67 — Reality

Don Fernandino – 10th October 1355

Joan greeted the Earl with a kiss. ‘See who I have found on the way here and Christmas is still a long way off’
This last comment was of course meaningless to John but not to the Earl, who burst out laughing.
‘Welcome John’ he summoned a maid
‘Please show The Countess to her room and show her the facilities’
He waited until Joan had ascended the central staircase then addressed John.
‘You will enjoy it here and I want you to enjoy it, but first of all tell me what has happened. In particular tell me why you are here. Where is Ximene?
He led John to the library and selected a bottle of the very best Armagnac
John told him the whole story. He omitted the personal details of his relationship with Ximene. He did not need to mention then. There was in any case such a dramatic story to tell.
When John had finished the Earl took a sip from his glass.
‘So Ximene wants the Prince to transport and guard her treasure, she is prepared to marry the Prince and she wants you to carry out the negotiations on her behalf?
‘Yes’John replied.
The Earl looked at him carefully.
‘Tell me, are these two issues, the treasure and her marriage linked or can we separate them’
John was totally surprised by the question. He realised that he had been conditioned by Ximene’s thinking.
‘I suppose they are quite separate, but in Ximene’s mind currently they are linked in two different ways. She assumes that the Prince would not help her with the treasure unless she offered herself as his bride. Secondly she wants to use the wealth to win freedom for her people so that they, once again, are able to follow their own religious beliefs. She is convinced that to do this she would need to use the Princes army and in particular have access to senior military strategists such as yourself ‘
The Earl smiled again. He affectionately stretched out his hand and touched John on the shoulder.
‘It was very flattering of you to say that and I know that you really meant it’
He then adopted a much sterner demeanor.
‘Well John, forget everything I have ever said about our relationship. For you to represent Ximene’s interest properly you must now relinquish your allegence to the Prince, to myself and to Lord James. If we are to have any chance of reaching an agreement, which has any validity you must be able to represent Ximene’s best interests without compromise. Have you any formal appointment?’
John suddenly realised how competent Ximene was in these matters.
‘Yes’ he replied ‘I am a Knight of Occitan’
The Earl laughed, put an arm around his shoulder and showed him to the suite of rooms which he had assigned for his use.
As John settled in, the Earl sat in a chair by the window looking out over the vast estates of Termes.
‘Just one thing before we go any further. Have you any proof that the treasure exists?’
John produced the gemstone he had taken from the cave.
‘I picked it because it was so unusual’ he told the Earl.
‘It is crystal clear but with a bluish tinge. The feature which is most amazing is that even in the dark cave where it was found it sparkled in the light of the torches. In sunlight it shines in an incredible way.’
He then produced a small golden knife.
‘This belongs to Ximene. She selected it because of the strange writing which covers the blade. She thinks it might identify the source of the treasure’
The Earl was intensly interested.
‘You did well John. I would not expect anything less. I will bring Joan to look at them after dinner. Joan has made herself an expert on anything valuable. She will probably have information on what these are and what they are worth! Dinner is in half an hour. Attend wearing the completely white tabard which is in your wardrobe.’
John had obviously been assigned a serving maid who helped him bathe, dress and led him down to the dining room. John reflected how much things had changed. He spent a long time naked whilst the serving maid attended to him and yet there were no sexual undertones whatsoever.
At the door to the dining room he was halted by a servant who then made a formal introduction.
‘Sir John Stanley, Lion of Aquitaine , Knight of Occitan and Ambassador of the state of Occitan to Prince Edward, Duke of Aquitaine.’
John’s eyebrows rose on his forehead. He could only assume that the Earl had concocted this description of his status and the next question was why had he done it? He assumed that other than themselves the only person in the room would be Joan.
As he glanced down the room he could see that he was wrong. The Earl was accompanied by another guest. Joan was nowhere to be seen.
The Earl rose to his feet to greet John.
‘I would like you to meet a personal friend, Gaston Compte de Foix’
John struggled to retain his composure. He had previously seen the Compte only briefly and therefore had not recognised him.
A sumptuous meal was then served. The meal started with pheasant and quail followed by a light vegetable broth and then venison served with a rich cherry sauce.
After the third course the Earl commenced the business of the evening.
‘Gaston is here because in order to attack Armagnac we had to approach part of his territory. For his lands in Bearn he has sworn fealty to Prince Edward, so we have spent some time with him explaining the Prince’s intentions. One of the barriers to our conversation has been that we were instrumental in removing Ximene from his care. He has long been concerned that if Ximene assumes her rightful inheritance of Occitan it could seriously undermine his own security. We are now discussing a proposal to make him Duke of Gascony covering all his existing lands plus Armagnac. He would have equal status to the Black Prince as Duke of Aquitaine and Ximene would become Duchess of Occitan. All three dukedoms would be controlled directly by King Edward from London.’
He paused and looked directly at John
‘How would you feel about this?’
John gulped. He was not prepared for this kind of question. However he realised that because he was representing Ximene’s interests he had to make a reply. He felt confident in his understanding of Ximene’s requirements. He replied accordingly.
‘That would be perfectly acceptable to us as long the boundaries between Gascony, Aquitaine and Occitan were to be clearly defined. Our major concern is to right the wrongs resulting from the Albigensian Crusade. The rightful landowners should be reinstated in Occitan and discrimination and persecution on the basis of religious belief should be banned!’
The Compte de Foix was obviously perturbed.
‘Please, please think carefully. We do not want another crusade supported by every other Christian nation to descend on us. My own solution, which is to join in the churches condemnation of any non conformist beliefs but allow other faiths to prosper in secret, is I think preferable. Take that thought back to Ximene. If necessary I am prepared to talk to her myself. What you have just proposed will bring danger to us all.’
John thought quickly.
‘Suppose there were adequate funds to support a mercenary army and the best military experts from England Aquitaine and Foix were assigned to that force. Could a crusade overcome such a force?’
The Compte was dismissive.
‘Go away and carefully study the records of the Albigensian Crusade. The Trencavels, the St Gilles, my own family and the Kings of Aragon lost an incalculable fortune in fighting against the crusaders. No one can overcome a force, which is funded by the Church of Rome. Their wealth is limitless. If you have significant wealth use it to establish a secret infrastructure to permit freedom of religious belief . Do not attempt to fight the Church of Rome in open conflict.’
He turned to the Earl.
‘I am not in principle opposed to your proposal but the kind of idealistic nonsense espoused by the ambassador for Occitan fills me with dismay. I cannot be part of an alliance, which supports such ideas. I will retire now. Try to convince the ambassador of the truth of my statements and perhaps we can talk again .

However do not take too long. In the new year I am travelling north, firstly to meet both the dauphin and my brother-in-law at the dauphin’s stronghold in Rouen. It will be virtually a repeat of the discussion we have just had; but with the concept of dukedoms being extended into the frankish realm. I will then continue to Evreux for a family conference where the topics will again be the same but where I would hope we can obtain a family agreement. Both my wife Agnes and her sister Blanch d’Evereux will be present at the family conference.

He rose, turned on his heel but hestitated. ‘ Agnes is currently in Bordeaux. She went for discussions with the Prince but he had already left on this current adventure. Nevertheless, on the Prince’s return there will be the opportunity to convey the results of your deliberations using her as a messenger.

The Earl nodded. ‘We knew Agnes was in Bordeaux but we did not know exactly why. I think that Joan has the intention of inviting her to come here to the Château de Termes, you have no objections?’

‘None whatsoever, but I may have left before she arrives,’

I am sure that will not be a difficulty, I am sure Joan will find numerous ways of keeping Agnes entertained.

‘I am sure she will.’ He hesitated, ‘But it does raise another issue in my mind. Jant is beginning to at as if she is the Prince’s consort, does this mean the marriage to Ximene will not procede? would ximene be open to other offfers.

John’s eybrows raised. ‘ Can I assure you that the Prince and ximene are both commited to their future marriage.there is no need to consider alternative suitors.’

The Comte nodded, frowned and left the room.

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.