Danbray Prologue

Andrew Danbury 25 February 1371

The wind howled, windows rattled and smoke blew back from the fireplace.

Andrew Danbury thumped the table with his wooden spoon. ‘Quiet! Quiet’.

There was another howl, this time overhead. He grimaced and pointed to the window. ‘I can’t do much about that but I will continue anyway. It has been a foul winter. Once again thank you for coming’

Thomas Granton chuckled. ‘Andrew you are too modest. You tell a good tale and the food has been wonderful. However I do have a question. It is a relatively complex tale. Do you refresh your memory between sessions by talking to Geoffrey Chaucer or even his wife?

Andrew raised his eyebrows and then smiled. ‘Well I did see them a couple of times over Christmas. I too have questions about some of the details’.

He frowned. ‘Geoffrey is more than a little concerned that we have disussed Ximene’s adherence to the Cathar religion. He does not want our Winter’s Tale to result in he and his wife being condemmed as heretics.’

William de Willoughby , looked around the room. ‘I suppose I am speaking for myself but I can assure you,  nothing we learn in this room will ever be repeated outside these four walls.’

There was a murmour of assent.

The wind howled with renewed vigor. Andrew made a tour of the curtains grumbling gently that he would have to get some work done, as there were too many draughts.

Finally still grumbling to himself he sat down.

‘So at our last session we finally learned that Diana, the Countess of Shaftesbury is in fact Ximene Trencavel, who was originally intended to marry the Prince, but by mutual consent the marriage never took place.

We learned that Bertrand du Guesclin attempted to murder Ximene on many occasions. He is still a threat to her now, so that is another reason that we must not carry information outside this room.’

Henry d’Arcy interrupted Andrew. ‘You started of these sessions, grumbling about the countess’s power, and now you are protecting her?’

Andrew thought for a moment. ‘Hmm , I suppose I am, but I now know more than I did when we started. I think we should continue with the story.

We learned that Ximene’s wealth originated from her family treasure. She had short idyllic period in Bordeaux with John Stanley before starting her new life. In 1356,  Ximene was an eighteen year about to visit a foreign country. She had no experience of the etiquette of the English court or of the process of negotiation. Wealth does not necessarily equate to power or even influence.’

There was a bust of conversation all round the table.

‘New life?’

‘So how did she aquire that power?’

‘What is she trying to achieve?’

‘What happened to John Stanly?’

Andrew again thumped the table and then waited as the conversation subsided. ‘ I will make a start. The difficulties Ximene faced made her determined to succeed and her greatest advantage was her developing friendship with Joan of Kent. John Stanley was an important part of it. John had become a favourite of both Joan of Kent and the Prince. That in itself provided many connections.’

‘So she was very well connected?’

‘Yes, very well connected. Phillipa de Roet was also important.  Pipa is Ximene’s best friend, cousin to the Prince, companion to royalty both in France and England. And of course we must never forget the Ximene’s close relationship to Alyse Perez, the King’s mistress

Henry d’Acre interrupted ‘Isn’t that enough? Connections like those, in themselves, explain how she has such power and influence.’

‘No quite. One of the things which concerns us…’ Andrew glanced around the room, is that she is independant. If anything she is able to exert her influence on the royal family, the royal council and Parliament, not the other way round. Don’t you want to know how she has achieved this, what her objectives are. Exactly how she exerts her power and inflence?’

Edward le Dispenser waved his hand in the air. ‘Yes, yes, I do, I think we all do. So where do we start tonight?’

‘In Bordeaux, December 1355.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


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.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. 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.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.