The Ambassador 30th September 1361

Georges D’Orlones-30th September 1361

The newly appointed French ambassador to the English court crossed the bridge from Le Palais de la Cite to the south bank.  At the far side of the bridge stood one of the best-known inns in Paris, Le Pont Palais. He had visited the inn many times before. It was here that many of the most important visitors to Paris had always kept rooms.

However, Paris was not what it had been before the war. The battles of Sluys, Crecy and Poitiers had resulted in a high death toll amongst the French aristocracy, the very people who had patronised the city and made it rich.

Now in the aftermath of the war,  King John had been in captivity in England and money was being syphoned away by contributions to pay for the Kings Ransom.

The remainder of the upper levels of society had simply melted away from Paris into the countryside to avoid contributing to the collections towards the ransom.

Because of all these factors, many of the city establishments had lost substantial revenue. The inn was no exception. The exterior was now urgently in need of maintenance.

He was met at the front desk by an elderly concierge with white greasy hair, broken teeth and bloodshot eyes. In response to his query she had conducted him to the second floor, then to the rear corridor, The stairs and the corridor were dark and dingy and floorboards creaked at the lightest tread. Georges knew from past experience that many of the rooms had been impressive but he wondered if that was still the case.

At the end of the corridor, there were a series of grubbily upholstered benches and a door, rather incongruously across the full width of the end of the corridor.

Obviously in the past persons of some importance had used the room and the seats were meant to accommodate those waiting for an audience. There was no such queue today.

The Concierge positioned herself across the door, making it clear he would only gain access to the room in exchange for a suitable payment. He obliged.

The concierge opened the door to no more than a crack.

‘Monsieur Du Gueslin, you have a visitor.’

‘Give me a minute’ and then after a short delay.’Enter”

The room was dark, very dark and Georges’ eyes were slow to adjust.  He gazed cautiously around in some trepidation. The room was large, lined with expensive wood and purple tapestry, but that was not what commanded his attention.

Hung round the walls was a collection of whips and other instruments of torture. Some, like the thumbscrews and the collars with internal spikes he recognised, but others, he could only guess what the intended purpose might be.  He tried hard not to gaze at the young woman tied face down on the bed, a quivering, whimpering assemblage of torso and limbs whose back and buttocks showed the weals from the recent application of the whip and who had now given up all attempts to struggle.

He shivered uncontrollably. He had never felt the presence of evil before; but here, now, in this room, he was immersed in it.

Georges became aware of a person sitting at the far side of a table, under the room’s only window, a dark figure large enough to block out most of the light. He had been warned what to expect, but even so Georges found the faint whiff of sweat surprising and distasteful.

Squinting against the light, he could just pick out a misplaced eye, and an enlarged nostril. The monstrosity stretched out its hands out to grasp temporarily the opposite corners of the table.  The ambassador started; surely no human could have arms as long as that?

Sir Bertrand du Guesclin, for that is how the monstrosity was usually addressed, spoke first.

‘Don’t worry about her’ nodding to the girl on the bed. ‘They all like a bit of foreplay don’t they’ He made a noise which might have been a laugh but it actually sounded as if he was clearing his throat to prepare to spit.

‘ I noticed you admiring my little collection of implements’. He looked around and then, as if it was an explanation, continued ‘mostly misappropriated from the   Holy Inquisition at Pamiers, where they have an impressive collection of such tools.’ Nothing would have surprised the ambassador, who decided without difficulty that he wanted to get away from here as fast as possible.

He tried to clear his own throat but discovered it was completely dry, as a consequence his voice croaked as he tried to speak.

‘Sir Bertrand, yesterday when I was appointed as the ambassador to the English court, Dauphin Charles asked me to come to see you as soon as possible.  Since his father was released by the English, King John has shown interest in a commonwealth of France, Aquitaine, Occitan and Provence.  Four separately governed countries but part of a Frankish commonwealth. The Dauphin rejects the concept in its entirety but finds the inclusion of Occitan as most interesting and most threatening. He believes you would also against any such scheme and…’


Well as far as the Dauphin is aware, there has, in recent times, been only one serious claimant to the lands of Occitan, that was Ximene Trencavel, who has not been heard of for four years …’ he hesitated, hoping du Guesclin would know what he was talking about.

Du Guesclin nodded. ‘Sheamaine, monsieur ambassador, Sheamaine is how you pronounce it. It is Catalonian, or Castilian perhaps’, He paused, ‘Heretical bitch is what I call her. What about her?’

George was pleased to able to continue, he swallowed hard, ‘The heretical bitch may now be in England. If she is there the Dauphin wants me to find her. He believes his father may have met her and that she may now have some influence over him. It may be necessary to eliminate her.’

Du Guesclin nodded his appreciation of Georges’ choice of terminology.

‘Really! Well, I hope you have better luck than I have had. Be careful… My clerical friends in the Inquisition are sure she is the devil incarnate.’

Georges hoped his incredulity that du Guesclin had any “clerical friends” did not show on his face.

‘Quite but the Dauphin believes that you may be able to tell me how to recognise her, apparently you have seen her on more than one occasion.’

‘Yes, several times at a distance, only once close up…’

There was a long silence, the girl tied to the bed whimpered audibly. Georges ignored the distraction.


‘ She killed two of my men… chopped the arm off one of them in a fight where she was surrounded and where we had every advantage. She is as skilled in the use of sword and knives as any knight.  The other man she killed, she hit in the throat with a throwing knife and she must have been at least fifteen feet away’

‘ Oh.’ This was not exactly what Georges expected to hear.

‘ But I did learn how to recognize her. We attacked her in a tent just as she and her ladies were readying for the night. When we ripped our way in, they were in various stages of undress. The bitch herself was half naked. She is not a normal woman; she is half man, heavily muscled. She swung a sword around as if it was a toy. She held us all at bay until her guards arrived.’

He hesitated, ‘Oh! Yes! One of her guards fights with axes! It is most unusual but he does it incredibly well. My stupid men thought he had axes instead of hands’

‘You sound in awe of her. Of them?’

‘No… not awe, but I hate her with a passion; some dark night I will take her from behind and when I do she won’t die easily. I will use on her every one of those implements you have admired on her, I have promised myself that.’

He was pensive for a moment.

‘So the Dauphin thinks she is in England, not in Castile? I have always believed she was still in Castile.’

He stood up, surprisingly light on his feet for someone who rippled with fat.  He glared at Georges.

‘So. I’m glad you came, find her for me. I will then do the rest.’

‘Oh! That’s it! So all I have to do is persuade all the ladies in the English Court to take their clothes off so I can examine their muscular development.’

This time Du Guesclin did manage a laugh. ‘I thought that’s what ambassadors did.’

He grasped a whip from the edge of the table and walked back towards the bed. Georges left the room as quickly as he could but before he closed the door his ears vibrated as the pitiful girl screamed uncontrollably. He was back in the street before he realized that Du Guesclin had never even asked his name.

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.