Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers 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.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"Rebels Against the Hospital" - An Excerpt from "The Last Crusasder Kingdom"

My thesis in "The Last Crusader Kingdom" is that the Lusignans initially faced armed resistance from the local Greek population of CyprusBased on my experiences as a diplomat, I know that insurrections and unrest often target the economic infrastructure, particularly installations that are seen to be benefiting the regime. 
In this episode from "The Last Crusader Kingdom" a sugar factory operated by the Knights Hospitaller has been burned down and John d'Ibelin has been sent by Aimery de Lusignan to question the local inhabitants. He has entered the church of a nearby village. 
The 13th century sugar mill at Kolossi built on the ruins of an earlier sugar factory.
[John's] eyes had adjusted enough to see the two Orthodox priests -- or rather, a priest and a monk -- staring at him warily from the railing before the dark, dilapidated screens. He approached them and addressed them respectfully in his best Greek: "Good sirs, forgive me for interrupting, but I was hoping you could help me." The looks of astonishment on their faces to have a young Frank address them in fluent Greek pleased John.

Their surprise also gave him a moment to study them. The priest had wavy grey hair and a soft, fluffy beard of the same color, but his face was not really old -- no older, John guessed, than his father.  It was marked by lines made more by smiling than frowning.  The monk, on the other hand, was younger, with dark hair and beard, and his face was lined by anger. It also reminded John of someone, but he couldn't quite remember who.

It was the monk who replied hotly, "What do you Franks need help with? Killing, burning, and raping?"

The priest immediately put his hand on the younger man's arm and shook his head. "Curb your tongue, Brother," he told his companion before addressing John to ask, "What might we be able to help you with?"

"The hospital at Kolossi was attacked last Friday by a large mob. They plundered the entire complex, even the church," John stressed, "and they stole from the patients as well. The priεst was stripped naked and tied backwards on a mule and then chased away." As he related this incident John watched the faces of the two men opposite him. The monk frowned, while the priest raised his eyebrows and looked over at the younger man a if asking for verification.

"He was not harmed -- unlike many of our priests, monks, and nuns!" the monk defended the outrage. "Indeed, no one was raped or killed."

"You seem to know a great deal about what happened," John observed. "Can you tell me more about who was involved in the attack and why? Why attack a hospital caring for the poor? Why destroy a factory that brought work and income to these poor communities?"

"The land was stolen from us! It is our land! Our country! You are not welcome here!"

"Would it be better for people to have neither medical care nor jobs?" John asked with the simplicity of youth.

"You understand nothing! Just like the rest of your stupid, brutal, barbarian people," the monk dismissed him angrily.

"You say he understands nothing, yet he asks good questions," the priest spoke up in a calm, firm voice. "It is what my parishioners have been asking me all week," he added. "They had little enough as it was. Now they have nothing. They do not know how they are going to feed themselves, and they are terrified of retribution. Up to now, all the trouble has been in the north and east; now they fear the Franks will come and take revenge on us here for this."

"The Franks need to be shown they are neither wanted nor invincible! They have to learn they have no place here, and that we can fight them! You," the monk turned on John, "you are not wanted here! Go back where you came from!"

"I can't," John answered, his beardless chin raised in proud defiance. "Salah ad-Din took it away." He pronounced Saladin's name as he had learned it, in Arabic.

"Well go fight him for it, then! Just because you were beaten by the Saracens doesn't give you the right to steal from us!" the monk snarled back, raising his voice in anger.

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