John Stanley –
Joan of Kent, wife of the Black Prince, Princess of Wales and Aquitaine, prowled to every corner of the lounge. She stroked the dark beams and plastered walls and peered up the twisted staircase. She stood in front of the roring fire ‘It is very cosy.’
‘You mean small!’ John smiled. ‘Everybody has to start somewhere.’
Joan raised her eybrows. ‘And deliberately?… Next door to the house which belongs to Selene, Countess of Landon, Ximene? On the same street as the Prince?’
Oh! John jerked his head around to look Joan in the eye. Yes I deliberately chose the house to be as near to her as possible, but we have never been in La Reole at the same time. Have you seen her recently, does she come here?’
Yes I have and yes she still comes here. However she is incredibly busy, so I do not see her often.
John frowned. ‘Do you know what she actually does?’
Joan chuckled. ‘Makes a lot of money, but I don’t know the exact details. She runs a trading company, and the Prince has given her a very advantageous licence.’
John nodded. ‘I know she owns a lot of land. After the treaty of Calais I was wandering around the Garronne valley with John Chandos, getting the local lords to affirm their allegiance to the Prince. I bought land for Ximene virually everywhere I went. Always the same formula, a block with river frontage a large block in the local town and a much, much larger block outside the town.
Joan took a deep breath ‘John she is very rich, and growing richer. In which name did she purchase the land?’ John shrugged his shoulders. ‘Selene, Comtess of Landon.’
Joan smiled ‘So you have assisted Ximene to build her empire. Has Ximene done anthing to assist you?
John glanced towards the ceiling. ‘I suspect that you know she has. In theory, my role with the Frankish King Charles to recruit and train a French standing army was negotiated by the Prince. He told me he wanted to eliminate the disruption within the Frankish realm and his purpose was that he expected to eventually inherit the realm. He did not to want to inherit anarchy.
But the truth is… it was all organised by Ximene. She did some sort of a deal with King John, King Charles’ father, when he was captive in England. I think she has aquired land in Carcassonne and Beziers as part of that deal.
The net result for me is that I have a well paid position, I am effectively in command of King Charles standing army and, as a by product… it has given me access to every tournament in Europe. I have become European tournament champion… which pleases King Charles, pleases the Prince and pleases the men under my command.’
Joan moved towards John and put her arms around his neck. ‘Remember a long time ago I did give you my favour. Well, now is the time and place I want you to honour that favour.’
John stiffened. ‘But you are now married to the Prince, you are my future Queen.’
Joan pressed herself even closer against him.’ not the first time you have had to deal with that situation. Relax John, all I want is a kiss.’
She lifted her lips, raised her hands behind his head and pulled his head down.
‘Ohh! I have wanted to do that every since I first saw you, And I am not disappointed.’
She backed away, shook her body vigourously, and with both hands, first smoothed her dress and then pulled back her hair. ‘Good! And now to business, I am not here by accident.’
Joan reached out to hold John Stanley’s hand. ‘For a long time I lived in Brittany, it was my home. Despite the Prince’s…and your… fabulous victory at Poitiers, after all our efforts, at the treaty of Calais, we gave the sovereignty of Brittany back to the Franks.
Now despite the fact that John Monfort, the recently appointed Earl of Richmond, is clearly the rightful heir to the Dukedom, the Franks have devised an alternative candidate.
It is ridiculous. They have denied King Edward and my husband the throne of the Franks on the grounds that he is of the female line and yet they are now promoting someone of the female line to be the rightful Duke of Brittany. How can they possibly justify this?’ If they succeed in getting Charles de Blois appointed, we will loose all influence in Brittany.
John eyed her cautiously. ‘So what do you want me to do?’
‘The Prince can do nothing, nor can his father. After the treaty of Calais, Brittany became part of the Frankish realm…sphere of influence. For either of them to be seen to be involved would be the equivalent to declaring war.
John, I want you to go to Auray, which is just across the Gulf De Morbihan from my Château at Suscinio. Access the situation. Break your agreement with Charles the Frankish King and help the Earl of Richmond claim his rights.
John sighed. ‘The whole of my task has been to help Charles build a standing army paid for by taxes, so that the mercenaries can be ejected from the Frankish realm.
However one of my difficulties is that du Guesclin, the ultimate enemy of all of us, has been smart enough to understand what is happening. If I relinquish my position now it is possible, perhaps probable he will take my position. Is that what you want?
‘Not in the short term he won’t, I hear he is already in Brittany in support of Charles du Blois, the opponent to the Earl of Richmond.Go to Auray’
‘Does The Prince understand, or support what you are asking me to do?’
‘Of course he does, John, go to Auray and destroy du Guesclin.’
‘You think I can do that.’
‘If anyone can do it you can.’
‘You must know that if I do this, I will probably be “persona non grata” in the Frankish realm. Amongst other things I will loose my ability to fight in Frankish tournaments. In twelve months time I will probably loose my position as Euopean Champion.
‘John, do this for us and you will be well rewarded.’ The Prince will see to it.’