48 — Brenac

John Stanley- 24th September 1355

You know John before we do anything else, I think we should seek some help. ‘I think we should talk to Estavan, the physician who looked after you when you were so ill. He suggested that when you had recovered he would like to see you again. We should do that anyway. However the important point is that whilst you were ill, we talked at length and he told me about his studies at Montpellier which included not just medicine but also the mathematics of the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians and some science. We should ask him for advice! It can do no harm and it may be important!

 They rode up to St Ferriol and called on Estavan.  Ximene explained that they were investigating aspects of her inheritance and that they had discovered the three-dimensional map

Estavan smiled broadly. ‘That is just what I am looking for, a chance to do something different. Give me a little time to organize my affairs and I will join you at the chateau,’

Estevan  listened carefully as John and Ximene, talking in turns explained the significance of the map and the lines John had drawn on it. It took very little time  for Estevan to grasp the implications.

He examined the map on the wall and compared it with the three-dimensional map.  ‘ Wonderful, and yesterday from le pic it was possible to identify Blanchfort and Bezu.’

Ximene winced. ‘Well perhaps, but they were not particularly easy to identify. It was cold on top of Le Pic and we were not very well prepared. we will have to go back another day with warmer clothes Do you think we could follow the line through to the target?’

‘Yes, I do it is called extrapolation. from Blanchfort or bezu it will possible to see Le Pic and either side of the high point inset flags which line up. then it is just a matter of inserting addition flags along the same line. The Romans used this technique to build their roads which were in the main part straight,’ but we do have a different problem where do you stop this extrapolated line.? It will be necessary to plot the side of the triangle from Brenac or the north-south line through Soulaine  to discover the point where they intersect.’ He ran his hand along the north-south line and chuckled. ‘Over the top of Soulaine and then close to the top of Cardhu, we would have to become mountain climbers to plot that route! Perhaps we will look at Brenac first.’

They were up early the next day. John, for the first time since the battle of Monsegur, carried his weapons. Ximene attached the small crossbow to her saddle and put all the ten remaining arrows in her saddlebag.

After Estevan arrived,  they took the precaution of walking the horses along the stream until they were well clear of the Château but then they then mounted and rode at a steady canter down the valley in the opposite direction from the training ground and back into the wider world. They crossed the Aude River a short distance up-steam from Campagne Sur Aude,  to avoid the curious eyes of the citizenry. They then set out up the valley which they knew led to Brenac the point from which the North and South sides of the triangle diverged.

Brenac proved to be a delightful spot, with a few houses scattered either side of a little church. It was situated on the hillside alongside a waterfall. It was close to the head of the valley and therefore commanded imposing views to the north-east which they knew was the direction of the northern target. Because of the steep sides of the valley, it was not, however, a full panoramic view.

John was surprised and more than a little disappointed that they could not see Campagne sur Aude, as he knew that the north side of the triangle passed close by the little town. The only way to pinpoint the path of the sides of the triangle would be to ride to the ridge on the side of the valley which was hiding Campagne sur Aude. Hopefully, from there they would be able to see both Brenac and Campagne Sur Aude and plant a marker visible from both. With this as a guide, John believed they would have a much better idea of the line they were looking for.

It was surprisingly hard work. There were two ridges which prevented Brenac and Campagne Sur Aude being seen from each other. John had to climb a tree on the first ridge and tie a streamer to its upper branches to fix the alignment.   Etevan clinbed a tree on the second ridge. To their disappointment, this first attempt did not line up and they had to repeat the whole process with two nearby trees.  Finally, they were able to retire to Brenac and see the line to Campagne Sur Aude.  and from Campage sur Aude see the line to Brenac.

John was initially pleased  ‘Good, If the side of the triangle runs  slightly north of this line then we have a good idea which group of mountains is the location of the northern target.  He quickly became dissapointed.  It was impossible to be specific, it was just too far away.

Estevan cupped his chin in his hand.  ‘We do not know how far to the north the correct line is. Over these distances we need only a small error to be miles out at the target.’ 

John could not hide his disappointment. ‘It will take weeks if not months to mark the path. And then there is the question of the other line to the southern target. He nodded towards the steep hill on the far side of the valley. ‘Straight over the top of that!’

Estevan sighed. ‘There must be a way, can we go back and look at the three-dimensional model again.’

 Back at Mazerou,  Estevan  produced a wooden disc around the circumference of which were marked regular subdivisions of the circle. The center of the disk had been cut away to be replaced with cross wires, which allowed him to make measurements from any point on the map using the crossed wires as a sighting device. 

‘The northern side of the triangle is 34 degrees north of east. The angle between it and the southern side of the triangle is exactly 66 degrees., which means that the southern side of the triangle runs 32 degrees south of east, He smiled This gives us additional information we can use at every point on the line we extrapolate. Once we mark out the direction of north we can check the angle to the next point on the line.

‘And how do we know where north is?’ Ximene asked hesitantly.

‘At noon, every day, the sun is directly north.’

John shook his head.  ‘I was wrong, it won’t take months. It will take years.’

It was at that very moment, unannounced and without any warning that Thierry D’Arques returned.


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.