It is 1355. The English Crown is bankrupt.
King Edward III has defaulted on his depts to Italian banks. As a result the Crown cannot borrow money from any source.
The royal family is itself wrought with dissension. There are doubts about the King’s parentage and the Duke of Lancaster, wealthiest man in England is convinced that his own claim to the throne is better than the King.
Under pressure from such claims, the King is considering splitting his empire into four separate kingdoms. something which is bitterly opposed by his eldest son, the Black Prince. In the proposed scheme the Prince would become king of Aquitaine. Aquitaine is however in crisis, under attack by bands of mercenaries working for the Franks and by pirates based in Castile.
Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel heiress to a large proportion of the lands of Occitan, lands currently controlled by the Franks.
An independent Occitan would improve the security of Aquitaine. the Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.