48 The Dungeon — Copy 2

Ximene Trencavel – 23rd September 1355

Ximene reiterated her request.

‘Bathing in streams is delicious when the weather is good but right now I need a warm bath. When we first arrived, when you were still unconscious, the manager apologised that there were no hot baths. He told us that there were baths down in the cellars but we should not use them as they drew from the same hot water storage as those used by the bishops, who would be aggrieved if they could not bathe. I have never seen them but can we ask again? Can we use them if the bishops have left?’

John optimistically put a request in the blue jar. It took only thirty minutes for Maurice to visit them.

‘I was waiting for this request’ he said. ‘It is getting colder by the day’

In the stables at the beginning of the tunnel, hidden behind bales of a hay was a second tunnel which ended in a large domed room which was close to being a perfect hemisphere.

This room was obviously used as an overflow store from the stable as there were all manner of harnesses saddles and straps hanging on the walls.

The room also containing two large wooden tubs.

On the two sides of the room at right angles to the entrance were two low arches also close to being perfect semi circles. Directly opposite the entrance was a third arch which had however been roughly walled up.

The manager told them that the water came from a head tank heated by a boiler upstairs. ‘Feel free to use these tubs whenever you like. You can adjust the temperature of the bath by using this second tap which comes from a cold water head tank. When you are finished just pull the plug.’

He then acted as the host. He indicated the walled up arch.

“The chamber at the other side of that wall is identical to this but has direct access from the main house. It serves as the bathing room for the bishops and their guests. All these chambers pre date the Château, in fact the Château was built over them, using them as foundations.”

He pointed to the open arches.

“The two side chambers can be used for accommodation. If you are using the bathhouse you may wish to use these rooms afterwards, it will save a lengthy cold return trip to the tower.” The other two rooms were identical. Behind the arch heavy wooden screens had been erected. In the middle of the screen was a heavy door, lockable from the outside by a large swinging beam. Once inside it could be seen that the annexes were also hemispherical, but much smaller that the main room.

John lit additional torches. The walls were lined with iron rings at the eight foot and ground levels. There were also central wooden frames stretching from floor to roof surrounding a central enclosure, fifteen feet square. A low fence about two feet high surrounded the whole of the central area.

Ximene winced. ‘These are dungeons, or interrogation chambers, whichever term you prefer. The rings on the walls were so that prisoners could be restrained throughout their ordeal. The central framed enclosure was somewhere prisoners could sleep in between interrogations, assuming that you did not want them to die chained to the wall.

The structure was intended to provide facilities for restraint even when the prisoners were asleep. Also the posts around the central enclosure permitted the prisoner to be chained from post to post. It meant that when a whip was used the whip could wrap around the victim’s body causing far more pain!

She realised that John was looking at her quizzically

‘How do I know this? There were similar facilities in Château Foix. As a small child I was threatened with incarceration in one of these chambers if I did not behave. These rooms have obviously not been used for a long time.’

She looked around. It is warm down here. Lets bring our mattress from the tower room and  Put it inside the central enclosure! We can spread clean straw over the entire floor.  We will sleep down here tonight!

Much later, after the hot water had filled the baths and they had soaked in the tubs, they helped each other wash and dry. Ximene retired to the central enclosure. It was necessary to step over the railings to get to the mattress. John joined her. They then held each other in a lingering embrace.’

Ximene felt the sun shine again. She smiled happily. ‘I am exhausted. Hold me. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?’

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.