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The holiest shrine in Christendom was the size of a small broom cupboard. Theobald was a man of great severity and dignity, a friend of St Thomas Aquinas and a confidant of the kings of England and France.
Raised on a ledge was the Stone of Resurrection and on top of it rested two icons, a tatty Mannerist painting and a vase containing seven wilted roses. Appointed Archdeacon of Liege, he left his position and retired to the Holy Land after disagreements with his bishop who was attempting to turn the Liege episcopal palace into a bordello.
On board were two Venetian brothers, Niccolo and Maffeo Polo along with Niccolo's seventeen-year-old son, Marco.
Two years previously, in the spring of 1269, the two elder Polos had suddenly appeared in Acre.
Not only did this make good strategic sense, there were growing indications that Kubla Khan was considering embracing Christianity.
This was not as unlikely a proposition as it sounded.
He pinned the Armenian down in the crypt until the police came. But it was in the spring of 1271 that the crusaders received their greatest shock.
But since then the Greeks and the Armenians haven't been on speaking terms. Until we broke off relations with the Greeks as well.' 'What do you mean? The driver was a Catholic' 'So now no one is speaking to anyone? Krak des Chevaliers, the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers, was considered by all sides to be impregnable; in 1188 it had defied even Saladin.
Gregory realized that the only possible hope for the crusaders was to make some sort of pact with the Mongols with whom they shared a common Egyptian enemy.Twelve lamps were suspended from the ceiling by steel chains. From a recess in the first chamber he produced a small stepladder. Pass me up the string.' He pointed to the tray of surgical instruments. In Acre Theobald succeeded in negotiating a temporary truce between the Genoese and Venetians, and persuading the local nobility to cooperate with Prince Edward of England who had just arrived at the head of an English crusade.Fabian knelt down, kissed the Stone and murmured a prayer. He climbed up onto it, unclipped a hook from the wall-ring then let go of the pulley. They were made of beaten bronze and were very tarnished and very old. But he lacked the authority or the power to do anything more radical to save the Kingdom.Finely incised on the outside were the figures of cherubim and a six-winged seraph. They're supposed to be eternal flames.' 'That's what they say,' said Brother Fabian, now struggling with the wick of one of the lamps. Then, in the late August of that year, Theobald was elected to the papacy.Motioning that I should pass the watering can up to him, the friar arched over the lamps and very carefully poured oil from the can into three of them. 'But you try and change the oil without them going out. He heard of his appointment in early September and took the name Gregory X.