THE BOOK OF JUDAS.
© David Milligan Croft.
Historical epic about a French crusading knight, (XAVIER de CRECIE), who discovers The Book of Judas in Jerusalem. This book is Judas’ version of events surrounding the crucifixion, and his alleged betrayal of Christ.
The film is set at the turn of the 12th century after the First Crusade. Xavier de Crecie’s dilemma is whether the Book should be seen by the world’s nobility, thus throwing the Bible into question, or whether it should be suppressed for the good of the Catholic church.
Few people know of the book’s existence. The Catholic church want to get their hands on the Book to suppress its contents. The Baron of Kent would also like to acquire it so he can use it as collateral against funding an army to depose the King of England, Henry I.
XAVIER de CRECIE is a thirty-year old French crusading knight. He has just returned from the Holy Land after years of fighting and being away from his loved ones. He is virtuous and noble befitting his status as the Duke of Brittany. He’s revered by his contemporaries and loved by his family and friends as a champion of the unprotected. The discovery of The Book of Judas throws his faith and reasons for embarking on the crusade into question.
CARDINAL CASTAGNE is a forty-something envoy of the Vatican. He has learned of the existence of The Book of Judas from his spies in the Holy Land and wants to suppress it at all costs. He is willing to pay any amount for its capture. He is a ruthless man who will stop and nothing in search of personal glory. His curiosity about the contents of the book are superseded by his desire to maintain catholic dominance over the people of Europe in the face of Muslim aggression in the east. The last thing the church needs at this moment in history is their entire dogma being called into question.
THE BARON OF KENT is twenty eight and ambitious. He has designs on the Crown of England and knows that his army is almost a match for the King’s. His crusade to the Holy Land reaped great financial reward for his cause with the looting of many Muslim towns and villages though not quite enough to support a full scale coup. He too, has heard of the existence of The Book of Judas, and believes that if he can elicit the aid of the Vatican he could get the funds necessary to fund his mission.
SOLENNE de CRECIE is the twenty six year old wife of Xavier and the daughter of King Alfonso of Aragon. She is graceful, elegant and politically astute. She would lay down her life for her husband. She shares his moral values for peace and prosperity for their dukedom. Her desire for justice outweighs any personal sacrifice she might have to make.
PRINCE MAKAHN is a forty year old wily Moorish Prince. He too, fought in the Crusades against the Christians and knows full well the existence of the Book, primarily because he is the only living descendant of Judas.
He knows its secrets and its power to change both the Christian and Muslim worlds forever. His fighting days are over, and prefers to live in Seville peacefully with his christian neighbours in the north.
KING HENRY I of ENGLAND is in his late thirties. He conquered Normandy from his brother Robert who has since gone into hiding. A political king forging alliances across Europe. He’s taken his father’s, (William the Conqueror), kingdom to its pinnacle. Though he is unaware of the plotting the goes on behind his back in England.
JEAN BAZILLE, twenty five, cousin of Solenne, best friend and confidant of Xavier. He is duke of the small province of Pontrieu in northern France. A true, chivalrous knight who puts his family, friends and God above his own needs.
GIOVANNI SEVERINI, forty five, ex-crusader turned sculptor. Lives, and applies his art, in Rome. Fought with Xavier at Antioch. A cynical man who despises the church so long as people are starving. Loves nothing more than a jug of wine, a woman of dubious virtue and a fight with the clergy.
The story is set at the turn of the 12th century at the end of the First Crusade.
While defending Jerusalem against a Muslim invasion, Xavier de Crecie, Duke of Brittany, discovers a manuscript allegedly written by Judas. The book gives Judas’ account of Christ’s life, crucifixion and his involvement in Jesus’ betrayal.
Wearily, Xavier makes his way home to Brittany, where his wife Solenne and four year old son, Dominic eagerly await his return.
Xavier manages to decode the Book of Judas and wrestles with his conscience as to whether its contents should be made public. Solenne feels that the book is dangerous to them all and that any number of people would stop at nothing to get hold of it.
They debate the ethical dilemmas as to whether it would aid or hinder christendom to reveal its contents. Xavier decides that it is not his decision to deprive the world of the Book regardless of its authenticity. But before he can seek an audience with King Henry I. Xavier is summoned to Pontrieu at the request of his cousin Jean Bazille who has learned of an imminent attack by the Baron of Kent.
After landing in France, the Baron sends a small army onto Pontrieu while he leads a larger army further south.
In Pontrieu, Xavier and Jean easily outwit the Baron’s men capturing most of them. Xavier is suspicious as to why the Baron would attack with such a small force and why he wouldn’t lead his own men into battle.
Xavier returns to his castle in Brittany. When he arrives he finds it has been completely sacked. His son has been murdered and his wife has been kidnapped.
All, bar one, of Xavier’s guards have been executed. The mortally wounded soldier tells Xavier that the invading soldiers were foreign, possibly Italian. Xavier is convinced that a Papist funded army is responsible. He retrieves the hidden Book of Judas with the intention of going to Rome to try and barter with it for his wife’s life, should she still be alive.
On his way to Rome, Xavier is ambushed by mercenaries who followed him from Brittany in the hope of getting a reward for the book. But Xavier manages to repel them and escape with the Book on a ship via Corsica.
Once in Rome, he seeks refuge at Giovanni Severini’s house. Giovanni is incredulous at the contents of the book in light of the amount of people who had been killed as a result of the crusades.
Giovanni agrees to set up a clandestine meeting with a Vatican priest in the hope of gleaning information on the whereabouts of Solenne. The meeting is arranged but instead of the Cardinal turning up they are ambushed by the Baron of Kent and his men. In the ensuing fight, the book is lost, Giovanni and the Priest are killed. Xavier manages to fight his way out and escape to his cousin Jean’s castle in Pontrieu.
The Baron has the book, and Solenne imprisoned in his castle in Kent. He informs her of Xavier’s death so she is free to marry again. Solenne is repulsed at the suggestion and wounds the Baron with a knife.
Meanwhile, Xavier secretly slips across the channel for an audience with King Henry I to warn him of the attempt to overthrow him. Henry is concerned that his army is so depleted after recent battles that he will not have the resources to defend his crown.
Xavier makes him promise that if he can raise enough of an army to protect the throne that he guarantee the safety of his wife Solenne and the ownership of the Book of Judas. The King agrees so Xavier sets sail for Seville to meet the Moorish Prince Makahn.
For Makahn, it is equally important to preserve the Muslim faith as it is for the christians to protect theirs. Xavier agrees to give the book to Makahn if he will supply an army to help him retrieve it from the Baron of Kent.
Makahn is suspicious of his army being lured out of the safety of southern Spain into the more hostile northern territories. He agrees to give Xavier a more ‘moderate’ army in return for the Book and a ransom from the King of England.
The army, led by Xavier, makes its way through Spain and the Pyrenees to the French border when it is attacked and massacred by a massive Papist force tipped off by the Cardinal’s spies.
Xavier and a hundred knights manage to fight their way out and make it to the coast of Gascony where they get passage to England.
Once the army arrives in England and is making its way to London, news arrives of a battle in Kent. Xavier’s diminished Moorish army diverts, only to find King Henry I in the final throes of defeating the Baron of Kent and taking the Book of Judas for himself.
Unbeknownst to Xavier, Cardinal Castagne had promised even more money to King Henry I than he did to the Baron in return for the Book. Thus ensuring that whoever won the power struggle, he would get what he wanted.
The small force of Moors is easily vanquished and Xavier is captured and imprisoned in castle. He has lost everything.
Xavier is due to be executed along with Solenne and the Baron. Xavier and Solenne are allowed one last audience together. Xavier begs forgiveness from Solenne for bringing all this misery and despair upon them and swears his eternal love for her.
Just as Xavier is about to be executed Jean Bazille arrives with a pitifully small force from Pontrieu to rescue his cousin, Solenne and his friend, Xavier. King Henry I finds the paltry force hilarious and dispatches his army to have it quashed when Prince Makahn and his massive Moorish army arrives in support. The 10,000 strong force routs King Henry’s army, which flees in terror, freeing Xavier just in the knick of time.
Cardinal Castagne and the Baron manage to board a boat and are about to make their escape with the chest containing the Book when Bazille’s archers set fire to the boat with flaming arrows. Xavier jumps onto the boat as it passes under a bridge. The Cardinal is killed by an arrow from Jean Bazille as he is about to stab Xavier in the back.
Xavier and the Baron are the only two remaining on the burning boat. The duel is close and both men are seriously wounded until finally, the Baron mortally wounds Xavier.
As the Baron attempts to retrieve the chest from the flames, Xavier unsheathes his dagger and severs a rope which collapses a boom on top of the Baron knocking him into the fire and engulfing him in flames.
As Xavier lies dying he begins to have visions of Solenne calling him. A smile creeps across his lips as he rolls over the side of the boat into the water. He sinks under the weight of his armour to the murky depths. His final vision: Solenne swimming toward him, grasping his hands.
As the credits appear on screen we cut to present day. Two North Sea fisherman pulling nets onto a boat. Caught in the net is a charred wooden chest.
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