Origin and History
The regiment was raised on November 13, 1616 by Nicolas de Neufville, Marquis de Villeroy. It pretended to trace its origins in the old Bandes de Piémont. Initially it was a gentleman's regiment who belonged to the House of Villeroy, governing the Province of Lyonnais.
In 1617, the new regiment took part in the capture of Félissan, Non and La Roque. In 1618, it was reduced to its Mestre de camp company which remained in Lyon.
On July 7, 1621, during the Huguenot rebellions (1620–1628), the regiment was re-established and went to the siege of Montauban. In 1622, it took part in the sieges of Sainte-Foy and Briteste, near Albi. At the end of the campaign, the regiment was once more reduced to a single company which remained in Sainte-Foy. On August 13, 1624, it was re-established. In 1625, it campaigned in Piedmont where it took part in the siege of Gavi, in the capture of Cairo, in the defence and combat of Verrua and in the retreat towards Acqui. It was disbanded once more on May 26, 1626.
On March 13, 1629, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628–31), the regiment was definitely re-established at 10 companies and obtained the 14th rank in the French infantry. Its rank then immediately followed the rank of Poitou Infanterie until 1775. It was assigned to the Army of Savoy and went to Susa. In April, it occupied places in Savoy. In September, the French forces retired to Casale, throwing 4 companies of the regiment into Ponte di Stura. These companies were soon joined by the rest of the regiment. In April 1630, the captains of the regiment forced the French commander at Ponte di Stura to sign a capitulation by which the regiment had to retire to France. However, the regiment retired to Pinerolo which it kept for France by treason.
In 1632, the regiment was at Lyon when the rebellion of the Duc de Montmorency broke out. The regiment was sent to Vivarais and contributed to quench the insurrection organised by the Baron de Lestranges, making itself master of the Castle of Tournon. In 1633, it was transferred to Lorraine where it occupied Lunéville.
In March 1635, at the outbreak of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the regiment took part in the siege of Speyer. On 15 September, it received the name of the Province of Lyonnais. In 1636, it was sent to Italy where it participated in the sieges of Valencia, Candia, Palestre and Sartirane; and in the Battle of Buffalora. In 1637, the regiment was increased to 30 companies and took part in the defence of Asti and in the engagement of Montebaldone. In 1638, it took part in the relief of Brema and in the resupply of Vercelli; in 1639, in the storming of the entrenchments in front of Cencio, in the resupply of Casale, in the combat of the road of Quiers, in the siege of Chivasso, and in the failed attempt to relieve Turin; in 1640, in the capture of the castles of Busco and Revel, in the storming of the entrenchments at Casale and in the relief of Rusignano. In 1641, the regiment was transferred to Catalonia where it took part in the capture of Vals, Lescouvette, Fort de Salo and Constantin, in the siege of Tarragone, in the assault on Tamarit, and in the relief of Almenas. In 1642, it took part in the combat near Vals, in the storming of Monçon, in the siege and capture of the Castle of Monçon, in the capture of Tamarit, and in the relief and battle of Lérida; in 1643, in the relief of Flix, Mirabel and Cap de Quiers; in 1644, in the siege of La Mothe and in the combat of Lérida; and in 1645, in the siege of Roses. In 1646, the regiment was sent to Tuscany where it took part in the combat and siege of Orbitello, and in the siege of Piombino. It was then sent to Elbe Island where it contributed to the capture of Portolongone before returning to Italy where it garrisoned Piombino until the end of 1649. In 1650, the regiment was recalled to France to quench the troubles of the Fronde, taking part in the capture of Bellegarde (Seurre) in Bourgogne before returning to Italy and taking cantons in Piedmont. In 1651, it was once more recalled to France where it campaigned in Bourgogne and Nivernais. In 1653, it returned to Italy where it took part in the engagement of La Roquette. In 1654, it was stationed in Pinerolo. In 1655, it took part in the relief of Bersello and in the siege of Pavia; in 1656, in the siege of Valencia; in 1657, in the siege of Alessandria; and in 1658, in the siege of Mortare.
During the ensuing peacetime, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Lyon.
In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment went to the camp established near Saint-Germain-en-Laye and then to Flanders where, along with Picardie Infanterie, it took part in the sieges of Douai, Tournai and Lille. In 1668, it took part in the siege of Dôle and in the capture of Gray.
In September 1669, 10 companies of the regiment were part of the troops destined for the expedition against Crete but the enterprise failed before their departure. In 1670, the regiment campaigned in Lorraine where it distinguished itself at the siege of Épinal. In 1671, it was at the camp of Dunkerque.
In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment took part in the sieges of Wesel and Emmerich, in the passage of the Rhine, in the capture of the Fort of Nijmegen, and in the capture and destruction of Bodegrave, Swammerdam and Niewerbrug; in 1673, in the capture of Unna; in 1674, in the capture of Pesmes, in the siege and capture of Gray, in the capture of Vesoul and Lons-le-Saulnier, in the investment of Besançon, and in the siege of Salins; and in 1675, in the sieges of Dinant, Muy and Limbourg, in the combat of Consaarbrück and in the defence of Trier. In 1676, the regiment was transferred to Flanders where it took part in the sieges of Landrecies and Condé, in the protection of the sieges of Bouchain and Aire, and in the relief of Maastricht. In 1677, it took part in the capture of Valenciennes, in the relief of Saint-Omer, and in the Battle of Mont-Cassel; in 1678, in the capture of Ghent and Ypres, and in the combat of Saint-Denis, near Mons
In 1679, the regiment campaigned in Germany where it took part in the Battle of Minden. In 1683, it was at the sieges of Courtrai and Luxembourg.
In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment was sent to the Rhine where it took part in the sieges of Philisbourg, Mannheim and Frankenthal. In 1689, it took part in the defence of Mainz. In 1690 and 1692, it campaigned once more in Germany. In 1692, its 2 battalions arrived in Flanders for the siege of Namur. They also fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment took part in the Battle of Neerwinden, and in the siege of Charleroi; in 1694, in the march from Wignamont to d'Espierres; in 1695, in the siege of Dixmude, in the capture of Deynse, and in the bombardment of Bruxelles.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–13), one battalion was sent to Flanders and the other one to the Rhine. In August, the battalion serving on the Rhine was transferred to Italy. In January 1702, the battalion previously serving in Flanders also arrived in Italy where the regiment was reunited. It then fought in the Battle of Luzzara and participated in the capture of Luzzara, Borgoforte and Bondanella. In 1703, the regiment campaigned in Tyrol and took part in the combats of Stradella and Castelnuovo de Bormia, and in the capture of Nago, Arco and Asti; in 1704, it participated in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; in 1705, in the capture of Verrua and Chivasso and in the Battle of Cassano; in 1706, in the Battle of Calcinato, in the siege of Turin and in the disastrous Battle of Turin which forced the French army to abandon Italy. In 1707, the remnants of the regiment served in the defence of Antibes and Toulon against the invasion of the Imperialists. It was later sent to Flanders. In 1708, it fought in the Battle of Oudenarde; and in 1709, in the Battle of Malplaquet. In 1711, the regiment took part in the attack against Arleux; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain and in the capture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was transferred to Germany where it took part in the siege of Landau and in the engagement in front of Freiburg.
During the War of the Polish Succession (1733–35), the regiment served on the Rhine.
During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48), the regiment first served in Westphalia (1741), then on the Danube (1742). In 1743, it was present at Dingelfing. In 1744, it was transferred on the Var in Provence. It spent the last years of the war in Italy.
At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted two battalions. When the French army was reorganized in December 1762, it was increased to four battalions by integrating the disbanded Nice Infanterie.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 15th and was under the command of:
- from February 1, 1749 to June 5, 1763: Gabriel Louis François de Neuville, Marquis de Villeroy
Service during the War
In 1757, the regiment was part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under d'Estrées. At the end of June, it was encamped at Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 26, the regiment was at the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was part of the centre under Contades. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. During the conquest of Hanover, it participated in the capture of Hameln, Minden and Hanover. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed in the centre of the first line. After the defeat of Rossbach and the violation of the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, all French armies retreated. The regiment then left the camp of Halberstadt and marched on Celle (Zell). On December 25, the regiment fought for the passage of the Aller River. At the end of the year, it took up its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army in Nienburg.
In March 1758, during the Winter offensive of Ferdinand of Brunswick, the regiment was part of the French garrison of Minden which was attacked by an Allied corps led by General Kilmanseg. On March 15, the garrison of Minden surrendered without opposing any serious resistance. The regiment was later exchanged and sent back to France to guard the French coasts.
In 1761, the regiment took part in the defence of Belle-Isle against a British amphibious force. After the surrender of the island, it was transferred to Germany. By June 1, it had joined the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 16, it was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen where it formed part of the first line of Soubise's infantry. By July 25, it was attached to de Muy's corps.
In March 1762, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Upper Rhine. On June 24, the regiment was present at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. By July 12, the regiment was posted at Landwerhagen under Prince Xavier. At the end of December, when the French evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed on Coblence and Thionville.
At the end of the war, the regiment was stationed in Nîmes.
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
Until around 1734, even though the drummers of the regiment were supposed to wear the King's Livery, the duc de Villeroy (who had been the governor of the Dauphin and had been charged to oversee his education) was authorised by the King to use the livery of his own house: green background lined and braided orange.
However, from 1748, the regiment was not the property of the House of Villeroy anymore and the King's Livery was reintroduced for his musicians.
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.
The colonel flag was white with a white cross. The ordonnance flags had a white cross with blue and black quarters in opposition.
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 4, pp. 221-240
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a very interesting website, which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris 1882
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23.
Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.