11 Breakfast

The Shadow Without a Name

Chapter 9
6th September 1362

The next morning Ximene arose early. When John awoke she was fully dressed, looking out the window. It was as if she sensed his return to consciousness. She shivered slightly and turned. ‘Good morning John. There is much you need to know. We will have breakfast with the Emir.’

The terrace looked completely different in the early morning light.
The table was set with a variety of sweet, spiced and plain breads and a waiter served a light ale from a jug.

The Emir made no attempt to eat anything.

John was unable to avoid a questioning look spreading across his face. The Emir’s eyes sparkled and he spread his hands in a gesture of surrender. ‘In my country only pregnant women and invalids eat at this time of day. When Ximene initially asked for breakfast I assumed that she must be pregnant’

He looked from Ximene to John and back to Ximene. “Perhaps that may soon come to pass”

He laughed, but his voice changed immediately. ‘To business…Sir John, I would very much like you to visit Karaman, so that you could make an assessment of my defensive arrangements. Ximene has already identified that we have nothing to compare with your longbow, so we have arranged for two craftsmen who have the required skills to set up a small factory whose only purpose is to manufacture longbows.

We now need someone to train my men in how to obtain the distance and accuracy which apparently your army can achieve and of course the battle tactics to use massed archers most effectively.’

The Emir nodded his head towards Ximene. ‘You do in fact have a competitor in your role as a military strategist. Ximene has told me about a battle she was involved in, how the archers were used and what the result was. I am most impressed. However Ximene informed me of you the fact that your Prince requires your presence in Castile, so clearly that must take priority.’

Ximene broke in somewhat hurriedly ‘The Emir has come to accept that the training of the core of his army, his guards, can take place in Castille and Grenada if they were to accompany us.’

She glanced at the Emir, seeking approval.

‘Yes Ximene, but even more importantly I have come to accept that what is happening in Castile and Grenada.. is more threatening to our trade than any threats in Karaman, which in the short term, I can manage… I want you to have a secure route to carry products from the orchard of europe , Murcia directly to northern Europe

John kept a straight face, clearly Ximene had reached agreement with the Emir before he himself had come to know what was expected of him.

The Emir continued. ‘Therefore, I have brought ten of my more senior guards here to Venice.’

‘They all are able to understand commands in Lange d’Oil and their commander, Alexan speaks it fluently, They are not Turks, not Islamic but mercenaries, Armenian Christians.’

John glanced at Ximene and then back to the Emir. ‘I don’t mean to be insensitive, but the significance of that is?’

‘To send Muslims to a remote battlefront would be asking for trouble. Our religion places great emphasis on protecting our menfolk from temptation.’

John smiled and shook his head, ‘Sorry I still don’t see the significance’

The Emir sighed. ‘No probably you wouldn’t and yet you need to know. Will you indulge me and let me give a complete explanation.

’Of course’

‘Islam regards promiscuity and homosexuality as heinous sins publishable by death. Therefore as a safeguard against committing these sins it is usual for a man to take a wife with him to provide an outlet for his sexual urges even on the edge of the battlefield.

Captured houses are allocated for use and captured women are allocated as either wives or concubines depending on wether they convert to Islam or not.

Before long this gathering becomes a new community, often a community committed to self promotion and expansion. It is not unusual for such communities to find a totally different interpretation of the Quran or Hadith.’

I do not want this to happen in Grenada… or Seville for that manner and for that reason I am sending Mercenaries, with the promise that they will be well rewarded when they return to Karaman in possession of new skills .’

He leaned across the table.

If they have a fault it is that they are irrationally courageous. They no no fear, please use deploy them with discretion… and please do not teach them to eat breakfast.’

The day after Tomorrow I would like you to meet the commander of my guard, Alexan, and here is as good as anywhere.. It would be useful for you to meet him. I have told him that you are my cousin and a Prince of Islam and that you will be freeing Grenada from a usurper. How much else you tell him is completely up to you. I recommend you share everything with him as he is very intelligent. He will reward you confidences with loyalty.’

Now another matter. Tomorrow I have been given an opportunity,  to visit the Arsenale and to be conducted from there to a seat on the grand canal where we can watch the regatta during which the river craft of the various islands of Venice are demonstrated. At the Arsenale, even though there will be a carnival atmosphere, it will still be useful for you to see the effort the Venetians use in constructing their fleet. They can if necessary build two galleys in a single day!

It is done through superb organisation. The spars and ribs, sails ropes and pulley are all prepared in advance to the most rigorous specifications, making the final assembly very efficient.

The preparatory work is carried out away from Venice making it possible to use an enormous number of people.’
John’s interest was immediately aroused ‘Yes I would like to accompany you, but isn’t this something Ximene would like to see?’

‘It will be impossible to keep her away.’ Wear eastern dress Sir John , the presence of an advisor is expected.’

He smiled. Oh! One other matter. When you visit Grenada. I will give you a letter of introduction. You will play the part of my cousin, a prince of Islam. I have a house in Grenada , Carmen Yasmine, one of my favourite places. It will be put at you disposal.’

He rose and stretched his arms.

‘That just about covers it. When will you leave?’

Ximene also stood.  ‘As soon as possible, say two or three days. If we are going to transport the guards. It will crowded on the first leg but at Brindisi you and your entourage  will break away to return to Karaman. ’


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.