Anglo-French Relations The Cloak of Secrecy A personal voyage of detection

King Richard the Third's Secretary of State: A son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal?

Gaston’s daughter Anne Foix-Candalle was the Queen’s lady-in-waiting. In 1502 she married Vladislas Jagellon, King of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. It is reported in a manuscript from that time, that the wedding ceremony was attended by ‘Sombreset’ and by ‘la Doyen de Salzbery’, who were among the Ambassadors. It was also reported that Anne asked after her kinsfolk, ‘her English connection’. Were these the de la Poles that she was asking after, or others? Sombreset was undoubtedly Charles Somerset, married to Elizabeth West, daughter of Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, the latter family being the inheritors of the English Grailly. Somerset was an illegitimate Beaufort son, and his grandfather’s brother was John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, descended from John of Gaunt, a son of King Edward III. (John Beaufort had also been Earl of Kendal.)

The presence of Margaret Countess of Salisbury is interesting. She was not actually confirmed in her right to this title by Henry VIII until 1513. He was very wary of both her and the de la Poles, both of whom represented lines of Yorkist continuity. Some would argue that their right to the throne was stronger than Henry’s, and he was highly conscious of this. Margaret was the daughter of George Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV and Richard III. Her mother was Isabelle Neville, daughter of Richard, ‘The Kingmaker’, Earl of Warwick. She was also the brother of Edward, Earl of Warwick who was seen as a threat by Henry VII and executed in 1499. Her first cousins included John (Richard III’s inheritor), Edmond and Richard de la Pole. These were dangerous credentials, but she seems to have walked the line carefully, becoming friends with Katherine of Aragon, and in 1516 effectively Governess to the young Princess Mary. However, in 1541 Henry VIII eliminated those whom he saw as a threat, and the executions included Margaret who received no trial. Moved by the injustice, it is said that she refused to lie down for the executioner and as a result she gave him a good run for the money before succumbing!

In looking at the use of arms by Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal, I found that the early Barons of Kendal in the time of Henry II carried ‘argent, two bars gules, in a canton gules, a lion passant, or’. This family seems to have lost the use, because the next Earl of Kendal is John Duke of Bedford, fourth son of Henry IV.



  1. Since King Richard’s will is of such importance these days in the debate about where he intended to be interred, do you have a source for your statement that he changed his will to appoint his nephew John de la Pole as his successor? Some people argue that we cannot know Richard’s intention in that regard since he left no will, while others are of the opinion that Richard, like other medieval men going to battle, certainly left a will, but that it was probably destroyed by Tudor’s men after Bosworth.

    1. Thank you for this. I do not have a primary source but secondary sources are many eg:
      William Toone’s The Chronological Historian (1828) Vol 1 p.110
      James Anderson’s A genealogical History of the House of Yvery (1742) Vol.1 p294
      The Works of Francis Bacon (edition 1854) Vol 1 p.739
      King Richard’s appointment of John de la Pole as his successor is what gave rise to the claims of the ‘White Rose’ please see Desmond Seward’s book of that title.

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