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Origin and History
The regiment was among the 37 regiments raised at the death of Philip IV of Spain in 1665, when Louis XIV resolved to renew his claims on Flanders, Artois and Hainaut. It was initially the property of the Marquis de Paulmy. In 1685, it was given to the Duc de Bourgogne.
At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted 3 squadrons.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the nominal command of:
- from 1685: Louis, Duc de Bourgogne
- from 1711: Duc de Bretagne
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive mestres de camp of the regiment were:
- since 15 November 1693: François de Granges de Surgères, Marquis de Puiguyon (cornet in Gassion Cavalerie in 1672; captain in Saint-Ruth Cavalerie in 1673; lieutenant-colonel in Vaillac Cavalerie in 1689; colonel of his own regiment in 1691; brigadier in 1696, maréchal de camp in 1704; lieutenant-general in 1708)
- from 27 February 1704: Paul-François de Béthune-Charost, Marquis d'Ancenis (initially served with the Mousquetaires du Roi; captain in Bourgogne Cavalerie in 1701; brigadier in 1710; at the head of a company of Gardes du Corps in 1715; maréchal de camp in 1720; lieutenant-general in 1734)
At the death of the Duc de Bourgogne, on June 8 1711, the regiment took the name of “Bretagne” when it was transferred to his son.
Service during the War
On 21 1701, the regiment received orders to join the Army of Germany.
In 1702, the regiment served with the Army of Flanders. On 10 June, it distinguished itself in the combat of Nijmegen. On 28 June, the Duc de Bourgogne, commander-in-chief of the Army of Flanders, reviewed his own regiment.
At the beginning of June 1703, the Duc de Bourgogne assumed command of Tallard's Army in Alsace, establishing his headquarters in Wissembourg. On 27 June, he reviewed the Gendarmes de Bourgogne, the Chevau-légers de Bourgogne and Bourgogne Cavalerie. The latter regiment was deployed on the left wing of the first line in Puiguyon's Brigade (2 sqns of Bourgogne Cavalerie, 2 sqns of La Baume Cavalerie and 3 sqns of Mestre de Camp Général Cavalerie). The regiment contributed to the capture of Breisach. On 11 September, the Duc de Bourgogne entered into the place at the head of his regiment. In October, the regiment took part in the Siege of Landau. On 18 October, while assuming trench duty, it suffered some losses including a captain who had a leg shattered by a cannonball. When Tallard learned that a relief army led by the Prince of Hessen was approaching Speyer, he marched against it with most of his army. On 15 November, he defeated the Allies at the Combat of Speyerbach where the regiment charged several times. The Marquis de Puiguyon was wounded; his son and his nephew, killed.
On 10 February 1704, the Marquis de Puiguyon was promoted to maréchal de camp and the Marquis d'Ancenis assumed command of the regiment according to a commission issued on 27 February. On 13 August, the regiment fought in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim where it suffered heavy losses.
In 1705, the regiment campaigned with the Army of the Moselle.
In 1706, the regiment was at the Army of the Rhine.
In 1707, the regiment served once more in the Army of the Rhine. It took part in the occupation of the Lines of Stolhoffen and in the conquest of the duchies of Baden, Württemberg and Franconia. At the end of the year, it repassed the Rhine.
In 1708, the regiment was transferred to the Army of Flanders where it was deployed in the first ling of the right wing of cavalry in Vidame's Brigade (3 sqns of Bourgogne Cavalerie, 2 sqns of Saint-Aigan Cavalerie and 2 sqns of Soucarrière Cavalerie). On 11 July, the regiment fought in the Battle of Oudenarde where it suffered heavy losses. His mestre de camp, the Marquis d'Ancenis, was taken prisoner; and Captain Janet killed. The regiment was reduced to a single squadron. The Allies then laid siege to Lille. On 28 September, a small cavalry corps (2,500 men) under the Chevalier de Luxembourg managed to enter into Lille with arms and ammunition, passing through the lines of the Allies by pretending to be a Dutch corps. The stratagem was discovered but several cavalry regiments (Bourgogne, Saint-Aignan, Martinville, La Bretèche, Fontaine Forsat, La Reine Dragons, Parpaille Free Company, and the Sauve-Gardes du Roi), totalling 1,800 men, had already reached the place with the ammunition. On 23 October, Lille capitulated and Bourgogne Cavalerie went to Douai.
In 1709, the Marquis d'Ancenis returned from captivity and took command of the regiment which was now part of the Army of the Rhine.
In 1710, the regiment served once more with the Army of the Rhine.
In 1711, the regiment was transferred to Flanders where it was attached to the reserve in Ancenis's Cavalry Brigade (3 sqns of Bourgogne, 2 sqns of Gesvres, 2 sqns of Villequier). On 8 June, the regiment became the property of the Duc de Bretagne, then only 4 years old, and took the name of “Bretagne Cavalerie”.
In 1712, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the left wing in Ancenis's Cavalry Brigade (3 sqns of Bretagne, 2 sqns of Gesvres, 2 sqns of Villequier). It took part in the Battle of Denain and in the capture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain.
In 1713, the regiment was on the Rhine and took part in the defeat of Vaubonne in Landau. It later was at the capture of Freiburg.
In 1714, the regiment was sent to the camp on the Upper-Meuse.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced white, with a black or white cockade fastened with a pewter button|
|Coat||blue with red lining; pewter buttons
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.
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Regimental standards (6 silken standards, both sides identical): blue field fringed and embroidered in gold; bordered with golden fleurs de lys; golden trophies in each corner; centre device (embroidered in gold) consisting of a phoenix spreading its wings over a pyre with the motto “In Regnum & Pugnax”
Bourqueray, Capitaine de: Historique du 25e régiment de dragons, Tours: Imprimerie Mame, 1890
Lemau de la Jaisse, P.: Abregé de la Carte Générale du Militaire de France, Paris, 1734, p. 139
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 343-344
Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.