18 Not a Common Man 13th March

Charles de Valois-13th March 1355

The Dauphin, Charles de Valois, the eldest son of King John of the Franks,  turned to his father, arms widespread in supplication. ‘It should be you who awards the knighthood.’

‘I won’t. I have always thought the award of a knighthood carried with it some measure of a man’s worth.’

The Dauphin grimaced. ‘The reason we must knight him is to give him some worth, to enable him to deal with those in our service and in the service of the Holy Church who will simply not deal with the common people.’

‘And does giving him a knighthood make him anything but a common person?’

’In the true meaning of the word, Bertrand du Guesclin is certainly not a common person, he is calculating, perhaps even clever, unforgiving, ruthless and above all cruel.’

‘None of these things are the normal criteria for knighthood. What about the virtues of valour and chivalry?’

The Dauphin pulled a face. ‘He would not… have the faintest idea what they are.’

‘So we are knighting him because…’

‘Because we need him. It is the Languedoc issue. Your own preference was to get the Trencavel girl married to my brother Louis. They were supposed to be meeting in Pamplona last year. Now it would appear that she is going to marry the Black Prince, We simply cannot allow that to happen.

‘Hmm, I thought marriage to Louis was a certainty. My stepmother Blanche d’Evreux is the sister of Agnes of Navarre and Agnes is the wife of Gaston de Foix, Ximene Trencavel’s guardian. Both these ladies are sisters of Charles, King of Navarre. who was to host the meeting. It was because of the importance of that meeting that I avoided arresting Charles after he murdered our constable, Charles La Cerda.’

The Dauphin frowned. ‘I have never liked Navarre, he tends to talk down to me. But murder? Most people think that it was a tavern brawl which went badly wrong.’

‘No, it was premeditated murder and more than that it was a deliberate affront to me. Eventually, he will be brought to account.’

‘Eventually?’

’It is still my intention to marry Ximene to Louis and we may need Charles de Navarre to achieve that… or at least the co-operation of his sister Agnes. I will get Blanche to talk to Agnes and see what can be done.’

‘Well, we still need du Gueslin. We cannot allow the Trencavel girl to marry the Black Prince. If she shows the slightest sign of doing so she must be eliminated.’

The King winced. ’Knowing this man’s reputation, I think that means she will be eliminated, regardless.’ He sighed. ‘If that is what you want, knight him yourself. I have made it possible for you to bestow a knighthood and if he becomes an embarrassment, you are young enough to be, in time, forgiven.’

‘Who will give him his orders? To whom will he report?’

‘Certainly not you, we must keep our distance. Let him report to Jacques.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

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