Beatrice de Courtenay
Beatrice de Courtenay is the eldest daughter and heir of late Joscelin III, Count of Edessa (de jure) and Petra. She and her sister Agnes are the last remaining members of the main line of a once influential and wealthy family, which had to face a continuous downfall over the last years. She resides as a ward at Royal Court.
Ruins and Aspirations
In march of 1177 Beatrice de Courtenay, first born child of Count Joscelin III and Agnes de Milly is born. For family's lands, the county of Edessa the first crusader state to be established but also the first to fall, nothing but a mere memory of the family's glorious lands remained, when her nursemaid sang hushed lullabies about their magnitude into her cradle in Petra. Thanks to the male line's talent of getting captured (notably Joscelin I, II, and III were taken prisoner until the Courtenays, often with support of the royal treasury. It's kind of a tradition.) it was also the family's wealth, which remained rather as memories than in coins - most notably this is a fact that never seems to appear in any songs, not even in verses announcing the confident opposite. Coins might be an uncomfortable topic for the Courtenays, but not a problem that couldn't have been solved with gifted daughters.
But how should the maidens lead the often distrusted Courtenays, who did not even adorn themself with military success back to glory? An answer is already given by a famous kinswoman of Beatrice. Her aunt Agnes de Courtenay, mother of King Baldwin IV. For that reason Beatrice was raised under the constant, questionable counsel to follow the path of her aunt Agnes de Courtenay and make herself a precious bride, preferably, should the occasion arise, the mother of a king or two, and more important, gain as much influence as possible to share it with the few remaining relatives.
She and her sister Agnes were early taught to carry on pleasant conversations (at least pleasant for a few chosen people), to sing, to dance - to amuse and delight with charm and chatter. More vital lessons were also taken care of, to assure the healthy intactness of the girls necks. With this knowledge of course not yet perfected, they were sent to Royal court in 1184, the year of Agnes's death.
We, who were living are now dying. With a little patience.
1186 an other Agnes died, this time it was Beatrice's mother, Agnes de Milly for the reasons of sudden, but fierce sickness. The sisters were not left to mourn long, though, for it was also the year, when thier betrothal was announced - Guillaume de Lusignan was chosen for Beatrice to lead her to the aspired influence, coins and contentement. Her younger sister was to marry one of his cousins. Both families seem to profit of this arrangement, with Sibylla as a supporter of her mother's family, the Courtenays, and the Lusignans more influential and thriving as ever. Suspiciously the Lusignans claimed the years of battle were too busy and too stern, to grant the marriage of Guillaume and Beatrice the attention it would have earned.
In the summer of 1190 Joscelin III, famous courtier and competent protector of his daughter's fate, got caught by the claws of disease. What started as a inconvenient rash, that kept him from few official occasions soon became festering sores all over his body. Death came slowly, but relentlessly and both, the girls and experienced healers weren't able to stop it's obstinate conquer of the father's body. After all it was not much of a surprise, but nevertheless a severe affront, when the betrothal between the Courtenay girls and the Lusignans was broken. With no kin close to the throne anymore and Beatrice's title beeing nothing but empty claim of a lost land, the reasons were evident, but never spoken of bluntly. Openly admitting Edessa was lost, would have been unthinkable. Instead, the Lusignans decided to call the Beatrice and Agnes 'immoral and fraudulent like the rest of their family'. A young Armenian servant, loyal to the girls for many years was said to be the cause of the rising accusations.
Thou must not deale on this behalfe with weeping.
Joscelin III, in all his lingering illness, almoust jumped out of his sickbed into his best doublet, when the news reached his ears. He grabbed his sword in fury and rushed through the hallways followed by his terrified daughters. He did not stop until he found himself face to face with Geoffrey de Lusignan, who announced the changed fate of Agnes and Beatrice, hissing the challenge of a duel with fierce wrath in the courtiers voice, but on the wings of breathless pain. In polite amusement Geoffrey refused. The Courtenays were beaten. The next time Joscelin went to his sickbed, he never stood up again. The next weeks were said to have spend at his side, listening to some of his last, whispered, and maybe most important pieces of advice. In november, he finally deceased.
In october 1192 Beatrice is still at court as a Royal ward. When Beatrice's sister is still seen at very few official occasions, Beatrice soon returned to the events at court – her shield of chatter and charms occasionally broken by fierce stares or sudden tides of gloom. Whenever her sister is around, she is always seen to be back to her thriving liveliness of youth, which can easily turn to a not less lively blaze of surprising fury, when someone even makes the slighest attempt to harm her, with words or acts.
Berno de Touraine, called 'Berno the Barrel' is a loyal guard to the two Courtenay sisters. Even if he is of low birth, he managed to make himself a name as a capable warrior and a heavy eater. He is a good-humoured, stouty man in his fourties, his bellowing laughter widely known in the streets of Acre.