Free Occitan.

One of the puzzles in Ximene’s story is the motivation of her grandmother, Lady Eleanor Trencavel (nee Pedilla). It proves difficult to explore as Ximene’s story progresses. Even when Eleanor talks to Ximene about it, it can only be a quick summary.To extend Eleanor’s monologue would be too great a diversion from the action. This prologue is intended to breath some life into Eleanor’s  character and motivation.

Free Occitan

Outside the sun was intense. However, now, in the late afternoon, a cool breeze whistled through the arched windows and rustled the curtains and swept through the marbled, polished hall. Papers escaped from paperweights and danced towards the far doorway.  Garcia Lopez de Padilla grabbed one as it floated past his ear and stamped on another in almost the same movement. He straightened to look at his daughter, gently smoothing the papers as he did so.

Eleanor Garcia de Pedilla tried hard to look her father in the eye.

‘I have given Raimon my favor. Is that not enough? I have now accepted him as my lover, and he is a good and attentive lover, but I do not want to marry him.’

Her father breathed his frustration so deeply that it echoed around the room. He strode towards his daughter arms outstretched.  His first few steps produced a staccato echo, which only ceased when left the stone floor, and crossed the carpet on which his daughter was standing. He grasped her by both shoulders, pulling her in so that her face was pressed firmly against his chest. He then gently lifted himself away. Now it was he who sought eye contact.

‘No, Eleanor, it is not enough.’

Eleanor looked at him quizzically. It was not his style to tell her what to do. He responded to the unspoken question. Gently he stroked her shoulder and upper arm. He spoke gently, sympathetically.

‘What do you think has been the biggest change I have seen during my lifetime?’

Eleanor gave the question due consideration.

‘ Probably the Reconquista, the defeat of the Moors.’

Her father laughed. ‘No, that was considerably before I was born,’ he put a finger to his lips. ‘but strangely enough you are right.’

He hesitated, obviously thinking about the right words to use.

‘Since the Moors have been driven back to Andalucia in the far south, the Roman Church has come like a flock of vultures picking over the casualties. Until recently in Castile and even here in Aragon, they have been more of a nuisance than a threat.’

There was now pain and frustration in his voice.

‘ But their power steadily grows.   Now the Inquisition is transferring its murderous work from Occitan. Therefore the major change I have seen is the ever increasing persecution of Cathars, those who share our faith.’

Eleanor demeanor was still questioning.

‘And I have been taught well how to attend Roman Sacraments, how to conceal my own beliefs from non believers’

Her father winced.

‘They make progress every day, already we are forced to build secret rooms and soon these will be the only places we can discuss our beliefs.’

Eleanor turned away, gazing at meadows and mountains beyond.

‘But as threatening as this may be what has it to do with any question of my marrying Raimon?’

Her father smiled but it was an icy smile.

‘You are now twenty-two years of age and you will come under suspicion if you do not marry soon. The Church of Rome knows that we place less importance on marriage than we do on affairs of the heart. If you do not go through their ceremony of marriage, then they will become evermore attentive to your affairs.’

‘ I should have married Guillam,’ she said, sadness softening her voice.

‘ Never possible. After they burned his mother at the stake, he himself was under suspicion but even that was irrelevant, he wanted revenge. I really liked Guillam, but now he is lost to both of us. He has gone to fight a war he cannot win.’

Eleanor sighed but again turned to face her father.

‘ I find it difficult to accept that ours is a hopeless cause, but it is true, his last words to me were that he would dedicate his life to fighting the Church of Rome. He believes it is probable he will die as a martyr.’  She hesitated. ‘So now, if I must marry, it must be to someone else.  But why Raimon Trencavel?’

‘ First and foremost because you enjoy being with him, it shows. But also because he is the rightful heir to the lands of Occitan, and to the Comptes of Razes, Beziers, Albi, Toulouse and Carcassonne. His heirs will inherit his rights.’

‘But he himself has no interest in those somewhat empty claims. The Franks are firmly in control of his lands.’

Not as firmly as you might think. The King of the Franks is a long way away, beyond the Montagne Noir and the Central Massif in the cold north.  It is quite possible that things could change, Occitan could reclaim its Independance. If the lands do come back to Raimon’s family, it must be to a Cathar family so that the faith may be re-established. You Eleanor could provide that family and bring it up with Cathar fervour.’

Eleanor’s eyes widened with understanding.

‘So you expect me to bear his children?’

‘Of course, it is important that they are brought up in the Cathar faith. I would trust you, above anyone else to stay true to that objective.

Eleanor found herself blushing.

‘But I must say again he has no such ambitions, he has told me…’ She dropped her eyes. ‘In an intimate moment when I am sure he would have been telling the truth, he has told me that he has only returned to the Pyrenees because he loves these lands.’

‘ And I must say again that circumstances can be changed. If Occitan were to break away from the Franks it could be possible to set up a haven where the faith could thrive. Those who are heirs to the Trencavel lands could and would play a leading role.

Eleanor shook her head, but then had second thoughts.

‘I will think about it Father. I promise you I will give it serious consideration. I hear what you say but I must think about it. Deep inside I know he is not the man I am looking for. I sometimes see a very special man in my dreams, a very special man who does have the power to change the “circumstances”’

He father nodded sadly. ‘In your dreams’

They embraced again, enjoying a quiet moment of contemplation and compassion.

Slowly, regretfully, he pulled himself away. ‘They have set a date for burning Guilliaume Belibaste.’

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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.