Taking The Cross250
Taking The Cross250
In the Middle Ages not all crusades were fought in the Holy Land. A two-pronged threat to the Catholic Church was growing within Christendom itself and Pope Innocent III called for the crusade against heresy to eliminate both the Albigenses and Valdenses, two movements that did not adhere to Church orthodoxy. Andreas, a knight who longs to go on crusade to the Holy Land, finds himself fighting against one in his French homeland. While Andreas wages war for the lives and religious freedom of his people, a battle rages within his soul. Eva, a young woman of a new religious order, discovers a secret message within a letter about the death of her father in the Holy Land. As she learns more of her father, she is forced to confront a profound and perilous spiritual inheritance for which she must fight. Eva hears of Andreas and senses her inheritance may lead her to him. Filled with battles of the flesh and the spirit, Taking the Cross reveals a passionate aspect of Medieval times where some fought ardently for the freedom of others.
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|Product dimensions:||8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||16 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Charles has spent many years researching the Middle Ages and the Crusades, and has traveled to the Languedoc region in France.
Read an Excerpt
July 18, 1209
The boy did not recoil at the charge of the cavaliers.
“Make way!” Andreas drove his snorting stallion toward the youth with swiftness unchecked.
The filthy wretch trudged toward the horsed cavalier, one barefoot step after the other. He was unflinchingly alone. All other refugees crowded the ditches of the road, leaned toward the trees, clutched them tightly.
“Make way for the Viscount!” Andreas loosed the words like a stone unleashed from a catapult. As the châtelain of his viscount, Andreas was accustomed to having others move with speed at his commands, as if a boulder soared down upon their heads. He waved his arm in furious motion, gestured toward the treeline.
Still the boy plodded along the road with uncovered feet, skin on rock. His steps lacked cadence. A darkened mist seemed to enshroud his very soul. The blackened cloud was not one but many. That Andreas could see clearly the apparition in bright daylight was frightening.
Since cockcrow, when their company had made departure from Beziers, Andreas had commanded all in their path to flee the road. Each traveler and refugee, whether merchant in dyed cotton or peasant in beast-colored rags, had given deference to their noble party as expected. A wide berth to fly along the road without hindrance.
Yet a little child refused to yield.
Andreas felt a strong urge to ride over the boy. To send a message to any who would dare block the way. He shook the shrill thought from his mind, searched for a spot to vacate the stone-paved road. Yet amidst the throngs of refugees massed in the shallow, grassy ditches, pressed tight against the stands of oak and poplar and beech, there was no such place.
Space enough for a little one only, not an armed cavalcade of four and twenty.
Andreas drew rein on his muscular blackish roan stallion. The horse reared up. Its front hooves pawed with violence the scorching air. Andreas slid back against the cantle of the saddle. He raised high the lance in his right hand as his left clung tight to the reins.
“All halt!” He felt his face grow hot. The company came to an abrupt halt behind him, iron horseshoes grinding, sparking on ancient stone pavement. The wretch was a senseless intrusion on their right of way. The front legs of his mount found the road once more. Andreas saw that the boy was playing no foolish game. In spite of the azure brilliance of the clear, high Languedoc sky, the close sight of the lad induced a quick, darkening chill and Andreas shivered.
The youngster’s dark, round eyes appeared sunken into his thin, sallow face. It was a countenance erratically framed by stringy, greasy black hair that hung down to his neck. His hollow gaze was fixed straight ahead at all and nothing. The undyed tunic he wore was riven in jagged, diagonal fashion across the torso, blotted with brownish, crusty stains. A sour stench filled Andreas’ nostrils, drew water from his eyes, and he turned away. The lad bore an alarming, tart odor of befouled blood and of death. But it seemed more than the smell of the unwashed. The reek seemed somehow to exude from his immortal soul itself, or even supplant it, as if the innards of the boy were being consumed by a fire unseen. A cauterized soul smoldering in a blackened cloud.
The boy continued to walk. He came within a step of the fore legs of Andreas’ mount. The knight drew breath to bellow at him once more. A man, seemingly the paire of the boy, emerged quickly from the compacted mass of peasants on the side of the road. He harshly clamped a sizeable, rough hewn hand on the shoulder of the lad. Why had the fool not kept close vigil over his wretched child?
Andreas turned his hot anger on the sullied man. Tunic tattered, red hair matted and lengthy, he looked little better kempt than the boy. “Your son has detained us here and we need reach Montpellier by nightfall. Does he lack hearing?” Andreas squared his shoulders. “Your Viscount is on an urgent mission. Now yield the road.”
“Many apologies my lords… for the insolence of the boy.” The man released the words in breathless gasps, turned his wary countenance and disheveled body to face Andreas. “We flee the approaching host, like all… all others in your sight.” He waved his arm at the masses of refugees.
They shuffled forward and broke like a beast-colored wave around the knights, sought not to appear as if they were watching the pecuiliar sight of a commoner addressing his lord on the road. Andreas thought the lot of them grubby and gaunt from the journey through a sun-scorched land where dust and moisture inhabited the air. Many among them had the look of fretful exhaustion. Their sun-darkened faces brittle terra cotta masks of fear. But none other seemed as the peasant lad in front of him.
The hands of the man rested on the shoulders of his little boy. “As you can see, my son stumbles around as one in a trance. If I may beg pardon, my lords, I will tell… tell of all that has befallen us.” The hands of the man trembled as he gripped tight the boy. The paire was clearly fearstruck. The son was almost vacuous; a fleshy shell devoid of spirit.
“Continue, but speak with haste.” It was the rider alongside Andreas. The voice belonged to Raimon Roger Trencavel I, Viscount of Carcassonne, Albi, and Beziers. He was lord of these lands. Andreas was châtelain to the Viscount, nearly the equal in stature to Trencavel himself. Nearly but not quite. The châtelain was the official given charge, among other things, for the safeguarding of the Viscount, and for the governing of the Trencavel castle, the Chateau Comtal in Carcassonne. Châtelain was a position of rank that had origin many centuries past in the time of the Frankish Merovingian kings. In those times such an official had been called the mayor of the palace.
Brilliantly weaving together major elements of French Medieval culture, Taking The Cross makes you relive an essential page of the 12th century fight between the established Christian powers and the so-called heretics. Packed with powerful symbols and images, action and suspense, it will actually teach you history while leading you on a fast paced adventure.
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