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?

Presumably as a result of this marriage to Margaret Kerdeston, and the de Foix family’s strategic importance to England (as a result of their power base in Gascony), Jean de Foix was created in May 1446 Earl of Kendal in succession to John, Duke of Bedford and John, Duke of Beaufort. The revenues from the Barony of Kendal were committed elsewhere, with the honour of Richmond going to Margaret Beaufort. Why the Earldom of Kendal specifically? Possibly this was because it was available, and probably because of the Lancaster property connections of the early English Grelley, based in Manchester.

In 1444 Jean had been voted a Knight of the Garter, and in May 1446 he was duly invested with this honour – this was an unusual accolade, in that his father was still alive and also a KG. In Aug 1446 he was granted the castle of Mauleon de Soule et de la Bort, with the Duke of Gloucester’s consent. At the same time King Henry VI granted to his ‘dear and faithful cousin Jean de Foix’ an annuity of 250 marks in England until an alternative revenue source was found.

Jean was granted in March 1447 further property that had been Gloucester’s, which irritated others in Gascony that thought they also had a claim. These included Seiur de Duras who had been a supporter of English interests and whose family would continue to feature in that regard. Later that year King Henry ordered his officers in Bordeaux to put Jean in possession of his granted properties.

1449 saw Jean’s cousin Gaston Foix-Grailly being appointed Lieutenant General of the French army by Charles VII, and he proved effective in winning territory in the south-west and restricting the flow of supplies to the remaining English possessions. As a culmination of his victories, Charles VII conquered Bordeaux in 1451.

The citizens of  Bordeaux had grown used to the relatively easy-going English administration, and were not happy with the strictures imposed by the new French rulers. Hence in March 1452 they dispatched Pierre de Montferrand and Jean de Foix to London to appeal for an expedition to rescue them (Montferrand had put up a fierce defence at Blaye before the fall of Bordeaux to Dunois in 1451).



  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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