13 Not a Common Man

Charles de Valois-13th March 1355

Charles de Valois, eldest son of King John of the Franks, turned to his father, arms widespread in supplication. ‘Why must I deal with him?’

‘Because I won’t.’

Charles cringed. ‘I have always thought the award of a knighthood carried with it some measure of a man’s worth.’

‘The reason we are knighting him is to give him some worth, to enable him to deal with those in our service and in the service of the Holy Church who will simply not deal with the common people.’

‘And does giving him a knighthood make him anything but a common person?’

‘In the true meaning of the word he is certainly not a common person, he is devious, perhaps even clever, unforgiving, ruthless and above all cruel.’

‘None of these things are the normal criteria for knighthood. What about the virtues of valour and chivalry?’

King John pulled a face. ‘He would not…have the faintest idea what they are.’

‘So we are knighting him because…’

‘Because we need him.’

‘But why me?’

‘Because you can bestow a knighthood and because if he becomes an embarrassment, you are young enough to be, in time, forgiven.’

‘Who will give him his orders? To whom will he report?’

‘Certainly not you, we must keep our distance. Let him report to Jacques.’


The most dangerous woman in the world