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?

With no money and considerable in-fighting at home, England was not in a position to support an expedition. However, at this time the Duke of Burgundy still had issues with Charles VII, and was only too delighted to finance the expedition. John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, was appointed commander and he gathered his forces and set sail.

The gates of Bordeaux were opened to them and then Talbot headed for Castillon for the winter. Although this new invasion had taken Charles by surprise, he took his time to gather a substantial force. This swept south the following spring and laid siege to Castillion in July 1453. Talbot, who had been in Bordeaux with reinforcements brought by his son, arrived to give battle. The French however had learnt a number of lessons over the hundred years’ war, and these came together at Castillon. They had prepared their ground well, including earthworks for a considerable quantity of cannon. These did fearful damage to the ranks of the English, and the French employed a flanking movement that disrupted the English order of battle. The English broke and fled leaving Talbot and his son among the many dead.

Jean de Foix and 500 others retreated into Castillon, but were compelled to surrender, with Jean taken prisoner. Pierre de Montferrand, Seiur de Lesparre was also captured, but since he had been captured in 1451 and banished, he was executed. His wife was Mary Plantagenet, John, Duke of Bedford’s daughter. The battle of Castillon was the last in the Hundred Year’s War.

Charles VII was extremely irritated that Jean de Foix would not renounce his loyalty to England and demanded a harsh ransom. His father had to sell his anciently held possessions in Burgundy and Savoy to raise the ransom for his son. Like Jean III de Grailly, Jean de Foix was kept in prison for seven years after which he departed for England in 1460.

This must have been a depressing time after the glory years of 1446/7. The Foix family had demonstrated quite extraordinary loyalty to the cause of England and its kings over the centuries. Many in Gascony considered themselves English, and it must have taken some time to accept and accommodate the change to a French administration.



  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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