The family of La Rochefoucauld is one of the most ancient and illustrious in France. Its founder, according to Andrew Du Chesne, was one Foucauld, or Fulk, a cadet, as is supposed, of the house of Lusignan, or Lezignem, and connected with the ancient Dukes of Guienne, who appears, about the period A.D. 1000, as Seigneur, or Lord, of the Town of La Roche in the Angoumois. He is described in contemporary charters as Vir nobilissimus Fulcaldus, and his renown seems to have been sufficiently extensive to confer his name on La Roche, which has ever since borne, and bestowed on his descendants, the distinctive appellation of La Roche Foucauld. Guy, the eighth Seigneur de la Roche Foucauld, is mentioned by Froissart as having performed, in the year 1380, a celebrated tilt in the lists at Bordeaux, whither he came, attended by 200 of his kinsmen and connections.
Francis, the sixteenth seigneur, had the honor of being sponsor to, and bestowing his name on, King Francis I., and was shortly afterwards advanced to the dignity of Count de la Rochefoucauld. The widow of his son and successor, in the year 1539, entertained, at the family seat of Vertueil, the Emperor Charles V., and some of the Royal Family of France. The Emperor is reported by a contemporary historian to have said on his departure, that he had never entered a house which possessed such an air of