I've noticed some recurring historical inaccuracies that pop up in #TheOldGuard crusades-era fanfic. Would a history thread be helpful/welcome or should I just shut up and let people have fun? #JoeNicky #JoeAndNicky
I've seen a few fics that suggest Europeans like Nicky were a rare sight in the Middle East before the Crusades. That's not the case; Europeans had been making pilgrimages to Jerusalem for centuries.
Jerusalem was part of the Byzantine Empire until 638 CE, when it was conquered by one of the Prophet Muhammad's companions (so early on in the history of Islam!) The Muslim Arab rulers of Jerusalem did not persecute Christians and allowed pilgrimages to continue as usual.
It wasn't until 500 years later when Jerusalem was conquered by Seljuk Turks (who were Muslims but not Arabs). At first the Seljuks stopped allowing pilgrims into the city, which is what really pissed off the pope and Byzantine patriarch.
But eventually the Seljuks did actually open up the city to christian pilgrims again. Why? Money! Pilgrims bring money. (this is all from The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden, btw)
So yeah, Nicky and his fellow Genovese were definitely not the first Italians to visit the Holy Land, even within living memory of 1099. and so long as he wasn't wearing his red cross, people prob wouldn't have blinked twice at him.
Most European Christians, however, had very little understanding of what Islam was. Medieval Christians thought Muslims were polytheistic, and worshipped "demons." You can see this in the medieval poem "Le Chanson de Roland," and Pope Urban's own speech calling for the crusade
Medieval Muslims like Joe, however, were quite familiar with what Christianity was, because Christians lived in the Muslim empire from the beginning and were protected as "people of the book." They believed they and Christians worshiped the same god, just w some details wrong.
So I don't think it would be totally accurate to have Joe refer to Nicky's god as "your god." Whereas it would be accurate for Nicky, at least at first, to be confused about Joe's monotheism.
Oh, back to the Crusades! They weren't called that at the time. The first crusaders called themselves "pilgrims." And most of them went because the pope promised that participation meant "remission of sins."
In other words, medieval christians believed that, when they died, they'd need to endure agonizing "purification" in purgatory before entering heaven. But if you die in the First Crusade, "remission of sins" meant you got to go right to heaven. No extra suffering.
Ok to backtrack; i mentioned the Seljuk Turks kicked the Arab muslims out of Jerusalem in the early 1000s. So is Joe a Seljuk? Probably not. When the Crusaders finally showed up in Jerusalem, the city's defenders weren't Seljuks. They were Fatimids, from Egypt.
The Fatimids conquered Jerusalem in 1098, while the Crusaders were still besieging Seljuk-held Antioch (north of Jerusalem). The news was a huge morale blow to the Crusader army; one of the leaders, Peter the Hermit, tried to desert.
So that's why I think #YusufAlKaysani is a Fatimid, from Egypt, not a Seljuk turk. Also, if you're getting real specific in your fic, the Fatimids were shi'a, not sunni muslims. #JoeAndNicky
Actually upon further reading there were sunnis in the Fatimid caliphate, it was just predominately shi'a. sorry, I' more familiar with the European half of crusades history than the Islamic half.
More evidence Joe is a Fatimid: the Netflix supplemental info tells us he was a merchant, and the Fatimids were known at the time for their flourishing trade lines with Sicily, Byzantium, North Africa and even Song China. source: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/14012/1/14012HCThe_Nile_and_Fatimids_final.pdf
Hmm what else what else... looking for Crusades history tidbits that might be relevant to #JoeandNicky's story in #TheOldGuard ...
Oh! This is fun! The Fatimid caliph sent emissaries to the crusader army, suggesting an alliance between the Franks & Fatimids against the Seljuks: (from Madden's Short History of the Crusades)
It'd be kind of fun if Joe was one of those emissaries, huh? :D
But if Nicky and Joe first killed each other outside Jerusalem, the earliest that could have happened is June 13th, 1099. The crusaders made a reckless sally, convinced god would grant them victory. They were quickly repulsed.
On the subject of contemporary homosexuality: would Nicky and Joe have been killed/executed for being gay in the 11th/12th century? They probably wouldn't have been, actually.
This is tricky because contemporary reports are spotty, but historian John Boswell argues in his book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality that the Catholic church only started to demonize & punish homosexuality in the 13th century
I found this interesting paper that thinks Boswell might go too far, but also suggests that contemporary medieval people might have thought of two men having sex the same way they would think of a Christian and a non-Christian having sex: http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/images/Medigay-Percy-Johansson.pdf
Actually this history is pretty fascinating: I'm reading more now and emperor Justinian of Byzantium made all sex acts that were "sins against nature" punishable by death in the 700s. So maybe Joe and Nicky did risk execution in their time? I'm going to do more research.
I didn't realize how controversial Boswell is lol
http://Medievalists.net has some good reading that isn't behind a paywall: https://www.medievalists.net/2011/07/same-sex-relations-in-the-middle-ages/
Ok update: there were lots of laws throughout Christian Rome/Medieval Europe demonizing homosexuality. Some of these laws & proclamations argue for their own necessity by suggesting that homosexuality was "rampant" among clergy.
So the historical debate is: do these laws signal that gay sex was commonly considered "sinful" among the populace? Or do they signal that gay sex was so common that authorities needed to take action to change public opinion?