9 Encore Thierry was A New Direction. 15th jan

Lady Eleanor broke in ‘ You talk about going north to claim the Frankish Crown. As I passed through Bordeaux yesterday I could not help notice that there were many ships packed with soldiers and I was told they were bound for England.’

John Stanley

Eleanor, we will need your continued support . Ximene has decided not to marry the Prince and I think it is important that together we review the reason she made that decision.

‘Well I thought I did understand, but perhaps you might have a slightly different view. I had my own reasons, of course.initially I thought marriage to the Prince could give her a measure of security. Protect her from those who might do her harm. You spent some time at the festival at Clairmont, convincing me that there were some difficulties; such as your own attachment to the Prince and your determination to marry him yourself.’

‘Oh! was I so direct?

‘Perhaps not but I certainly got the message.’

Well from what I understand from Ximene herself, the main reason for her being interested in the first place, was that she thought that would be the best way to create an independent state of Occitan. That would have enabled her to return lands to those who lost them at the time of the Albigensian crusade and to provide freedom of worship to those who adhere to the Cathar faith. She believed that if she married the Prince he would invade Occitan and make all this possible.

Lady Eleanor shrugged her shoulders. ‘Yes I think all that is true. Ximene?

Ximene nodded. ‘Yes that was the attraction.’

Joan bowed her head but then almost instantly looked Lady Eleanor in the eye. ‘She has now decided that this is not a practical course of action.’

‘Yes I think I knew that as well.’

What you probably don’t know is that the Prince himself is still more than willing to invade Occitan, regardless of considerations of any marriage, He would make Ximene duchess of an extended Plantagenet empire. However it seems to me, it would lead to disaster.’

‘And how did you come to that conclusion?’

Joan walked over to John, stood behind his chair and squeezed his shoulders. ‘John! you were actually involved in the Chevauchee, which was almost a trial for a full-scale invasion of Occitan do you think a full-scale invasion would succeed?

John bent his head and scratched the back of his neck. ‘Without a doubt, we could occupy the whole area. but how would we then change the ownership of land? It would mean driving one set of people from their homes where their families have lived for one hundred and fifty years. It could only be done by using extreme force and that would lead to revolt and vicious retribution.

As long as there are those who would continue to lay an alternative claim to the lands of Occitan the conflict would be encouraged and sustained.’

‘You mean the Franks.’

‘I don’t think there is anyone else with a claim. However, if there was open encouragement for the Cathar religion, another crusade would be quite likely perhaps even probable’

Lady Eleanor pursed her lips. ‘John I think you felt that way before you became involved in the Chevauchee.’

‘Yes but that was almost theoretical before I had seen the horror of it all first hand.

The probability is that it would lead to civil war in which both sides would use mercenaries who have no respect for anyone or anything. We would simply make an opportunity for Du Guesclin and other savages to terrorise everyone. ‘

I believe the only way to resolve such a conflict would be to drive the Franks totally out of Occitan.’ He frowned. ‘A sort of genocide’,

‘ Which is exactly what the Franks did to us in the crusade.’

‘I know, I know, but could you carry it on your conscience if the whole episode was repeated. I met those who would do it. They thirst for revenge.

lady Eleanor winced. ‘No John I could not.’

Joan gave John’s neck a squeeze. ‘Thank you John, you came away from the chevauchee a hero, perhaps the only hero, but you have given us an honest opinion. Already others are re-writing what happened to make it a glamorous adventure. Sadly, currently, the Prince is influenced by that alternative view.’

She turned to Ximene. ‘And you Ximene, you agree with John’s opinion?’

‘Yes, I do. but partly because I sense you are already looking to the future. You now want to consider an alternative strategy.

‘Yes. The Prince has a strong and just claim to the throne of the Franks. When he returns I will persuade him that the pursuit of that claim should take precedence. He should march north to claim the Frankish Crown. Then we can consider how to deal with governance, including the governance of Occitan from a position of strength.’

Lady Eleanor broke in ‘ You talk about going north to claim the Frankish Crown. As I passed through Bordeaux yesterday I could not help notice that there were many ships packed with soldiers and I was told they were bound for England.’

Joan bowed her head. ‘Yes , that is my fault and it just shows how easy it is to get it wrong.

Before I had a chance to talk to Ximene, I had decided to stop what I saw as a disastrous invasion of Occitan in another way. I communicated with King David of Scotland who at one time I… knew quite well.’

Joan’s eyelashes fluttered, which signalled to John just what the relationship with King David had been.

‘Anyway I persuaded him that now, with England committed in Aquitaine, would be a good time to consolidate his hold on the borders’ He has taken my advice and that is why the English troops are now leaving, to meet what is perceived as a threat from the north.’

She looked around shamefacedly. ‘I swear I did it for the Prince, it seemed to only way to stop him making a disastrous mistake.’

She bowed her head. ‘Now that is all unnecessary but impossible to undo!’

Nevertheless, next year the Prince must go north and we must organise an army big enough and skillful enough to give him success.

I have not finalised the details but we must play an important part in making that happen

John’s eyes narrowed. He felt a shiver of pride.. or was it fear. Suddenly he understood. All these princes, earls and bishops thought they were in control but the real power lay here in this room and she was fluttering her eyelashes at him.

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