3 The Embassy 22nd December

John hesitantly climbed the curved staircase to the rooms Alyse had so recently vacated. The upper floor was a hive of activity. Rugs were being pulled down to the courtyard to be hung on lines and beaten. Walls and ceilings were being washed. Floors were being swept, furniture was being moved around and polished.

Pushing his way through double doors into what had been Alyse’s Lounge, John discovered a haven of quiet amidst all the activity, but more specifically he discovered Piers de Windsor.

Piers had pulled a chaise longue to the window so that its feet projected onto the Juliet balcony. He now lay with his head on a pile of pillows with his feet up on the top rail of the balcony.

He sensed John entering the room; dropping his legs and spinning around.  ‘Oh! So there you are, you have finally arrived. I have been working hard to get all this ready for you, whilst you have been swanning around in the countryside inspecting Ximene’s new estate. Did you like it? Perhaps more to the point did she like it.?’

‘Yes, it is very impressive. Small but impressive. In the centre of beautiful countryside, Apparently, the Prince has used it as a hunting lodge.’

Piers chuckled. ‘The Earl used it as well. I have been there several times. They both have used it to hide away Joan of Kent when they don’t want anyone to know they are with her.’

John frowned. ‘I think you are a bit out of date, I think the Earl has stopped seeing Joan. Oh! and it is not Ximene I have been with, it is Selene, Comtesse of Lavison.’

‘Yes, yes, of course, sorry. I will be careful. But I have been so busy organising all this.’ He paused with a self-satisfied smile playing on his lips. ‘I have been pleased with a few things I have organised in the past but I think this is my best effort yet.’

Your best effort, not Joan? not the Earl?’ Not the new Governer, John de Chiverston?’

‘Don’t even know who John de Chiverston is.’

‘He was down at Chateau Lavison finalising the handover to Selene and introducing us to some local people who might manage the estate for Selene. It was he who told me I would be living here, at least in the short term.’

‘It will be a bit more than short term, I have arranged for this to  continue to be the Occitan embassy.’

John groaned. ‘Piers, sometimes you have delusions of grandeur. You arranged?’

‘Yes, I arranged, I will prove it to you.’  he jumped up so that he could look John directly in the eye. ‘What have I told you is my underlying personal objective?’

Try as he might John could not drag forward in his memory anything specific. Piers was sometimes helpful but often so devious he was simply annoying. Then suddenly he remembered.

Oh! Yes, when the Prince was away seeking meetings with the lords of Occitan you claimed to have arranged for me to be a field commander.   I asked you why you hadn’t arranged the position for yourself and you replied that it was a question of priorities.  Your priority was to meet the Lords themselves as your ambition was…’

‘To meet and hopefully marry a lords daughter.’

‘Oh! yes.’ John shook his head.  ‘But what has that to do with what is happening here?

‘The idea that we should set up an Ambassade d’Occitan in what had been Alyse’s apartments was Joan’s idea, and she has an apartment next door.  I helped arrange a little remodelling  to make that possible. When Alyse left for Castile I immediately saw an opportunity.  It is entirely appropriate that as  Ximene’s ambassador you should take possession whilst she is away. Say thank you, It is a very nice apartment.’

‘You make it sound like your idea. Thank you. And the opportunity?

Well, first of all, I arranged a temorary secondment for the stables and accomodation downstairs to be used as the Prince’s guards. that wasn’t too difficult they are short of accomodation. all detachments need A feid commander and I flatter myself that I was the obvious choice. 

Once I had achieved that it was a minor adjustment to put my nane foreward as the Military attachee to the ambassador of occitan.

The guards to be accomodated downstairs will now have Sir Ralph Basset as their field commander, who is Lord James’ nephew and therefore some sort of relative of yours.” Piers took a deep breath. they were looking for some sort of a position for him . ‘Lord James helped.’

John, you will take over Alyse’s appartment. it is entirely appropriate that Ximene’s ambassador should take possession whilst she is away in castile visiting King Pedro. it islarge enough to provide accomodation for visiting dignatories, some of the Princes guards will be quartered on the ground floor.

The will be commanded bydistant.

Quite but blood is thicker than water

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.