11 Opportunity 26th January

John Stanley – 10th December 1355

‘Wonderful isn’t it. Built by the Romans, modified by the Moors, The southern palace of the Ramnulfids until 1100, when the Palais d’Aquitaine was built .

The Earl of Salisbury stood in the middle of the central open courtyard and spun around, arms extended as if he wished to point to every feature at the same time. ‘Now it is mine.’

The courtyard was surrounded by two stories of elaborate Moorish arches carved out of limestone into intricate patterns. The floor of the courtyard was paved in white marble. The centrepiece was a circular pond also tiled with white marble with and a fountain delivering water to a height of two and a half feet.

The Earl walked towards the fountain and held out his hand allowing the water falling back into the pond to tricle over his hand. ‘At the risk of repeating myself, wonderful. The fountain looks Moorish but it isn’t. It was installed by Eleanor of Aquitaine’s father. A pump driven by the flow of the river lifts water to a central storage tank which drives the fountain. Overflow from the pool runs back to the river.’

He smiled. ‘Of course, the building is not actually mine. It has been allocated as the headquarters of the Royal Guard of Aquitaine. Notice the change in title. John, we are no longer just the Prince’s bodyguard. although that remains one of our tasks We are the Royal Guard responsible for all aspects of state security. The stables and the barracks for the members of the guard are on the ground floor and officers quarters are on the first floor.

‘The Earl smiled. ‘Come with me.’ He led John up a wide set of steps leading to the first floor. The first rank of officers are known still known as captains and they cannot aspire to that rank unless they are a Knight or the son of an Earl. The recent reorganisation has introduced the rank of commander. To aspire to that rank it is necessary to have performed with exceptional honour in the field. Appointments as a commander are made only by the Prince and require my approval.

He led the way to a suite of rooms in the southwestern corner of the building. These are my own quarters. Quite palatial; reception room, office, study, bedroom and bathroom. To recognise the creation of the additional rank of commanders, I am now known as the Earl Marshal of the Royal Guard.’

He shook his head. ‘And for me… once again, Sir John, you are a problem. You don’t quite fit in. You are a knight of Occitan and that qualifies you to be a captain. You showed great courage and skill during the chevauchee and in the past, on occasions, you have been made a field commander, so you are an outstanding candidate for promotion to commander. But… you have sworn allegiance to Ximene and Occitan, which under the existing rules, disbars you from membership altogether.  I would like, however, to find a formula for you to have a close relationship with the royal guard and with me. You have many talents I would like to use.’

For the last ten years, I have been responsible for protecting the Prince against potential external threats. This meant that an inevitable part of my task was to understand where the threats might emanate. On occasions to gain that understanding, I might have to talk to potential enemies. That meant I was forced to walk a tightrope. I could easily be accused of conspiring with the enemy if the Prince did not give me his complete trust.

Ideally, I would like you, Sir John, to play a greater part in the intelligence gathering which is an integral part of maintaining knowledge of where the threats might lie. ‘

The Earl put his arm around John’s shoulder. ‘I will give it some thought. But now to a different but closely related matter. do you who Phillipa de Roet actually is?

‘Yes, I do. Prince’s cousin, her mother is Queen Phillipa’s sister and that her grandmother was a French princess.’

‘Not only a French princess but a Valois. It will give her access to the court of the king of the Franks in Paris if we introduce her in the right way and she has agreed to use that opportunity to gather information for me. 

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

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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.