In the year 1095, Pope Urban II gave an oration in the town of Clermont in France that would change the history of the Western World forever. He spoke of the plight of the holy city of Jerusalem, where Christians were suffering under the weight of Islamic rule, and beseeched those who would, and could, to go and liberate them.
To add to his plea he promised the gift of eternal life to all those who travelled with the Christian soldiers, or helped them in any way: the prize of eternal life, through forgiveness of their sins.
The result was an overwhelming, if uncoordinated scramble, with wealthy kings, princes, bishops and lords declaring their support for the venture. They were joined, without invitation, by the common folk of Europe, who sought possibly their only hope of salvation by making the journey ‘to help’.
By the end of 1097 the first of the travellers reached Constantinople. Here they expected to receive the help promised by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos, to cross the Bosporus, enter Asia and be on their way to Jerusalem.
In Warrior of the Cross we hear the narrative of a man who led his own army southwards from Normandy; the story of Robert, Duke of Normandy, with his experiences told in his own words.
Bloody mayhem ensued in this clash of cultures; a no-mercy confrontation between faiths set amid a background of scheming, land-grabbing and the naked ambition of the Christian warlords, matched only by the unremitting cruelty and bigotry of those church leaders present.
Rising above that, Robert appears as a moral and effective leader, often at odds with his senior companions, and far better prepared for the undertaking with resources and strategy they’d never conceived of. Planning, implementation, accomplishment on the battlefield and astonishing bravery raise this man above his contemporaries at every juncture.
And between the fighting and the scheming, Robert is always ready to receive the attention of a lady, and has many a romance along the way – as one has come to expect in the turbulent life of Robert of Normandy.
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