75 Reward And Punishment

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‘ I have decided, on the advice of the Earl, to create a new body: The Royal Guard of the Prince and Duke of Aquitaine. The new body will use as its blazon the traditional blazon of Aquitaine, a single lion rampant.’



John Stanley-23rd May 1355

Sometime in the last hour, the river had finally begun to recede. The threat was diminished and the Prince had decided to sleep in his own tent. Despite the late hour, the tent shone like a beacon in the darkness.

As they approached, the Earl reported on the discussions with the Toulousaine ambassadors. ‘They have agreed to a trading contract with Aquitaine. By any consideration, this is extremely important as it will once again give direct access to goods from the Mediterranean Sea, which in turn will give access to the exotic goods from Arabia.’

John was surprised. ‘I thought the talks were about our safety rather than trade.’

‘Patience, John. Negotiation is about finding areas of common interest. The trading agreement is a device for further involvement. It is a legitimate reason for further discussions, which could not be seen as threatening by the king of the Franks, as the royal charter to the city specifically permits it to make such contracts. However, it will give the traders of Aquitaine and England access to the city. Once a contract is in place, who could say who the visitors from Aquitaine might be? They would usually be merchants, but they could also be diplomats, military advisors or when necessary, soldiers.’

‘Oh!’ John had only asked the question to indicate his interest, but now he felt he had made himself look stupid.

‘After we settled that agreement, the ambassadors guaranteed security for our journey. In fact, it went much further; one of the Toulousaines informed the Prince privately that a number of southern lords wished to know the Prince’s future intentions. There have already been preliminary talks in Toulouse. The lords will disperse from Toulouse over the next few days and would be interested in talking to the Prince directly.’ The Earl shrugged his shoulders. ‘These talks would have to be held in secrecy as they could potentially expose the lords to the future anger of the king of the Franks. The Prince would be welcome to rest and worship at various churches and monasteries as he travels around Toulouse. It would be possible that there may be other worshippers at the churches, and again some of them, quite possibly, might be great lords.

The monastery of Montauban and churches attached to monasteries at Saint Sulpice and St Felix have been nominated.’ He smiled gleefully. ‘Obviously, they have guessed that the Prince could be planning to take over Occitan and they are not dismayed, or at the very least are exploring their options.’

They reached the screen across the entrance to the Prince’s tent.

‘Come in, come in,’ the Prince greeted the squires. They found Lord James and Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch already seated. The Prince leaned back in his chair, displaying great pleasure and satisfaction. ‘John, when we met on the Wirral Peninsula, I knew you were a special person. Now all the faith we have put in you has been amply rewarded.’

He turned his head towards Piers. ‘Piers, I know you well because of your sterling work as the Earl’s courier and once again you have given us a most valuable service.’ He smiled ‘I have just heard of your exploits, and I must congratulate you on your prompt action. In the end, it was crucial to the negotiation. The disturbance was heard clearly in the upper room but when it was known that we had apprehended and punished the aggressor, all was turned to our advantage.’

John looked questioningly at the Earl, who shrugged his shoulders. No point in burdening the Prince with the details.

‘Wine?’ the Prince asked.

The Earl winked at John whilst they were filling their glasses, which John took to mean that everything was going well.

The Prince’s face hardened. ‘I have been warned that there may be those who resent the stand you took. There must be no suggestion that you have anything but full support from senior officers and even myself. If there was a perception that we did not approve of what you have done, you could find yourselves in increasing difficulty as your potential enemies gained confidence to move against you.’ He pinched the top of his nose between his finger and his thumb. ‘It would start with little things such as pretending to misunderstand what you have said or omitting to inform you about important issues. It could spread from those who have a specific dislike or jealousy for what you did this evening, to others who would just enjoy the sport of making life difficult. Those taking advantage of the situation would see that actions against you go unpunished. They would become ever bolder. A classic ploy would then be to ask for your help in an impossible task and make sure you take the blame for any failure. It could end with rank refusal to co-operate with you in the field, and the destruction of your career. In our profession, it could even end in your death.’

John wondered what previous incident could have provoked such sincerity.

‘This would be a most unjust reward for those who have shown great bravery in my service,’ concluded the Prince. ‘I will ensure this will not happen by making it clear you enjoy my total confidence’ He paused and the smile returned to his face. ‘I have decided, on the advice of the Earl, to create a new body: The Royal Guard of the Prince and Duke of Aquitaine. The new body will use as its blazon the traditional blazon of Aquitaine, a single lion rampant. The new body will, therefore, be nicknamed ‘The Lions of Aquitaine’. I have been thinking about this concept for some time and I have been struggling to find the correct formula. Your actions have prompted me to reach a decision. ‘I do not want the guard to be too large. For it to work effectively, we must all know each other. Twenty will be adequate. It will consist of guards who will be drawn from the ranks of squires and possibly soldiers who have served me well, but also captains of the guard who will be drawn from the ranks of knights and lords.’

I will make the additional appointments as soon as possible but for now, there are only four. John, yourself and Piers are the only guards and the Captal de Buch and Lord James are the foundation captains. Because his fief is in Aquitaine, the Captal de Buch will become the commander of the Prince’s Guard. The guard as a whole will respond to the Earl of Salisbury, who as you know is commander of my rearguard. The nature of a personal guard is always going to be closely associated with my security and therefore the activities of the rearguard. I want to avoid any potential conflict the new appointments might raise.’

Slowly, deliberately, the Prince studied each of the listener’s faces. John found himself bowing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that the Prince had drawn the same response from everyone present.

The Prince nodded. ‘There will be no announcement as we want your appointments to be retrospective. However, when we meet the Comte De Foix there will be a welcome arranged for him at which we will wear full armour. At that parade you four will be resplendent in tabards of the royal guard of Aquitaine. Arrangements are already being made for the production of the tabards.’

The Prince personally congratulated everyone and happily chatted for over twenty minutes. John was delighted with the honour he had received especially when it was revealed that there was honorarium involved.

‘Did I hear it right? Ten pounds now and seven pounds a year for the rest of our lives?’

‘That’s what he said. We will be able to buy our own horses and armour.’

‘Oh! That’s probably what it is for… Still, never mind it is something we did not have yesterday. For life? Are you sure?’

It was only when he was back in his own tent that he realised that the major beneficiary was the Earl of Salisbury; the whole force now responded to the Earl.

Lord James moved determinedly to the front of the crowd which had gathered at the entrance to the mill and gently dragged John with him. ‘You will be seen as the person who initiated this punishment,’ he whispered as they passed through the throng. ‘You must be seen to accept responsibility for it. Make sure you look unrepentant and do not flinch. Morgan will be given twenty lashes. Enough to make the blood flow but not enough to kill him. His back will be washed with vinegar before the punishment, lessening the chance of subsequent infection but also accentuating the pain. He will scream. This is what the crowd will expect. It will not do our soldiers any harm either. They will be less interested in breaching our code of conduct after this. We have our apothecary here to treat him after the punishment. He will have to ride away from here with us. An application of the apothecary’s salve should make that possible.’

John gritted his teeth and tried to look unconcerned. Stood as they now were, at the very front of the crowd, they heard every one of Morgan’s cries as the punishment commenced, administered by a monk from the abbey in Moissart. Each of the last few lashes produced sprays of blood. When Morgan was released from his bonds, he slumped to the floor.

The Earl climbed the steps up to the porch and addressed the crowd. ‘You have seen the Prince’s justice administered,’ he said. ‘Tell everyone that your good citizens have nothing to fear from our army.’

As the crowd slowly dispersed, Lord James went personally to supervise Morgan’s treatment.

‘He is one of our best archers. We certainly don’t want to lose him,’ he explained.

Within the hour the expeditionary force was ready to leave. John made a point of helping with the packing up and worked harder than he had ever done. He felt that by the time he climbed into his saddle, a great measure of the resentment towards him he had sensed the previous night had faded.

He noticed that the Earl lost no time in issuing orders to both Lord James and Jean de Grailly. The Earl made sure that everyone knew that the day’s destination was Montauban, where the first of the abbeys which had been identified by the Toulousains could be found. He also made sure that everyone knew their roles once they got there.

John had quick evidence of his improved status. For the first time, the Earl shared thoughts which had no direct impact on a specific task. ‘Lord James has just asked…. hmm, told me that he must still be responsible for giving detailed instructions to his own men. This is indeed sensible, so I agreed readily but with one exception—you. He accepted that you will respond directly to me. You transfer is now public.’

The Earl put his arm around John’s shoulder. Remember, John, when you have a strong negotiating position, ask for what you want. You will be surprised how often your desires can be realised. I wanted you to report directly to me for a very specific reason. The Prince allows very few people to get really close to him, but I sense he is prepared to accept both Piers and yourself into his inner circle. Quite an achievement.’

John’s mind was in a whirl. The Earl regarded his transfer as something worth negotiating for and the successful negotiation had fulfilled one of his desires! He remembered Lord James caution ‘ the Earl never does anything without a reason.‘ Despite these internal reservations, a more positive interpretation surged to the surface. Now he was a member of the Royal Guard, perhaps he really was destined to meet Ximene Trencavel.


Table of Contents

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.