Royal-Italien Infanterie

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal-Italien Infanterie

Origin and History

Ensign of Royal-Italien Infanterie circa 1720 - Source: adapted from Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française

The regiment was raised in Italy and Piedmont by the Count Magalotti according to a commission issued on 27 March 1671. It initially consisted of 27 companies, each of 204 men. Louis XIV was so satisfied when he inspected the regiment that he immediately decided to name it “Royal-Italien”. On the same occasion, he decided to dress the regiment with brown uniforms (the same colour as the justaucorps that he was wearing on the day of the review).

In 1672, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the newly raised regiment joined the Army of Flanders and took part in the capture of Wesel, Nijmegen, Grave and Bommel, and in the relief of Woërden. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1676, it participated in the siege of Condé and in the covering of the siege of Bouchain; in 1677, in the siege of Saint-Omer and in the Battle of Cassel; and in 1678, in the capture of Ghent and Ypres and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, the regiment was reduced to 12 companies. In 1683 and 1684, it covered the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the Combat of Walcourt; in 1690, in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the siege of Mons and in the combat of Leuze; in 1692, in the capture of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque where it distinguished itself. In 1693, it fought in the Battle of Landen and was at the siege of Charleroi. In 1695, it assisted to the bombardment of Bruxelles and served at the sieges of Dixmude and Deynse. In 1697, it took part in the siege of Ath.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted only one battalion.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from 27 March 1691: Bardo dei Bardi, Comte Magalotti
  • from 29 April 1705 to 23 March 1717: François-Zénobe-Philippe, Comte Albergotti

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was still serving with the Army of Flanders under the Maréchal de Boufflers. In March the regiment was at Luxembourg; in June at Mézières then in Malines; in August at Tirlemont; in October at Namur; and at the end of November at Liège.

In 1702, the regiment formed a brigade with La Reine Infanterie. It advanced into Flanders and, on 11 July, took part in the combat under the walls of Nijmegen. Marlborough then arrived from England with reinforcements and assumed command of the Allied army. Boufflers brought back his army to the Demer. By November, the regiment was in Valenciennes.

In February 1703, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Rhine under the command of Tallard. It took position in the Lines of Stollhofen, facing the Army of the Margrave of Baden. On 20 August, the regiment arrived to take part in the Siege of Alt-Breisach which capitulated on 7 September. On 12 October, it was part of the corps who proceeded to the investment of Landau. The Allies sent a relief army from the Low Countries. Tallard marched against this army. On 8 November, the regiment stormed a counter-guard in front of Landau. On 15 November, the regiment took part in the victorious Combat of Speyerbach where it charged at the point of the bayonet. On 16 November, Landau capitulated. The regiment then went to Metz.

In March 1704, the regiment went to Mézières, then to the camp of Neerhespen under General d'Artagnan. On 13 May, it joined the Army of Flanders at Montmacs. At the end of September, it went to Namur; at the end of October, to Mézières.

On 15 May 1705, the regiment rejoined the Army of the Moselle in the camp of Sierck where Villars ordered to reinforce the defensive works. Marlborough arrived in front of Sierck and waited for the Margrave of Baden. On 16 June, he was still without news and preferred to withdraw during the following night. On 8 July, the regiment rejoined the Army of Flanders. On 23 October, it was at Schouten. It then counted only 413 men. By the end of October, it was at Valenciennes. It then took its winter-quarters at Philippeville.

By 24 April 1706, the regiment was at Namur. In May, it was at Tirlemont from where the army advanced against Marlborough. On 23 May, the regiment took part in the Battle of Ramillies where it distinguished itself, saving by its energy the Picardie Brigade. During this sanguinary battle, the regiment lost 23 officers and 264 soldiers. On 31 May, the remnants of the Franco-Spanish army reached Courtrai. The regiment defended Menin up to 13 August. It then went to Valenciennes, then, on 19 August, to Lens and, in September to Valenciennes.

In 1707, the regiment was posted in Douai and saw no major action. By 12 October, it was at Mons.

At the end of April 1708, the Army of Flanders under the Duc de Bourgogne was assembled at Valenciennes while Marlborough was posted to the south of Bruxelles awaiting the arrival of Prince Eugène de Savoie who was marching from Koblenz to effect a junction with Marlborough's Army. On 11 July, Marlborough passed the Scheldt upstream from Oudenarde. During the ensuing battle, the regiment managed at the cost of heroic efforts to disentangle itself. The Army of Flanders then retired to Ghent. The Allied generals then laid siege to Lille. The regiment was sent to the camp of Pottes where he remained till the next campaign.

In 1709, Villars assumed command of the Army of Flanders, seconded by Boufflers. On 27 May, Villars advanced to Lens with his army and entrenched it. The Allied generals presented themselves in front of Villars's strong positions and decided to retire and to lay siege to Tournai. On 24 July, along with Royal Infanterie, the regiment passed the Scarpe and attacked Hasnon Abbey; its lieutenant-colonel, the Chevalier Albergotti, was killed at the head of the grenadiers at the beginning of the attack but the abbey was captured. Tournai capitulated to the Allies who then laid siege to Mons. Villars marched to the relief of Mons and, on 9 September, took position with his right at Malplaquet. On 11 September, the regiment took part in the Battle of Malplaquet where it was deployed on the right under the command of Boufflers. During the battle, the Comte d'Albergotti was wounded. The retreat was done in order, the Allies having suffered important losses. The regiment then joined the defenders of Douai, now amounting to 8,000 men under the Comte d'Albergotti.

In April 1710, the Allies laid siege to Douai. The garrison valiantly defended the place but, exhausted, capitulated on 29 June. The defenders were sent to Cambrai.

At the beginning of 1711, the regiment was brigaded with Royal Vaisseaux Infanterie, still attached to the Army of Flanders. The two armies faced each other without gaining any advantage. Part of the Franco-Spanish army was then directed on Namur. On 23 July, the regiment took part in the capture of Arleux. Marlborough marched towards Bouchain. Villars vainly tried to prevent the siege of Bouchain and the regiment captured the Allied camp at Hordain. Despite this success, Bouchain surrendered on 13 September.

At the beginning of April 1712, the regiment was deployed along the Sensée where Villars's Army was concentrated. Prince Eugène took position between Douai and Bouchain while Marlborough was recalled to Great Britain with the British Contingent. Eugène decided to make himself master of Landrecies. On 23 July, Villars marched on Eugène's positions and defeated him in the Battle of Denain, capturing the princes of Nassau, Holstein and Anhalt. The regiment then took part in the defence of Landrecies, in the capture of Le Quesnoy and in the capture of Bouchain.

On 11 April 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht putting an end to hostilities in the Low Countries, the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine under Villars. Prince Eugène was at Ettingen. The regiment took part in the siege of Landau who capitulated on 20 August. It then marched on Freiburg where it was brigaded with Piémont Infanterie. On 9 October, the regiment stopped a sally by the garrison of Freiburg. On 30 October, the place was stormed. On 13 November, the Castle of Freiburg capitulated.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Lemau de la Jaisse, Lienhart and Humbert, Marbot, Susane, Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade
Neck stock white
Coat brown with red lining; copper buttons on the right side and 1 copper button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brown fastened with a small copper button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 copper buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 copper buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with copper buttons
Breeches red
Stockings white fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Gaiters none at the beginning of the war, white later
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Footwear black shoes with a brass buckle


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.

Other representations

Marbot illustrates a pikeman in 1700 with a red coat with red distinctive; a red waistcoat; red breeches and red stockings. However, in another plate depicting the uniforms in 1720, he illustrates a brown coat with red distinctive.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms very similar to those of privates with the following distinctions:

  • coat, cuffs, pockets and waistcoat edged with a golden braid

Officers

Officers usually wore uniforms similar to those of privates but made of finer cloth and decorated with gilt buttons and golden embroideries.

Musicians

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: adapted from Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française

The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.

Please note that in the accompanying illustration, the drummer carries a drum at the arms of Navarre. The drum barrel should be royal blue decorated with golden fleurs de lys.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross spangled with golden fleurs de lys.

Ordonnance Colour: a white cross spangled with golden fleurs de lys; each canton subdivided in a red and a brown triangles.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Gilbert Noury
Ordonnance Colour - Copyright: Gilbert Noury


References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 6, pp. 285-291, 297

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle, p. 55

Lemau de la Jaisse, P.: Abregé de la Carte Générale du Militaire de France, Paris, 1734, p. 115

Lienhart, Constant and René Humbert: Les Uniformes de l'Armée Française de 1690 à 1894, Leipzig 1899 – 1902

Marbot, Alfred de: L'Infanterie et de la Cavalerie Francaise et Regiments Etrangers, Paris 1854

Un régiment dans l'histoire, le 76ème de ligne ex 1er léger

Acknowledgement

Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article