Ximene – The Most Dangerous Woman in the World
Ximene Trencavel is heiress to Occitan, a land immediately to the north of the Pyrenees. She has been brought up in the Cathar faith, a religion which sees nothing sinful in the giving or receiving of sexual pleasure. In the Cathar culture, sexual pleasure is simply God’s way of giving a sample of what union with him, or her, might be.
The Church of Rome considers the the Cathar faith to be a heresy and for over a hundred years has conducted a programme of intimidation and oppression.
Aside from this threat, the middle of the 14th century is a world rich in contrasts, an amalgam of romance, danger and adventure. It is a world of great opportunity for those with courage and vision but a world in which the cost of failure is often a brutally violent death.
This is the world in which Ximene must live. She has no choice. She must learn the skills needed to survive, surrounded by violence and treachery.
She determines to fight against oppression and searches for alliances with those who might help her achieve her ends. Ximene sets out to seduce John Stanley a member of the royal guard, to win his support, but runs into a problem. John comes from a fundamentalist christian family and has never so much as laid a hand on a woman. He has no idea how to respond to her advances.
The feudal system was originally designed to provide a measure of stability, in an uncertain world. However it tolerates, perhaps even encourages, changes in allegiances. This leads to shifting boundaries and constant warfare.
Now, in the middle of the fourteenth century, the concept of nation states slowly emerges from feudal chaos, resulting in larger wars being fought more frequently.
It is a world rich in contrasts, an amalgam of adventure, romance and danger. It is a world of great opportunity for those with courage and vision, but a world in which the cost of failure is often a brutally violent death.
One candidate for nationhood is a grouping of territories just north of the Pyrenees. The people living in these territories speak Occitan, not French, and are united by a common culture and a common faith, the Cathar religion.
The King of the Franks is determined to retain the lands of Occitan within his own realm and the Church of Rome is determined to eradicate the Cathar Religion.
The heiress to these lands is a sixteen year old girl. She must decide . Will she abandon her people to their fate, or will she protect them, even at great personal risk?