27 Not an Easy Man

‘So your negotiation with the Prince would be about the creation of your ideal State, a sanctuary for people of our faith, for people of all faiths, not about titles or kingdoms?’

Ximene Trencavel – 15th March 1355

Guillam started to speak then stopped, hesitated and started again. ‘Ximene, you should know my personal opinion… Which is… that at this point in time there are probably thousands of young women throughout Europe who are about to enter into dynastic, often forced marriages.’


Guillam cleared his throat.  ‘ It may be surprising to you but many of those marriages are successful, even happy. In your case, there is an excellent chance that the Prince could be just the partner you need. He comes from a rich, powerful family, with sympathy for your cause. He could potentially deliver a haven for those who share our beliefs. And I need to know. Why are you even considering rejecting him? What makes your freedom so special?’

Ximene was silent, searching for something to offer him. Why should she consider herself special?

She began to speak softly. ‘ There is no guarantee I am unique, but for me it is not just about choosing a marriage partner, it is about the other issue… finding a way to fulfil my destiny. My problem is the use of the word potentially. I want certainty, backed up by clauses in a marriage contract before I agree to marry anyone.

Guillam rolled his eyes ‘Oh! So you are determined to create a Cathar haven?’

‘For me, it is a dilemma. It would be just as wrong for me to impose my will on others as it was for the Roman church to impose its will on us. Gaining my own freedom is the first step in seeking a solution which all people can live together harmoniously even if they have different beliefs. No religion should seek to impose its beliefs or its laws on others, and the State should ensure that they are not able to indulge in such discrimination. On the other hand, there should be a set of basic non-discriminatory laws governing social behaviour which apply to the whole community and should be respected and adhered to by everyone.’

‘Muslims? Jews?’

‘Exactly the same, as long as they accept the laws of the State and do not in any way discriminate against other religions.’

Guillam stroked his chin.’ There are many who dislike the Jews because of their propensity for accumulating wealth and the fact that in all their dealings they favour fellow Jews.’

‘Don’t we all discriminate in favour of our own families?’

‘Perhaps… rather differently. And the Muslims?’

‘Hmm. I have never personally met anyone who professed to be a Muslim. I do not see any reason to treat them differently.’

‘Well…It is something to bear in mind. I spent a lot of time in the Levant developing trade routes. I made some good friends, who only pretended to be Muslims and who warned me about the political undertones of what is supposed to be a religion.’

‘Political undertones?’

‘A central belief is that it is their duty to impose their own ‘Sharia’ laws wherever they go. Sharia Law would prohibit the very essence of our Cathar Culture. Almost every aspect of our Courts of Love would be considered sinful under those laws and the penalty would be whipping or even stoning to death.’

‘Hmmm…The Church of Rome also seeks to make laws to enforce their own beliefs. In the State I envisage, both of them would have to comply with the laws of the State, not their own laws, or they would not be permitted to become citizens.’

Ximene made firm eye contact with Guillam, seeking an indication of his approval. She got no encouragement but continued anyway.

‘I want to establish a nation-state independent of Rome, free from the Inquisition, in which the State does not impose any particular religion and which does not allow the persecution of… nor give special privileges to… anyone because of their religious beliefs. I would not want that compromised by any group wanting to pursue its own agenda.’

Guillam frowned. ‘That is not too different from what we had a hundred years ago, but eventually, in Occitan, there were nearly as many members of the Roman Church as there were Cathars. The Crusaders were organised from outside Occitan but those who followed the Church of Rome provided aid to the Crusaders and helped in the persecution of those who had Cathar beliefs.’

‘But that was because the Crusaders always intended the Church of Rome to take over the processes of law. The Inquisition was introduced almost immediately. It takes us back to the teachings of Aristotle; the importance of those who make the laws, and by inference the difficulty of appointing those who will create laws which do not discriminate in favour of any particular segment of the population.’

‘Oh! Aristotle… So this is how you have interpreted your destiny.?’

‘It has become my mission.’

‘And how can that be achieved?’

‘I honestly do not know. It is what I must investigate when I am free to do so. Based on what I have been told by Alyse, England comes close to that ideal. Alyse is smart and thinks deeply, but that is only one person’s opinion.’

‘So what do you think?’

Ximene lifted her head. ‘I would be prepared to marry the Prince if he could promise to provide what I am searching for. In reality, what he decides to do may well depend on the detail of the marriage contract. I want to escape, to be free, to have complete control of that negotiation.’

‘Ximene this is going much further than what I originally discussed with Eleanor.’

‘Not really, I am simply filling in the details.’

‘And an independent Occitan?’

‘To me, that has always been a secondary objective, only necessary to permit the creation of an ideal State.’

Guillam raised an eyebrow. ‘You realise that there are those for whom the creation of an independent Occitan is more important than all else? They would fight for you to achieve that but fight against you if you do nothing to give them the independence they crave. They see you as both the justification and the means to achieve what they want. Independence will give them greater power and wealth. For them, it is nothing to do with the Cathar faith or even the culture of Occitan.’

Ximene frowned. ‘When I am free I will need to talk to some of these people. I am inexperienced in such matters but even now I realise it may not be possible to meet everyone’s objectives.’ She narrowed her eyes. ‘Some difficult decisions may have to be made.’

‘To achieve your objective it may be necessary to fight for it. Will you accept raising an army to fight for your ideal state?’

‘If it comes to that, yes, Guillam, I would.’

‘You have spoken well, Ximene. If we have learned anything in the last hundred years, it is that we must pay attention to essential worldly issues. So your negotiation with the Prince would be about the creation of your ideal State, a sanctuary for people of our faith, for people of all faiths, not about titles or kingdoms?’

‘Precisely.’

‘Then I am prepared to accept the risks involved in helping you to escape, so that you may conduct that negotiation without coercion.’

A humble smile emerged on Ximene’s face. ‘Thank you, Guillam.’

Guillam was a good man, but not an easy man. He did not suffer fools gladly and he was experienced in these issues. Yet…yet, he had just pledged himself to her cause. She now had no doubt. She was going to be free!

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents

References

characters

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Table of Contents

Reference

Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355

 

'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. 

He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’