The Story Unfolds

Role of women/37Independance/54 IThere is sadness in Ximene’s voice because on the one hand she is being asked to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to help this faith survive and yet now she is being faced with the realization that the courts of love, an integral part of the culture promoted by the faith, can be used differently by those with different objectives. More generally it is not like this. Women from the south inherit lands, titles and corresponding responsibilities without any need to develop relationships with powerful men. It did not make them any less feminine, any less desirable. Lords and troubadours both traveled far to pay homage to Etiennette de Pennautier, who was known as Loba, the she wolf, in her own castle. Loba took many lovers but she rejected many more suitors than she accepted. Those who pleased her received her Accolade, a very special knighthood. ( for more details on the award of the Accolade see -More about Ximenes World /Chivalry.)Though at the start of the story Ximene is living in a relative backwater, she is not surprised that she is sought as a marriage partner by the Black Prince. She is confident that she can negotiate a marriage contract which will deliver her own objectives. As the story progresses her objectives change.  A satisfactory conclusion proves elusive but from where did her initial confidence arise?

More research was required which carried me into three separate areas; the concept of nobility, the right to rule and the sangreal, the holy blood.

The three topics are closely related but are really quite distinct. Certainly they explain why Ximene had great confidence in her own right to command attention and her evolution into a warrior queen.

The Cathar Religion

the-cave In the Cathar religion there was a distinction between the “Credentes”, the believers and the “Perfects” the leaders, who performed a similar role to priests.

Though the rules for the Perfects are strict , the rules for the Credentes as liberal. Not only is opinion and literature all in agreement on this point but the lifestyle of many known historical figures supports this belief. In particular Credentes were taught lovemaking as a skill and believed “it was not possible to sin below the waist”.

In these circumstances I believe that homosexuality for both sexes would be unremarkable. I have therefore allowed Ximene to be bisexual. As the story develops it makes a good counterpoint to John’s upbringing under the tutelage of the Church of Rome.

The Roman Empire

storage/28/nag-hammadi-condition/82 All of this later research has led me to the history and records of the Roman empire and beyond. I have been distracted beyond belief by statements that Cathars were good christians, that they followed the teachings of christ and yet at the same time that they did not believe Jesus was God and they thought that his cruxifiction was an illusion.

At school I was taught Latin and Greek.  It was sold to us as providing a tremendous advantage in accessing classical texts directly without the use of an interpreter. This we were told, should make it possible to see how translators and editors often distort original writings in a search for theological and political correctness.

However in my own search for understanding I have learned such distortions do exist and I know just enough to discern the importance of the differences. However I have discovered we have virtually no written original material, regardless of what my teachers told me.  There are stone tablets in egypt and even scattered throughout the roman empire which probably are more reliable that anything contained in books.  I now confess to being sceptical about much of recorded history and theology. I have had to make far more assumptions than I ever thought I would have to.


richard-ii Andrew Buchan, Eddie Redmayne and Ben Turner, with cast, in "Richard II" by William Shakespeare, in London. Director Michael Grandage delivers a simple, powerful and straightforward production.The first volume of Ximene’s adventures, ” The Virago” is now finished, though the editing (my part not my editors) is taking far longer than my estimates.  The second volume about Ximene ” The Young Eagle” is ready for editing.

To complete Ximene’s story, I have plotted the story structure for four further books.  These last two books will cover the same ground as Shakespeare’s Richard II and Henry IV (parts I & II) but  seen through the eyes of Ximene and John Stanley.

The alternative John Stanley

the-warrior The Story of John Stanley is also convoluted.

There are other documents outside of the Seacome history which give a less than glowing description Of John Stanley. He is obviously a remarkable man; tournament champion,military strategist, political opportunist. sensitive negotiator but in later life a brutal adversary. At the beginning of his life his ambition was to own a small farm but he lived to commanded armies and rule a nation.

He was emphatically not a man to be trifled with. Some records show him as being charged with the murder of Thomas Clotton in 1376 and being declared an outlaw. This may in fact be a different John Stanley as other records show him as king’s ambassador to Ireland in 1377. The two events do not seem to reconcile with each other. He was in Ireland again in 1380 when the Lord Lieutenant, Edmund Mortimer, drowned crossing a river in Cork. Mortimers wife, Phillipa de Burg died also in Cork, leaving the heir to the throne, Roger Mortimer as an orphan . There are question marks aboutJohn Stanley’s potential involvement in both these deaths.

The story of his life rapidly transforms into a story of the political forces which facilitated his rise and the powerful women who both helped and used him as he rose to a position of prominence.

Story weaving

The stories/11/Occitan Flag/1890 The Flag of OccitanIt is four or five different stories; the powerful women in England all of whom interacted with John Stanley, John Stanley’s remarkably rapid progression with the Black Prince  in Occitan. Then as the research continued the story of the Cathar faith emerged and with it the spectre of the Holy Inquisition. Finally and most importantly it is the story of Occitan itself. Occitan had everything required to aspire to nationhood; its own unique language and culture and clearly defined borders. It still today searches for independence.

The task was and still is to bring these stories together.

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.