Date Published: August 2017
An armed insurrection, a military occupation, and the dawn of a dynasty….
John d’Ibelin, son of the legendary Balian, will one day defy the most powerful monarch on earth. But first he must survive his apprenticeship as squire to man determined to build a kingdom on an island ravaged by rebellion. The Greek insurgents have already driven the Knights Templar from the island, and now stand poised to destroy Richard the Lionheart’s legacy to the Holy Land: the crusader foothold on the island of Cyprus.
The men who forced their way inside were dressed in chainmail from head to toe. They wore scull-cap helmets with heavy nose guards. Most terrifying of all, they wore surcoats with the arms of Jerusalem on them: they were the king’s men.
“Where’s Lord Aimery?” One of them barked at the servants.
“I’m here!” Aimery called from the floor above. Without hesitation the four armored men pushed past the frightened servants to the stairs at the back of the vaulted room. They pounded up to the next floor, and as they emerged out of the stairway, they found the Constable of Jerusalem hastily donning his surcoat while a young squire held his sword ready for him to take.
“Hold that, boy!” One of the king’s men shouted, springing to put himself between the squire and the constable. He pushed the squire backwards, pinned him against the wall, and wrenched the sword out of his hands with little trouble.
Meanwhile, the sergeant turned his attention to the Constable himself. “My lord, you are under arrest for high treason! Either you come with us willingly, or, we have orders to take you by force.”
Aimery de Lusignan was a handsome man in his early fifties. His shoulder-length, blond hair was somewhat disheveled and his face was sprouting the beginnings of a beard, but he had managed to pull on braies, hose and a gambeson over his nightshirt. He stood with his shoulders squared and his head held high. “The charges are false and slanderous!” he told the sergeant firmly. “I will defend myself before the High Court.”
“Maybe. For now you’re coming with us!” The sergeant answered bluntly, ominously lowering his hand to his hilt.
“Where are you taking me?” The Constable asked gruffly.
“To the royal dungeon, where all traitors are held! Now, are you coming willingly or must I use force?”
“Will you at least allow me to put on boots?” The Constable asked back in a voice that was edged with bitterness.
“No tricks!” the sergeant warned, drawing his sword for emphasis before nodding to Lord Aimery to get on with it.
The Constable walked across the room to where his knee-high boots were standing, the soft upper parts flopped over on their sides. He took the suede boots, sat on the nearest chest, and pulled them on one at a time. Then he stood and surveyed the room briefly; whether he was looking for a chance to escape or simply taking a last leave was unclear. The king’s men blocked the door, their swords drawn. They not only ensured he was trapped, they also kept his wife out. He could hear her anxious voice in the hall demanding an explanation. His squire was pinned against the far wall, his eyes wide with shock and disbelief.
“John, get word to your father of what has happened,” the Constable ordered the youth before walking briskly toward the men sent to arrest him. He allowed them to close around him as he passed out of the door. They clattered down the stairs and out into the street, leaving John and Lady Eschiva standing on the upstairs landing in horrified paralysis.
“Treason?” Lady Eschiva asked the squire. “Did I hear correctly? Champagne has arrested my lord husband for treason? But that’s not possible!” she protested at once.
“I’ve got to get word to my father at once!” John answered, his voice breaking with tension as the situation threatened to overwhelm him; he would not turn fourteen for another month.
“Mommy! Mommy! What are they going to do with Daddy?” It was the high pitched voice of eight-year-old Burgundia. Ten-year-old Guy pushed past her, protesting, “They can’t arrest, Daddy! He’s the Constable!”
Eschiva turned toward her children, but then stopped to look over her shoulder to her husband’s squire. “Yes, John, go to your father at once! If Isabella let this happen, he’s the only one who might be able to help us now!”
About the Author
Award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers readers tired of cliches and cartoons nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.
Helena P. Schrader earned a PhD in History from the University of Hamburg with a ground-breaking biography of a leader of the German Resistance to Hitler. She has published numerous works of fiction and non-fiction since.
Her Jerusalem Trilogy, set in the Holy Land in the late 12th century, has won critical acclaim, including Best Biographical Fiction 2016 from Pinnacle, Best Christian Historical Fiction 2017 from Readers’ Favorite, Best Spiritual/Religious Fiction 2017 from Feathered Quill.