Montferrat Coin Knight-Life

Roman-esque: Novels set in the Middle Ages

Knight CrusaderRonald Welch, Knight Crusader

This is an enjoyable enough adventure story, but somewhat dated in outlook. It's broadly pro-Richard and Guy: Raymond of Tripoli is shown to have been right about Hattin, but is not presented sympathetically. I was sorry that the author decided to use Hattin to kill off some of the more interesting characters, such as the dandified but heroic young polein knight Joscelin, whom I rather liked: the surviving leads are a tad bland. Gretchen drew the book to my attention because of yet another misrepresentation of poor Conrad:

[Philip D'Aubigny] bowed politely to Conrad de Montferrat, a sleek cat of a man, olive of complexion, and long of face, with white, fluttering hands, and a silky voice that reminded Philip for a moment of the Old Man of the Mountains. Conrad made much of Philip. He needed every supporter he could win for his struggle with Guy of Lusignan for the throne of Jerusalem. Philip knew Conrad's motives. He had often heard Sir Hugo discuss the man, and now that he had met the count himself, Philip could understand his father's scathing remarks.

This description bears no resemblance to the fair, bold and dashing man described by Niketas Choniates, who knew him. It's straight out of Walter Scott, or Cecil B de Mille's The Crusades (indeed, it sounds strikingly like Schildkraut's portrayal of him). The author's note contains a stunning understatement: "Conrad of Montferrat did die suddenly, and it was thought at the time that the Assassins were responsible". "Died suddenly" is, erm, a trifle euphemistic for being knifed...!

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