The civilisations which developed in parallel with Egypt, in the Indus valley and Mesopotamia were exposed to the pressures of external events to a greater extent than the Egyptians ever were. Climate change intervened,  the area around the Indus civilisation dried and this progressive civilisation was forced to relocate. The early civilisations of the Iranian plateau and Northern India positioned either side of the Indus valley were both probably founded or infiltrated by Indus refugees.


Those in northern India  became, like Egypt relatively isolated though still a part of the “known” world. Here a the distinct Buddist religion developed. Recent research has shown increasing interest in showing that Buddism is a derivative of the religion of Egypt, particularly interesting because since it has survived to the present day it gives perhaps a different more sympathetic view of  what the practice of the Egyptian religion entailed.


In the Euphrates and Tigris valleys of Mesopotamia, the civilisations were forced to become warlike as their emerging cities were exposed to the envious gaze of the relatively primitive Nomads living on the receding edge of the ice cap to the north.

Hittites, Myceans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Edomites, Sythians, Medians all held sway at various times.  Finally the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau were able to take control of the area. Under their leader Cyrus, they formed the Persian Empire. The Persians succeeded in unifying the whole area.  At peak their territory extended from Northern India to Athens and from Egypt to modern Uzbekistan. Their empire lasted 250 years. From the Iranian plateau and possibly from the Indus valley itself they brought with them a code of ethics totally unique in the ancient world.


The description of their beliefs as a code of ethics is carefully selected. It was not strictly speaking a religion as there was no worship of a god and no attempt to personalise a god.  Meditation was carried out in the presence of a fire, simply to remind participants of the power of the universe.  The originator of this code, Zarathustra, taught that all men have free will and that the conflict between good and evil lies in each human being’s ability to decide whether to tell the truth or tell a lie. Each human being has the ability to move the human experience towards good or evil depending on what that decision might be.


In order to create good in the world each individual should indulge in good reflection, good words and good deeds. Zarathustra taught that all human beings react to the environment in which they live.  If they experience good actions then they will display good reactions. He taught that education and study were of paramount importance. Human beings can only make good decisions if they are taught to think.

This code of ethics was applied across the whole of the Persian Empire. In order to allow this  code of ethics to be applied without Zarathustra offered advice.


The wealth of a nation should be devoted to improving the lives of its citizens, not on the building of elaborate places of worship. The power behind the universe, which he called Ahura Mazda, already had a home in the heart and mind of every human being. Due to the paramount importance of Good Reflection leading to Good Words and Good Deeds, community wealth should be devoted first and foremost to education of the young.


All human beings men and women are equal and should have identical rights and responsibilities. To live in idleness taking advantage of the toils of others was a form of oppression. Again it led to bad words and bad deeds. Everyone, at every level in society should subsist by the fruits of their own labours. All stories of supernatural events are lies or the events on which they are based are trickery. There is no need for any priesthood to intervene with god, the power of the universe lies within every human being. A gift of money to someone in difficulty was good but to lend money with the expectation of repayment or interest was bad. Zarathrustra taught that debt always led to bad words and bad deeds.

The Priests

He taught that there should always be consideration of other peoples beliefs but at the same time that it was permissible to ignore or disobey laws or cultural beliefs which prevented adherence to the principles of good reflection, good words and good actions.  this was tested when at the height of its power Persia took over Egypt. There many features of Zarathrustra’s code which are reflected in the way the Egyptian rulers treated their subjects but there was one irreconcilable difference.

The Egyptian state was run by priests, who played a leading part in the administration of the state, claimed to represent mankind’s interests to God and spent unbelievable sums on temples and palaces. For all this they obtained a luxurious living.

The Egyptians, led by their priests, continued to opposed Persian attempts to limit their powers and re-educate the population.  In 404 BC  they managed to evict the Persians using Greek mercenaries but fifty years later,  the Persians were back again.

The Magi

Darius became the greatest Persian Emperor and a champion of  Zarathrustra’s code of ethics. However in an attempt to establish the legitimacy of his rule he allowed the Magi, Priests of the Median nation, part of the Persian empire, to re-establish their prescence. The Magi  immediately set about adding additional texts to the core  Zarathrusrian teaching which added the reverence, if not worship, of gods to the core of ethical standards. In this way Zarathrustra’s teaching was converted into a religion.

Disapproval of wealthy priests and a scepticism for the “gods” were reinforced by this change and those attitudes lingered and spread.

Nevertheless it is reputed to be the magi who predicted the birth of Jesus and came from “the east ‘ to visit him, or is that just a supernatural fable of which Zarathrustra would have disapproved?

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.