88 — From a Distance

In the valley to the east of Carcassonne, the Prince and his Army were returning. They had pursued the opposing forces past Narbonne and as far as Beziers. The Prince realised that his opponent would continue their hit and run campaign as far as Provence if necessary. He had attacked and damaged both Narbonne and Beziers in the anticipation that attacking their home bases would draw them into a pitched battle but it did not. Reluctantly he turned back to Carcassonne. He had received messages that the Compte d’ Armagnac had renewed his discussions with the French King and therefore had to be dealt with yet again. He also had the treasure to think about. As they moved west they saw a huge plume of smoke rising far into the air.
As they got closer to Carcassonne smoke was rising and joinig with the clouds over the Montagne Noir to the north. Then from the crest of the hill overlooking Carcassonne they could see the extent of the fire in the Bastide. Now the flames could be seen below the smoke. There were people running from the southern and eastern gates seeking safety in the surrounding countryside. The Bastide was firmly alight. As they watched, the vicious southerly wind dropped and the smoke began to fill the whole of the river valley. The details of the scene were suddenly hidden from view. Their approach triggered the first tentative shots from trebuchet on the ramparts of La Cite. The Prince decided to camp where he was, away from the smoke and out of range of the trebuchet.
As the camp was pitched the Prince watched, fascinated by the spectacle. The wind had now become changeable. Occasionally streams of smoke drifted towards him. On other occasions the smoke momentarily cleared giving him glimpses of the continuing fire. Then, suddenly, the most amazing apparition, two purple cones moving steadily towards him emerged from the smoke. At first he could not understand how these cones could move. It was seconds before he realised that it was two horses and two riders both covered with some kind of cape. The riders hurriedly pulled off their coverings. Despite their dishevelled appearance, the Prince readily recognised John Stanley and Ximene .

The Prince expressed concern at the extent of Ximene’s injuries and summoned the camp physician. John gave him a quick summary and asked for the loan of two horses from the pool so that he could find Piers, Phillipa and Don Fernandino. The Prince readily gave his permission but before John left he pulled him to one side. He looked down at the Bastide once more.
‘So three men and one young girl did that?’
John nodded modestly.
‘Yes sire, Don Fernandino is a clever man and both Piers and I have been trained by The Earl of Salisbury.’
‘Ah! Yes, the Earl. It is always the Earl’ 
The Prince was in a wonderful mood, today everyone was his friend As they were socialising , John noticed a telling look between Joanne and the Prince. She walked over to him and he put a consoling arm around her shoulder. He could not hear what was said it was a contact he could not fathom. The closest John could get to understanding this cameo contact was that the Prince was checking to see if was Joanne well and Joanne letting him know that she was. Why this depth of concern for Phillipa? When he next saw Phillipa, she had placed herself alongside the Earl who was paying her an equal amount of attention. He grasped both her hands and bent down to kiss them! She looked delighted by the gesture.
Ximene looked tired, sad and almost defeated. The Prince came over to ask after her welfare, but immediately he started a conversation, his ebuliance vanished. He became formal, courteous considerate but formal to the point of awkwardness. Of course she was a stranger to him, he had spent virtually no time with her alone. Nevertheless John could not help but compare the difference between the two couples within his line of sight. The Earl and Pipa relaxed; not showing any need for space between them. The Prince and Ximene, stiff not wanting to look into each others eyes; at arms length.
I am her ambassador! I don’t have to find an excuse to talk to her!
He approached respectfully. The Prince was almost glad to see him.
‘Ah! John, I have no doubt there are many things you will need to discuss with the Ximene.’
He bowed deeply and left. It was as if a load had been lifted from his shoulders, within seconds his good mood reappeared and he was laughing and joking with everyone he met.

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.