Incomers vs Poulains

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Almost since the Franks' conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, there has been infighting between two major factions at the Court of Jerusalem. Broadly, these can be described as the local nobility trying to make a life in Outremer, and the Crusaders fresh from the west, proclaiming their eagerness to confront the infidel.

According to western stereotype, existence in warm and rich Outremer leads to degenerate, mixed blood and lascivious, oriental practices. Knights from the West call the nobility of Outremer 'Poulains' (roughly translatable as 'half-breeds') in scorn. This is an insult and would not be adopted by the local party as a label for themselves; we use it for ease of description. Similarly it is easy to imagine local barons complaining about the brashness of 'incomers', but unlikely that the likes of Richard the Lionheart would have thought of themselves in such a way.

There are racial and social dimensions to this antipathy - nobles in Outremer often marry into Armenian or Greek families rather than maintaining pure Frankish descent, and they also can, by Western standards, come of quite young and obscure lines. But it is easy to put too much stress on these differences. Essentially, both factions are court parties grasping after power; as such, allegiances shift faster than truisms harden.

For example, before 1187 the 'Poulain' faction, led by the Count of Tripoli, resisted war with Saladin, and the 'Incomer' faction promoted it. During the Third Crusade matters were complicated by the arrival of the western Kings; the King of France supported the 'Poulains', and the King of England the 'Incomers'. French characters will thus be generally 'Poulain' at the moment, despite being western; and the Templars, who supported Richard, are ranked as 'Incomers' despite being a local fixture.

Currently the Kingdom is ruled by an 'Incomer', Henry, Count of Champagne, by virtue of his 'Poulaine' wife, Queen Isabella. This may or may not bode well for a reconciliation. Furthermore, the political aims of the parties have now completely reversed. The 'Incomers' uphold Richard's truce with Saladin, while the 'Poulains' resent it and wish the English King had tried harder to regain their lost fiefs and, above all, the Holy City.

For specific current information about each faction, see Category: Incomers and Category: Poulains.

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