Thursday, May 5, 2016

Weekly Geek! Benjamin's Early Days...

Let's talk about one of the most despicable characters in the AST universe. Benjamin. Nikki Ben.  Whatever you call him - he's not a nice guy.  What's somewhat mystifying is the urge to make excuses for Benjamin's actions, blaming the blood rage or the lack of guidance as a new vampire for his behavior.  But after taking a look at his early days, it's clear that his sociopathy predates his rebirth.

"Benjamin was one of the German crusaders who marched with Count Emicho's army toward the Holy Land. When they were beaten in Hungary, he joined up with my brother Godfrey's forces," Matthew began. "Benjamin's mother was the daughter of a prominent merchant in the Levant, and he had learned some Hebrew and even Arabic because of the family's business operations. He was a valuable ally—at first." BOL p.  93

The bits we get about Benjamin's background lend so much insight to his character. Benjamin found a "partner in crime" in Count Emicho,  a minor German noble.  Emicho gathered a large band of simple German pilgrims and then inflamed them with hatred of the Jews in their own communities - using the argument that before going to punish the Muslims in Jerusalem, it makes sense to punish the Jews, who were responsible for his actual death. Emicho's true motive seems to be greed, as he needed money to finance his army, and the Jewish communities were thought to be wealthy.   The German Crusade of 1096 was also known as the Rhineland Massacres and targeted Jews.
That Benjamin would join forces with a man like Emicho speaks volumes about his character as a human and none of it good. Greedy, opportunistic, cunning. The Rhineland Massacres clearly fed his sociopathic tendencies.
We also get hints about the activities and identities of some of the deClermont men.  Emicho's men were turned back at Hungary and the surviving crusaders, presumably including Benjamin, were absorbed into other Crusader armies including that of Godfrey of Bouillon.  Godfrey had two brothers accompanying him,  Baldwin of Boulogne, who later became the Count of Edessa, and  Eustace III.  (Interestingly, their father,  Eustace II appeared at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 as an ally of William the Conqueror, and is listed as a possible killer of Harold II; he is also believed to have given William his own horse after the duke's was killed under him by Gyrth, brother of Harold.
This passage , and the history connected to it, seems to support the following:

Godfrey's identities include Godfrey of Bouillon.

Baldwin was also Baldwin of Boulogne.

Hugh may have been Eustace III (especially since he went home rather than staying in Outremer)."Philippe should have left Matthew in Cordoba with Hugh and me, for Matthew was no help to him in Jerusalem or Acre or any of the other places his father sent  him." BOL p 124.

As for Philippe, this episode may shed some light on Rabbi Loew's comment:  “My father is known as Ariel among Rabbi Loew’s people,” Matthew explained. “The angel of wrath?” I frowned. That didn’t sound like the Philippe I knew. “The lord with dominion over the earth. Some call him the Lion of Jerusalem. Recently my people have had reason to be grateful to the Lion, though the Jews have not—and will never—forget his many past wrongs. But Ariel makes an effort to atone. And judgment belongs to God.” SON p. 493.

The past wrongs against the Jewish people that Philippe was responsible for may include the massacre of Jews during the Crusades - especially the First Crusade. the references to Philippe as the Lion of Jerusalem seem to arise from the Crusaders' success in taking Jerusalem in 1099.

Here are some links to get your daemon on!

Christian-Jewish Relations:The Crusades
Godfrey of Bouillon
Baldwin II of Edessa
Eustace III, Count of Boulogne

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