Gaston III of Foix-Béarn

Gaston III/X of Foix-Béarn, also Gaston Fébus or Gaston Phoebus (30 April 1331 – 1391) was the 11th count of Foix, and viscount of Béarn (1343–1391). Officially, he was Gaston III of Foix and Gaston X of Béarn.

Early life

He was born either in Orthez or Foix, the son of Gaston II/IX (1308–1343).

Count of Foix

Béarn had passed to the county of Foix in 1290. Count Gaston III Fébus paid homage to the king for his own county, but starting in 1347 he refused to give homage for Béarn, which he claimed as an independent fief, with its chief seat his stronghold at Pau, a site that had been fortified by the 11th century, which was later made the official capital of Béarn in 1464.

He was succeeded as count of Foix by Mathieu of Foix-Castelbon.

A fortune won in battle

The house of Béarn-Foix was engaged in a long running feud with the family of D'Armagnac. In 1362, a battle was fought between the two sides at Launac. Gaston Fébus was victorious and succeeded in capturing his chief rivals, whom he ransomed for a vast fortune of at least 600,000 florins. This money was stored in the Moncade tower in Orthez, where Fébus also created a gallery of portraits and military trophies to commemorate the event.[1]

Records of Jean Froissart

In the 1380s, Jean Froissart visited the County of Foix. He recorded the splendor of the court of Orthez under Gaston Fébus in the latter half of the 14th century. Gaston recorded the three "special delights" of his life as "arms, love and hunting"; he wrote an important treatise on the latter entitled Livre de chasse.

Livre de chasse (Book of the Hunt)

Gaston was one of the greatest huntsmen of his day, and hunted literally to his dying day - he died of a stroke as he was washing his hands after returning from a bear hunt. His Livre de chasse was written between 1387 and 1388. It was dedicated to Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Recorded in the book are different stages of hunting and hunting different animals. The book also describes animal behavior, offers advice to poor gentry how they may enjoy hunting without bankrupting themselves, and is even sympathetic to the peasant poacher because he too has the hunting instinct.

It is the classic treatise on Medieval hunting, and noted for one manuscript which has exquisite miniatures, illustrating the hunt.[2]

Marriage and children

Gaston Phoebus married Agnes of Navarre (1334–1396), daughter of Joan II of Navarre and Philip III of Navarre in 1348. They had a son:

Betrayal of the Count's son

As Jean Froissart recorded, Gaston Phoebus's son Gaston betrayed him. Gaston tried to poison his father using a powder that he got from King Charles II of Navarre. Gaston was caught and imprisoned by his father. Later on, Gaston was accidentally stabbed and killed by his father during a quarrel.[3] After Gaston died, Gaston Phoebus had no legitimate heir. In 1393, in Paris at a masquerade given by the Queen of France, Isabeau of Bavaria, one of Gaston Phoebus's four recorded illegitimate sons, Yvain de Foix, was burned to death when his costume caught fire from a torch. The other performers died as well. This masquerade came to be known as the Bal des Ardents.[4]

See also

Notes

References

Preceded by
Gaston II of Foix - Bearn
Count of Foix
1343-1391
Succeeded by
Mathieu of Foix-Castelbon
Preceded by
Gaston II of Foix - Bearn
Co-Prince of Andorra
1343-1391
Succeeded by
Mathieu of Foix-Castelbon

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