1300 More About The Plantagenets

Even though Ximene plans to marry the Prince, she has little knowledge about the Plantagenet family she intends to marry into or the nature of the Empire they control

Slowly she learns that they too face insecurity and risk. Their empire is disrupted by great Lords jostling for power, by petty jealousy within the royal family and by independence movements having both economic and cultural inspirations.

Minor wars are a regular occurance, a major war at times seems inevitable

Ximene’s realises her desire to gain independance may be totally incompatible with the Plantagenet’s desire to inhibit similar independence movements elsewhere.

For Ximene the Plantagenets are close to her ideal. King Richard is Ximene’s hero. He lived his whole life, other than the eastern crusades, in Aquitaine. He prevented the Albigensian crusade entering the territories he controlled and he had refused to sanction the establishment of the Holy Inquisition. In Ximene’s eyes they have always given more priority to their lands in Aquitaine rather than to their territories to the North. The family matriarch Eleanor of Aquitaine, originated in Occitan and she knows that they are still fluent in the Gascon dialect of Occitan. They not only understand the nuances of the Occitan culture but live their lives accordingly.

What Ximene has no knowledge of is that this family of southern lords is, in the British Isles, struggling to retain control over an alien Norman state.  There, the Plantagenets are in continual conflict with the Norman Barons.  They struggle to introduce uniform statutes and laws to the whole of their Empire. The Barons want none of that.   Every attempt the Plantagenets make to control the power of the Barons is resisted with deadly intent. Every generation has brought revolt and civil war.  Parliament is a gathering of the Barons, and the Marcher lords make sure they are well represented. Parliament does not represent the interests of the people but protects the power of the Barons over the people and is often in conflict with the throne. It is a very subtle difference between governing on behalf of the people and governing to control and generate wealth from the people.

In this situation Wales, Ireland and Scotland are in revolt, but within their own boundaries there is internal conflict. Large tracts of land are controlled by Gaelic speaking clans. The Norman Lords in Southern Scotland have declared their independence from England.

The area’s immediately adjacent to hostile territory are known as the “marches” and in these areas the Barons think and live a seige mentality.  They are well recompensed for leading this life where they are almost imprisoned in their own castles, but remain jealous of those who live in the more secure areas of Wessex and the Home counties. They demand greater and greater rewards for their exposure to and resistance of invasion.

The Prince’s father, who reigns as Edward III, came to the throne in desperate circumstances. His father had been accused of having homosexual relationships and to have given his favourites substantial rewards. Eventually he was murdered by one of the Baron’s, his mothers lover Roger Mortimer. Edward in turn murdered Mortimer.   Now the Barons, by withholding revenue have made the realm bankrupt. King Edward has reneged on his debts to the Italian Banks and now finds it impossible to make further borrowings.

The Plantagenet empire is on the edge of collapse. Minor wars are a regular occurence, a major civil war at times seems inevitable.  Ximene’s realises her desire to gain independence may be totally incompatible with the Plantagenet’s desire to inhibit similar independence movements elsewhere.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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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.’