Can you tell us a little about the research process? Any fascinating facts that didn’t make it into the final draft?

I visited Occitan (Languedoc), the Garronne valley, Aquitaine and Armagnac three times, Spain once and Turkey once.  I found a lot in local libraries which is not available anywhere else. The involvement of librarians was vital.

The Idea of writing a book crept up on me.

I used histories by Alison Wier and Ian Mortimer to get colour for my descriptions of life in the fourteenth century and started to write.

I struggled against continual criticism of my liking for the Omniscient point of view. Therefore I invented a scene which created a narrator.

“The Nest Of Vixens” is set in 1375 and utilises the fact that Pipa in later life married Geoffrey Chaucer, surely Chaucer would be able to tell a good story!?

My real story started with the Invasion of the village of Montaillou in 1308, which was carried  out at the instigation of Jaques Fournier (who was at the time the bishop of Pamiers).

Much of the original work has been “lost”, which means it is in my filing system somewhere, but I enclose snippets  which are described elsewhere on the website as ” potential prologues.”

Eleanor’s Marriage” deals with how the mother of Lady Eleanor’s lover, Guillam de Clermont-Dessous was interrogated by the inquisition and subsequently burnt at the stake.

Guillam takes flight and joins “ the Stars of the Sea’ to fight against the Roman Church.

Lady Eleanor enters into a (forced?) marriage with Raimond Trencavel.

The Last Perfect” deals with the fact that Jaques Fournier when Bishop of Pampers lured Gilliame Belebaste ( the last Perfect), who had escaped from Montaillou, from his refuge in Aragon and had him interrogated, tortured and also burned at the stake.

Jaques Fournier claimed he had finally eradicated the Cathar faith and used that claim to support his election as Pope Benedict XI.

Most Dangerous” is a scene in the Pope’s palace in Avignon where Benedict is told the Cathar heresy is still alive and of the birth of Ximene Trencavel. This is the occasion where the Pope declares Ximene to be “the most dangerous woman in the world”

It could all perhaps be another book but it has already been addressed by Stephen O’Shea (The Perfect Heresy) and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie ( english version -Montaillou the promised land of error).

In the end it all delayed the story I really wanted to tell, the story of John and Ximene.

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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.