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Angelina of Glastonbury, and the Perfect Squire
[Advance] Angelina of Glastonbury was born in the year AD 1185; it was the year King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem died. It was also a time the Leper King tried to make peace with Saladin–the Islamic warlord. The King had the most deadly form of leprosy known to man; nonetheless, he was an excellent leader in battle, so it was said.
Angelina’s grandfather had fought in the crusades of his day. He had many triumphs and would tell those stories to Angelina during her formative years. Thus, Angelina would grow richer for heroism and devotion to the cause of chivalry; such portrays this romantic era provided
Her, it was surely the right time for her to have lived, so she said a hundred times, to herself.
This era once considered ‘Dark,’ was now the crusading age, with not only art and culture, but a time for reverence for the great popes, such as Pope Urban II, who attended the Counsel of Clermont, eighty-years before her birth. Her grandfather used to talk about him, perhaps it was a spark for the aid of Christendom in the East, the Crusaders.
There were colorful stories he’d tell Angelina, it is perhaps why she loved Knighthood so much, and had a profound love for King Arthur and King Richard, the Lion Hearted, and of course her husband, known as the Green Knight.
Had she been a man, she would have joined the forces of the Crusades, for there was the longing, desire to see the Holy Lands, it all captivated her.
Jerusalem of course was a household word, as Angelina grew up in little Glastonbury, England, by the renowned and mystic Tor [of Avalon], where once King Arthur walked upon. It was not all that far from her house, and the great trees called: Gog and Magog, giants of another time. There was much lore in this village, to include Arthur’s grave.
She even had regard for the compelling conquer Genghis Khan; he was fascinating to her, and somehow she saw his good side, telling her husband in so many words (now with six children)) the year being AD 1219)) “I do not think he is as bloodthirsty as others would have us believe. Fighting his way to power was no different than King John,” yes contrary to contemporary wisdom, she saw him in a different light, as a man ahead of his times; one with courage (not like King John, in that sense); who allowed religious freedoms, which John tried to take away. She had even heard he abolished torture as once was: a means to his end. She admired that, that a powerful man could be humble. It was as she thought it should be, as her grandfather was, and her father, and her husband. But she had known others to the contrary.
“It is a good time to be alive,” she told her eldest son, Phillip, “a great time.”
A Knight and a Page
So it was a good year to be born, AD 1185, she told her family. Her husband still prayed like he used to, as a Knight would have prayed in the old days, when he was part of the crusades, a crusader–he got Knighted right on the battlefield, by another Knight, it was how things were done back then. Yes indeed, he’d kneel, his arms upraised in prayer.
He had no squire at his right side anymore, not like he used to have; nor a sword attached to his waist, times had changed–but he had Angelina, and that was his wife, friend, and sidekick, it was all he needed, and of course his family, now six children, two boys and four girls. Richard the youngest, and Phillip the elder, and Marybell, one year under Richard, she looked a lot like Angelina.
In AD 1204, the Franks and the Venetians launched a sea borne attack on Constantinople, part of the 4th Crusades (of five). Back then, Angelina was but nineteen-years old, married of course, but she liked to keep abreast of current events; likewise, her husband was always enthusiastic about such things. All these things were talked about in the house, openly, and Phillip listened as once Angelina would listen to her grandfather talk about his exploits of the wars, the crusades. But Phillip of course had seen danger at first hand–and could give testimony to what the color of a soldiers blood was–he seen at first hand conflict, his mother had killed a man at the Tower of London, in 1215 to free his father. All this combined was stored in the little mind of a boy: year after year after year.
Phillip was the son of a Knight, thus, he was taken from the care of his mother at the early age of seven (born: 1204; at seven it was the year 1211 he was taken), taken (sent) to a nearby castle of a powerful nobleman to begin his training as a Page. For the most part, ever form of mental job became his: fetching and carrying, running errands, helping the woman of the house, learning patience by doing nothing much of the time. Thus, as time marched on, so did his responsibilities.
He learned to play musical instruments, compose verse, to curry horses and care for hawks, and then came the arms, the sword, lance and axe. After this training he was to became a squire, it was to be at the age of fourteen, but at the age of 9, he was stopped, it was two and a half years into training, he had learned all a squire was to do, he just didn’t do it, or have the chance to do it.
Angelina was most proud of him, but it would not be Knighthood for Phillip, by virtue, his presence was needed at home, and chivalry would have to come in a different form.
There were other reasons for the change, perhaps, King John himself was one; Angelina would never say for certain in her diary, but it was expected he played a role in it. Phillip, like his father was gentle, and like his mother affectionate. But Phillip held inside of him, like his mother, the longing to be all he could be, and if a hero to his mother, and like his father and grandfather: the entire better.
The Perfect Squire
Phillip had runway, left a note for his mother: sad as it was, he said in the note, he needed to prove himself, hence, he joined a crusading army and sailed to the port of Damietta on the Nile (the year was AD 1218, Phillip was but fourteen years old). He had felt he had proven himself a squire, in half form, and having been tested under fire, at the Tower of London, rescuing his father with his mother in 1215, this was proof enough of his courage to him. Now he needed to be all he could be.
There forces were being led by John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem, and with him was the Duke of Austria–along side of him was Cardinal Pelagius, the Pope’s legate.
Phillip of Glastonbury became (by virtue of need) the squire for the Duke, his previous squire had been killed in battle; and it was this winter the fighting continued, the campaign went on, and Phillip was much involved with it, the Moslems suffered much from famine and dispute among themselves, as the crusaders, suffered in human losses.
The Sultan al-Kamil had found treachery among his own people, at which time, he wanted to make an offer of peace: coupled with the Franks leaving Egypt: consequently he’d give them Jerusalem and Palestine.
It was a few days after this agreement Phillip and the crusaders attacked Damietta, and they took the city. It was a heroic day to say the least. Yet, as two years passed, they had to retreat out of the city–now Phillip a full squire, looking to Knighthood, perhaps he would have gotten it had they not had to retreat so abruptly (in Glastonbury, Angelina had received news of the retreat, and was hoping now, her son would return home).
On there way out of Egypt, onto Tripoli, many had died in the mud, and the crossing of desert, and skirmishes from every corner and nook on the way.
Alex of Austria, a Page, wanting to be squire, was the same age as Phillip, and much envious of him, he had not been in any battles, but was a good servant, so Phillip would have said had you asked him. It was during a drunken rage that Alex had pulled a knife out, and tried to kill Phillip: thereafter, he could no longer sleep at night, and if he did, it was with one eye open.
Said the Duke, to Phillip on a windy winter morning in Tripoli, standing by an old ancient pillar, a bridge not far from both of them:
“Have you seen Alex of Austria?”
He waited for a response, but Phillip hesitated, not sure why himself.
“Whatever happened to Alex, he’s been missing for a day?”
Confusion filled Phillip’s eyes and mind.
“What happened…” mummified Phillip in a stutter.
“Yes,” said the Duke in a ponderous dismay, “Have you seen him?”
“I saw him a day ago, I remember it well, we just got to Tripoli and he asked me to talk to him, I do believe…” he hesitated, looked down to the ground, his feelings sad, but why he didn’t know. And they had been in Tripoli going on two weeks, so his story was distorted for some odd reason. But the Duke didn’t say a word to that.
“Please go on Phillip, tell me what you know.”
“Well, I can’t say for sure, but as I was here on foot a day ago, a Turkish horseman came by I remember…never have I seen such fair a Knight, other than you and my father, and he asked him to be his squire.” Phillip was staring at the bridge as he talked to the Duke.
“You say–a Turk, is that not what you said?” said the Duke.
“Yes, I do believe so, yes, he was a Turk; I saw his shield. He went straight…towards…that bridge…!”
Phillip then pointed at the bride, the one he was already looking at, the very one the Duke was already looking at. And the Duke mounted his horse and rode over to it, as Phillip stood stone-still, by the old pillar, just staring, staring away as in a trance, or some kind of fog.
“Aye…by god, what has happened!” cried the Duke, looking over the bridge at the dead body of Alex, the body lay there in the mud and water, with darts, five at lest in his body, in his blood soaked tunic, bloody. He looked over at Phillip, “Stay where you are Phillip, this is not a sight for you to see, not today, this will be too much, we shall talk of this another day yet (but it would never be discussed, or mentioned again, for the Duke knew the truth of the matter, and in war, it was not uncommon, a man needs his sleep if he is to fight, only the Pages didn’t require sleep, battle was not there forte).
The following day, the Duke started teaching Phillip great feats with arms, with the hand sword and strokes. For a month he taught him such things, and as a result, felt he was ready for Knighthood.
Phillip had seen his own blood in battle, it flowed and his teeth did crackle under the blows of the enemy. He confronted war head on, perhaps not completely prepared, but nonetheless, he did this, and this day, would be his day to obtain Knighthood from the Duke of Austria. Knighthood could be given by the King, another Knight, or royalty, and thus, before they left Tripoli, he was a Knight. Under normal circumstances a week long feasible would be given, but here it was a drunken evening, and a light ceremony, it was all that could be offered under the state of affairs.
It was two and a half years by the time Phillip had reached Glastonbury again (almost three years you could say), his mother standing out by the doorway, people running after him, as he rode down the road to her home, his home. There she stood: a proud mother looking up to her son on horseback with armor on, and a sword attached to his side, life could not get any better he felt, and I’m sure Angelina felt the same, the father standing in back of Angelina, he knew she had to be up front on this occasion; for he was her hero, and he liked it, and now the son was part of the circle.
She would write in her diary later, “What more can a person ask for. I have three heroes in my heritage to look up to: my grandfather, my husband and now my son.”
When Phillip got a glance of his mother’s proud smile he got goose bumps up and own his body, it was a dream come true; and now he’d be part of the ongoing saga of conversations on the Great Crusades, that had plagued his family for three generations: like mom would talk about, and his great grandfather told mom.
Let us not spoil the home coming, but Angelina would die the following year (AD 1221), but of all those she put into her diary, Glastonbury would remember her above them all: somehow I think she was the real hero.
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