‘Amunet was supposed to be the mother and the father of all life, without the need for separate male fertilisation. She was therefore considered to be both the wife and mother of Amun.’
John Stanley-19th May 1355.
‘Well?’ John asked.
‘Pherrrr, I need to give some credibility to what I have to say.’
‘Go on, go on.’
‘I attended St George’s School in Windsor.’
‘We were taught classics.’
John shook his head in exasperation. ‘So?’
‘Stop it, John. Do you want to listen or not?’
‘Yes, yes. I want to know.’
‘We were taught Greek and Latin. I speak both languages quite well. We were told we were taught these ancient languages so that we could read the ancient documents without a translator.’
‘But it wasn’t. We were never given access to the original documents. There was a separate stream, clerics, those with ambitions for the church. They had a separate curriculum. They were given access to ancient documents.’
‘I was emphatically not interested in becoming a cleric but I made friends with some of them. They talked to me as if it was a great secret. They told me what they discovered and how that was interpreted by the monks.’
Piers opened his eyes wide open.
‘So here we go! Hold your breath! Amun and Amunet are the earliest recorded gods. They were worshipped in Egypt thousands of years ago. They were reputed to be the male and female aspects of a single god, the fountain of all life. Further, Amunet was supposed to be the mother and the father of all life, without the need for separate male fertilisation. She was therefore considered to be both the wife and mother of Amun.’
‘She is the symbol of matriarchal rather than patriarchal succession. She is also the god associated with the moon, whereas her partner Amun is associated with the sun.’ Piers frowned. ‘It is all consistent with the context of what is happening on the hill. In a Festival of the Moon, Amunet could be expected to be dominant. However, why did these Egyptian gods have such a prominent place in this ceremony? I think a festival of the new moon has Jewish overtones but perhaps they got it from Egypt?’ He looked off into the distance. ‘And, to repeat your question why was the Earl involved in all this?’
John found himself saying, ‘If he has not told us, we need not know.’
After a moment’s thought, Piers nodded.
John dropped his voice to a whisper. He spoke quickly. ‘Pipa is coming,’ and then, urgently, ‘but later, tomorrow, or the day after, I want you to tell me all you know about the Gods, and not just Amun and Amunet.’
He looked up and smiled at Pipa. Paying compliments to women obviously worked. Pipa had a mug of ale in her hand and was now fiercely determined to be friendly.
‘I noticed you slip away. You did not take my advice! Now, did you see anything up there?’ she asked.
They both slowly shook their heads before Piers replied. ‘Except one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.’
Pipa paid no attention to Piers comment. For the first time in his life, John experienced female attention focussed completely on him. He was not sure how to react. He forced a smile.
‘Really.’ Pipa said dismissively. She took a deep breath ‘I have some real news for you. One of the guests at the chateau this evening is Joan, Fair Maid of Kent. The Countess of Kent. Several people recognised her when she arrived. She brought with her chests full of clothes.’
John dismissed this as female tittle-tattle.
‘Apparently, her hair has been prepared in the most fantastic way. She has long, long curls all over her head and as she moves they bounce around. It creates the illusion that she has snakes instead of hair.’
John and Piers exchanged glances.
Pipa was still talking. ‘I just cannot imagine what Joan of Kent would be doing here. Joan, a member of the English royal family?’ Pipa carried on talking, more or less repeating herself.
She pushed herself onto the same bench as Piers, but then leaned forward across the table. ‘Now. John. Tell me everything about yourself. What do you do? Why are you here? How long will you stay here? Where are you going to next?
Piers leaned backwards, out of Pipa’s line of vision and slowly shook his head. John needed no warning. He knew these were questions he simply could not answer. However even as Pipa asked the questions, her eyes danced from side to side surveying everything and everyone in the room.
John was saved by Pipa’s attention being distracted by the group of young people she had been talking to when John had first seen her earlier in the evening. ‘Oh look, There is Janine, who told me about Joan of Kent’s arrival, perhaps she has more information.’ Pipa sprang to her feet and dashed across the room.
John nodded towards the stairs and Piers nodded back. As they left Pipa was immersed in an animated discussion and apparently did not notice their departure.
Piers turned to John as soon as they entered their room with a smile on his face. ‘So that is twice I have seen it happen! There is something about you that women like. Can’t see it myself, but it is obviously there. I thought you would certainly end up in her bed tonight.’ Piers sighed. ‘ But it is a difficult life we lead. She was asking questions which were not unreasonable, just looking to start a conversation, but they were questions you could not answer. ‘
John replied somewhat testily. ‘It is probably for the best. It would be so easy in the morning for Pipa to accuse me of taking advantage of her and, to a certain extent, it would have been true. She is lonely and she has had a little too much to drink.’
He paused to take a breath and shook his head. ‘The woman with the Earl was quite probably Joan of Kent, wife of Thomas Holland, lover of the Black Prince and previous wife of our Earl. What on earth is the Earl up to?’ He narrowed an eye. ‘Is it treason to be with your Prince’s lover even if she is your previous wife? Furthermore, is this all part of a Cathar ceremonial? And why Amun and Amunet? Whose Gods are they? Greek? Egyptian you say? Have we been watching a heretical rite? A rite which predates Christianity?’
Piers looked him in the eye. ‘If he has not told us, we need not know. You said it yourself.’