The Bourbonnais regiment, 2 battalions

Bourbonnais sans tache

Origins of the Bourbonnais regiment

The Bourbonnais regiment was constructed from some companies which had returned form Italy in 15591. On 6 March 1597 Charles IX commissioned Philibert de Nérestang to raise a regiment and he united these companies in what became the Bourbonnais regiment. On 6 May 1598 the regiment was dismissed except for the company of the Mestre de Camp. On 3 April 1600 the regiment was constituted anew. It was then again dismissed on 17 January 1601 and reinstated on 31 May 1602. It was then dismissed a third time in 1604 and finally reinstated by Henry IV on 16 February 1610, when De Nérestang bore the cost of recruting. In 1666 the rank of the Bourbonnais as one of the Petits vieux was established.

The Bourbonnais regiment in the War of Devolution.

In 1664 the Marquis de Castelnau commanded the Bourbonnais regiment. In the War of Devolution the regiment served in the sieges of Berghes, Furnes, Courtrai, Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Oudenaarde and Lille. In this campaign the regiment distinguished itself in the siege of Oudenaarde and the assault on the covered road of the Fort de Scarpe of Douai.

The Bourbonnais in the Franco-Dutch war

At the start of the Franco-Dutch war the Bourbonnais fielded two battalions of 16 companies each. In the campaign it took part in the sieges of Orsoy and Zutphen. In August it was in Utrecht, from where 17 companies were sent to garrison Wesel. The rest of the regiment under Colonel de Castelnau continued in the campaign. It then participated in the attack on a Dutch post near Ameide, where its colonel was mortally wounded. He was succeeded by Pomponne Marquis de Reffuges, who was appointed on 1 February 1673. At the same time the regiment was named after the Bourbonnais province. In 1673 the Bourbonnais was in the force that covered the siege of Maastricht. In 1674 it participated in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1675 the regiment was in the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg and wintered in Maastricht. In 1675 it was in the successful defense of that place. For the rest of this war the regiment stayed in garrison in Maastricht except for sending some small detachments. After peace had been concluded with the Dutch the regiment fought an engagement at Minden and participated in the Siege of Luxembourg.

The Bourbonnais in the Nine Years War

In 1687 the Marquis de Rochefort took command. In the first year of the Nine Years War it then started with the sieges of Philippsbourg, Mannheim and Frankenthal and continued with taking Kaiserslautern, Kreutznach, Neustadt, Oppenheim, Worms, Speyer and Mainz, where it wintered. In 1689 the first battalion was in Landau and the second was in the defens of Mainz. In 1690 and 1691 the regiment stayed in Germany and in 1692 it passed to Flanders. Here it started with the Siege of Namur2. After that the third battalion was sent to Calais and the others fought at Steenkerque3. In this battle the Bourbonnas covered itself in glory, but had 300 men killed amongst them 7 captains. In December the regiment went to the siege of Furnes and then wintered in Arras.

In May 1693 the regiment joined the main force and was in the Battle of Neerwinden where nine captains were killed and five wounded. At the end of the year the Bourbonnais participated in the Siege of Charleroi. The regiment then continued in Flanders, but apart from the action near Tongeren and the 1695 bombardment of Brussel it did not see much action. In 1699 the regiment was sent to work at the fortifications of Neuf-Breisach. In 1700 the Marquis de Nangis was appointed as colonel of the regiment.

The Bourbonnais in the War of the Spanish Succession

In the first year of the War of the Spanish Succession the Bourbonnais was in Strassbourg. It was only in September 1702 that it left that place and went to participate in the Battle of Friedlingen, where it lost 300 men. The regiment then wintered in Neubourg. In February 1703 the regiment was in the Siege of Kehl and it then crossed into Germany. In the first battle of Höchstädt the regiment was in the detachment of the Marquis d'Usson. Here it was accidently left behind in the village of Borhstadt were it would have been annihilated had Villars not arrived in time to win the battle.

In the Battle of Blenheim the Bourbonnais was in Oberklauw. Here it skilfully covered the retreat of Marsin's army. Back in Alsace it had a fight with some Imperial cavalry in November. In the beginning of 1705 the regiment went to Metz to recruit. In August it returned to the Rhine, were it worked on the bridge of Kehl. In 1706 the regiment fought in the engagements near the lines of Weissembourg and Drusenheim. In 1707 it fought at Sickingen and in the Lorch valley. In 1708 the regiment went to Flanders were it started in the camp at Soignies4) and was present in the Battle of Oudenaarde. During the siege of Lille it was part of the main force.

On 1 January 1709 Louis Antoine de Gramont Comte de Lesparre was appointed as colonel. At Malplaquet the regiment was heavily engaged and afterwards it went to Sedan. In 1710 it was in Hesdin and in 1711 it guarded Abbeville. In 1712 the Bourbonnais missed the battle of Denain. It did however participate in taking Saint Amand and was present in the sieges of Douai and Quesnoi. Later it was present in the Siege of Bouchain. In 1713 the regiment covered the siege of Landau and participated in taking Freibourg were it was placed in garrison. After the peace of Rastadt part of the d'Esgrigny regiment was incorporated in the regiment.

Flag of the Bourbonnais regiment

The flag of the Bourbonnais regiment consisted of two violet quarters and two Azur quarters. The flag of the colonel was entirely white5).


1) Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française volume III, page 290 for most of this article
2) Also See 'Bataille welche ihr. Königl. Maj. von Frankreich wieder die alijrten vor Namur in Braband den 24 July 1692 gestellet haben' HStAM WHK 8/115.
3) Also See Bataile formée par les François contre les Alliées près de Steinkerque en Braband en l'année 1693 (really 1692).
4) See Ordre de bataille sous son altesse le prince et Duc de Bourgogne au camp de Soigny le 26 May 1708.
5) Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française volume III, page 293