1308 – Troyes, Kingdom of France
The old man sitting before the exquisitely carved oak table took a deep breath – his pen poised over the official parchment before him. Beside it sat a small purse of coins. It was a reasonable price given the gift at his disposal. He ran his hand through thinning grey hair, his heavy, pouched eyes straining to make out the characters on the page. His name was Guichard, and he was the current Bishop of Troyes – an important appointment by most people’s reckoning. But his greatest disappointment was the contempt in which he was held by his townspeople. He looked at the purse again, and then slowly tipped its contents onto the table. Twelve coins. What was that, really? Compared to the post he was giving, it was nothing. The recipient would be set for life - as would his family. What price could you put on that? And his enemies accused him of simony! Well, they could call it what they liked – those ill-bred, uneducated buffoons. He was the Bishop, and he was far from being the only churchman in Christendom to do it. In fact, it would be considered arrogant of him not to. Besides - his decision was God’s decision. Anyone who challenged that was a heretic.