Roger d'Arde, heir to the Barony of the Arde, was born on Saint George's Day in the Year of our Lord 1078. The first son of a first son, he was destined to inherit the land and wealth of his father and his father before him. The Barons of the fruitful land of the Champagne had cultivated farmland and gamekeeping in their modest demesne. Sent to the court of the Comte d'Champagne as a squire at the age of three, he spent most of his youth away from the Chateau of his birth, maturing in the art of war and of chivalry.
In the court of the Count, he quickly became his favorite squire and page, as Roger was an eager student in the martial arts. In between the strict and regimented lifestyle of the schooling he would endure, Roger was told the fanciful stories of the Frankish kings and knights - and none captured the boy's imagination more than Charles Martel and the brave defiance of the Frankish nobles against the Moors. As he swung the practicing swords in the courtyard of the Count, he imagined himself on the fields of Tours, battling the Mohammedans as a true knight of Francia. Whilst in the tutelage of the Count, he became well-known to the passing nobles, none moreso than Godfrey, the Lord of Bouillon.
When he came of age, and into the realm of manhood, Roger returned to the Barony of his youth to serve obediently at his father's side. The young man quickly exchanged the sword for a ruler's sceptre, feeling the weight of responsibility rest upon his shoulders as his father's health seemed to begin to fail. He knew that the time would come soon enough that his father would pass from this mortal realm, and leave him to rule as he had done when his grandfather passed on to the next life.
But it would all end too short, his lessons of rulership curtailed by Pope Urban II's call-to-arms at Clermont. The good news of the Pope spread like wildfire throughout the noble circles of Europe, and quickly reached the ears of the young-and-eager Roger. Riding at first opportunity, he went to the court of Godfrey and pledged at once his sword and loyalty to the Lord of Bouillon and Duke of Lower Lorraine. Knowing that this young man was skilled in the craft, Godfrey welcomed him as part of his entourage. After a year or so of organizing, the noblemen of Northern France set off for the Holy Land.
Roger's eagerness would soon be tempered with the experience of religious holy war. His first taste of action would be at the recapture of Nicaea from the Sultan, charging with the rest of the cavalry against the spears and curved swords of the Saracens. But it would be a year later, at Antioch, where Roger would earn his glory and attain the fame which he sought. The bloody siege, which dragged on since October, was broken in June as Roger led the charge of the French knights to the last stand of the Seljuk defenders. With the banner of Saint George, his personal and the entire Crusading Army's patron saint, in one hand and a sword in the other, he broke through the lines defiantly and seized the city for the army of Christendom.
He would be present for the final triumph at Jerusalem, joining Godfrey in his assault of the northwest. He, along with the Flemish knights Lethalde and Engelbert, was among the first of the crusaders to cross over the ramparts and into the city proper. Roger participated in the mass sacking of the city, coming away with many of the riches previously-held by the Muslims who had lived in the city since its capture from the Romans.
After Godfrey was made Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri - Defender of the Holy Sepulchre - and the total victory of the Christian armies seemed to be won, Roger bid and was granted leave to return home from Godfrey and the remaining nobles, who sought to strengthen the position of the fledgling kingdoms in the Outremer. He, along with some of his comrades, boarded a passenger vessel and sailed across the Mediterranean, landing back in France with his fresh-gotten wealth and, with a horse bought in Nice and a carriage rented there as well, proceeded through the Occitanian and French countryside back to the land of his birth.
He had no idea that his father was so close to death, or that his timing for returning would be so fortunate. The only thoughts that occupied his mind on the long ride back home would be how soon he could return to Godfrey and the Crusader Kings, still fighting a total war with the angered Saracens - bloodthirsty and filled with the desire for revenge.