The Legend

Herod’s Temple

45/Treasure/ The temple 2/365 Artist's impression of Herods Temple

A large portion of the Visigothic treasure had its origins in Herod’s temple in Jerusalem.

Traditionally the Temple was decorated and filled with precious artefacts. The most holy place of Solomon’s temple (the first temple) was lined with cedar from Lebanon and covered with 600 talents of gold. This gold plating alone, about 540,000 troy ounces, would be worth about $270 million today. The doors of the temple were also covered with gold plates.

The splendor of Solomon’s kingdom brought him recognition and fame that attracted much foreign attention. For example, during her visit “to test Solomon with hard questions” the Queen of Sheba brought Solomon 120 talents of gold, ($54,000,000), “and a very great store of spices and precious stones,”

This first temple was looted and destroyed, to be replaced by a second temple which again was plundered. How much of the “wealth was stored away and was subsequently recovered is unknown. In roman times Herod the Great extended the second temple and restored it to it’s former glory.

Vespasian and Titus

45/Treasure/ Invasion/359 The invasion and burning of the TempleIn AD 70 the Roman Emperor Vespasian, believing that the state of Judah was the greatest and most enduring threat to the Roman Empire, ordered his son Titus not just to wage war on Judah but to completely destroy it.  It took Titus two years but he succeeded. He brought back to Rome the entire contents of the temple.

45/Treasure/ the temple/2212 A model of Herod's temple The pillaging of the temple, its total destruction and the burning of Jerusalem, with terrible suffering and loss of life occurred in 70 AD. Tradition has it that the intense flames of the temple fire melted the gold and silver of the temple so that it ran between the cracks of the very fabric of the structure. Roman soldiers then totally dismantled the temple stone by stone to extract the gold, (see Matthew 24:1-2). No one seems to know with certainty if any of the vessels or sacred objects from Herod’s temple were hidden in subterranean passageways during the long siege of Titus. It is probable that the majority was carried off to Rome. It is estimated that at the time of it’s destruction, the temple contained 50 tons of gold and silver.

The spoils of victory

45/Treasure/ the arch/355 The relief carving on the arch of Titus showing the treasures of the TempleThe Arch of Titus still exists in the Roman Forum. A relief panel on the Arch clearly displays the spoils, the seven-branched candelabrum or Menorah, the silver trumpets and the Table of the Shewbread. The treasure was then kept in Rome for three hundred years. The Arch has been the model for many later triumphal arches including, most notably, the Arc de Triumph in Paris.

45/Treasure/ Aggrippa and Berenice/2214 Herod Aggrippa and Beronice at the trial of St Paul. Titus also brought back from Jeusalem a young lady called Berenice who was the great grandaughter of Herod the Great.

Berenice’s other claim to fame was that she sat alongside her brother Herod Agrippa II during the trial of St Paul. The image is of a stained glass window in St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia.

She lived with Titus as his wife both before and after he became Emperor, but was never accepted by the Roman People. The couple had no children. Or did they?…But all that is another story!

The Goths

the-migrations In AD 340 a Germanic tribe, the Goths sought refuge on the south bank of the Danube to escape from the advance of the Huns. There followed sixty years in which the Goths were recruited into the Roman Army.

At the time in AD 406 when other “barbarians”, Sweves, Vandals and Alans invaded the Roman Empire the Visigoth’s Roman mentor, a man called Stilicho was deposed and murdered. In the chaos which followed the Visigothic families were slaughtered. One motivation of the attack was that the Visigoths followed the Arian version of Christianity, considered by the Roman Church to be a heresy.

sack-of-rome As a result, in AD 410 the Goths sacked Rome and stole its treasures.  Their leader Ataulf followed Titus’ example. He not only took the treasure but he took a young lady, this time Aelia Galla Placida, the daughter of the Roman Emperor Thedosius.  Placida and Atulf had a son,Thedosius who is supposed to have died young but did he?…Once again that is another story.

A search for tolerance

45/Treasure/ occitan/363 The Visigothic homeland and the attack of the FranksThe Visigoths settled in the Garonne Valley, made Toulouse their capital and recovered Hispania (Spain) from the “Barbarians”.

Some believe that the reason they moved to this part of the Roman Empire is because this is where Mary Magdelene sought refuge  after the cruxifiction and they believed that her disciples also preached Arian beliefs. The were looking for tolerance and sanctuary!

As the Roman Empire crumbled the Visigoths took control of everything to the south of the Loire and to the west of the Rhone. The Language, culture and religion of Occitan flowered under their rule.

The Easter Parade

The treasure they had taken from Rome, a large portion of which had been stolen from Jerusalem, was paraded in Toulouse every Easter Sunday for over seventy years. In 486 the Franks defeated Syagrius, a Roman general who still commanded Neustria which lay to the north of the Loire. it is possible that Britain also was included in the embryo state governed by Syagrius.

The Franks then moved south and defeated the Visigoths at the battle of Vouille, near Poitiers. King Alaric II was killed and his son was taken south of the Pyrenees. Within three years The Franks were besieging Carcasonne but they failed to take it. The last time the treasure was seen was in Carcassone.

And so to Rhedae

45/Treasure/ terrain/364 Terrain in the foothills of the Pyrenees ex Google EarthThe legend is that the treasure was moved to Rhedae, in the northern fringes of the Pyrenees, because the plain of Lauzat around Rhedae was easier to defend. Also there were several passes from the plain of Lauzat leading through the Northern range of the Pyrenees forming a “backdoor” through which the treasure could be moved if necessary. Rhedae, a sizeable city, was subsequently destroyed in the middle of the Fourteenth century. All that now remains is the small village of Rennes le Château.

For safe keeping the treasure was hidden in the foothills of the Pyrenees somewhere close to Rhedae. Meanwhile the Visigoths had moved their headquarters to first Barcelona then Toledo. However, even today the pass through the Gorge d’Algy pass is only a single track road carved in the side of the cliff and there is a schedule for when it allows traffic in each direction. Perhaps there was no road at that time which was accessible for heavy loads and so the majority of the treasure remained in its hiding place.

For nearly 200 hundred years the Franks tried to get control of the area but failed. The treasure may still be there.

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.