The Info List - Constable Of France

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The Constable
of France (French: Connétable de France, from Latin comes stabuli for 'count of the stables'), as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France (along with seneschal, chamberlain, butler, and chancellor) and Commander in Chief
Commander in Chief
of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general
of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King. The Connétable de France was also responsible for military justice and served to regulate the Chivalry. His jurisdiction was called the connestablie (or in modern French orthography which sticks closer to the correct pronunciation: connétablie). The office was established by King Philip I in 1060 with Alberic becoming the first Constable. The office was abolished in 1627 in accordance with the Edict of January 1627 by Prime Minister Cardinal Richelieu, upon the death of François de Bonne, duc de Lesdiguières, in order to strengthen the immediate authority of the King over his armed forces. The position was officially replaced by the purely ceremonial title "Dean of Marshals" (Doyen des maréchaux), in fact the most senior " Marshal
of France" (Maréchal de France) as the word doyen is used in French mainly in the sense of "the eldest".[1] The later title Marshal General of France or more precisely "Marshal General of the King's camps and armies" (Maréchal général des camps et armées du Roi) was bestowed on outstanding military leaders. The recipient had authority over all the French armies and garrisons engaged in a war and was senior to the Maréchaux de France, but had not the extended powers of the earlier " Constable
of France".


1 Badge of office 2 Authority 3 Persons subordinate to the Constable
of France 4 Constables of France

4.1 Constables of the Kings of France 4.2 First Empire

5 Movies 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Badge of office[edit]

of France sword, on display at the Musée de l'Armée
Musée de l'Armée
at Les Invalides, Paris.

The badge of office was a highly elaborate sword called Joyeuse, after the legendary sword of Charlemagne. Joyeuse
was a sword made with fragments of different swords and used in the Sacre of the French Kings since at least 1271. It was contained in a blue scabbard embellished with fleur-de-lis in column from hilt to point. Traditionally, the constable was presented with the sword on taking his office.[2] Authority[edit] After the abolition of the office of Sénéchal in 1191, the Connétable became the most important officer in the army, and as First Officer of the Crown, he ranked in ceremonial precedence immediately after the peers. He had the position of Lieutenant-General of the King, both within and without the kingdom. The constable had under his command all military officers, including the maréchaux; he was also responsible for the financing of the army, administering military justice within the host. The official name of the jurisdiction was la connétablie (the constabulary), which he exercised with the assistance of the Maréchaux de France (Marshals of France). This paralleled the Court of the Lord Constable, later called curia militaris of Court of Chivalry, which existed in England at that time.[3] Persons subordinate to the Constable
of France[edit]

Marshal of France
Marshal of France
(Maréchal de France) At exceptional times the Marshal of France
Marshal of France
was senior to the Constable, depending on the decisions of the king. Colonel-general - a special charge in the Royal French army, commanding all the regiments of the same branch of service (i.e. infantry, cavalry, Dragoons,...) General Lieutenant-general
- the highest regular general rank of the French army to which a career officer could be promoted on the basis of seniority Maréchal de camp (literally (Military) Camp Marshal), not to be confused with Field Marshal) - the lowest general officer rank, in later times renamed Major-général and equivalent to the present-day général de brigade. Porte-Oriflamme
- a very prestigious honorary position, not a rank, which gave the right to carry the royal banner (called Oriflamme) in battle. Grand Master of Crossbowmen (Grand-Maître des Arbalétriers du Roi) Grand Master of Artillery (Grand-Maître de l'Artillerie royale). From the beginning of the 17th century, the Grand Master of the Artillery became as Great Officer of the Crown an immediate subordinate of the king and was no longer under the command of the Constable.


The title " Lieutenant-general
of the Realm" (Lieutenant général du royaume) was not a military rank. It was bestowed by the French king at times of crisis (civil war, severe illness of the king, etc.) on a royal prince of his choice who thus became the Commander general of the entire kingdom, including the civil services, the armed forces and the Connétable de France, until the moment the king chose to take back the supreme authority in his own hands.[4]

Constables of France[edit] Note that there are gaps in the dates as the position was not always filled following the demise of its occupant. Constables of the Kings of France[edit] The Capétien Dynasty

Alberic, 1060–1065 Balberic, 1065–1069 Gauthier, 1069–1071 Adelelme, 1071–1075 Adam, 1075–1085 Thibaut, Seigneur de Montmorency, 1085–1107 Gaston de Chanmont, 1107–1108 Hugues le Borgne de Chanmont, 1108–1135 Mathieu de Montmorency (died 1160), 1138–? Simon de Neauphle-le-Chateau, 1165–? Raoul I de Clermont (died 1191), 1174–1191 Dreux IV de Mello (1148–1218), 1194–1218 Mathieu II le Grand, Baron de Montmorency (died 1231), 1218–1231 Amaury VI de Montfort
Amaury VI de Montfort
(died 1241), 1231–1240 Humbert V de Beaujeu (died 1250), 1240–1248 Gilles II de Trasignies (died 1275), 1248–1277 Humbert VI de Beaujeu (died 1285), 1277 Raoul II de Clermont
Raoul II de Clermont
(died 1302), 1277–1307 Gaucher V de Châtillon
Gaucher V de Châtillon
(1249–1329), 1307–1329

The Valois Dynasty

Raoul I of Brienne, Count
of Eu and Guînes (d. 1344), 1329–1344 Raoul II of Brienne, Count
of Eu and Guînes (died 1350), 1344–1350 Charles de la Cerda (died 1354), 1350–1354 Jacques de Bourbon, Count
of La Marche, (1319–1362) 1354–1356 Walter VI of Brienne
Walter VI of Brienne
(c. 1304–1356), 1356 Robert Moreau de Fiennes (1308–1372), 1356–1370 Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand du Guesclin
(1320–1380), 1370–1380 Olivier IV de Clisson
Olivier IV de Clisson
(1336–1407), 1380–1392 Philip of Artois, Count
of Eu (1358–1397), 1392–1397 Louis de Sancerre (1341–1402), 1397–1402 Charles d'Albret, Comte de Dreux (died 1415- Agincourt), 1402–1411 Waleran, Count
of Saint Pol (died 1415), 1411–1413 Charles d'Albret, Comte de Dreux (died 1415- Agincourt), 1413–1415 Bernard VII, Count
of Armagnac (died 1418), 1415–1418 Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
(1365–1431), 1418–1424 Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham
(1430) John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan
John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan
(c. 1381–1424), 1424 Arthur III, Duke of Brittany
Arthur III, Duke of Brittany
(1393–1458), 1425–? John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury
(1384/1390–1453), 1445–1453 (appointed by Henry VI of England
Henry VI of England
in his position as King of France) Louis de Luxembourg, Count
of Saint-Pol[5] (1418–1475), 1465–? John II, Duke of Bourbon
John II, Duke of Bourbon
(1426–1488), 1483–1488

The Valois Angoulême Dynasty

Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
(1490–1527), 1518–1523 Anne de Montmorency, Grand Maitre de France (1492–1567), 1538–1567

The Bourbons

Henri I de Montmorency
Henri I de Montmorency
(1570–1621), 1593–1621 Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes
Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes
(1621), 1621 François de Bonne, duc de Lesdiguières
François de Bonne, duc de Lesdiguières
(1543–1636), 1622–1626

First Empire[edit] During the Consulate regime (1799-1804), the deposed Bourbon dynasty, through the Comte d'Artois, allegedly offered Napoléon Bonaparte, at that time First Consul
First Consul
of the Republic, the title of " Constable
of France" if he would restore the Bourbons as Kings of France. Bonaparte declined the offer. However, in 1808, Emperor Napoléon I (since 1804) did himself appoint the Grand Dignitaries of the French Empire
Grand Dignitaries of the French Empire
(Grands Dignitaires de l'Empire Français), among them his younger brother Louis Bonaparte, (in 1806 King of Holland
King of Holland
by decision of his brother) as new Constable, and Marshal
of the Empire Louis Alexandre Berthier, the French Army
French Army
Chief of Staff and Prince of Neuchâtel
as new Vice-Constable. Both titles were of a purely honorific nature and disappeared with the Napoleonic regime. Movies[edit] If I Were King, 1938, with François Villon
François Villon
(played by Ronald Colman), who was appointed by Louis XI, King of France
King of France
(played by Basil Rathbone) to be Constable
of France for one week. Various versions of Shakespeare's play Henry V depict Constable Charles d'Albret, Comte de Dreux, who was appointed by Charles VI of France and was killed in the Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
(1415). He is played by Leo Genn
Leo Genn
in the 1944 film, by Richard Easton in the 1989 film, and by Maxime Lefrancois in the 2012 film. In the 1944 film he dies in personal combat with King Henry. In the 1989 film he is depicted as falling from his horse into the mud (historical tradition holds he was drowned in the mud due to the weight of his armour, disabled by having his horse fall on him). In the 2012 film he is shot by a longbowman after stabbing the Duke of York
Duke of York
in the back in woodland away from the main battle. See also[edit]

Constable Lord High Constable Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
- Believed by some to have been appointed Constable
of France by Charles VII


^ Le petit Larousse 2013, p361 ^ p172, Slater, Stephen, The Complete Book of Heraldry (Lorenz, 2002), ISBN 0-7548-1062-3 ^ http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/officiers.htm ^ Le petit Larousse 2013, p629 ^ Richard Vaughan, Charles the Bold, (Boydell Press, 2002) 250-251.

External links[edit]

Heraldica French Heraldry site

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constable.

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