Chapter One: SPRING
Born in the year of our Lord, 1135. named Alan, I come from
ancient Briton stock mostly concentrated in Southeast England.
But what with numerous foreign invasions of England, my family
decided to seek safe shelter in Brittany, which was a part of
France--a peninsula that was situated between the English
Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. And
in due course we became one of the leading families in Brittany.
I had no such luck being born the "first son" of my father's house,
hence I inherited no titles, no property. Younger sons had to
earn their fortunes in other ways, whether by knightly service,
adventurous speculation, becoming a priest or monk, or by
marrying into another great house that provided prospects.
However, in my childhood I didn't have to worry about such
issues as inheritance. I didn't worry about a future life either,
since my life at this time was fully in the past and present.
Constantly I was reminded of my Briton ancestry, an ancestry
that traced back to Southern England well before and even
during the Roman occupation. One could even see remnants
of this ancestry even in Brittany. I played among megalith
monuments scattered across the peninsula. Years later I was
to compare these smaller Brittany megaliths to those larger
megaliths at Stonehenge in England.
Though we spoke colloquially a Celtic-origin language I was
more formally brought up to learn Latin--speaking it haltingly
at first. The Catholic Church was very prominent in Brittany;
so, consequently, I was educated by priests, who spoke and
taught in Church Latin.
As it turned out, learning Church Latin pointed the way towards
my future. My father decided that I should become a priest.
He had conferred with my Church teachers--and always looking
to replenish their celibate ranks, they spoke most positively
about my spiritual leanings. Of course I wasn't consulted, and
I was far from sure that I possessed any spiritual leanings.
Nonetheless, the decision was made that I would enter a
seminary where I might ultimately be ordained as a priest.
Still a youth, I was packed off to Rome. As far as I was
concerned this fabled city was the "center of the universe."
The locale of ancient churches and the seat of popes,
Rome was ruled by the Church. This was the place to be,
especially if you were to become a churchman!