Will Nolande, His Story, His Journey
Will Nolande is a young man born into a poor peasant family. His family have no land and no possessions, except for their small wooden home built by his father. The erection of this home was permitted by the local baron in the forest of his estate.
Will's father, Robert, is a woodman for the baron; he is allowed to kill one deer per year, trap rabbits and to forage to feed his family as payment for his work on the estate. Will's mother, Edythe, cares for the family and works in the castle's kitchens on feast days. Will has seven sisters.
Will has always had a strong faith and had dreams of becoming a monk at the local abbey. His family, fearful of having no income in the future if Will followed this path, apprenticed him to the village blacksmith, Oswald Smythe. Oswald and his wife, Agathe, have no children. Will honours his mother's and father's wishes as the bible teaches him and works hard throughout his apprenticeship with great dedication to learning the craft.
Will is now entering the final week of his seven year indenture.
Oswald and Agathe are very fond of Will and all his family; they plan to leave the forge to him when they pass on. Will has no knowledge of this.
Oswald knows Will is deeply religious; Oswald has a brother, Cuthbert, who is a monk at the nearby abbey. Oswald has allowed Will time each week to visit Cuthbert to learn some reading and writing. Also, in an effort to keep the young man interested in the blacksmith business, for the past two years, Oswald has released Will from his obligations to go on local pilgrimages. It is Oswald's hope that this will allow Will to feel he has fulfilled his religious needs.
The pilgrimages have had the opposite effect; Will feels the urge to join the church is becoming stronger.
As Will prepares for his final pilgrimage before completing his seven year apprenticeship, tragegy strikes his family. His father, Robert, is gored by a wild boar whilst working in the castle's woodland and dies from his injuries. Will now knows that is year's pilgrimage will probably not happen.
The baron is a good man and promises not to turn the family out of their home, but with no husband and hunter, there is little hope for Edythe and Will's seven sisters.
In a twist of fate, Will is ordered to go to the castle. In the great hall, the baron introduces him to a nephew. This nephew is rich but weak willed and reckless. He offers to pay Will a good sum of money to go on a pilgrimage on his behalf. He wants Will to pray for his son, who is ill and not improving. Will is to go to France. This is very common for wealthy people to pay others to make a pilgrimage on their behalf to save themselves from the deprivations and difficulties expected of pilgrims during their journey. All parties agree to the deal and Will is given all details of the journey and promised the money when the preparations for departure are complete.
Will takes the minimum amount of money for his needs, as he feels living in as much poverty as he can whilst travelling will fulfill his needs from this pilgrimage.
He entrusts the rest of the money to Oswald for the care of his mother and sisters. He knows Oswald and Agathe will protect Edythe and her daughters.
Will sets off on his arduous journey across the channel and through the unfamiliar countryside of France. He soon meets other pilgrims travelling to the same destination. He starts to discuss his circumstances with these new friends and questions the authenticity of a proxy pilgrimage. One of the travellers he meets is a member of the Knights Templar, Hugo de Clair. Will and Hugo strike up an unlikely friendship; a knight and a common man. Hugo talks to Will about the ideals of the Knights Templar movement.
He explains that they pride themselves on protecting the faith and all followers. They hope their actions will help to bring all aspects of the religion they love to each and everyone by whatever means. He encourages Will to believe that the strong can deliver this for the weak; Will now feels that his mission is worthwhile.
As they travel together, Hugo realises that Will would be a great asset to the cause of the Knights Templar and invites him to join them as a brother. These are the lowest order of the organisation which consists of the Knights, the Monks and then the Brothers; the squires, guards, stewards and blacksmiths. All of the Order are expected to fight on horseback in the Holy War.
Will must make the choice of following the life he desires, using
the skills taught to him by Oswald, or returning home to fulfill his obligations to his family and the blacksmith.
As Will reaches his destination in France and he begins to climb the steps to the chapel on his knees, he knows he has much to ponder.
What will his decision be?
This is Will's journey – a physical, emotional and spiritual journey – the textile pieces will reflect this story.
©Gilli Salmons – 2017 – Near & Far, Maps and Journeys