Admiral Claude d'Annebault

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Admiral Claude d'Annebault as played by Kenneth Collard

born 1495 - died 1552
Character's backstory:
In 1544 Henry VIII, allied with Emperor Charles V of Spain, declared war on France. His 40,000 men quickly captured Boulogne, yet Charles V had negotiated a truce with King Francis I of France, leaving England fighting against France on her own. On 3 January, 1545, King Francis I announced his intention to invade England, 'to liberate the English from the Protestant tyranny that Henry VIII had imposed on them'.
Francis I gathered a large fleet of 150 battleships, 60 decked pinnaces, and 25 galleys - 235 ships in total - under the command of Admiral Claude d'Annebault. In June, Henry VIII attempted to attack the French fleet before it set sail, and sent his navy to Le Havre, where the English fleet was chased out of the mouth of the Seine without inflicting any damage on the French fleet. The English fleet gathered in Portsmouth,
with 40 large warships, and about 100 requisitioned merchantmen. On 15 July, Henry and his Privy Council moved to Portsmouth to await the invading army. Henry had only some small part-time local militias (the Isle of Wight militia, for example, contained barely 2,000 men) and a few mercenaries to fight France's 30,000 men, including over 10,000 professional soldiers. The French fleet, however, had also had its share of problems. On 6 July d'Annebault held a state dinner aboard his flagship, the 800-ton Carraquon. During the meal, the cook accidentally set fire to the vessel. The fire quickly caught the stores of gunpowder aboard, which promptly exploded. D'Annebault was one of the few survivors. He transferred his flag to another ship, La Maitresse - which ran aground when leaving Le Havre. Despite this, d'Annebault continued in the damaged ship, which later sank outside Bembridge. The French Armada dropped anchor off St Helens on 18 July; on the 19th, with Henry VIII watching from Southsea Castle, they began their attack. The 25 galleys, each with a single massive cannon in the bow (which was aimed by turning the ship to face the enemy), moved in on the English fleet, which was secure in Portsmouth Harbour. In reply, Great Harry and Mary Rose led the fleet to attack the galleys, whose main target was Great Harry. The French did little harm, and were soon chased off by English rowbarges. The English lack of experience with cannon was apparent when the English fleet moved to attack the French. Sir Dudley, the Lord Admiral, had drawn the fleet up in line abreast, the traditional, medieval, approach to sea battle. In line abreast, only a few cannon were pointing at the enemy, most pointing at other English ships. If the fleet had been drawn in line astern, the ships would have been able to bring about their full broadsides to destroy the enemy. Mary Rose, which had over 700 men on board, fired a broadside, and began to 'come about', to bring her other broadside to bear. During this manoeuvre the gun ports nearest the water-line were, by an overwhelming oversight, kept open. A gust of wind at the wrong moment tilted Mary Rose too far, and water started coming in. The ship soon sank in front of the King, who cried, 'Oh my gentlemen! My gallant men! Drowned like rattens, drowned like rattens!' Only 40 of the 700 men on board survived. D'Annebault had failed to lure the English fleet out of the protected waters of Portsmouth, and later landed troops on the Island at Bonchurch, Seaview and Sandown, with many of his men - against his orders - also attacking Whitecliff Bay. The invasion failed. Even the sight of much of the Island ablaze did not enrage Henry enough to attack the superior French force, and the French fleet withdrew on 28 July. The French fleet was later defeated off Shoreham, and in 1546 peace was made with France.


Position: very powerful figure in France during the reign of Francis I

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Sample Character Profile - Site Templates

"The last important state pageant of the reign [of King Henry VIII] took place in August 1546 when Claude d'Annebault, Lord High Admiral of France came to England with 200 gentlemen to ratify a treaty of peace between England and France. Because of the King's infirmity, Prince Edward with an escort of 80 gold-clad gentlemen and 80 Yeomen of the guard rode out to greet the Admiral at Hounslow. The French were impressed no less by the boy's horsemanship than by his Latin speech of welcome, which radiated 'high wit [intelligence] and great audacity".
Having conducted the Admiral to Hampton Court, where he was received by Lord Chancellor Wriothesley (Risley in the series) and the Privy Council, Edward was to deputise for his father on several occasions during the 10 days of receptions, banquets, masques, dances and hunting trips that followed and would also show off his skill with the lute. The Admiral's retinue were accommodated in tents of cloth of gold and velvet that had been erected and hung with tapestries threaded with gold and jewels.
On the second morning of the visit, d'Annebault was received by the King in the presence chamber and accompanied him to a mass in the chapel royal. Another time, the King was present at an open air reception....
At the end of their stay, the French were sent home with fine gifts of plate, horses and dogs.'
~ Alison Weir Henry VIII: The King and his Court

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Admiral Claude d'Annebault
c. 1535 by François Clouet
at Musee Conde, Chantilly, France

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Battle of Solent
Cowdray engraving of the Battle of the Solent 1545