Alain I of Albret (1440-1522), called "The Great", was a powerful French aristocrat. He was 16th Lord of Albret, Viscount of Tartas, the 2nd Count of Graves and the Count of Castres. He was the son of Catherine de Rohan and Jean I of Albret. He was the grandson and heir of Charles II of Albret, and became head of the House of Albret in 1471.
During his half century of rule, he took a political course which was more agitated than effective, following his father's example, making him one of the most visible actors on the stage of Europe.
Alain I initially benefited from his fidelity to King Louis XI of France, and thereby enlarged his principality. He married Françoise de Châtillon, and this marriage brought him the inheritance of the county of Périgord as well as the viscounty of Limoges and the Châtillon-Blois claims to the Duchy of Brittany.
He then seized Armagnac, and married his son John to Catherine of Navarre, recently proclaimed queen of the Kingdom of Navarre, and heiress of the counties of Foix and Bigorre.
The Mad War
At this time, Alain I hoped to consolidate his power by taking control of the Duchy of Brittany by marriage to Anne of Brittany, the daughter and heir of Duke Francis II. He entered into rebellion against the royal authority in support of the Duchy, during the so-called Mad War. His intrigues were unsuccessful, and he was defeated, having been unable to provide support to the Duke in 1487. The following year, he brought reinforcements by sea, but was defeated by Louis II de la Trémoille at the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier. He continued, however, to claim the legacy of Francis II, occupying Nantes with his Gascon troops. He still hoped to marry Anne and inherit the Duchy but found it expedient to deliver Nantes to the royal army in exchange for an agreement that the French would support his claim to Anne's hand. Anne had no intention of marrying Alain, instead she married the French king, putting an end of Alain's dynastic ambition in Brittany.
Despite his failure in Brittany, Alain established other dynastic links through his daughter, Charlotte of Albret, who married Cesare Borgia in May 1499.
His children included:
- Jean d'Albret - married (1484) Catherine, Queen of Navarre, king iure uxoris of Navarre up to 1516. His granddaughter, Jeanne d'Albret, married Antoine de Bourbon and was the mother of King Henry IV of France.
- Gabriel, lord of Avesnes-sur-Helpe
- Charlotte of Albret, lady of Châlus - married (1500) Cesare Borgia
- Amanieu d'Albret († 1520), became bishop of Pamiers, of Comminges and of Lescar, then cardinal
- Pierre, count of Périgord
- Louise, vicountess of Limoges († 1531), married (1495) Charles de Croy count of Chimay
- Isabelle, married Gaston II, captal de Buch
Alain d'Albret died in Castel Jaloux on 1 (?) October 1522.