Lord of the Pyrenees: Gaston Fébus, Count of Foix [1331-1391]
The reign of Gaston III, Count of Foix and self-proclaimed sovereign Lord of Béarn, stands out as one of the rare success stories of the `calamitous' fourteenth century. By playing a skilful game of shifting allegiances and timely defiance, he avoided being drawn into the conflicts between his more powerful neighbours - France and English Aquitaine, Aragon and Castile - thus sparing his domains the devastations of warfare. Best known as a patron of the arts, and the author of a celebrated ‘Book of the Hunt’, Fébus - as he styled himself - also prefigures the eighteenth-century `enlightened despots' with his effort to centralize government, protect natural resources and promote enterprise. But a sequence of mysterious tragedies - the abrupt dismissal of his wife, the slaying of his only legitimate son - reveal the dark side of the brilliant and enigmatic `Sun Prince of the Pyrenees'. RICHARD VERNIER is Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages and Literatures, Wayne State University. He is the author of ‘The Flower of Chivalry: Bertrand du Guesclin and the Hundred Years War’.
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