37 — A Close Secret

William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury- 11th August 1355

Guillam, before you leave for Clermont… when you arrived in Bordeaux three weeks ago you told me  John had suffered quite a serious injury but has recovered and that Cimene is safe. It is clear to me that Ximene is not in Sicily, nor on a boat on the way to Sicily. If John was badly injured at Monsegur then he and Ximene must be in hiding somewhere near Monsegur. Oh! of course…’ William hesitated. ‘If John has been injured, it must be the safe house where Don Fernandino himself was recovering. There will be a physician available. Is my guess correct? Could you tell me exactly where Ximene is?

Guillam smiled. ‘Don Fernandino told me you might ask. His actual words were that you would want to know.’

‘It isn’t just that I want to know. I need to know. I feel a responsibility for both Ximene and John and if I don’t know where they are I can’t do anything to help them.’

Guillam raised one eyebrow. “Here in Bordeaux, you are at least four days ride away… or possibly five or six . What meaningful help could you possibly provide. I do not feel free to tell you about the actual location. Don Fernandino intends to keep the location secret. You will have to ask him.

The Earl frowned. he had expected a little more cooperation.

It took a couple of days for William to make arrangements to speak to Don Fernandino. ‘I would like to know where Ximene is.’

Don Fernandino scratched his ear. ‘ Pipa de Roet asked me the same question.  With respect my Lord,  I intend to keep the location a close secret. It is not only a matter of Ximene’s security but the security of a number of others. It is in the centre of an area where the inquisition is active. In the near future, I may need to facilitate the disappearance of other people. I will make the same offer I made to her. If you can accompany me I will allow you to meet Ximene and satisfy yourself she is safe and well. but there would be a condition that you should not leave until Ximene is moved to a more comfortable location.’

The Earl could not prevent a sigh. He was frustrated. ‘ I cannot do that. I have too many commitments here in Bordeaux.’ He sighed again. ‘Don Fernandino may I point out that my occupation as commander of the Prince’s rearguard is concerned with security. You can trust me.’

Don Fernandino smiled ‘I have heard of your reputation. May I point out that I am also very much concerned with security. May I tell you that Ximene’s location  is something you do not need to know.’

‘Hmmm! All I want to do is protect her. It is something I do need to know.’ He sighed. ‘Let me tell you my concern. The Prince will invade Armagnac and it is an open secret that he intends to go much further, perhaps as far as Beziers or Montpellier. Depending on where Ximene is and how long she stays there she could be in an area subject to fighting and therefore be at risk. If I know where she is, then I can either divert the path of the Prince’s army or alternatively provide her with protection.’

Don Fernandino narrowed his eyes. ‘  Sounds a reasonable objective. I acknowledge it is possible you can help protect Ximene so I will give you some assistance, Another place I use is la Moulin Blanche at Rouffiac d ‘Aude. It is not a secret location. It is an inn I use in my role as The Shadow. It is only three miles south of Carcassonne on the road to Limoux. If you go there and leave a message for me.  I will respond within 24 hours.’

William was reluctant, again frustrated.  ‘Suppose I offer a substitute for me.  One of the Prince’s guards who has always worked for me on tasks requiring extreme discretion. He is known to both to John Stanley and Ximene. He will be acceptable. The army will be moving quite fast, and he could help in the task of making contact with you. Depending on circumstances he could be at La Moulin Blanche slightly ahead of the army. By then he will know exactly which route the army is going to take and you can help decide whether they might present a risk to Ximene.’

Piers de Windsor had never intended taking part in the chevauchee, considering that he had more important work to do, and more important contacts to make in Bordeaux. He found himself dragged away without notice, to be sent on an unexpected trip to an unknown destination.



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.