Most Dangerous

‘It is true, your Holiness’

Jaques Fournier, now Pope Benedict XI, frowned and walked the full length of his chamber before replying.  He had personally supervised the building of his palace at Avignon and was well pleased with the result. He lived in a splendour which exceeded that of any King.

He turned and eyed the Dominican monk to whom he had given an audience, only because the Papal Legate to the Occitan lands had given a strong recommendation that he did so.

‘How did you find this out?’ Is she really the heir to the Trencavel estates?’

‘It is no real secret, it is freely talked about’

‘And her faith?’

‘Well she has been baptised into the Holy Church.’

‘You sound doubtful’

‘Her grandmother is of the de Pedilla family.’


‘And her mother is from the Foix family.’


‘Holiness, with respect, you were born in that area, you know what it means.’

‘I am asking you.’

The monk gazed at the ground. He had hoped he wold be able to avoid saying it.

‘She will probably be educated as a Cathar’

‘And how old is she now?’

‘No more than three years.’

‘So what causes the interest?’

‘There are a number of major landlords talking up her cause. The Frankish rule has never been popular in Occitan.’

‘And from where did you learn that.’

‘We broke a cathar cell. The heresy is mixed up with a desire to establish a new state of Occitan. There are Prefects active again accross the whole of Occitan; the lords do nothing to interfere, there is a secret society called the “Stars of the Sea” which helps them come and go at will.’

‘And you can do nothing, the inquisition can do nothing?’

The monk gulped and stammered uncontrollably.

‘They, the Cathars, have structured themselves differently. They have established small independent cells which have no contact with other cells. The have what they call Messengers who co-ordinate the cells but the Messengers only know one person in each cell. The cell leaders do not know the identity of the Messengers. That secrecy is then repeated for the movements of Perfects controlled by a commander, who we believe is part of the “Stars of the Sea”.

‘The messengers have no knowledge of the commander, they are summoned to meet him but never see his face.’

‘And, once again how do you know all this?’

‘From the cell we broke but were unable to progress despite our best efforts.’

Pope Benedict took a deep breath, he wanted to go no further.

‘Thank you, you my go.’

The monk left, vowing that he would redouble his efforts.

Pope Benedict wasted no time. He summonsed three members of the Curia, the churches administrative apparatus. All three had been brought to Avignon from the diocese of Pamiers. When he had been Bishop of Pamiers, they had led the intelligence activity which he had personally funded. He trusted them but also it meant there were no direct links to his earlier activities.

‘I never expected to be having this conversation, I was elected Pope on the basis that I had eliminated the Cathar faith, but it would seem that my claim was a little optimistic.’

The three listeners look expectant but no one spoke. The Pope continued.

“I want you now to reactivate all the agents we used when we went after Belibaste. We have continued to pay the retainers and by now they may be…should be part of the secret Cathar cells which I believe are being reformed.’

‘But first stop them talking to the inquisition, I have my doubts about the effectiveness or loyalty of the members of the Inquisition in Occitan. I am going to dismiss them all and I want you personally to choose the replacements. Then and only then, do whatever is necessary to get the information you need. In particular I want you to identify and infiltrate an organisation called “The Stars of the Sea”. ’

In unison the trio muttered ‘Yes your Holyness’ They stood to leave but the Pope was not yet finished.

‘Oh! And I want to know everything there is to know about a three year old female child, named Ximene Trencavel, the name should be familiar to you?’

‘A baby?’

‘Yes but not a baby for long. It appears she will be educated as a Cathar and is probably the rightful heir to the Trencavel lands, a potent mix, a very dangerous baby!

The pope hesitated.

‘It is not an exaggeration to say she is the most dangerous woman in the world!’

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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.