End of the beginning

Ximene Trencavel-27th December 1361

There was much which Ximene Trencavel kept hidden from the court, the courtiers, and even the King.

They would have all blinked in disbelief if they could have seen Ximene, silhouetted at the bow of a trading vessel ploughing through turbulent seas in the Eastern Mediterranean; or riding at breakneck speed with the army of the Emir of Karaman, in a desperate defence against Turkic invaders who threatened her trading routes.

She locked the door to her bedroom at Landon House, turned and approached the large desk set in front of the window where the light was best for writing.

It was an enormous desk, semi circular in shape and nearly five feet across.

‘Ma secretoir’ she murmured. ‘In many ways the most important of my secrets’

She pressed down the central section of the brass rail, which ran round the outer periphery of the desk, and pulled the whole desk towards her. It rumbled smoothly as it moved. She walked round to the window side of the desk and descended the narrow staircase, which was now exposed. She paused, lit a torch and pulled the desk back into position.

The staircase took her down to another spacious bedroom and an anti-chamber with a large bath. Beyond the antichamber was another door leading to a tunnel, which in turn led down to a natural cavern in the garden of a house at the bottom of Shaftesbury hill. The tunnel had been found when they had first surveyed this crumbling ruin. It was this, which had made the renovation of the ruin and the creaton of Landon House most suitable. Not even the servants knew about this room and the passageway. The builders who had created it had been imported from Scotland.

A stable had been created at the end of the tunnel and Lady Diana could come and go without anyone in the house being awarw of the fact.

Lengthy departures were made possible by using Alise as a stand-in.

In a wardrobe in the bedroom was the costume she wore in her alias as Aquila. She stroked the costume longingly. Almost identical to the costume she had worn when five years earlier in Armagnac John Stanley, in The Cathar tradition had declared his love fr her publicly. On that occasion the costume had been invented to conceal her identity from du Guesclin after he had attempted to kill her on five separate occassions. The same costume she had worn when immediately after his declaration they had made love. Was it really five years ago?

Her eyes narrowed. She had not used this room to full advantage. Also in the wardrobe were a range of attractive but revealing gowns, She moved them on the hanger and briefly reviwed each one.

She sighed, never used! It had been her intention that John Stanly would have made frequent visits here again without anyone being aware of his visits, Each visit would have enabled them to indulge in extended sessions of passionate lovemaking and to plot how each one could help to advance the others careeer. It had never happened and it was her fault it had never happened.

Now if she listened to Jayden Perrers advice the use of the alias should to be limited, the costume perhaps abandonned. Alyse should move to King’s Court. So many changes! The end of the beginning!

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.