Tag Archives: capua

Francis Whitehall

I give the readers of The Crystal Crux-Betrayal a pretty good look at Pero de Alava’s best friend and estate steward at Capua, Francis Whitehall.

Francis is the quintessential, God-fearing, Christian knight of legend.  He swings his blade like he quotes verse, gracefully, artfully and deadly.  In a fallen world populated by sinners and recalcitrance, he exemplifies true devotion to integrity and faith.  And he has honed these virtues to an unexpected point of alienation and self-destruction.

“There was a time when the Whitehall family name stood for something, something honored and celebrated.  It was respected and had great prestige.”
– Excerpt from The Crystal Crux-Betrayal

The Whitehall family crest is a snarling, orange crouchant griffin.  Francis wears it proudly now, but it was he that restored the prestige.  Francis father, William, had been a knight as well, serving notably for King Baldwin III in Jerusalem.  He returned home from the wars, wed Constance, and settled down to have a domestic life of farming.

When Francis turned seven, William was struck down by a cruel fever that stole his wits.  The poor man went mad, mumbling incessantly about wickedness all around them, the horrors of what he had done in the war coming back to punish him.  William donned his armor one last time and murdered a dozen people in Warwick.  He was subdued and taken.  Constance lost everything.  It was all forfeited to the crown and William was hung.

Impoverished, Constance and Francis would have been left to the streets if it had not been for the kindly considerations of Lord Geoffrey Clayton Wolfe, a devout Templar and long time friend of the family.  He took them in and raised Francis.  The young Griffin was instilled with a devotion for the Wolfe unlike anything he could ever explain to anyone.

When the Wolfe fell on hard times, lost more of his fortune, his castle at Warwick crumbling, around him, his knightly forces recanted and left him for more prosperous lords.  Only Francis, who had recently wed Midonia, stayed loyal.

Midonia was an ogress but Francis had a misguided belief that the cruelest women hid the greatest cache of virtue and love deep in her heart.  After siring Anne, Francis learned that there was no cache beneath it all and life with Midonia would forever be a test of wills.

While the descending Wolfe struggled, Francis led his family on the road, living for months on end in an enormous canvas pavilion, entering every tournament and melee on the continent.

“For Francis Whitehall, these tournaments were not games.  Every waking moment had become a question of life and death.”
– Excerpt from The Crystal Crux – Betrayal

During the Grand Melee in Germany on Whitsuntide, when Emperor Barbarossa brought his sons into knighthood, Francis rode to the rescue of a Spanish caballero he had just met.  Pero de Alava was battling assassins and more than grateful to the Griffin.  He went to England and negotiated with the Wolfe for Francis’ service.

Spending all their time together thereafter, they became fast friends and when Pero received his Imperial commission at Capua, Francis and his family followed.

Francis Whitehall is one of the more stirring characters in the series and I believe many will who read it will feel emotionally attached to him, rooting for him at every turn.

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If you want to read about more characters in The Crystal Crux-Betrayal, check out some of the other postings on this site and my authors page – AM WERNER

PROTAGONIST PERO

While I’m trying to build and reveal the personalities of many characters in my series, THE CRYSTAL CRUX, the character who drives the story and would be considered the protagonist is Pero de Alava.

Pero de Alava was born in Spain in 1164, the bastard son of Blassilo Velez and Maria Alava.

Blassilo is a wealthy caballero with many holdings in Spain including Cielo Diamantes, his favorite horse ranch, located several miles southeast of his military posting at Penafiel Castle.

Maria Alava is a well-to-do socialite of Mozarabic descent.  She prefers the culture and refinement of the big city, especially her birthplace, Valladolid.  She is infatuated by the uncouth cabellero of House Velez but refuses to marry a man who is always warring and cannot control his libido.  She also has no desire to live on a horse ranch in the middle of nowhere.

When Pero is born, they decide to split his time between them.  Pero winters with his mother in Valladolid, receiving a proper education and religious training.  In summer, he is with his father learning about the ways of the knight.

Blassilo and Maria maintain a correspondence by letters.  Although Blassilo cannot read or write, he has scribes who can translate and assist him with this endeavor.  Twice a year, when exchanging parental guardianship, Blassilo and Maria meet at Cielo Diamantes and spend time together as man and woman, husband and wife.  This is enough to satisfy Maria as she spends the rest of the year fending off handsome, willing paramours.  Blassilo, meanwhile, is openly lascivious.  On his deathbed, he expresses his shame in this regard.  He tells his seventeen-year-old son, at that time, how he wishes he had been wiser and more willing to stay by Maria’s side the only woman he had truly loved.  This is why he invested so much into raising Pero and not the other ‘mongrels’ as he calls them.

When Blassilo passes, he orders that Pero be taken to Emperor Barbarossa to be knighted and named heir of everything belonging to House Velez including Cielo Diamantes.  The Roman Catholic Church is already at odds with Barbarossa and the Hohenstaufen line of emperors and sees anyone allied with them as an enemy.

When Richard de Couer, the Lionheart King of England is taken prisoner by the new emperor, Barbarossa’s son, Emperor Henry VI, in 1193, the Church is rendered impotent.  The Hohenstaufens of Germany had long plagued the peoples of Italy, driving troops into their country, forcing compliance with the Empire.  Wielding power and influence, Emperor Henry VI commands that Pero de Alava accept an Imperial appointment to the castle in Capua governing and taxing activity around the Volturno River.

Pero, along with his best friend, Francis Whitehall, an Englishman who once saved his life from would-be assassins at a melee, takes command of Capua in November 1193.  Pero’s administration is just and admired.  He meets a Grecian beauty named Anthea Manikos to whom he proposes almost immediately.

Then, while touring Spain with his bride-to-be, Pero initiates a trade pact with the Almohads bringing unique and exotic goods, as well as more coin to Italy.

The Fabbro family who rule the Campania region where Capua is located, call for a banquet in Pero’s honor at Parthenope.  Things get heated as political allegiances begin to arise.  Pero’s benefactor, Emperor Henry VI has died and there is civil unrest in Europe over his replacement.  Pero, of course, favors the next Hohenstaufen, Philip of Swabia.  The people of Parthenope, including the Fabbro family are friendly with the Church of Rome and despise the tyranny of the Hohenstaufen.  They support of Otto of Brunswick.  Tempers flare.  Pero does the unthinkable and defends himself against the kingdom’s native son, Rugerius Fabbro.

It is war and Pero believes he is alone in this.  He fears his actions will have lasting repercussions on his loved ones.  In a desperate attempt at rediscovering peace, Pero breaks off his engagement, rebukes his best friend’s advice and bolts for Eagles Pass thinking that serving as a scapegoat, the wrath of the Fabbro family will be satisfied.  Sadly, he has miscalculated and failed to see how evil and determined they are.  His friends stand to pay a heavy price even in his absence.

When you get done reading THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL, you will be one day in on a journey that will last ten days.  I hope you all come along for the ride.