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Charles d'Albret

Charles d'Albret (died 25 October 1415) was Constable of France from 1402 until 1411, and again from 1413 until 1415. He was also the co-commander of the French army at the Battle of Agincourt where he was killed by the English forces led by King Henry V.


Charles was born into an old Gascon family, the son of Arnaud, Lord of Albret, and Margaret de Bourbon.[1] He fought under Bertrand du Guesclin as a young man. He was made the constable of France by Charles VI in 1402, but dismissed when the Burgundian faction gained power at court. He was restored to his office in 1413 when the Armagnac faction regained power.

Although nominal commander of the French army in the Agincourt campaign together with Marshal Boucicaut, the two professional soldiers could not exercise effective control over the higher-ranking French nobles on the day of the battle. Constable d'Albret was killed at Agincourt during the celebrated battle on 25 October 1415, against the numerically smaller (but technologically superior) English troops led by King Henry V.[2][3]


He married, as her third husband, Marie de Sully,[4] daughter of Louis de Sully and Isabel de Craon,[1] on 27 January 1400 and had issue:

  • Jeanne d'Albret (1403–1433), married in 1422 John I, Count of Foix. She was his second wife; the only one of his three wives who bore him issue. Gaston IV of Foix was the eldest of their two sons.
  • Charles II d'Albret (1407–1471), married Anne of Armagnac (born 1402), the daughter of Bernard VII of Armagnac, Count of Charolais and Bonne of Berry, by whom he had seven children. Queen Jeanne III of Navarre was a notable descendant.
  • Guillaume d'Albret (d. 1429), Lord of Orval
  • Jean d'Albret
  • Catherine d'Albret, married Jean de Montagu (1363–1409), vidame of Laon and illegitimate son of Charles V of France.

In culture

Constable Charles d'Albret plays a significant role in William Shakespeare's play Henry V, as one of the leading enemies of the English. His death is portrayed in very different ways in film adaptations of the play. Constable d'Albret was portrayed by Leo Genn in the 1944 film Henry V. The film sets up d'Albret as the most militarily worthy of the French warriors, but with a sneering manner and a "fierce and inhuman appearance" in black armour with a pointed visor.[5] He is killed in single combat with Henry, played by Laurence Olivier. His distinctive black armour is later taken and worn by Ancient Pistol.

He is played by Richard Easton in the 1989 film Henry V. Constable d'Albret's death at Agincourt is vividly depicted in the film which starred Kenneth Branagh in the title role. He is rescued mortally wounded from the muddy battlefield, only to die in shamed despair among other shocked French aristocrats.

In the 2012 TV film of Henry V, concluding the series The Hollow Crown, he is played by Maxime Lefrancois. His death is portrayed in an unheroic light. In a wood away from the main action, he stabs the Duke of York in the back during the final stages of the conflict, only to be shot in the back by a longbowman as he prepares to kill the only witness, a young page. The page is later revealed to be the Chorus, remembering the events as an old man after the disasters of Henry VI's reign.



See also

French nobility
Preceded by
Count of Dreux
Succeeded by
Charles II

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