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Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buche, Count of Bigorre 1331-1376

Also known as John de Grailly

Born: 1331


Died: 1376, Paris


Parents: Jean II de Grailly, Captal de Buch Vicomte de Benauge et Castillon (died about 1343), Blanca de Foix


Gaston de Grailly, Captal de Buché (died 1362)
Marguerite de Grailly

Married 1: 27 November 1350

Spouse 1: Rose d' Albret


Heraldic Coat of Arms: or, on a cross sable five escalops argent.

Crest: A man's head, in profile, with asses ears.

Knight of the Garter 1348, Founder Member, Stall 5

Jean III de Grailly, Captal de Buch (later Buché) was an archaic feudal title in Gascony, Captal from Latin capitalis "prime, chief" in the formula capitales domini or "principal lords." Captal (Lat. capitalis, first, chief ). The title "Captal" was used only by the seigneurs of Trene, Puychagut, Epernon and Buch. When Pierre, the seigneur of Grailly (ca 1285 - 1356) married Asalide (the captaline de Buch), the heiress of Pierre-Amanieu de Bordeaux, captal de Buch, in 1307, the title passed into the Grailly family, a line of fighting seigneurs with origins in Savoy.

Jean de Grailly was viewed by Froissart as the ideal of 14th-century chivalry. When he was captured he demanded to know of his captor if he was of gentle birth as he would rather die than surrender to one who was not. Jean serverd under Edward III and Prince Edward and was made Count of Bigorre by Edward III in 1339. Jean took part in the tournament at Woodstock, England in March 1355 and during the campaign of 1355 he led the Middleguard with Prince Edward and Oxford. On the 17 October 1355 he captured the fortress of Plaisance. They returned from campaigning and spent the winter of 1355 in Bordeaux, and started campaigning again in the first week of January 1356. Jean de Grailly led a force North East and captured the town of Périguex. Before the battle of Poitiers he led a scouting unit and during the battle of Poitiers Jean had decisive role as a cavalry leader under Edward, the Black Prince. Prince Edward ordered asmall cavalry unit led by Jean to be held hidden at the rear as a reserve and ordered a flanking movement with the mounted force charging into the left rear of the French force. The shout which his men gave when they launched their attack was probably crucial in breaking the French morale. Although it is likely that the French still out-numbered the Anglo-Gascon force, they crumpled under the two-pronged attack, leaving King John and most of his upper nobility prisoners in Edward's hands.

On June 9 1358 Jean de Grailly and his cousin Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix were returning from the crusades in Prussia and reached Meaux, France, where that same day 9,000 Jacques had entered the city and were trying to gain entry to the fotress called the Market of Meaux, which held the Dauphins wife, sistes and infant daughter. Neither Jean or Gaston were friends of the Valois, but chivalry dictated they should defend the ladies so with 40 lances (120 men) they defeated the rebels. This was the start of a slaugter of peasants suspected of being rebels.

Prince Edward encouraged Jean to take the position of Lieutenant to Carlos King of Navarre and king Jean of France sent Dugesclin who at the time was leading Breton mercenaries to attack arlos and on 16 May 1364 at the battle of Cocherel, he was defeated and taken prisoner by Bertrand du Guesclin whilst ravaging the country between Paris and Rouen. He was released in 1365, and received the Lordship of Nemours, which had been raised to a countship in 1364 (the town and Countship of Nemours is about forty miles south south-west of Paris), and took the oath of fealty to the French king, Charles V, but soon resigned his new fief and returned to his allegiance to the English king. In 1367 Jean took part in the Spanish expedition of Prince Edward and he led the English right wing at the battle of Najera, in which Du Guesclin was taken prisoner, and Jean was given the task of looking after him. In 1371 Jean de Grailly was made Constable of Aquitaine.

Froissart gives an account of the Captal de Buch's chivalry and courage at the time of the peasant uprising in 1358 called the Jacquerie. In 1372 the French were sieging the castle of La Soubise with 300 men but were surprised by a Gascon force led by Jean who raised the siege. Owain Llewelyn ap Gryffud of Wales who fought for the French led 400 men up the estuary of the river Charente by barge and surprised the Gascons in a night attack. The Castle of La Soubise fell and Jean was captured by the French and was imprisoned at the Tower of the Temple in Paris. Upon his capture Jean is reported to have said, 'Ah Guienne, you are truly lost'. Enguerrand de Coucy petitioned Charles V for his release but the king would not release him until he promised never to raise arms against France Jean refused, so stayed prisoner suffering from depression and not wanting to eat or drink he sunk into a coma and died in 1376. This also showed a new tactic by the French king, to not ransom those who could later cause him trouble. Since Jean left no heirs, his uncle, Archambaud, count of Foix and of Bigorre took the title Captal de Buch, which passed to his descendents the Counts of Foix.

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