5 Game Plan 22nd December

John Stanley – 22nd December 1355





John’s eyes opened wide ‘How could that be? The Earl has great influence because he is known to be close to the Prince but also because is recognised as a great strategist; people are nervous of him.’ John hesitated. ‘And of course; he is an Earl, one of the third tier of governance of England. ‘ How could we replace that?’

‘A lot easier than you might think, Selene is already a Comtesse of Aquitaine and can be made a countess of England. She will have a title in that third tier, she is beautiful and unbelievably rich. People will be falling over themselves to please her. They will tell her anything she wants to know.

As for you John. You have many talents. Lady Eleanor once told me that the thing she most admired about you was that you have no idea of the power within you and therefore your potential for good or evil.’  At the same time, the power within you frightened her. I think she told you that you must never forget that even a good person can cause harm through the thoughtless use of power, influence or physical attraction.’

‘Hmm. and I think I replied that I could not believe she was talking about me.’ he shook his head. “Still Can’t.’

Well, she was, and it is still true. From what I have heard and what I have seen I don’t believe that you have ever used any of you undoubted talents purely to gain personal advantage.

I intend to teach you to do that to do that but at the same time to always use your power and infuence for good rather than evil.

I would always do that.

Well, sometimes it is difficult to actually distinguish between good an evil… or not so good. I will do my best to always make the differences obvious to you.

‘But why me.”

Because, my love you can go places no female; princess, countess or otherwise can go can go. I find this difficult to accept but it is true. You can hear conversations none of us can hear. The men already admire you because of your skill and courage And the women will admire you because you have certain talents… which as some of us know can be developed even further.

Ximene feigned shyness.

‘Why you? Because you have shown yourself willing to put yourself outside of the constraints of the feudal system and to have loyalty to a cause and because your ability to apply yourself to learn and grow is outstanding’

‘I have? It is?’ John turned to Joan. ‘But I still don’t understand, you are a person, not a cause.’

Joan glanced down at herself as if to confirm that John’s statement was correct. ‘ Yes, but you are not here only because of me. You are here because of Lady Eleanor , Countess Selene and Lady Pipa, your commitment is not to me, it is to the cause!

Suddenly John understood. Good god, they have trained me for this situation. It is Joan who has influenced the others, It now seems that Joan somehow orchestrated everything. The Earl warned me about Joan, it’s unbelievable, she makes him look like an amateur. Nevertheless, she is right, I am now committed to their cause. John pressed his lips together and nodded thoughtfully several times in succession. ‘ Yes I am committed.’

‘Good, then we can move on.’

I have heard about the training techiques and I have seen for myself the almost unbelievable changes those techniques have made to Ximene’s physique. I visualise you becoming an indispensable part of the Prince’s army. If we achieve that you could by-pass many layers of governance. You could consult with the Earl on anything you have doubts about. The Prince will ensure the Earl understands your role.’

The key factor in all this is that I will never again meet you in private. there will always be an intermediary. This will avoid anyone, including the Queen coming to wrong conclusions.

As we develop your reputation as a ladies man there could be concerns that you had replaced the Earl in more ways than one. There is another reason. I do have my weaknesses. Even now you could take me any time you wanted to.  I want you to promise me you would never take advantage of that but a way of ensuring that is to avoid the circumstances which could lead to that happening.

John blinked ‘So I will not see you again?’

‘Didn’t say that. We will meet in public places and from time to time in private but when you do see me it will always be in the company of Selene and you will always be formally dressed… as you are today.’ She fluttered her eyelashes. ‘At least when you enter and leave my rooms. A broad smile illuminated her face. ‘In fact, over the next few weeks, we will have to meet several times to fill out the details’

Ximene frowned ‘But will I have time to perform this role and develop a haven or haven’s for Cathars, as I want to do.?

‘D’ont worry. Your objectives will fit quite nicely with some objectives of my own.’

‘Why? How?’

Joan stood up, smiled and took Ximene’s hand. ‘Before any more discussion we should learn to enjoy each other’s company. What I am proposing will not be without its difficulties and our relationship should have a firm foundation.

A pause. ‘ Now for the implications. As we said Selene, you must go to England to personally represent your interests in negotiations with the King.

Can’t Don Fernandino do that?

‘Absolutely not, King Edward would take advantage of that. He will negotiate far more favourably with someone who is a head of state, which he will accept you are, as he would still like you to marry his son and you are, more importantly, a beautiful woman.’

‘And can I tell him that the marriage is off?’

‘No don’t even think about it. We must let him learn that the marriage will not take place, and that the Prince will marry me. I know him only too well, he must learn, not be told.’ She smiled.
‘Hmm, it will do no harm if he is attracted to you, it will make him less keen on the Prince marrying you’

However a word of warning, don’t allow the King any close contact, until you have a house of your own to which you can retire. Insist on an estate close to the Queen’s favorite residence at Gillingham and the King’s favorite residence at Clarendon. Don’t even start the negotiations until you have achieved that.’

She gave an acid smile.

‘Have your meetings with the King in the morning and never stay the night in the same house as the King, however strongly you may be pursuaded . He almost certainly be attracted to you and will make his suite quite properly but he finds it difficult to accept that any lady may refuse his advances. Cultivate the Queen’s friendship, she will help keep him under control.’’

Joan frowned. ‘I offer you this advice from personal experience.’

Ximene thought for a moment.’Can John come with me?’

Joan wiped her eye with her finger.

Again, emphatically not, it would at the moment be difficult within the English court to explain his position. Aquitane is one place; England is another. He needs a couple of years to rise through the ranks until he will be seen as an appropriate partner for a countess.

She saw the disappointment on Selene’s face. She continued hurredly. ‘However in time, you may assume yet another persona which would permit you to be together. Once the negotiations over the treasure are complete there will be many options open to you.’

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.