Danbray Prologue

Andrew Danbray-20 December 1370

Andew Danbry peered through the window. The sleet had turned to snow. He closed the curtains, leaned down to comfort and quieten his hunting dogs and turned to face his guests.

Shall we continue with our Winters’ Tale?

Henry d’Acre raised his mug in the air. ‘Wonderful food, great beer, of course, let’s continue.’

There was a murmour of assent.

Henry still held his mug in the air. ‘However I must confess to being somewhat puzzled. We learned at the last session that King Edward and the Pope… now there is a surprising combination… both wanted the Prince to marry Ximene Trencavel, but she could not make up her mind. Ximene was the heiress of Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne and Beziers, and she had ambitions of bringing them together, as the independent state of Occitan.’

He paused and frowned. ‘Joan of Kent was involved in all this as she had ambitions to marry the Prince herself, against the wishes of his father, King Edward. Was that problem resolved? Did Joan outmanouvre Ximene? I don’t think that was clear.’

Andrew stoked the heads of both his dogs before he took a circuitous route back to the table pausing to warm himself by the fire.

He turned to face the table and wriggled with pleasure feeling the warmth on his back. ‘Good summary Henry, and to answer your question; Joan of Kent’s position was strengthening but still not resolved.

He pulled out his chair,  sat down and took a sip of beer. ‘However, we know that Ximene was a bit more than undecided, she was determined to escape from the control of her uncle, Gaston Comte de Foix and what she saw as the potential control of the Prince. She was politically adept, adaptable and an able negotiator.’

He glanced down, disturbed as the dogs jostled his legs hoping for a tit-bit of food. Andrew obliged, leaning over the table to pluck a couple of scraps of chicken from the nearest plate.

He paused and nodded to the far end of the table. ‘Yes Bart?’

Bartholomew de Burghersh pushed his chair back from the table and stood up. ‘We heard a lot about John Stanley. Do you think Ximene deliberately manipulated him? She went to a lot of trouble to win his support. The most elaborate seduction I have ever heard about.  It did not work out very well for him. did it?  At the end of our last session he was critically injured on a battlefield whilst helping Ximene escape.

Andrew frowned. ‘She certainly used him at the beginning but I hope I made it clear that their relationship gradually changed so that at the time he was injured she was no longer using him. In fact she was prepared to put her own life at risk to save him. Perhaps they found a love which few of us have experienced.  A love in which both participants are only concerned about the welfare of the other.’

Bartholomew objected. ‘How can you possibly know that? You told us that this is based on a story Geoffrey Chaucer stitched together. As you said at our last meeting, Geoffrey certainly can tell a good story. Is it all just a story or is it fact?’

‘It is all based on what Geoffrey’s wife Pipa de Roet told him and she was Ximene’s best friend. Ximene was trying to get to Sicily, but her friends Pipa and Alyse had separated from her and gone to Bordeaux with the Prince.

We did cover that. Alyse, who many people judged to be a twin of Ximene, impersonated Ximene in Bordeaux to draw attention away from where she really was.

Ralph Basset now jumped to his feet. ‘We learned that Pipa was the  Prince’s cousin, can that be right?  She is now Chaucer’s wife? I did not know that Chaucer was so well connected.’

Edward le Dispenser frowned. ‘We are supposed to be learning about the background of the Countess of Shaftsbury, the source of her wealth and power, and that is important to me, but we havent heard a whisper about her yet.’

Andrew looked around, not attempting to hide his amusement. ‘Good, you really were listening carefully last time. I am surprised however that you have not mentioned the evil du Gueslin and what a threat he was to Ximene and John Stanley. Perhaps we should continue, by the end of tonight you should  have a better understanding. It will all become much clearer.

Andrew drew a deep breath, and filled his mug.

‘We are near the village of Monsegur on the northern edge of the pyrenees in June 1355. John Stanley has been critically injured and seems likely to die.

Ximene finds him on the battlefield and despite his injuries, she decides he must be saved…

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.