It is almost 100 years since Christian armis from Europe seized Jerusalem. Europe suffers in the grip of repression and proverty. Peasant and lord alike flee to the Holy Land in search for fortune or salvation. One Knight return home in search of his son.Welcome to the pilgrim's guide, a historical text companion to kingdom of heaven.
The king, Richard the Lionheart, went on to the Holy Landy and crusaded for three years.
His struggle to regain Jerusalem ended in an uncasy truce with Saladin.
Nearly a thousand years later, peace in the kingdom of heaven remains elusive.
Suicide is considered a sin in most religions, and in some states, it's considered a crime.
Some traditions in cristianity considered suicide the unredeemable sin (hanging was considered particulary so because the throat was constricted, thereby making it impossible to cry out in repentance).
Consequently, those who committed the sin of suicide could not be in sacred ground. Those bodies were often buried at the crossroads because they lost their way in life and would be lost in death as well.
Godfrey of Ibelin (played by Liam Neeson) is a knight, and knight rode mares or palfreys (latin for Light or Secondary horse), while the destries (or war horses) were ridden only in battle.
The word destrier comes from the fact that the knight's squire would lead the war horse with his right (derterous) hand.
Thielves in medieval europe were frequently mutilated for their crimes both as punishment and as a way of publicly branding them as thieves.
Depending on the region and the severity of the crime, some had their hands cut off. Suicides were normally dragged through the street and hung.
Balian (played by Orlando Bloom) is a blacksmith by trade. The word blacksmith comes from black (for the color of iron) and smite (to hit).
Historically, blacksmith in small towns also alted as ferries (those who make horseshoes), as Balian does, and would also work on wagons and wheels.
Godfrey and company have been part of the crusades. The word "crusade" comes from medieval latin Cruciata derived from the latin Crux and referred to the cloth emblem of the cross worm by participants in the crusades, those who were willing to "take up the cross".
The irony here is that Jesus referred to talking up the brden of what was a pacifist philosophy, while the crusaders were going to war.
The knight speaking to Balian is a Hospitaler, named for the "Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem".
The order was founded in 1070 A.D as a means of administering to the sick in Jerusalem, but with the advent of the crusades the order also became a military operation.
Their name was derived from their use of hospitals. Their uniforms consisted of black robes with a white cross on the left sleeve.
What man is a man that does not make the world better?
The quote "What man is a man that does not make the world better?" has no reference, it was created by screenwriter William Monahan.
"...and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, begginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47) it seems this sentiment was taken literally.
One of the seeling point for joining the crusades was the remission of all sins and the primise of everlasting glory. Essentially, being involved was considered a ticket to heaven.
Godfrey is a fictional chracter who would have been involved in the second crusade, which ran from 1144-1150, with the crusaders holding Jerusalem until 1187, when Richard I led the third crusade.
There were eight crusades in total, with the first in 1096m and the end in 1291, when the mameluks conquered Acre, and killed or enslaved all remaining crusaders.
Though knights were known for their supposed chivalry, they were trained to be killing machines, often literate, and usually were the first into any battle.
Balian is based on a real person, who knew his father (barisan of Ibelin) and had two brothers hugh and baldwin. His father moved from being a knight to a lord when he married Balian's mother, Helva.
Helva was of royal blood, so in 1148 barisan inherited. A lordship, and was involved in the second crusade while meeting with a concil at Acre, and helped if the crusaders should attack Dammascus.
Balian was named after his father as barisan, when translated, become Balian. He was also known as Balian the younger, Balian of Ramia Balian of Nablus.
He was born around 1143 and die around 1193 (records are not entirely sure) and had four children: Helvis, John (or Jean), Marguerite and Philip (or Philipe).
Balian did not come from France, he lived outside of Europe in the Holy Land, and would have been 38 at this time.
Godfrey is fictionalized, but the first crusade did include man named Godfrey of Bouvillon, who was one of the first to take up the cross, helped finance it, and was in charge of the second frankish army.
This Godfrey was also a great warrior, Having reportedly cleaved a turkish horseman though the Middle so that his body fell in two equal halves.
Godfrey fought alongside his brother Baldwin of Jerusalem (who later became Baldwin I of Jerusalem). In 1099 he captured Jerusalem for crusaders, and was elected it's first king.
Godfrey didn't want to be crowned king in the Holy Land, so he took the tittle "Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri" or "Defender of the holy sepulchre" an Eastern Orthodoxy.
Godfrey reigned for a year, and was able to gain rule over Acre, Arsuf, Ascalon, Caesarea, and Jaffa. He died in 1100 without having conquered Egypt.
His brother Baldwin became the first king of Jerusalem, and rules for eighteen years, to be suceeeded by Baldwin II.
Balian may be preparing weapons for the crusaders, but crusaders had much to learn about sword making from their arab counterparts.
The muslim method of hardening swords in the Middle Ages was the Damascene process. This was accomplished by thrusting a superheated blade in the body of a slave and them into cold water.
Crusaders dscovered that swords made of Damascus steel were more resilient and harder than those of european manufature, and paid the price for it. It wasn't until 500 years after the crusades that europeans learned of this technique.
Their version was less brutal as they found they could accomplish the same hardening by thrusting a red-hot sword into a mass of animal skins so aking in water.
It is the nitrogen, given off by the skins in the water.
It is the nitrogen, given off by the skins in the water, that produces a chemical reation in the steel to harden it.
The crusaders were seen as the ultimate in sin purging, and it was to benefit anyone who participated, sanctioned by the church. Warring was considered fair game by St. Agustine, who said:
"An offensive war is just when waged against a state that repuses to make reparations for wrongs commited or fails to return seized property."
But the more common reason, given in the film and in real life, was the belief that "God wills it".
The violent clash of cultures that the crusades caused profoundly changed the Western world. The crusades introduced pepper, ginger, cloves, rice, sesame, carob, oranges, lemons, melons, peaches, dates and perhaps more importantly sugar to the West. It changed the way people pressed, with sick and velvet now introduced along with the ability to dye clothes.
It was also the experience in the Middle East. That taught europeans to bath on a regular basis, and about the use of perfumes and powders.
Through the crusades come the invention of the crossbow. The compass, and led to the Western acceptance of the printing press and gunpowder. On average, the journey was around 3.000 miles and many who made the journey died along the way of famine or disease.
Loosely, a horse - by average - travels 20-30 miles a day, with a day of rest every 4-6 days. That's an average of 125 miles every six days, and that's not factoring in rough terrain.
The trip couldtake about 144 days or about five months of travel, and that's not even if one has foot soldiers, and that's not even if one has foot soldiers, who woud travel much slower.
As the crusades began populations were crowing; in france the population doubled from 1000 C.E (the Common Era, also known as A.D) to 1100, and that meant fewer estates which caused more men to make their names and claims away from home. Private wars between feudal lords were also on their way out. The church decreed Pax Dei (Peace of God) which meant if one used violence on innocents (like priests and serfs) if promised excommunication. Land skimishes were the way of the culture, and sending those used to fighting on a Holy Quest had it's benefits.
The first crusade came into play in 1095 when pope Urban II brought together the french nobles and knights to save Jerusalem from Persians. His words were:
"O race of franks, race most beloved and chosen by God! from the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible table gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears. That a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race ulterly alienated from God, has invated the lands of Christians and has depopulated by sword, pillage and fire."
The pope then spoke of the cruelties of the Persians and rewards for the crusaders troubless food, land, wealth, and absolution which were so well receibed that the knights shortly there after were off.
Godfrey advises the high guard as the starting position. Since the long sword is the weapon of choice, this posture gives the defendant the benefit of gravity in their attacks.
La Posta di Falcone (The guard of Hawk) is a provocation guard. Carrying it upright at a 45 degree angle instead of at low guard provides a natural, fast, and extremely powerful cut from this position.
The medieval sword of choice was generally a long straight, double - edged blade with a cross - guard that tended to resemble a crucifix. Most were one - hanted weapons, unlike the swords these men are using.
The word sword comes from the Old English Sweord, which is similar to the german swerd (aka wounding tool). This them is derived from an earlier languages sver, which means "to wound or hurt".
The handle, called the hilt, can utilize many materials, but most commonly featured wood covered by leather, fish-skin or metal wiring. Obviously, Godfrey sword is special, as it comes with a jewel in the pommel.
The pommel is essentially a counter weight to help give the weapon balance, and is more than simply decorantive. The pommel has remained a key element of sword play to this day.
Also a popular weapon at the time was the male, as it could crush a skull without if you were trying to obey the letter of the law by not spilling blood on certain days.
The male is a simple evolution of the club, in metal form, and has been around for over 14.000 years. It new found popularity in this era was based on it's cheapness and effectiveness against armor.
The two handed variants is called a maul, which is also called a "war hammer" these weapons, though, were considered the terrain of the poor.
These weapons shouldn't be confused with a flail. The flail is made of one or more spiked metal balls attached to a handle by a chain or hinge, where as a morning star has one large metal ball with no hinge.
The flail is more powerful than the male, because the metal ball is swung in circles to gain monumentum, before bringing it crashing down on an enemy. But with more power comes more responsibility, as it takes mastering to maintain correct velocity and, of course, from keeping the users from wounding themselves.
As with his cinematic parallel, the real Godfrey was also a great warrior. Godfrey was also known for wresting a bear and winning, and slicing off the head of a camel with one stroke.
to be continued.