The Last Perfect

Eleanor and Ximene discuss the horrors of the Albigensian crusade and the activities of the Inquisition but again with out making it a major diversion to the story it is difficult to convey the true horror of what they are discussing. This Prologue gives a graphic picture of what Eleanor and Ximene fear so much.

The Last Perfect

Just after midday, in the old city of Carcassonne, the bells of the Cathedral of St Nazaire tolled slowly and languorously. The sound echoed through the labyrinth of city streets before spilling out into the surrounding countryside. The echoes flowed up and down the shallow valley of the Aude River, reflecting from the surface of the water shimmering in the heat and drowning out the gentle tinkling of the water as it  flowed over its rocky base. It was a sound impossible to ignore and for those listening, the final phase of the echo seemed to be inside their own heads.  The day was a rarity for Carcassonne, one of the few days in the year where there was no wind.   The effortless penetration of the sound into every corner of the city and far beyond simply emphasised the intensifying heat of the day.

Jacques Fournier, the Bishop of Palmiers, positioned himself just outside the gates to the city. The heat became stifling. Fournier snarled his annoyance. It was not the heat which concerned him but the sound of the bells, which seemed to him to have a doleful, melancholy note, not at all what he wanted, as this was the day of his greatest triumph. Nevertheless, he pushed his dissatisfaction to the back of his mind as he watched Guillaume Belibaste dragged down the road leading to the Corbiers. Those holding the ropes, which constrained him pulled violently and irregularly, hoping he would fall, which he frequently did.   Fournier enjoyed the spectacle so much that he then rode ahead, to watch Belibaste pass again, and again, and again.

Two days later, Fournier was in a prominent position when Belibaste’s torn and bloodied body was tied to the stake in the central square of Villerouge-Termenès, and he was burnt alive.  Belibaste’s only crime was that he was a Perfect, the last known spiritual leader of the Cathar faith. He had been captured after two years of espionage coordinated and funded by Jaques Fournier. He had already been denigrated in every way the processes of the Holy Inquisition could devise. Now, the final execution was intended to accentuate the processes of the humiliation of Belibaste and the intimidation of the general population. Belibaste’s screams as he was engulfed in flames, were music to Fournier’s ears.  He moistened his lips with pleasure when changes in wind delayed the inevitable and made it possible to see Belibaste’s flesh burn and char. Fournier believed that there were now no legitimate heirs, either spiritual or temporal, to the heartland of Occitan, which had nurtured the Cathar faith.

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.