passed to his brother Henry I of England, and their conflict resulted in the Battle of Tinchebrai in 1106.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2010, 05:03:53 pm »

The Vikings arrive.
In 1107, Sigurd led a Norwegian contingent in support of the crusades to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was the first European king to go on crusade.
(Story) He teams with Fenrik, in Jerusalem.
("Jerusalem-farer"). He fought in Lisbon, various Mediterranean islands and Palestine, and visited king Roger II of Sicily in Palermo, Jerusalem (Jorsalaland) and Constantinople (Miklagard).
He joined forces with Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem to capture the coastal city of Sidon in 1110.His exploits became the stuff of legend, and his crusader feats earned him the nickname Jorsalafari.


The Templar connection.
Around 1119, two veterans of the First Crusade, the French knight Hugues de Payens and his relative Godfrey de Saint-Omer, proposed the creation of a monastic order for the protection of these pilgrims. King Baldwin II of Jerusalem agreed to their request, and gave them space for a headquarters on the Temple Mount, in the captured Al Aqsa Mosque.
The Temple Mount had a mystique, because it was above what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. The Crusaders therefore referred to the Al Aqsa Mosque as Solomon's Temple, and it was from this location that the Order took the name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon,
As Grand Master, De Payans led the Order for almost twenty years until his death, helping to establish the Order's foundations as an important and influential international military and financial institution.
On his visit to England and Scotland in 1128, he raised men and money for the Order, and also founded their first House in London and another near Edinburgh at Balantrodoch, now known as Temple, Midlothian.
He died in Palestine in 1136--May 24th is often stated-- and was succeeded as Grand Master by Robert de Craon.
The story:
Our time is 1138. The tide is beginnnig to turn in the East, as the muslim tribes have united and grown to become formidable armies.


On Norse Paganism:
Map showing regional differences in Norse worship c. 900, as determined by place-names and archaeological data. Blue denotes areas primarily worshipping the Vanir, red areas are where worship of Thor, Odin and other Aesir predominate. Purple indicates areas where both cults coexisted. Green dots indicate Odin-place names. From Christiansen, Erik. The Norsemen in the Viking Age. Blackwell, 2002.
The Germanic tribes rarely or never had temples in a modern sense. The bl�t, the form of worship practiced by the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people, resembled that of the Celts and Balts; it could occur in sacred groves. It could also take place at home and/or at a simple altar of piled stones known as a h�rgr.
However, there seems to have been a few more important centres, such as Skiringsal, Lejre and Uppsala. Adam of Bremen claims that there was a temple in Uppsala (see Temple at Uppsala) with three wooden statues of Thor, Odin and Freyr, although no archaeological evidence to date has been able to verify this.
Remains of what may be cultic buildings have been excavated in Sl�inge (Halland), Upp�kra (Sk�ne), and Borg (�sterg�tland).
Some kind of shamanistic priesthood seems to have existed, focusing especially on magical women known as v�lur. There seem also to have been chieftain-priests called go�ar who arranged religious festivals at their own estates for their followers.
It is often said that the Germanic kingship evolved out of a priestly office. This priestly role of the king was in line with the general role of go�i, who was the head of a kindred group of families (for this social structure, see Norse clans), and who administered the sacrifices.
Sacrifice could comprise of inanimate objects, animals or humans. Amongst the Norse, there were two types of human sacrifice; that performed for the gods at religious festivals, and retainer sacrifice that was performed at a funeral. An eye-witness account of retainer sacrifice survives in Ibn Fadlan's account of a Rusship burial, where a slave-girl had volunteered to accompany her lord to the next world. Reports of religious sacrifice are given by Tacitus, Saxo Grammaticus and Adam of Bremen.
The Heimskringla tells of Swedish King Aun who sacrificed nine of his sons in an effort to prolong his life until his subjects stopped him from killing his last son Egil. According to Adam of Bremen, the Swedish kings sacrificed males every ninth year during the Yule sacrifices at the Temple at Uppsala. The Swedes had the right not only to elect kings but also to depose them, and both king Domalde and king Olof Tr�t�lja are said to have been sacrificed after years of famine.
Odin, the chief god of the Norse, was associated with death by hanging, and a possible practice of Odinic sacrifice by strangling has some archeological support in the existence of bodies perfectly preserved by the acid of the Jutland (later taken over by the Daner people) peatbogs, into which they were cast after having been strangled. One of the most notable examples of this is the Bronze Age Tollund Man. However, we possess no written accounts that explicitly interpret the cause of these stranglings, which could have other explanations, such as being a form of capital punishment.
During his time in the Varangian guard Harald earned the titles of manglavites and spatharocandidatos. But his service ended with his imprisonment for misappropriation of imperial plunder taken during his command. He was released upon the dethronement of the Emperor Michael V, and saga sources suggest he was the one sent to blind the Emperor when he and his uncle fled to the church of Studion Monastery and clung to the altar.
Harald then sought to leave his post, but was denied this. He eventually escaped and returned home in 1043, eventually dying at the Battle of Stamford Bridge while invading England in 1066.
The Varangian Guard regained some of its old Scandinavian flavour when Harald Hardr�de's grandson, Sigurd I of Norway, went on a crusade to the holy land in 1107. After fighting battles against the Muslims, King Sigurd let the rest of his force, who originally numbered 6000 men, join the Varangian Guard. King Sigurd returned home with less than a hundred of his personal Guard.
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Christa Jenneman
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2010, 05:04:44 pm »

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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 12:02:26 am »

Yes, a goo deal of time is devoted to the Crusades against Islam, not so much to those that took place in the north.
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