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 November 1468 Jean’s daughter married Charles d’Armagnac, and his cousin Gaston de Foix-Grailly’s daughter Jeanne married Jean d’Armagnac. These two marriages sought to end the generations of feuding between the two families, and bring greater security to Louis XI’s south-western territories. In 1470 Jean took part in the processional entry into Bordeaux of Louis’ brother as Governor. Four years later he was representing Bordeaux in the presentation of a series of complaints to the King that required his action.

Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal and lord of many Gascon properties died in December 1485 and was buried in the church of Saint Jacques de Castelnau-de-Medoc. He left four principal children as recorded by Pere Anselme, two girls and two boys. His wife, Margaret Kerdeston, was given a life interest in the properties of Meilles, Gurcon and Fleix.

Margaret’s father, Sir Thomas Kerdeston, seems to have been a reasonably wealthy Norfolk and Suffolk landowner, who clearly did his bit in the wars with France. Since he owned a translated copy of Gaston-Phoebus de Foix’s renowned treatise on hunting, one must assume that firstly he enjoyed this pastime, which is borne out by his choice of a green and gold spiked hunting dog collar as his personal emblem; and secondly that he knew Gaston de Foix, Jean’s father, probably from fighting alongside him, possibly at Agincourt. When he died, seemingly in the year of Margaret’s marriage to Jean, she and her sisters became his heirs.

The brother of Margaret’s mother Elizabeth, William de la Pole, became Earl of Suffolk on the death of his father and elder brother at Agincourt. William, whose wife was Alice Chaucer, was no slouch in politics or business. It is not clear what the precise nature of the arrangements were, but most of the Norfolk and Suffolk Kerdeston property found its way into de la Pole hands.

As we have seen Jean de Foix became Earl of Kendal and received many grants from Henry VI, almost certainly promoted by William de la Pole. In 1449 William, now Duke of Suffolk, was accused by parliament with effecting these grants.



  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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