Jean Michelle de Bordeaux
Knight deserter of the 4th crusade
Jean Michelle de Bordeaux is son of Pierre de Bordeaux, the Lord of Bordeaux County in the Duchy of Aquitaine, itself belonging to the Kingdom of England. His mother died when she gave birth to him and his older and only brother Raymond Guillaume died on a failed attack on Jerusalem during the 3ed crusade in 1192. Like most noble children he had a private tutor and a better education than most commoners.
Jean Michelle Joins the Crusade
In April 1202, wanting to avenge his brother’s death, and really having nothing better to do, Jean Michelle rode to Venice where the knights of the 4th crusade were gathering for an assault on Egypt. On his way a group of more than 100 foot-soldiers and 5 knights gathered around him. They decided he was an awesome guy who could lead them in battle.
He participated in the assault on the city of Zara leading his small troop, and although already then he felt something was completely wrong with the entire situation, the commanders of the crusade insisted it was a necessary sacrifice. In the siege of Constantinople Jean Michelle and his troop were the first to enter the city and open the gate for the rest of the crusaders while suffering many casualties, and for this he received great respect and honor among all the crusading army. They even considered appointing him as Grand Crusader, but by then he was already gone.
What Jean Michelle saw in the days of the sack of Constantinople will never leave his thoughts and his dreams. Blood was flawing in the streets. Churches were defiled, pillaged and destroyed. Good Christians were murdered and raped by those other Christians he called brothers. On the 2ed day of the sack he found himself protecting a group of priests and nuns in their own monastery. He already saw how his “brothers” treated orthodox priests and nuns and he was not going to let that happen again. Indeed he managed to save the lives of these people but not the possessions of the monastery. At the end, the head priest begged Jean Michelle to take with him a small box inlayed with ivory and mother of pearl. In it were three links from the chains of St. Babylas of Antioch – the most holy possession of that monastery. Before the 3ed day of looting and killing was over, Jean Michelle, together with 3 of his men, were crossing the straits back to Europe, deserting the Crusade, a crime whose punishment is excommunication.
Taking the Vow
During his long travels back home Jean Michelle has vowed to never raise arm against any innocent Christian, orthodox, catholic or any other. He has vowed to forever help, protect, support and act for the benefit of all Christians. His vow of great chivalry became known through-out the Catholic Christian church as “de Bordeaux vows” but he never won reconciliation from the pope. Eventually he returned home in 1213 where his own father refused to acknowledge him. He was however allowed to stay at the castle, and served in some of the clashes between the English and the French in 1214.
His father married Bernadette de Blancford in 1214, under the agreement signed by King John of England that their daughter Assalide, will become the heiress of the titles and lands. And so it happens that Jean Michelle was left with nothing but the name of de Bordeaux.