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?

This was not his only crime – probably the most serious in the eyes of parliament, was that he had been responsible for the loss of Gascony through his friendship with the French. In addition Suffolk was believed to have had a hand in the death of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester at Bury St Edmunds in February 1447. Eight days later Castillon, Lamarque, Saussac and Castelnau-de-Medoc were granted to Jean de Foix in perpetuity. (However, at the time Humphrey gained these properties, Gaston de Foix had protested that he had prior rights.) Suffolk was impeached and the charges included ‘favouring his niece’s husband, Jean de Foix, deserving as he may be’. He was released but Henry VI was forced to banish him for five years. Leaving England in 1450, his ship was intercepted in Dover straits and boarded. He was placed in a longboat, his head cut off and his body was dumped on the beach. This was duly buried at Wingfield.

That was not the end of the line for the de la Poles. William’s son John married Elizabeth, sister to Kings Edward IV and Richard III. The latter made John de la Pole’s son, (also John, Earl of Lincoln), his inheritor of the crown of England. With Henry VII’s victory at Bosworth, this guaranteed an uneasy relationship for the de la Poles. Lincoln died at the Battle of Stoke and his brothers Edmond and Richard then pursued the crown, and were referred to sequentially as ‘The White Rose’. Edmond and two other brothers were either executed or died in the Tower of London. Richard de la Pole fought for France in a number of continental battles, and died in 1525 at Pavia in Italy fighting alongside de Foix relations. His exploits are interestingly recorded in ‘The Last White Rose’ by Desmond Seward (2010).

The eldest son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal was Gaston who started a line referred to as Foix-Candalle in France (Tree 1), based on a continuity of the Earldom of Kendal. Gaston became an important functionary for the Kings of France. In 1487 he was Lieutenant General for the King in Gascony, becoming seneschal in 1491. At his death in 1500, he appointed Queen Anne of France as his executor. She was the daughter of the Duke of Brittany and Marguerite Foix-Grailly (which was the senior de Foix line).



  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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