1 august 1190 – Marseille

It’s been five months and about 1,000 miles since Henry de Grey left Lincolnshire. He thought he would be in the Holy Land by this time, but 12th century armies don’t move more than a few miles a day. Solidifying political alliances adds more days of waiting, of marching, to their journey.

As King Richard’s men arrive in Marseille on the 1st of August, chronicler Roger of Howden describes what they see:

The city possesses a fine harbour, almost completely enclosed by high hills, but capable of holding many large ships. On one side of the harbour is the cathedral close; on the other the great abbey of St. Victor where a hundred Benedictine monks serve God.

Henry had been anticipating this day. From Marseille, the army would sail to the Holy Land. In the opening of Battle Scars, he had no doubts…

What good was it to get your spurs and not answer the king’s call? And what better service than to take the Cross, to free Jerusalem from the infidels.

Henry had left home for his king, his country, and for God. But by that 1st day of August, his enthusiasm has dimmed. The black and white world of the twenty-year old has disappeared.

A friend has died. Politics and loyalty, beliefs and friendships, are questioned. He has changed. And nothing will ever be the same.

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P.S. August 1, 1192 is another hugely important day in Third Crusade history – read about the Battle of Jaffa on wikipedia.org

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