The Unholy Pilgrim

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The Unholy Pilgrim
The Unholy Pilgrim Front Cover.jpg
North American first edition cover
Author R.F. Tapsell
Country England
Language English
Genre Historical novel, Adventure
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback)
Pages 242
ISBN 978-0090871407

The Unholy Pilgrim is a historical novel, written by R.F. Tapsell and published in 1968, which is set in turbulent 13th-century Europe during the High Middle Ages, and follows the adventures of Tancred of Varville.

Plot summary[edit]

Tancred of Varville is pilgrim without a scrap of piety, a young Norman knight, and an unhappy soldier of fortune. Tancred has been forced by King Louis IX of France to undertake a tedious pilgrimage as condition for the restoration of his family lands, now his reluctant journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem has taken an abrupt turn for the worse.[1] Across flaming seas – as the war galleys of the Venetian Republic, the Genoese Republic, and the Saracens fight for the control of the Aegean Sea in the wake of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) – Tancred sets sail for the Holy Land. Shipwrecked off the wild coast of Dalmatia, he washes up on the shores of Frankish Greece, only to fall right into the hands of his former employer and worst enemy, Guy I de la Roche, Duke of Athens.

Tancred’s only hope of escaping summary execution lies with the Duke’s devious Venetian companion, Angelo Sanudo, Lord of Naxos (one of twelve Greek Islands in the Cyclades group), who seems to have a mysterious purpose in mind for an expendable mercenary knight of dubious reputation. Tancred makes an agreement with Sanudo to infiltrate the service of Verrano, the Genoese leader and a bitter enemy. After being taken in a prearranged naval battle, Tancred is fully accepted into Verrano's service, and working from within, secures Sanudo's victory.[2] Tancred suffers through near-fatal encounters with the enemies plotting against him. The story continues through days of luxury and conspiracy on the sumptuous galley bearing Melinda of Ibelin, one of the noblest ladies in the entire region, through his tumultuous courtship of Melinda's handmaiden Eleanor, to the climatic siege of Metos, where –- by his feats of ingenuity and courage –- his knight's honor is refurbished and his inheritance secured.[3]


  1. ^ "The Unholy Pilgrim by R.F. Tapsell", Annis, The Historical Writers Association,, accessed= August 22, 2017
  2. ^ Kirkus Book Review,
  3. ^ Dust cover back flap, The Unholy Pilgrim, Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher, New York.

Further reading[edit]