The Dragon Star
Religion in the 12th Century
As one might expect, religion was a formidable force in the 12th century. However, things are not as monolithic as they seem, and the appearance of the Dragon Star threw everything topsy-turvy.
In the Middle East, the majority of land is controlled by the Abbassid Caliphate, though that control is tenuous at best the further from Baghdad one gets. Persia is semi-autonomous, and Egypt is under control of the Fatimid Caliphate. Complicating the Muslim world was the First Crusade and the formation of the Crusader States, which concluded merely a few decades before. While there are official truces, skirmishing happens from time to time, and travel isn’t always safe, for members of either religion. Along with the larger versions of Shiite, Sunni, and Ismaili, various sub-sects of Islam exist at this time, such as the Druze.
The situation in Europe is no better. While the Roman Church claims to reign supreme, the Papal Schism of the 1130s divided the Catholic family. Anacletus II sits in Rome, but his position is increasingly tenuous, and the Holy Roman Emperor has backed Innocent II, who is in exile in France. A number of “heretical” sects existed at the time, such as the Bogomils, the Cathars, the Albigensians, and the Waldensians.
Jews lived in scattered pockets during this time, but faced extreme prejudice. In many places, they are forced to wear a Star of David, and face severe restrictions.
Gnostic sects, such as the Manichaeans, existed, though often quietly. Rumors of Luciferians and even Mithraic cults pop up from time to time, but solid proof is difficult to come by.
All of this goes to hell (pun intended) when the Dragon Star appears. As the days progress into late July, and the comet is drawing nearer to Earth, little doomsday cults appear like mushrooms after rain. Formerly hidden worshippers of secret sects speak openly. Families that were Christian for generations start praying to long-forgotten gods. Once-apathetic masses throw themselves into prayer, weeping, while once-devout adherents lose their faith and crawl into the bottom of a bottle.