Sunday, July 12, 2009

538: The Mercenary Life, Year Two

Sir Amadis here...

The king continues to punish the Franks for murdering old King Theodoric and invading Carthaginiensis. He and his men have been on the move for years now, fighting in the north of Spain, the majestic mountains of Navarre, and now the rich river-fed lands of Aquitaine. We've battled in Septimania, Toulouse, and Gascony. I remember how a certain Sir Lucius of Caerwent, as I recall, would go on and on about the superiority of the Romans, and how we'd Leicestermen would shout him down. But after living in and campaigning through these old Roman provinces and seeing the splendor of their works myself...when compared to the old stone pile of Medbourne castle, the graceful arches of aquaducts really are a cut above. I wonder if Sir Lucius was just repeating the stories of his fathers, or if he ever saw these marvels himself; I hope he had that pleasure.

King Theudis holds me in some regard because even though I am a foreigner, and low-born, the glory of my exploits is known far and wide, more than is usual for knights in his army. And the king himself, as I have mentioned, is not of noble birth himself, but has raised himself to his exalted station through dint of native skill and ability. After we'd run wild through Septimania, and prevailed in pitched battles outside Narbonne and Carcassonne, the king spoke to the assembled army. He said that he was creating a new class of noble in order to reward his brave and loyal followers and to settle new-won lands in friendly hands: these new-made knights were henceforth to be known as the caballeros villenos. So now I command a banderas of 25 villein-knights, my cousins and others that have proven themselves adept with spear and sword. Perhaps it is the time spent fighting bulls, but they're pretty good with a lance, even if their stand-and-fight spearwork lacks luster. Just as well, really, for in general the southern armor is light and flimsy. Oh, how I miss my fine partial-plate armor, rusting at the bottom of the French ocean!

I turned 44 this year, and for the first time ever, I felt old. In the autumn I was laid low for several weeks from a bad side of beef, so bad I thought I might never ride again! took me months to get over it; even so, my grip feels weaker than it has before, and I still tire easier than before. Sigh. I wonder how my family fares.

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