18 The Savoy 1st May 1356

Savoy Palace 1st May 1356.

Ximene eyes widened as she gazed up ay the palace. ‘But it is huge’

Joan grinned. ‘Yes it is, if one ignores Westminster hall it is bigger than the Royal Palace itself.’

‘It is not owned by the King?’

‘I specifically made arrangements for you to stay here because it is not owned by the King, Remember I told you never to stay under the same roof as the King, he is not to be trusted.’

‘Then who does own it.’

Its owner is Henry Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster. Some say he is the richest person in the kingdom, but of course you may soon challenge that. Henry is currently away in France. Hopefully, in the near future the army he is leading  south  from Normandy towards the Loir will be meeting up with the one led by the Prince marching north from Aquitaine.

‘In the meantime your host will be Henrys wife Isabella, lovely lady. her younger daughter Blanche lives with her, come on we will go in and meet them.’

Ximene trailed behind Joan as they were lead through a maze of corridors. Some windows looked out over immaculately manicured courtyards. but others were flanked by door after door, presumably leading to private appartments.

Ximene reached out and grabbed Joan’s sleeve. ‘ It is total unlike anything I have seen before. the structure is delicate, ornate on a more human scale than any of the castles or palaces I have seen before.’

Joan nodded  ‘And unlike anything found elsewhere in England. It is unique.’

‘And how did you manage to arrange for me to stay here?

Joan grinned. ‘Easily. Your reputation goes before you. Diana, Countess of Shaftesbury, fabulously rich young widow. That is enough really, it is how things are done. But your husband  died during the German crusade.’  Henry of Grosmont also fought in the German crusades, you are welcome here.’

Ximene frowned. ‘But won’t he know it is all fiction.’

‘No. There was an Early of Shaftsbury who was killed. Henry is just faintly surprised how rich he was, and what a young wife he had. Your biggest concern will be that they will look for a husband for you, probably already started’

Eventually they emerged into a long gallery with views over lawns and gardens down to the river.  Sun streamed through the windows, a small string orchestra played gently in the background and the smells of cinnamon, citrus and rose petals hung in the air.

Isabelle rose from her chair half way along the gallery. ‘Good to see you Joan.’

She held out her hands to Ximene. ‘I am delighted to meet you Diana. I am sorry about the loss of your husband, It must be difficult for you, so young… ‘ She shook her head. ‘You are welcome to stay here as long as you wish. We have clerical staff,  builders and legal experts here who help us run our estates, they may be useful to help you sort out your affairs.’

Oh! I have two assistants who are currently in accomodation alongside Poole harbour, can they stay here if they need to visit London? Clerical assistance would be good.’

‘Yes, of course, that would present no difficulty.’  She stopped suddenly and bit her lip. ‘Sorry Diana  that will be at some time in the future. I must first concentrate on making you feel at home.’

She rose and lifted a note from desk behind her.

‘We have a message from the King saying that he would like me to host a banquet for you go here next Tuesday.  which he will attend Is that too soon, for what I think is intended to be a state occasion? Would you like more time to prepare?’

Ximene smiled. ‘I have already received the invitation, and the version I received looked more like a summons that an invitation. I will be there.’

Joan cut in. ‘She will be ready, I will help her prepare.’

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.