Ansiau (ahn-see-OW), the old lord of Linnières in Champagne. Returning from the Crusades half-blind and ill, grieving for the son who died in the Holy Land, and troubled about his ungovernable illegitimate daughter, he finds that he no longer has the force to govern. He resigns his fief to his son Herbert and sets out on a pilgrimage to Acre and Jerusalem. Eventually, he becomes totally blind and thus especially vulnerable to the marauders in battle-torn southern France. His piety and his kindly nature win him the respect of strangers and the loyalty of three companions. Although he fails to locate his son’s grave in Acre and falls into the hands of Muslims before he can reach Jerusalem, he is venerated by his captors as a holy man. He dies at peace with God.
Herbert le Gros
Herbert le Gros (groh), Ansiau’s son, the new lord of Linnières, a huge man with huge appetites. He is a wife abuser, a womanizer, and a glutton, but his primary interest is in acquiring land, money, and power. He values his son and heir, Haguenier, as someone who can help him achieve those goals, and he becomes furious whenever Haguenier fails to live up to his expectations. Although licentious, Herbert is calculating; only once does he lets his passions run away with him: By sleeping with his half sister, he risks criminal prosecution, damnation by God, and the disapproval of his mother. Although he is cursed both by her and by his rejected lover, the immediate cause of his death is his own brutality. When Herbert attacks his unfaithful wife, Haguenier fights against him, and Herbert’s back is broken. Herbert forgives his son and is forgiven by his mother before he dies, but he also makes sure that the future is arranged as he wishes it to be.
Haguenier (ah-geh-NYAY), Herbert’s son and heir, an idealistic nineteen-year-old who is particularly susceptible to women. After meeting Lady Marie de...
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