So I had finally decided where my story would play out. My book series, ‘The Crystal Crux,’ would stay in Italy, around Naples. I now needed a time period. The Middle Ages is a continent of time and events. There is so much to choose from.
Wanting to escape the confines of my original Roman story line, I shied away from anything in the low Middle Ages. This was the period preceding the fall of the Roman Empire, from 476 AD to 1000 AD. Barbarian activity was rampant. It was truly the dark ages. The idea of empire and burgeoning cities was still in its infancy. The time period was too chaotic for my liking.
The Early and Late Middle Ages ran from the 1300’s to the 1500’s when the Renaissance eventually started. Now don’t get me wrong, I personally love attending Renaissance’ Faires but there is too much technological advancement at this point in time for what I wanted. I’m also not a gun person. I prefer to avoid the inclusion of guns into knighthood.
So it was the High Middle Ages for me, somewhere between 1000 and 1300 AD, a period of time basically as broad as the history of the United States.
I knew I wanted tension. I wanted there to be civil unrest. I wanted there to be a lot of dissension. As I mentioned in one of my former posts here, I did a lot of research on Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa. There was a great deal of turmoil during his reign but his was a strong hand. Few were able to resist him. I wanted civil war.
And then Emperor Barbarossa died in 1190. His son, Henry VI became Holy Roman Emperor in 1191. And his timeline, I was starting to like. Intrigue budded all over Italy, the Kingdom of Sicily, and the Roman Catholic Church.
And then lo and behold, a stunning event happened. I have always been intrigued by the tales of Robin Hood. What was the catalyst for Robin Hood’s rise? It was Richard Lionheart’s capture by Leopold of Austria. On March 28, 1193, Leopold handed Richard over to the Emperor. Henry VI now had the Church’s top asset in his prison. The investiture controversy resurrected. The Church and the State disputed over who had the right to assign, select, or invest the men in charge of Church property – chiefly, bishops and abbots. I knew I had to use this influence the Emperor had over the Church but I wasn’t sure how.
And then Emperor Henry VI died on September 28, 1197. Hmmm. Is that a problem? Oh wait – the Pope dies too! Pope Celestine III dies January 8, 1198. There is literally a civil war erupting in Germany for the throne itself and a new Pope is going to enter the picture. And who is the new Pope? The new Pope is Innocent III, considered by many to have been one of the most powerful and influential popes in history.
With Emperor Henry VI dead, there are two strong candidates vying for the throne. They both come from strong houses. The Hohenstaufen (Swabians) and the House of Welf. Barbarossa and Henry were descended from the line of Hohenstaufen. Henry’s son, Philip of Swabia is elected to be King of the Germans. From the Welf side, Otto of Brunswick emerges.
The Church, still unhappy about the Hohenstaufen line and the investiture controversy, side with the Welf and Otto. Lines are drawn. Princes are warring. 1198 is the perfect year for ‘The Crystal Crux’ to be.
And don’t worry if all this political intrigue sounds exhaustive for a fantasy novel. I assure you, this information is not this meaty in the book. This is simply the backdrop to the story.
The protagonist of my tale is a knight Emperor Henry VI places in Capua, Italy while he is yet at the height of his power. When Henry dies, the pawn finds himself very much alone and surrounded by enemies. he’s about to discover what betrayal really is.
The Crystal Crux – Betrayal. Book One of a series. Due out early 2016.