avatarRené Beauchemin - [he/him]

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HISTORICAL FICTION — SPECULATIVE FICTION

Another Guillaume? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Chapter Nine — Guillaume Longespée’s tomb in Salisbury Cathedral

Photo By Bernard Gagnon —Guillaume Longespée’s

When King Richard I, died just three years later in France, Guillaume’s half-brother John, became King John. Guillaume showed the same respect to the new king which allowed him to survive the purge of Richard’s supporters who had actively opposed John. But that support didn’t last.

Guillaume joined a group of rebel barons who took to the battlefield against King John who demanded too much and gave too little in return to the barons. In 1215 the barons won rights and concessions that were coded onto a document called the Magna Carta.

Guillaume took a copy of the Magna Carta back to the Cathedral in Salisbury, once the peace was in place. However, that peace lasted only long enough for John to again take to the field against the rebels. I

t was during this second conflict that Guillaume returned to support his half-brother. What had been accomplished, if only for a moment in time, had been the fruit of victory for justice.

The intertwining of the Templars with the English had been successful, though it had taken almost three generations to accomplish. Upon his death in 1226, Guillaume de Longespée , Earl of Salisbury was placed in a tomb within the Cathedral library which housed the Magna Carta, the bastard of one king and the half-brother of the two kings who followed.

While Guillaume ruled his estates in Salisbury, his uncle Georges de Fontaine had passed on the stewardship of the estates to his son, Aléaume de Longpré. Aléaume was also Lord of Fontaine and Lord of Long, but it was as the Lord of Longpré, and as the Mayor of Abbéville, that mark his place in history.

In time, Aléaume left his son, Alain, as the new Seigneur when he left to join the fourth crusade in the holy land. With victory in Constantinople, Aléaume joined in the sack of the city, and amassed a collection of holy relics which he sent to his son Alain.

The instructions that went the relics were to place them in the Church of Longpré for safe-keeping. Not long after Aléaume had sent the relics home, a plague swept through the city of Constantinople. Aléaume didn’t survive and was buried in the city in 1204.

The Somme River slipped by silently as a morning mist rose from its surface. Three men and a woman stood near the banks of the river, watching the dirt trail that led to the north. A rude dock stood at the end of the trail about fifty metres distant. A single flat-bottomed boat was tied to a weathered post planted in the mud next to the dock.

The trail wasn’t one often used except for in late summer and early autumn when farmers to the north would take their crops across the river into town of Longpré. It was still early summer, and the mosquitoes, as well as other hungry insects, filled the otherwise silent scene with their sounds.

The woman wore a simple robe that reached almost to the ground. In her hands, she held a bow. There was a quiver of arrows on her back within easy reach. She stood beside the tallest man in the group who was armed with only a long staff. He stood taller than the others, a man dressed in dull brown.

Though both the man and the woman wore colours that would make them appear as insignificant, thus easy to forget, a closer look betrayed a barely perceptible glow radiating from their exposed faces.

The other two men wore more distinctive clothing, which left any observer knowing that they were of the nobility. Both men had sheathed swords that were simple, swords meant for killing. There was nothing other than those swords to allow anyone to know who they were.

“So, where is this man you want us to meet, Laurent?” demanded one of the men who had dark hair. His voice resonated with an authority that left no doubt he was a man no one would dare cross. “We’ve been waiting too long as it is. I must get back to the Chateau soon as I’m expected there for a meeting.”

“Sir Alain, he will be here any moment, be patient,” Laurent, the tall man with the staff counselled.

Just moments later, a man emerged from the edge of the forest. He was dressed in simple clothing which suggested he was more of a peasant than someone of importance. Alain was struck dumb as he watched the man come to a stop standing beside Laurent and the woman.

Alain had seen this face before. As both he and his companion stared at the man, Alain couldn’t believe his eyes, this man’s face was framed on the wall in the hall of the Chateau in Longpré. It was the face of his great-grandfather, Guillaume de Fontaine.

“Who are you?” Alain asked, the surprise at the man’s appearance etched on his face. Alain’s partner, his squire Fernand, was also surprised upon seeing the man who stood in front of them.

The stranger looked carefully, if not a bit nervously, at Alain, a man with whom he shared some familial resemblance. “Sir Alain, my name is Guillaume, Guillaume de Fontaine. According to my mother. Apparently, I am your half-brother.”

Alain turned to Laurent, “Is this true, Laurent? How is this even possible?”

Laurent, Lugh one again in disguise, laughed as if he had just been told a joke. “How is it possible? Sir Alain, I hope I don’t have to explain to you how a man sires a son. And yes, it is true.”

“But I mean, my father Aléaume was a pious man. You know that, he never would have dishonoured my mother with an affair.” Turning to the man claiming to be his half-brother Guillaume, Alain spoke with anger, “Who is your mother? And where are you from? How is it I have not seen you before here in our family’s lands?”

It was Laurent who answered in Guillaume’s stead, “He is your half-brother, Sir Alain. Your older half-brother to be precise. Your father had been on an expedition to the north, a campaign to secure more lands for your father’s cousin Maurice de Saint Ghislain, lands near Mons. It was before your parents had even married.”

“Older brother? How do I know that this is the truth,” Alain demanded, turning to face Guillaume. “Perhaps your mother didn’t tell you the truth about your paternity. Is this some ploy to extort some money from me?”

Previously

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Historical Fiction
Serial Fiction
Celtic Mythology
France
Crusades
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