Charles of Navarre

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Charles was born in Évreux. Since his father was first cousin to King Philip VI of France, and his mother, Joan II of Navarre, was the only child of King Louis X, Charles of Navarre was ‘born of the fleur de lys on both sides’, as he liked to point out, but he succeeded to a shrunken inheritance as far as his French lands were concerned.

Charles was raised in France during childhood and up to the moment he was declared king at 17, so he probably had no command of the Romance language of Navarre at the moment of his coronation.[2]

In October 1349, he assumed the crown of Navarre. In order to take his coronation oath and be anointed, Charles II visited his kingdom in summer 1350. For the first time, the oath was taken in a language other than Latin or Occitan as it was customary.

Apart from short visits he spentthe first 12 years of his reign  almost entirely in France; he regarded Navarre principally as a source of manpower with which to advance his designs to become a major power in France.

He hoped for a long time for recognition of his claim to the crown of France (as the heir-general of Philip IV through his mother, and a Capetian through his father). However, he was unable to wrest the throne from his Valois cousins.

Charles II served as Royal Lieutenant in Languedoc in 1351 and commanded the army which captured Port-Sainte-Marie on the Garonne in 1352.

The same year he married Joan of Valois, the daughter of King John II of France. He soon became jealous of the Constable of France, Charles de La Cerda, who was to be a beneficiary of the fiefdoms of Champagne, Brie, and Angoulême. Charles of Navarre felt he was entitled to these territories as they had belonged to his mother, the Queen of Navarre, but they had been taken from her by the French kings for a paltry sum in compensation.

After publicly quarrelling with Charles de la Cerda in Paris at Christmas 1353, Charles arranged the assassination of the Constable, which took place at the village of l’Aigle (8 January 1354), his brother Philip, Count of Longueville leading the murderers.

Charles made no secret of his role in the murder, and within a few days was intriguing with the English for military support against his father-in-law King John II, whose favourite the Constable had been.

John II was preparing to attack his son-in-law’s territories, but Charles’s overtures of alliance to King Edward III of England led John instead to make peace with the King of Navarre by the Treaty of Mantes of 22 February 1354, by which Charles enlarged his possessions and was outwardly reconciled with John II. The English, who had been preparing to invade France for a joint campaign with Charles against the French, felt they had been double-crossed: not for the last time, Charles had used the threat of an English alliance to wrest concessions out of the French king.

Relations between Charles and John II deteriorated afresh and John invaded Charles’s territories in Normandy in late 1354 while Charles intrigued with Edward III’s emissary, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster at the fruitless peace negotiations between England and France held at Avignon in the winter of 1354–55. Once again Charles changed sides: the threat of a renewed English invasion forced John II to make a new agreement of reconciliation with him, sealed by the Treaty of Valognes on 10 September 1355.

This agreement, too, did not last. Charles befriended and was thought to be trying to influence the Dauphin, and was apparently involved in a botched coup d’état in December 1355 whose purpose appears to have been to replace John II with the Dauphin.

John amended matters by making his son Duke of Normandy, but Charles of Navarre continued to advise the Dauphin how to govern that province.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

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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.’

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.