Messina is a thriving Sicilian port in the 12th century. Galleys and trading ships of every shape and size were common to its people. But surely the arrival of King Richard’s fleet – some 100+ ships strong – must have been an incredible sight.
The chronicler of the Itinerarium describes the scene…
“…the people rushed out in crowds, wanting to see [the king]. Pouring on to the shore, they struggled to stand where they could see him coming in. …the sound of war trumpets echoed in their ears… Galleys…adorned and laden…with weapons, with countless standards… The prows of the galleys were each painted differently, with shields glittering in the sun hung on each bow. You would have seen the sea boil as the great number of rowing oars approached.”
In Battle Scars, Henry de Grey watches the spectacle from the deck of one of Richard’s ships:
Henry’s admiration for the king grew a bit more as he watched Richard greet Messina, steady and proud. The king’s face didn’t betray his concern for his sister Joanna. She should be among the crowds waiting to greet him. But there had been little word of her since her husband, the king of Sicily, had died. King Richard expected to find Queen Joanna well taken care of.
And if he didn’t there might be hell to pay.
Does the king find his sister? Her late husband William had promised Richard support – monies, goods, ships, and more – for the crusade. Tancred, the new king of Sicily, has seized Joanna’s dowry and her lands. Would you really want to piss off Richard the Lionheart?
You could easily discover how this ends by checking Wikipedia, or you can wait and read about it in Battle Scars: Men of the Cross!