10 Poitiers 15th September 1356

Melle- 15th September 1356

John Stanley, Captain of the Black Princes Bodyguard, carefully unrolled a copy of a huge map.  He  weighted the corners with four candlesticks and the walked round the table to carefully examine a second map pinned to the wall of the shelter.

He looked at the note he had just received from The Earl of Salisbury. and turned to Jean de Grailly, Capital du Buch and Commander of the bodyguard. ‘They are in trouble. There has been torrential rain around Tours and it has destroyed all our plans. The army lead by Henry of Grosmont was supposed to be on the north bank of the Loire river to protect the Prince’s crossing  by now  but they haven’t made it. The Prince has decided to retreat and consolidate.

The Captal shrugged his shoulders. ‘Right, then we should advance to support him.’ John frowned. ‘Perhaps not. Will you give me an hour to do some analysis. It all depends on how fast he can retreat. We might be better to keep our men fresh so that we can assume the role of rearguard as he passes us.’

‘I am not convinced all these charts are of any help’

‘Give me an hour.’

John put a series of dark blue dots  where the Earl’s note told him the Prince was the previous morning and working from the map on the wall which showed where he had been 12hrs earlier he then calculated where the Prince was right now, marking it on the map in black. He was able to work out not only how far but in which direction the Prince was travelling.

‘The real value of these maps is that the show the rivers, not just the main rivers but the smaller tributaries. When we did our surveys in the spring I was surprised how low lying and marshy the whole area is. Any movement in this country must pay regard to the need to follow high ground and cross the rivers.’

‘That is not news. I have lived close by here all my life. It has never been any different, but there are paths through the swamps with few people know about.’

‘But see, all is going well, he is retracing his steps to take the relatively high ground to the east of the Niortaise river. He will come past us here.  We will be able to perform the role of rearguard without having to move very far.’

‘Rearguard! Rearguard! You have been working with the Earl too long.’

There was a thunder of hooves. Piers de Windsor jumped from his horse. ‘John, John we are in trouble. I was acting as outrider and I came across the French army which  has obviously detached itself from the battle in Normany. They are going to bypass the Prince and take the high ground east of Niort.  If we want to retreat any further they will force us into the swamp.

John grabbed piers arm and dragged him to the map ‘show us’ he gave  a red marker to Piers. piers took a moment or two to orient himself. ‘Here, here and here, heading in this direction.’

Does the Earl know?

I believe so, Ewan Fitzrobert was with me and he rode back to inform the Earl. He would not have been blocked by the French.’

‘How long ago?’

‘Three maybe four hours’

John winced ‘The Prince will be trapped. we will have to go to the rescue.’

The Capital snorted. ‘Which we would have done an hour ago if we had not been messing about with maps.

John started. ‘ No wait’ he grabbed another roll and extracted a much smaller map. ‘The Earl is to a certain extent predictable.’

Piers chortled. ‘No, really!’

John laughed ‘You know he is, he will abandon the retread immediately look for the  dryest, highest land available.

‘Look here this is where they must be”. The small map was of the area between Poitiers and Nouaillé.  Now see over here,  small hill, river Maisson to the south. small river but steepbanks, dense woods to the east and west if it left to the earl he will go there.’

‘Good defensive position but they will be trapped, no way out.’

For the first time the Captal looked interested.

“How many French do you think?

Piers looked around wide eyed. ‘ just an estimate but forty thousand.’

John screwed up his eyes. ‘Good God, and we have five or six thousand with the Prince and another three thousand here.’

The Captal spun the map around. ‘Doesn’t matter! If the Prince takes up the position you have just indicated, the French will only be able to use a couple of thousand at any one time. The other thirty something thousand can only wait and watch.

He grabbed the bigger map. ‘And I could lead the men we have here up the road from Lussac and with a bit of care get behind the French without getting our feet wet.’

John blinked and looked again at the big map. ‘Behind the French, but they are probably further south than the Prince right now.’

‘But we can probably change all that. You two must ride to the Earl. take different routes and hopefully one of you will get through. Make sure he does take up the position you have identified and then make sure he defends that position.  The french will try to draw him out but then retrace their steps. Tomorrow is Sunday,  use whatever delaying tactics you can think of and then on Monday morning make some provocation to make the French attack.’

He smiled grimly. ‘All you will have to do is hang on, keep the French occupied. I will be there about before midday on Monday.’ He turned away and shouted at the top of his voice.  ‘ Ready to move, don’t pack the tents, this is an emergency.’

He turned back. Well done you two, and John, I was wrong, without your maps I don’t think we could have even had this conversation.’

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.