Prisoner Of Foix

Ximene has enjoyed a privileged upbringing.  Not every aspect of the 14th century world impacts directly on her. However, as is often the case, privilege brings with it duty and responsibility. In her case it has also brings severe constraint as her guardian seeks to gain political advantage by conducting an auction,  offering her hand in marriage to the highest bidder.

Ximene is trapped; incarcerated in a Château whose defences have never been breached, surrounded by deep valleys that are manned as intensively as conventional fortifications. Ximene’s prison is not entirely comprised of cold stone walls and a surrounding ring of mountains. As she considers her options she is desperately short of the information she needs to make sensible decisions.  Her view of the world outside Foix,is a narrow view inevitably constricted by her limited experience, her Cathar faith and non stop indoctrination by her grandmother, about what her duties and responsibilities might and should be.

 Ximene is totally committed to the Cathar faith. She has been brought up to believe that it is her destiny to restore the Cathar faith and to do that she needs to establish Occitan as an Independent state as a haven where the Cathar faith can be practiced without fear of prosecution. 

Entwined with her faith is her inheritance, She is nominally the heiress to a large portion of Occitan. Occitan is a geographical area, a culture and a language. In 1209, a crusade was mobilised by the Pope to eradicate the Cathar faith. Because the lords of Occitan had consistently refused to persecute Cathars, the first target of the Crusade was to remove these Lords. Ximene’s family,the Trencavels, Viscomptes of Albi,Razes,Carcassonne and Beziers suffered more than any. During the subsequent war, lasting more than 35 years, several generations of Trencavels tried to reclaim their land but ultimately, drained of resources, they failed. Ximene is being asked to try again.

Eventually the Northern Franks claimed sovereignty over the Trencavel lands. This claim was ratified by the treaty of Corbeil, between the Franks and Aragonese in 1258. The Trencavels were totally dispossessed.  However for a hundred years the rule of the Franks has been problematic.  The lands of Occitan are too far from their homeland in the Isle de Paris for them to govern directly. The Franks have imported northerners, who do not even speak Occitan, in new towns called Bastides. Bastides are effectively fortified habitations, insulated from the general poulation. In this way the Franks hope to exert some form of control.  More recently they have resorted to governance by mercenaries, bands of ex-soldiers known as “Les Routiers”.  The mercenaries roam the countryside caring nothing for the general populace, only for their own short term advantage. They remove anything of value and use murder, rape and torture as a means to intimidate the population 

In 1355 Occitan is in a ferment of rebellious talk, but it is only talk. They year for a leader who could turn talk into action,but for them also the concept of an independent occitan is inextricable linked to the cathar faith.  Ximene knows that if she had been prepared to swear allegiance to the King of the Franks and marry his son Louis of Anjou she could well have regained the family lands, possibly in her own right.  She believes however that this option would have required her to sanction the continued persecution of Cathars, something she was never prepared to do and which in any case would have made her rule unacceptable.

So, reluctantly and having no clear idea of how it might be made to work, Ximene comes to believe that she must create a new nation of Occitan, independent from the Franks.

Under the influence of her Grandmother she decides that the only way this can be achieved is by forming an alliance with the Plantagent rulers of England and Aquitaine. Aquitaine is one of the “Four Quarters” of  Occitan, speaking the same language and sharing the same culture.  The most obvious way to achieve this would be to marry into the Plantagenet family. The heir to  the Plantagenet throne is Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince. Ximene is told he is available and wishes to meet her. It is possible that with the Prince’s support all of Occitan could be united into a new nation with its own language its own natural borders and its own culture.

During the negotiations about the proposed marriage, Ximene discovers that one of the factors which has made her attractive to the Prince is that she is reputed to have inherited the Sangreal, the Holy Blood. Those who carry this blood are considered to have the right to rule and every Royal family is keen to add the Sangreal to their own bloodline. There are however dangers as well as benefits in possessing the Sangreal Those who fail in a bid to acquire the bloodline may also be prepared to kill in order to prevent others acquiring it. 

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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.