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Wayward Prince: Warriors of the Cross

By Austin Hernon

It’s 1097 AD and a battle is brewing for control of the Holy City of Jerusalem after Pope Urban II issued a call to arms for it to be to rescued from the hands of the Moslems. 

He ordained that anyone who helps in the venture will be blessed in the afterlife, and many leave Europe to make a pilgrimage to the area.

Prince Robert of Normandy leaves Brindisi, Italy, headed first for Constantinople, then Jerusalem, bringing both knights and soldiers and pilgrims to Jerusalem. Travelling with him are his brother in law Stephen of Blois, a rich man who Robert’s sister Adela made go to secure her afterlife, Robert of Flanders and Duke Allen of Brittany. Fulcher of Chartres has been sent along by his bishop to record events of the passage.

Prince Robert is 45 years old. He has children with a woman named Tegwin, but her Welsh heritage makes her unsuitable for marriage, although her children are nominated for high office in England and Wales.

Robert’s brother is King William Rufus, the pair agree that Robert should marry to secure the bloodline, Rufus is gay and the young Henry is side-lined.

Robert’s father had tried to marry him off to Matilda, but although they had a strong connection, Matilda would not marry him, thinking their union not advantageous to her. Matilda has Normans to the south, Germans to the north, and a reputation to keep inviolate with the Church.

There is much passion between the two.

On the three-year journey they visit Matilda, who tells Robert she thinks that she has found him a suitable wife, Sibyl of Conversano, who is sixteen and very beautiful, very marriageable, and suitable to be a Queen of England. A union between Robert and Sibyl would strengthen the Norman position in the south of Italy and Sicily.

He meets Sibyl in Conversano, and indeed she is beautiful. But will she wait for him, a middle-aged man setting off on battle?

The voyage is hard. All the way from Constantinople to Jerusalem the Turks attack, and battles are waged with many lost, but Robert and his men help defend the eastern empire from the Turks. They continue, reaching Jerusalem and laying siege to the city, wanting to get to the final prize, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus died.

As the purpose of the journey plays out, Robert thinks about the problems he faces when he returns. He loves Tegwin, the mother of his children, but he will marry the young Sibyl and put aside the attraction to Matilda.

Seeing his reflection one day on the journey back to Constantinople he worries if Sibyl will still want the battle-hardened warrior he has become. As Robert deals with the emotional aftermath of the bloodshed he witnessed in Palestine, he can’t help but wonder what awaits him in Normandy, if he lives to tell the tale.

Set during the time of the First Crusade, The Wayward Prince is an energetic saga filled with historical details, political intrigue and romance.

Austin Hernon was born on Tyneside in 1941 and enjoyed a military career. Already a Royal Navy trained diver, he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a recovery mechanic before specialising in underwater recovery with the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines. After retiring from the army he worked in British Telecom and Post Office Group, developing information systems for distribution, before retirement when he took up writing. Disappointed that his autobiography failed to impress publishers, Austin chose Robert, Duke of Normandy as his subject, a man to whom he believes history has been unkind.

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