God’s Kingdom is a novel set in the 12th century. It follows the story of Johannes and Wilfred’s adventures in the Holy Land. German baron, Johannes and his adopted son, Wilfred, mortgage their inheritance in Saarburg, Germany off to Johannes’s younger brother, Balderic, the Bishop of Cologne which finances their journey to the Holy Land. Their desire is to fight for the Cross and defend God’s Kingdom. They obtain a degree of wealth and favor from King Amalric I of Jerusalem, but the death of Amalric and the ascension of his leprous son, Baldwin IV to the throne ushers in a new era to the Eastern Kingdom. Johannes and Wilfred find themselves in a game of politics that threatens the Kingdom while struggling to defend it against a fiercely determined Salah-ah-Din who has united the vast Islamic armies against the Christian Kingdom.
My desire to write God’s Kingdom stems from my passion for Crusades History and from watching every season of Vikings. In 2014, I wanted more than anything to see a television series that is set in Israel in the 12th century during the Crusades: something like Kingdom of Heaven, but historically accurate and politically incorrect, or at least produced from a neutral perspective. I figured it would make for a very intriguing show with high ratings. Only thing was; no one seemed to be in the process of writing a screenplay for such a television series. Then it hit me: If no one else would write a non politically correct TV series set during the Crusades, why don’t I be the one to write it and try my luck at pitching it to producers?
I knew exactly who my characters were and where they would end up of course, but at first, I desired the setting of this story to begin in France. Shortly before our family cruise to Alaska in June 2014, I sat down and did a detailed character sketch. Everything came together in that matter, but I struggled to come up with a good beginning to the storyline. I pondered different ideas, but none of them seemed good or even made much historical sense, so I set this story aside.
One year later, two months after my return from my first trip to Europe, new ideas for God’s Kingdom popped into my head. Inspiration for this project was rekindled and it made me come alive with renewed passion and joy. Since Germany was my next destination and since I have a German background, it made perfect sense for me to begin God’s Kingdom in Germany. Where in Germany? I had settled on Koblenz, but decided once I got to Germany, that I would shift the setting to another village and region.
I spent three months, from September to December, in Germany, but it wasn’t until the middle of November, while travelling the country, that I finally figured out the perfect beginning setting for God’s Kingdom: Saarburg, a village neighboring the city of Trier situated on the banks of the Moselle River.
While visiting my friend Angela in Como, Italy, I told her a bit about God’s Kingdom and she mentioned that it would make a good novel and also easier to write it as a novel before turning it into a screenplay. So, once I returned to Germany, I decided to turn God’s Kingdom into a novel.
The moment I saw Saarburg Castle (photo above) from the train on my way to Trier, I knew exactly where the setting for God’s Kingdom will begin. The next day, I took a train to Saarburg and, the first point of interest I went to see was the Saarburg Castle.
Saarburg Castle is located high on a hill, overlooking the village, the Moselle River below, and the rolling hills beyond. This castle, a mere shadow of what it would have looked like in the 12th century, was built in the 9th century. The tower (picture above) indicates that this was a fortified castle that once boasted thick, stone walls. That reason, coupled with the fact that this area is the oldest region in Germany, was the inspiration for me to begin God’s Kingdom in Saarburg.
I spent more than an hour that cool, November afternoon at Saarburg Castle, looking down at the village below, trying to picture what it would have looked like in the mid-12th century. It’s hard to say for sure what Saarburg looked like back then. In fact, Saarburg did not become a chartered town until the late 13th century. Regardless, since a castle had been built there, there must have existed a village. That village would have been small and built near the foot of the hill, close to the castle. It’s quite possible that a section of the land across from the river was cultivated by landholding vassals to the baron who resided in Saarburg Castle. This is just mere speculation on my behalf of course.
The day following my visit to Saarburg, I spent part of an afternoon inside the Trier Dom, a cathedral that was constructed in the 3rd century AD during the reign of Emperor Constantine.
If the walls could speak, I can only imagine all the stories they would tell. There is no doubt that many men, who took part in the Crusades, made their vows to defend the Kingdom of Jerusalem in this cathedral.
I haven’t gotten to that part in my novel yet, but Johannes, Wilfred and those who will join them in their journey to the Holy Land, will make their vows in the Trier Dom.
I am so thankful to have been to Germany and to have seen the place where the setting of God’s Kingdom will begin. Israel is next on my destination list although I am still working out the details of when I plan to go.