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County of Foix (Traditional province, France)

Comté de Foix

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: county of foix | comte de foix |
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[County of Foix]by Arnaud Leroy

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History of the County

Thierry Borel has set up a website called FoixStory whose presentation and content are excellent. The history, genealogy and heraldry of the Counts of Foix and other families involved in the history of the area are explained in great detail. I have attempted to summarize below the complicated history of the County of Foix, which shows the permanent involvement of the Counts in the more global history and their permanent struggle with their neighbours, small or big lords.

The first Count of Foix was Bernard I (1012). He was of the family of the Counts of Carcassonne, who were in the IXth century vassals of the Counts of Toulouse and progressively gained independence. It is often said that the Counts of Foix were descendants of the royal Merovingian dynasty through Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine. The only source for the early genealogy of the Dukes of Aquitaine is Alaon's Chart, which was proved to be a forgery dating from XVIIth century. Therefore, the origin of the first Counts of Foix is still obscure.

I shall summarize the history of the County following the succession of the Counts.

  • Bernard I (1012-1034)
  • Roger I (1034-1067)
  • Roger II (1067-1124) should have inherited the County of Carcassonne in 1067 when Count Roger III died, but he was despoiled by his neighbours the Trencavels.
  • Roger III (1124-1148) reconciliated in 1125 with the Trencavels. He was involved in the conflict between Aragon and Castile.
  • Roger-Bernard I (1148-1188) was involved in the war between Toulouse and Barcelona (1185).
  • Raimond-Roger (1188-1223) struggled against Toulouse (1201), was defeated in Urgell (1203) and signed a peace treaty with Comminges (1209).
  • Roger-Bernard II (1223-1241) surrendered to the King of France and the Pope (1229) and struggled with the Bishop of Urgell (1233-1239).
  • Roger IV (1241-1265) was in conflict with Toulouse (1242-1249), the Bishop of Urgell (1243-1257) and repressed the Cathares (1261).
  • Roger-Bernard III (1265-1302) struggled against the King of France and surrendered in 1272, and was kept prisonner in 1272-1273. In September 1276, he invaded Navarre on the King's behalf. The King of Aragon captured him and jailed him until 1283. Two years later, he helped France against Aragon, but was again in conflict with the sénéchaux (military governors) of Toulouse and Carcassonne. In 1290, the Viscount of Béarn died; Roger-Bernard married his heir and became Viscount of Béarn, being the root of the Foix-Béarn dynasty.
  • Gaston I (1302-1315) joined the King of France in his expedition against the Flemish cities.
  • Gaston II (1315-1343) helped the King of France in his guerilla against the English in Guyenne (1339), and went on Crusade against the Moors of Granada (1343).
  • Gaston III Febus (1343-1391) fought the English in Calais (1347) but was later arrested by the King of Fance Jean le Bon (1356) and released after the defeat of Jean in Poitiers (19 September 1356). The powerful Count of Armagnac and Duke of Berry set up an alliance against Febus but he eventually defeated them in Laurac on 5 December 1362.
  • Matthieu de Foix-Castelbon (1391-1398).
  • Isabelle de Foix-Castelbon & Archambaud de Grailly (1398-1412) pled allegiance to the King of France in 1402.
  • Jean I de Foix-Grailly (1398-1412) purchased in 1415 the County of Bigorre. He was appointed Governor of Dauphiné (1416) and Languedoc (1434). He married his son to Eleanor, the heir of Navarre.
  • Gaston IV (1436-1472) was officially designed heir of Navarre by the treaty of Barcelona (1455). He fought the English in 1442, helped Jean II of Aragon (1462) and quarreled with King of France Louis XI concerning Navarre (1471).
  • François-Febus (1472-1483) was crowned King of Navarre in 1479.
  • Catherine de Foix-Grailly and Jean II d'Albret (1483-1516) were crowned King of Navarre in Pampelona (1494). Jean de Foix-Narbonne contested their legitimity in 1494-1497. In 1500, King Ferdinand V of Aragon married Germaine de Foix-Narbonne. Gaston de Foix-Narbonne died during the battle of Ravenna in 1512. The same year, Ferdinand V invaded Navarre.
  • Henri II de Navarre-Albret (1516-1555) attempted to reincorporate Navarre, to no avail.
  • Jeanne III de Navarre-Albret and Antoine de Bourbon-Vendôme (1555-1572), Jeanne alone from 1555. In 1571, calvinism was chosen as the state religion.
  • Henri III de Navarre-Bourbon (1572-1610) had to abjure protestantism after his capture in 1572 but escaped in 1576. In 1584, the Duke of Anjou died and Henri was the heir apparent to the throne of France. In 1587, he became allied with King of France Henri II against the ultra-catholic League led by the Guises. Both Henris met in Plessis-lez-Tours in 1589 and besieged Paris the same year. On 2 August, Henri II was murdered. In 1590, Henri de Navarre defeated Duke of Mayenne and the League in Ivry and Arques (Normandy). Henri abjured calvinism in 1593 and was sacred King of France (Henri IV) in Chartres in 1594. He was evntually absolved by Pope Clement VIII in 1595.

The County of Foix was officially incorporated to France in 1607.

Ivan Sache, 24 January 2003

Description of the flag

The banner of arms of the County of Foix is:

D'or aux trois pals de gueules (GASO)

Brian Timms mentions four pallets instead of three:

Or four pallets gules

The evolution of the number of pallets is described on Thierry Borel's FoixStory as follows:

Nothing is known on the arms of the Counts of Foix before the XIIIth century.
The first arms are shown on a seal appended to a chart signed by Roger-Bernard II in 1229. It has six pallets gules. These arms might have been related to those of Aragon, since there were family relations between Foix and Aragon.
On seals appended to charts dated 1241 and 1242, Roger IV's arms have five pallets.
In 1276, Roger-Bernard III's seal has four pallets. In 1281, following his marriage with the heir of Béarn, Roger-Bernard quartered his arms Foix-Béarn. The Foix arms had only three pallets, but were the arms of the city of Foix, as shown on a chart dated 1281, and not of the County of Foix.

Borel's conclusion is that the arms traditonally shown with three pallets never belonged to the County. Therefore, Brian Timms might be correct when showing four pallets for the arms of the County of Foix.

Ivan Sache, 24 January 2003