He was born in Milly-le-Meugon, in one of the most powerful French families of the time; his father was Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, marquis de Brézé, Marshal of France, his uncle Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIII's renowned minister, and his brother-in-law, Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, (better known as the le Grand Condé), was the First Prince of the Blood.
Thanks to his uncle, at the age of seventeen, he received the title of grand-maître de la navigation (Grand-master of Navigation), a new title created by King Louis XIII for Cardinal Richelieu and equivalent to Grand Admiral of France.
One of the leading figures in the Eighty Years' War, he defeated the Spanish fleet near Cadiz (20 July 1640), and then seized Villafranca. In 1641, he arrived in Portugal to help in the Portuguese Restoration War against Spain. . He was killed on 16 June 1646, during the Battle of Orbetello, where his fleet was defeated.
His remains were buried in the church of Milly le Meugon, abutted to the castle walls.
Three ships were named in his honor: see French ship Maillé Brézé
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