18 Princess of Castile

Joan of Kent – 15th July 1355

‘Alyse, we need to have another talk… about your parents. I have spoken to Lady Eleanor and she has told me that you are indeed a daughter of her sister Maria Padilla and King Pedro. You are, young lady, a princess of Castile and I will always regard you as such.

However, you were born in 1338 long before Pedro married Maria in 1353. Lady Eleanor is of the opinion it was better not to let you know who your parents were to avoid any possibility of you becoming embroiled in any dispute about the rightful Castilian succession. She was probably right, Castile has not a good record of dealing with contested successions’

Alyse interrupted. ‘So I became Lady Eleanor’s companion and effectively her servant! I think it might have been better to let me know my heritage and let me make up my own mind what to do about it.’

Joan nodded in what she hoped was a sympathetic manner.

Alyse continued. ‘There is another issue. My brother Juan, born in 1336 who until recently spent his life as Lady Eleanor’s troubadour, will discover that but for issues of legitimacy, he is heir to the throne of Castile.

Joan winced. ‘Yes except for issues of legitimacy. Alyse, it is an incredibly complicated situation. Two days ago you were introduced, as Ximene Trencavel, to Henri Trastamara.’

‘Yes I remember, a Castilian nobleman.’

‘Just a little bit more than that. He is your uncle, an illegitimate son of King Alfonso. Yes, illegitimate and yet he claims to be the rightful king.

‘According to him, your father was born in 1334 which he claims makes him older than your father. I am not sure how that would help him if he is illegitimate… Oh, of course! That is the whole point. His claim about your fathers birth would make it impossible for Pedro to be your father, Henri Trastamara is re-writing the records to strengthen his own claim. If both he and Juan are illegitimate then, in fact, Juan has the stronger claim. But if Juan was born to someone else… Juan has no claim.’

‘I had no idea who Henry of Trastamara was. Can we arrange to meet him again? Perhaps Juan could do a deal relinquish his claim in return for a Castilian honour?’

‘Well no… you can’t… talk to him that is.  The Prince has something of a history with Castile. During the reign of King Alphonso the Franks were supported by Castilian ships, first at the battle of Sluys in 1340 and then Winchelsea in 1350. The Prince was nearly drowned at Winchelsea where the Castilian fleets were commanded by Charles de la Cerda, another claimant to the Castilian throne. Since 1351 when your father took the throne this support of the Franks has ceased. 

The Prince asked Tramastara to guarantee there would be no further support of the Franks by Castillian ship. For reasons which escape me, considering he was asking for the Prince’s support, he refused to give the guarantee. He said he had no control of the ports in northern Castile.

Well, of course, he has no control now… he is not king.

The Prince told Trastamara that he wanted specific assurances. he refused to give them. The Prince gave him no encouragement, told him he recognises Pedro as the rightful king. I understand he has left for Paris to try his luck with the Franks.

Joan was silent for a moment. ‘Nevertheless, if Juan is interested; there might, in the future, be an opportunity. ‘

Joan looked at Alyse with new eyes. ‘Princess of Castile, Lady of the sun. What does the future hold for you? It is just possible that you and your brother might help solve the Prince’s Castilian problem?

The most dangerous woman in the world

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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.’