16–7th July — Lady of the Sun — Copy

18th July — Chapter two of Thread E — Meanwhile in Bordeaux

Alyse de Perez, pretending to be Ximene in the hope of putting Du Guesclin off the track, is being treated as a future Queen of England, something she thoroughly enjoys.  She is welcomed with a spectacular regatta on the Gironde and is referred to as ‘Lady of the Sun’

Alyse Perez de Padilla – 4th July 1355

Alyse looked around in wonder. She had been allocated half of a recently constructed building only two hundred yards down the Quay from the Palais D’Aquitaine. 

On the ground floor, there was a private courtyard giving access to stables and accommodation for Henry de Vivar and his men. Her own accommodation was a suite of rooms on the first floor which could normally be accessed by an elegant curved staircase from the quay, but which could be locked off by a double set of stout oaken doors, after which the only access was a narrow spiral staircase; easily defended. Her private rooms were all provided with square glazed windows overlooking the river.

The walls were finished in plaster; intensely white in the sunlight, soft cream in candlelight. The overall effect was impressive in its austere simplicity, softened by elaborately carved tables, chairs and couches of the finest quality. It smelled new, almost like vinegar but overlaid with the smell of beeswax from the clusters of candles and the huge chandeliers. In her lounge, double doors led to a small balcony. Today she had opened the doors and the sounds of a busy port tumbled in.  She was pleased to see that it was a beautiful day; clear blue skies and no more than a whisper of wind.

There, tied up to the quay alongside her apartment was the white barge, embellished with gold which would soon carry her to her appointment with the Prince. A cluster of small sailing ships was competing for the optimum position to watch her progress along the river. There was a sudden stronger gust of wind which created lines of tiny white-capped waves on the surface of the river. She shivered. uncontrollably; the dress she was wearing was intended to show her off, not to keep her warm.

Yesterday, the aspect had been less than perfect as the outside wall had been covered with scaffolding as a dozen masons had been fully occupied engraving the wall below the window to proclaim this to be Ambassade Occitan.  She was aware that this had all been organised by Joan of Kent, and though she was grateful, she was also aware that Joan had her own agenda. Though there had been no discussions, Alyse was well aware that Joan’s largesse would come with some sort of a price. She was not too concerned. She was about to live the life she had always dreamed about. She vwas doubtful if any price would be too high to pay.

 Lady Eleanor and Pipa entered from a hallway which led to their own private rooms. They wore almost identical white dresses.

Alyse smiled to herself, reflecting that it must be difficult for Lady Eleanor; after years of treating Alyse as a servant, now she was Alyse’s guest in a suite of apartments much grander than anything at Foix. Nevertheless, from habit, Alyse gave a little curtsey as Lady Eleanor entered.

Lady Eleanor frowned. ‘No, no, Alyse the days when you acted as my companion are over. Indeed even to refer to you as Alyse is wrong. We must all address you as Lady Ximene, as is only fitting for a future Queen of England, Princess of Aquitaine and Duchess of Occitan.

Alyse sighed, deciding she must reciprocate with some sort of a display of humility. ‘Yes of course, when I was asked to take Ximene’s place I was delighted but now I wonder, where will this all end? Will I ever be able to revert to a normal life?

Pipa was exited, her penetrating voice hitting the high octaves, which, for Pipa, were usually very high. ‘ Alyse for goodness sake. don’t worry about it, just enjoy it. Now, are you ready for the visit to the Palais?’

Clad from head to toe in gold cloth, her image completed with gold shoes and a gold mantilla, Alyse spun around. showing every aspect of her dress to its best advantage. ‘I think so.’

She held out her arms revealing the both her wrists were encased in gold armlets. ‘It took the dressmaker over an hour to make final adjustments. What I fail to understand is why we are going by barge when the Palais is only two hundred yards away… and not a small barge. Henri and his men have been issued with new tabards. They are still Trencavel tabards but in glittering gold and black; not yellow and black. They will line both sides of the barge with me on a sort of throne in the middle.’

Alyse shook her head. ‘Henry tells me that there will be a changing of the guard on the quay in front of the Palais. Members of the Prince’s bodyguard will then escort me into the Palais. He spent most of yesterday afternoon practising the changeover.’

Pipa chuckled. ‘Will Piers de Windsor be one of the Prince’s guard?’

‘I believe so, yes.’

Pipa chuckled again. ‘Nothing like keeping it in the family, both your lovers in the same ceremony. Have you managed to snatch some..’ she cocked her head. ‘Private time with either Piers or Henri since you arrived here.

‘No, I have not. I am never left alone.’

Lady Eleanor stepped forward. ‘Stop it Pipa, you must not mention such things. Alyse is playing the part of Ximene. Everyone believes she will marry the Prince. We must do nothing to destroy that illusion. Ximene’s safety may depend on it. Anyway, technically, Henri and Piers are not Alyse’s lovers.’

‘Oh all right, one who you have made love to and one who is desperate to step into his shoes..’

Lady Eleanor grabbed Pipa by the wrist. “Stop it, Stop teasing, Forget it. It is not important.’

Alyse smiled. ‘Thank you Lady Eleanor.’ She looked at Pipa, faked a frown but winked. ‘Yes, stop teasing Pipa it is not helpful, I could ask you about the Earl of Salisbury.’

Pipa grimaced. ‘Sadly there is nothing to report, but I haven’t given up.’

‘In the whole of the Journey from Foix he was never far from your side.’

‘Hmmm you are right, but something holds him back.’

‘Perhaps the fact that he is very much in love with Joan of Kent.?’

‘I’ll accept that explanation, it will prevent me from sinking into depression.’

Lady Eleanor glanced over the Juliet balcony. ‘Stop it, both of you. The Earl has just arrived, he is going to coordinate everything, are we ready?’

Alice stood on tiptoe and raised her hands above her head doing her best to stretch. ‘Yes, but tell me again, why are we going by barge?’

Lady Eleanor raised her eyebrows. ‘Because, my dear, it is not just a visit, it is a theatrical production. The objective is that everyone, even those who would not normally be interested, knows that someone special has arrived. It is billed in Bordeaux as the “Arrival of the Lady of the Sun”, and that is you, Alyse, so you had better get used to it.’

Alice nodded  ‘And the real Ximene, my friend Ximene, where do you think she will be by now?’

‘Hopefully in Sicily or at the very least on a ship on the way to Sicily. Ah! here is the Earl, perhaps he has more information.’

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.