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?

In a 1512 ciphered letter (State Papers) Knight writes to Cardinal Wolsey, saying that ‘he had tried to gain over the Archbishop of (Bordeaux), brother to Mons. de Kendall, one of the noblest of Gascoigne,…’. So it is clear an effort was being made to win over the de Foix, among others.

So did Thomas Kendall go to Calais to assist this objective, or for information gathering, or for business, or for all three? I suspect this was ostensibly for commercial purposes, but I believe that it was also to obtain intelligence in advance of Henry’s expedition into France the following year. With the powerful de Foix family living in the south-west he had, possibly uniquely, a reason to move freely through France.

With the other properties that they held, the de Foix were one of the largest holders of wine producing land in the south-west of France. On 12.11.1478 Louis XI wrote to ‘nostre amé et réal Cousin Le Sire de Candalle et a Les Sires de Durfort et de Montferrand’ confirming their right to sell wine for profit in the taverns of Bordeaux etc. I will quote also from a 1497 ‘vidimus’ (confirmation of grant)  ‘Henri, roi d’Angleterre, donne a Jean de Foix, son cousin, Castillon, Lamarque, Moton , Saussac, Castelnau, Milhou, Budos, Cussac, Listrac et Montignac, lesquelles seigneuries le dit roy avait donne auparavant a Humfred, duc de Gloucester, oncle du dit roy, 5 oct. l’an de son regne 25 (1446)’. The de Foix family had hereditary rights and responsibilities with regard to Bordeaux.

The actual production of wine will have been handled by estate managers, and the sale or trading of wine would also to a greater extent have been handled by third parties; but the de Foix had a direct interest in facilitating trade and good pricing. England was the main purchaser of wine from the south-west of France. If you visit a good wine merchant today you might find a Chateau Lamarque, Beychevelle, Latour, Mouton (bought by Gaston de Foix in 1499, it eventually became Mouton-Rothschild), Mauvesin, La Tour Carnet, Palmer, or Lafite. These were all part of the de Foix/Grailly estates at one time or another.



  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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