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County of Foix (Traditional province, France)

Comté de Foix

Last modified: 2016-11-13 by ivan sache
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[County of Foix]

County of Foix - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 January 2003

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History of the County of Foix

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 in the FoixStory website, maintained by Thierry Borel. The complicated history of the County of Foix shows the permanent involvement of the counts in the more global history and their permanent struggle with their neighbours, smaller or bigger lords.

The first Count of Foix was Bernard I (1012). He was of the family of the Counts of Carcassonne, who were in the 9th 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 backing this claim is Alaon's Chart, which was proved to be a forgery dating from the 17th century. Therefore, the origin of the first Counts of Foix is still obscure.

Count Roger II (1067-1124) should have inherited the County of Carcassonne in 1067 after Count Roger III's death, but he was despoiled by his neighbours the Trencavel.
Roger III (1124-1148) reconciliated in 1125 with the Trencavels but was subsequently involved in the conflict between Aragon and Castile.
Roger Bernard I (1148-1188) was involved in the war between Toulouse and Barcelona (1185).
Raymond 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) but keep struggling with the Bishop of Urgell (1233-1239).
Roger IV (1241-1265) was in conflict with Toulouse (1242-1249) and the Bishop of Urgell (1243-1257) and repressed the Cathars (1261).
Roger-Bernard III (1265-1302) struggled against the King of France, surrendered in 1272 and was kept prisonner until 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 and the root of the Foix-Béarn dynasty.
Gaston I (1302-1315) joined the King of France in his expedition against the Flemish towns.
Gaston II (1315-1343) helped the King of France in his guerilla against the English in Guyenne (1339), and went on the Crusade against the Moors of Granada (1343).
Gaston III Febus (1343-1391) fought the English in Calais (1347); arrested by King of Fance John II the Good in 1356, he was released after the defeat of John in Poitiers on 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.
John I of Foix-Grailly (1398-1412) purchased in 1415 the County of Bigorre. 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 the heir of Navarre by the Treaty of Barcelona (1455). He fought the English in 1442, helped John II of Aragon (1462) and quarreled with King of France Louis XI about Navarre (1471).
François-Febus (1472-1483) was crowned King of Navarre in 1479.
Catherine of Foix-Grailly and John II of Albret (1483-1516) were crowned Queen and King of Navarre in Pamplona (1494). John of Foix-Narbonne challenged their legitimity in 1494-1497. In 1500, King Ferdinand V of Aragon married Germaine of Foix-Narbonne. Gaston of Foix-Narbonne died during the battle of Ravenna in 1512. The same year, Ferdinand V invaded Navarre.
Henry III of 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 Henry was the heir apparent to the throne of France. In 1587, he became allied with King of France Henry III against the ultra-catholic League led by the Guise. The two Henrys met in Plessis-lez-Tours in 1589 and besieged Paris the same year. On 2 August, Henry III was murdered. In 1590, Henry of Navarre defeated the Duke of Mayenne and the League in Ivry-la-Bataille and Arques-la-Bataille (Normandy). Henri abjured calvinism in 1593 and was sacred king of France, as Henry IV, in Chartres in 1594. He was eventually absolved by pope Clement VIII in 1595.

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

Ivan Sache, 24 January 2003

Flag of the County of Foix

The flag of the County of Foix is the banner of the arms D'or aux trois pals de gueules (Or three pallets gules), assigned to the province by Jacques Meurgey in his Notice historique sur les blasons des anciennes provinces de France (Historical note on the coats of arms of the ancient French provinces, 1941).

The evolution of the number of pallets is discussed on Thierry Borel's FoixStory website.
There is no hint on the arms of the Counts of Foix before the 13th century. The oldest known arms are shown on a seal appended to a chart signed by Roger Bernard II in 1229, featuring 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 town of Foix, as shown on a chart dated 1281, and not necessarily of the County of Foix.

Borel's conclusion is that the arms traditonally shown with three pallets never belonged to the County.

Ivan Sache, 14 June 2009