Kingdom of Heaven : An African Crusader

An African Crusader

In the beginning of the film (the Director's Cut) there was an African among the Crusaders group (he's the only one in the group with Red costume) and he eventually got killed by the Bishop's troops trying to take Balian back for the murder of his brother.

I'm particularly interested by this character, could anyone ID the person, what language he spoke etc, his costume was very similar with the Saracens (though I only have little knowledge about the era of the Crusades, I could be wrong) and this made me wonder whether the African and Arab Christians took part during the Crusades, e.g. fought alongside the European Crusaders.

Edit:

Or maybe he was indeed a Saracen? Why would he be with the Crusaders on the way to Messina then? Since at one point Guy told Balian that Godfrey is "a friend of the Muslims, traitor of the Christendom"

Thanks for the answers!

And pardon me for my grammar

Re: An African Crusader

Europeans and Arabs conquered quite a few black Africans and each had their own group of black Africans. The Arab Christians did fight with the Crusaders for a while and then turned on the Crusaders, because of their brutality.

Re: An African Crusader

don't be silly

Re: An African Crusader


"black Africans"


WTF?

Are not Africans black by default??

👊 Privileged IMDb MOD without Beta Tester Badge! 👊

Re: An African Crusader

No. Sub-Saharan Africans are: but North Africans from the countries bordering the Mediterranean (that includes Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, among others) are not, unless they are descended from sub-Saharan Africans traded from the south as slaves.

Re: An African Crusader

The Middle Eastern Christians (who btw were not Arabs, although many of their descendants speak Arabic today; they were the indigenous population who had been overrun by the Muslim Arabs and Turks) mostly hunkered down and took little or no part in the battles of the Crusades, apart from the still-independent Armenian kingdoms of Cilicia who formed alliances with them and with whom the royal and princely Frankish families intermarried. African Christians, as a community, took no part in the Crusades.

However, there were plenty of individuals happy to take service with captains and noblemen on either side, and as the Arab slave trade had for centuries brought black Africans to the Middle East, there's no absolute reason why some of them might not have been black.

However, the main reason why this character is in the film is that Ridley Scott wanted Godfrey's following to be all cuddly, multiracial and ecumenical. (In one of the deleted scenes we see that Amalric - the bald leader of the Ibelin knights - has a half-Arab son.)

Re: An African Crusader

The Arab Christians that fought with the crusaders were actually Arabs called the Ghassanids. The non-Arabs that you talk about, which are the Levantines and the Egyptians, were fighting later for their own countries. The Egyptian Mamluks were Christians who were posing as Muslims and fought with the Muslims as well.

Re: An African Crusader


The Arab Christians that fought with the crusaders were actually Arabs called the Ghassanids. The non-Arabs that you talk about, which are the Levantines and the Egyptians, were fighting later for their own countries. The Egyptian Mamluks were Christians who were posing as Muslims and fought with the Muslims as well.


There were also the Turcopoles- Muslim converts to Christianity who served as mounted archers for the Franks.

Re: An African Crusader

Turcopoles were excellent mounted archers! Good skirmishing troops.

Re: An African Crusader


The Middle Eastern Christians (who btw were not Arabs, although many of their descendants speak Arabic today; they were the indigenous population who had been overrun by the Muslim Arabs and Turks)



You make it sound like the Arabs are a recent arrival to the Middle East and actually you're wrong about that. The first mention of an Arab ethnicity dates back to an Assyrian inscription in 853 BC as among one of the people the Assyrians defeated.

Arab Christians have been indigenous to the Middle East since before the Muslim expansion in the 7th century. Philip the Arab is thought by some early Christian sources to have been the first true Christian Roman emperor, but in all actuality this was due to the fact that he was tolerant of them, rather than him converting. In any case, Philip having grown up in Roman Arabia exposed him to Christianity at an early age because the Arabs of Roman Arabia which included Jordan, the Southern Levant the northest Arabian Peninsula and the Sinai were among the earliest converts to Christianity. the Arabs were Christians first before they were Muslims. Except for the small number of Jews who became Christians early on, Arab Christians are actually one of the oldest Christian communities in the region dating back at least the 3rd century. And of course their descendants speak Arabic because they always have been Arabs and Arabic has been spoken in their liturgical rites long before Islam came to the scene. The first mention of Arab Christians dates back to the New Testament regarding the Council of Arabia held in 246 AD and 247.

Re: An African Crusader

I'm not familiar with the historical facts about crusaders. But judging solely by the movie, I think the filmmakers just wanted to make this crusader bunch as "colorful" as possible. In addition to the black guy, they also had a Viking (apparently) - I mean the guy with long white hair. And one of the guys seemed to have a strong German accent. I don't know how much historical research went into making this movie.

Re: An African Crusader


I don't know how much historical research went into making this movie.


Well, the scriptwriter Bill Monahan said (it's in the DVD extras) that he did loads of research but not by reading any recent historical work, as he didn't want to be influenced by them, only contemporary chronicles and other early sources; he said that he would ask Fox for all kinds of rare out-of-print books and they would get them for him. Now, there are a couple of reasons why he might say that even if it weren't true:

1. When journalist James Reston Jr heard Scott was directing a film with Balian of Ibelin as the protagonist, he announced that he was going to sue for plagiarism on the grounds that the character and storyline must have been cribbed from his book Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade.* He would almost certainly have failed (it's not as though no other book had ever mentioned Balian of Ibelin), but it's quite credible that Fox wanted to avoid a court case and the negative publicity, and told Monahan, 'Bill, just say you didn't read ANY modern books, OK?'

2. It's clear that Scott and the studio really wanted to promote KoH as having some historical credibility. Even though they had to admit that the characters had been fictionalised (Balian's age and background, the love story, etc), they still were claiming that it was a meaningful take on the real Crusades and on Muslim-Christian conflict in the Middle East. So they were still going to say that it had been diligently researched, even if Monahan hadn't bought a single book but had cooked up the entire script from what he remembered of reading Stephen Runciman's 1950s history as a teenager, and filled out the rest from his imagination. (Which he actually could have done; very little of the historical material in the script isn't in there.)

On the whole, though, I'm prepared to believe Monahan's statement. If he did read any book that made use of the immense amount of new material researched in the last 60-odd years, which has more-or-less completely exploded Runciman's judgement about the Crusades being 'about wealth and land', he made up his mind to ignore it, and purvey the story as he had first read about it in Runciman.

However, although he made a big thing about 'sticking to the contemporary sources', one thing I'm pretty sure he did not do is read any contemporary Muslim chronicles. This is bizarre, for such a pro-Muslim script, especially since they aren't hard to find - an excellent English translation of all the main Arabic-language chronicles has been readily available since 1969.** He can't possibly have read them, because nobody who had actually read the chronicle of Imad al-Din Isfahani, Saladin's secretary, would conceivably have chosen him to be the Good Sexy Arab Character. Also, Scott in his DVD commentary proudly mentions their having used The Crusades through Arab Eyes, a tendentious production by a Lebanese-French journalist (not a historian) called Amin Maalouf, which is his own journalistic telling of the story studded with carefully-selected snippets from some of those chronicles. Nobody who had read the real deal as translated by Gabrieli would give shelf space to Maalouf's book, let alone trumpet it as their source.


* e.g. here: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-04-28-kingdom-plagiarized_x.htm

** Arab Historians of the Crusades, by Francesco Gabrieli.

Re: An African Crusader


I don't know how much historical research went into making this movie.
Not a lot, and what there was was changed drastically. The historical material used is such that the film could have been made in the 1950s: it's taken no notice of any of the work done since. I find it staggering that they could have ignored (for example) everything in Peter Edbury's work on the Ibelin family or Bernard Hamilton's full-length biography of Baldwin IV.

"Active but Odd"

Re: An African Crusader

Perhaps not so staggering? The official version is that Scott and Monahan had been collaborating on a project (Tripoli) that didn't come off, and when Scott said to Monahan that he'd really like to make a film about [what he fondly imagines to be] the moral values of medieval chivalry, Monahan said 'ever since reading Runciman as a boy I've always wanted to write about the leper King and the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. How about that as a setting?' This idea squared the circle very nicely for Scott, who loves Edwardian-style chivalry but really doesn't care for organised Christianity, which otherwise was going to be a problem in a medieval setting, and the project was born.

If that was the way it happened, the last thing they would have wanted was any new historical insights that would have undermined the 'Runciman-as-filtered-through-the-adolescent-Monahan's-psyche' story (I'm thinking of stuff like the silver mask, which Monahan must have imagined as a boy and now appears to believe was a historical fact). They really wouldn't have wanted to know about stuff like the possibility of Reynald de Chatillon's offensive strategy actually being wiser than Raymond's, for example, or Saladin being a jihadist who dreamed of wiping Christianity from the face of the earth. As for research on the Ibelin family; why would they want that, if they had already decided to transmogrify him into a pretty young French blacksmith?

Re: An African Crusader


As for research on the Ibelin family; why would they want that, if they had already decided to transmogrify him into a pretty young French blacksmith?
I still think it would have made a stronger story and a better film. I'd have loved to see Liam Neeson as Balian going to Jerusalem with the intention of rescuing his wife and children and legging it back to Tyre, but being persuaded by the Patriarch to send them on ahead and take command of the city's defence.

"Active but Odd"

Re: An African Crusader

Of course! And what made anybody, even Ridley Scott, think that having his toyboy-Balian explain Saladin's tactics leadenly to Guy would be more dramatic and moving than letting us hear poor Raymond of Tripoli having to persuade the Franks not to go and rescue his beloved wife (oh, what wouldn't you give to hear Jeremy Irons giving that speech his all?) is utterly beyond me.

Re: An African Crusader

Yup… It's the failure of Scott and Monahan to grasp that the real story (so far as we can put it together) has vastly more drama and excitement that their soppy fantasy (with Scott strongly channelling Alan Ladd's The Black Knight) that disappoints. There was potential for a great film in the historical material, but they've now probably wrecked any chance of it ever making it to the screen.

Still… Could have been even worse: he might have had a passing Italian pizza-delivery boy coming to the rescue… Conrad got away lightly by not being in the film at all!

"Active but Odd"

Re: An African Crusader

He was a Moor from the North African Coast. Their armor tended to be more cloth based instead of mail. Just as effective but a little bulkier. And the scimitars they used cut through nearly every kind of metal armor.

Re: An African Crusader

Cloth-based armour was also extremely popular in Europe; it was commoner than mail. We only imagine otherwise because cinema and TV productions (like this one) routinely kit out most if not all all their extras in mail. I've never seen a production with a realistic proportion of extras in jacks or brigandines.

And "scimitars cutting through armour" is pure myth, popularised if not created by Sir Walter Scott in 1825. The wootz steel of Damascus was high-quality, but certainly not that magically good. (If it had been, returning Crusaders would routinely have been bringing Middle Eastern blades home, and they would turn up frequently in European armouries and archaeological digs alongside European-made ones; but they don't.)

Also, btw, the Arab, Persian and Moorish sword of the 12th century was straight: the scimitar is a later style.

Re: An African Crusader


Cloth-based armour was also extremely popular in Europe; it was commoner than mail.
Used in the Byzantine empire, too. In his description of Conrad of Montferrat's fight with Alexios Vranas before the walls of Constantinople in 1187, Choniates describes Conrad as wearing an armour of multiple layers of folded linen, stiffened by soaking in 'brine of wine'. It seems to have worked, as he came through it with only a slight graze on the shoulder.

"Active but Odd"

Re: An African Crusader

in fact the opposite is true about swords, one of the best sources for the study Of Actual medieval european blades Is Cache of crusader weapons found in alexandria, egypt. Ewart Oakshotte references this Collectiom alot In his works And Companies like darksword armory,Cas- Iberia, and Albion Armorers who make practical reproductions of Medieval Swords use the swords found in egypt for a the basis for many of their Blades.

Re: An African Crusader

in fact the opposite is true about swords

The opposite of what, exactly? Sorry, I'm really not clear what you mean by that.

Re: An African Crusader

I was proving your Point about knights not bringing home scimatars by pointimg out the Opposite that the muslims brought home european blades.

Re: An African Crusader

Ah, gotcha. Sorry, my brain can't have been moving too fast yesterday!

Re: An African Crusader


And "scimitars cutting through armour" is pure myth, popularised if not created by Sir Walter Scott in 1825.
Tell it to my Spanish and history professors. Maybe they were wrong, but I seem to recall that curved blades, because of their shape, are better at slashing than straight edged swords which are good at hacking.

Re: An African Crusader

Certainly curved blades are better at slashing than straight ones; they just can't slash through metal armour.
Top