34–Quid Pro Quo

Ximene Trencavel – 27th August 1355

Ximene was delighted with the game.

John had clearly enjoyed it. To Ximene it was one of the little mysteries of life that John saw her naked all the time but was far more exited by this little game.

She enjoyed planning future ways of seducing him.  She was shocked. was that what she was doing? How long would it be before he took the initiative? What would he want and how would she deal with it? He had allowed her to play the game, he enjoyed being teased.  Now  he is so considerate and sensitive to my every need but no longer indifferent.  There must be other ways to tease him. Of course there was  always her chains, A gift from her Grandmother she had always assumed they were for her personal use… but  perhaps not.

Summer turned to autumn and still they continued their idyll.

John held her in his arms. ‘It is a beautiful day lets cook a meal up in the hills.’

‘You can do that? I know absolutely nothing about cooking.’

‘Well if you want to be able to look after yourself perhaps you should learn, I will teach you everything I know, which is only the basics. However only a few months ago I was responsible for getting the camp kitchens to produce something Lord James actually liked, so I did learn a bit.’

Ximene groaned. “Another hidden skill. Bowman, Axman, Hunter, Jongleur and now Cook!’

John placed requests for raw food in the blue jar. Day after day they rode up into the hills where John demonstrated how to prepare a fire pit, light a fire and cook a variety of roasts and casseroles. After they had eaten they often ended the evening sitting by the embers of the fire, wrapped in each others arms, enjoying the sunset.

Ximene was impressed by John’s cooking ‘Can you write down the reciepes for me, please John.’

Ximene asked for writing materials, again via the blue jar. She was surprised to see that John struggled to write a legible document and quickly discovered that John’s ability to read was no more than adequate. Ah! At last! Something where my skills exeed his. I can help him improve.

In return for training in martial arts she started to teach him how to compose various types of document.

She put a note in the blue jar asking for books. Not surprisingly, considering the functions of the Château, the books, which found their way to the shelves of the cupboard, were the classics. Stories of Greek and Egyptian gods mingled in with Egyptian, Greek and Roman history. Ximene scanned the books quickly and expressed her satisfaction.

She sorted the books into a different order.

‘The geometry of Pythyagoras, the mathematics of Euclid, The maps of Ptolemy, they are all here!

Ximene was busy thumbing quickly through the books. “They are all in langue d‘Oil, the language of the Northern Franks” Ximene said.

‘Good then I can read them.’

Ximene lifted her head and turned to look at John. ‘The trouble with translations is that the translator can alter the meaning. It would be much better if you could go back to the original Greek’

John started. ‘Does that mean you can read Greek? You is only the second person I have met who can read Greek. you don’t trust translations? ‘Hmmm! my friend Piers told me more or less the same thing, he also told me many of the stories he remembered from school. Ximene, I would not know were to start with Greek.’

Ximene did not give it a second thought. She was delighted to have found something substantial, which she could do for him in return for his training.

‘Well we will just have add that to the list. In the short term these translations will have to do. What do you want to read about John?’

“Amun and Amunet, would do for a start, will they be in here?’

So with Ximene’s determined encouragement John started a course of studying in which his personal research was frequently enlivened by Ximenes tuition.

Once again Ximene felt their relationship was changing. They had found an area in which their competiveness slowly dissolved into a relationship where they worked as a team.

Ximene searched diligently through the books for topics of interest.

She found topics she had talked about to Alyse in the library at Foix.

“ Look, the books contain Aristotle’s Politika, “Affairs of State” and Ethika, “Behavior of people”. This is so fortunate John, together they help to explain how the world is organized and how to influence others to your own advantage.

She remembered her discussions with Alyse.

‘Listen to this, from Politica’ Aristotle states that a constitution is necessary for the organization of any city or state and that the constitution must reflect the objectives of the state.’

John winced. ‘That is not what is in this dcument.’

Ximene also winced. ” I know,  it is a translation issue. I was quoting the original greek, from memory.

She gazed upwards. ‘There is an inherent link to “Ethica”, in which he says that the objectives of the state must be morally good. The state should not be organized to maximize wealth or even to promote liberty and equality but to promote a good life for all it’s citizens’

She then returned to her main theme.

‘Aristotle puts lawgivers who create the constitution on a higher level than politicians who maintain and prevent subversion of the constitution.’

John stared at her. ‘You have already studied all these books?’

Ximene nodded. ‘A high proportion of them.’

‘And do all countries have consitutions, lawgivers and politicians.’

‘They might be given different names but yes in one form or another, they do or the state simply will not work.’

John shook his head. ‘I have a lot of work to do. I am so predjudiced, So ignorant, I was initially attracted to the idea of meeting you because of the mystery surrounding you, then I found you attractive, beyond my wildest dreams.

However I never expected you to be highly educated, for no other reason than because you lived in a remote mountain stronghold. In my mind, before I met you, the last place I would have would expected to find a broad education would be in such a beautiful, sensual woman!

Ximene grinned, he meant well. ‘why thank you John… I think.’

She found another topic. ‘Amazing! Now this is relevant to what we are doing now. Aristotle actually uses gymnastics as an example of how individual skills can be utilized within the state. He identifies gymnastics as a science on the same level as medicine.

He says that gymnasts study what sort of training is advantageous for what sort of body, what sort of training is best for most bodies, what sort of training is best for specific activities, and what capacity is appropriate for someone who does not want the condition or knowledge appropriate for athletic contests or combat. John! That is what we are doing. We must develop it as a science.’

She laughed.

Oh! I have just realized. To you know where the word gymnast came from?

John shook his head.

‘John it comes from the noun Gymnos meaning “naked” and the verb Gymnazo, meaning “to train naked”’

She ran across the room and wrapped her arms around his head. His head was crushed against her breasts. They both laughed long and delightedly.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

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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.