The regiment du Roi, 4 battalions

J'y enverrai des troupes qui ne reculeront pas. Louis XIV a Mons

Origins of the regiment du Roi

The regiment du Roi was created by order of 2 January 16631. King Louis XIV became colonel himself and ordered that the sons of noble families could start their military career in this regiment. The king later also permitted noblemen to enter as soldiers in the colonel's company. The actual command was taken by a lieutenant colonel, the famous Monsieur de Martinet, a man of low birth, but many military talents. The regiment started with 20 companies for which the officers were mostly taken from the musketeers, and the soldiers from the vieux corps and many regiments which had been disbanded after the Peace of the Pyrenees. Later in 1663 the Marquis de Dangeau was appointed as its colonel-lieutenant2. The day after his appointment the regiment was increased with 20 companies and still 8 days later it was brought to 50 companies.

First actions of the Regiment du Roi

On 1 September 1663 the first 20 companies went to Lorraine, were they were employed in reducing Marsal. In March 1666 the regiment was in the camp of Monchy and after that it was quartered near Paris, where the king often viewed its maneuvers. In 1667 it joined the Flanders army and started with the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille and wintered in Oudenaarde. In 1668 the regiment returned to Saint Germain and displayed the first grenadiers, four men in each company. Under lieutenant-colonel de Martinet the regiment was also the first to have an exercise regulation, a regular way of making camp and a uniform. De Martinet was made Colonel-lieutenant on 7 September 1670.

Meanwhile Dangeau had tried to make the Regiment du Roi a part of the maison militaire du roy in 1667, but even though he was secretly supported by the king, Louvois succeeded in preventing this. Dangeau therefore laid down his office in order to buy the command of the Cent Suisses. Still in 1667 he was succeeded by Philippe Mancini Duc de Nevers. The king was still not pleased with the low rank of his own regiment and found an expedient. In 1669 the Lorraine regiment which then held the 14th rank in the infantry returned from Crete in a very sorrow state. The king bought the regiment from its owner and merged it with the regiment du roi, giving this regiment the rank that it lacked till then. This was still not enough and so in 1671 a rank as sixth of the Petits Vieux was bought from Colonel le Comte de Saint Vallier for a sum of money and an appointment as Captain of the Guards of the Gate (Capitaine des Gardes de la Porte). By this transaction the old regiment of Artois tumbled down the ranking.

The regiment du Roi in the Franco-Dutch War

In the Franco-Dutch War the regiment du roi participated in the Siege of Orsoy and was then charged with guarding the bridge of Andernach for the rest of the campaign. Its colonel-lieutenant Jean de Martinet was employed in the Siege of Doesburg where he was killed by a cannonball from a French battery. He was succeeded by the Comte de Montbron. In 1673 the regiment was employed in the siege of Maastricht where it suffered heavy losses. In 1674 the regiment started with the Siege of Limbourg and the conquest of the Duchy of Jülich. It then passed to Franche-Comté and distinguished itself in the sieges of Besançon and Dole. It then distinguished itself in the battle of Seneffe and wintered in Verdun.

In 1675 it participated in the sieges of Liège, Dinant and Huy. On 6 January 1676 the Marquis de Saint Georges became colonel-lieutenant. That year the regiment du roi participated in the siege of Condé and covered the siege of Bouchain. 1677 started with the siege of Valenciennes, continued with the siege of Cambrai and was ended with taking Saint Ghislain. In 1678 the regiment was in the sieges of Gent and Ieper and in the battle of Saint Denis. Here the Marquis de Saint Georges was mortally wounded. He was succeeded by the Comte de Montchevreuil. In 1679 the regiment was on the Rhine and fought at minden. After peace had been concluded the regiment came into garrison in Lille.

The regiment du Roy in the Nine Years War

In 1688 the Regiment du Roi participated in the siege of Philippsburg. In 1690 it was in the battle of Fleurus. On 19 May 1691 the regiment du Roy was in camp near Hauterive, with three battalions on the extreme left of the first line3. From March-April 1691 it participated in the siege of Mons with three battalions4. At this siege the Gardes Françaised had failed in an attack and King Louis then stated: 'J'y enverrai des troupes qui ne reculeront pas.' before sending in the three grenadier companies of the regiment du roi. Later the regiment was in the battle of Leuze and wintered at Isenghien, where its fourth battalion was formed.

In 1692 the regiment du roi was near Namur with four battalions on the extreme left of the first line5. The regiment was also in the Battle of Steenkerque, were it distinguished itself. On 4 April 1693 the Marquis de Surville was appointed as commander of the regiment. The campaign was started with the sieges of Huy and Chateau-Picard. In the Battle of Neerwinden the regiment successfully attacked Neerwinden village. Because the enemy perceived that it lacked support it then threw 8 English battalions against it and forced the regiment to retire. In this action the Marquis de Surville was wounded. Later the regiment regained the terrain. The campaign was ended with the siege of Charleroi. The 1694 campaign was uneventful. In 1695 the regiment participated in the sieges of Dixmuiden and Deynse and in the bombardment of Brussel. Its last action in this war was the siege of Ath. After the war the regiment du roi was quartered near Versailles and Saint-Germain.

The regiment du Roi in the War of the Spanish Succession

In the War of the Spanish Succession the regiment du roi started by participating in the occupation of the barrier fortresses in 1701. In 1702 it was the first infantry brigade that arrived under the walls of Nijmegen. Later it was in the March to Peer and the Cannonade of Helchteren. In April 1703 it went to the Rhine, where it was in the Siege of Breisach and the Siege of Landau. On 15 November it then fought in the Battle on the Speyerbach. It wintered in Colmar. In 1704 it was in Tallard's Upper Rhine army, but when Tallard went to the Danube the regiment was left behind.

In 1705 the regiment started on the Moselle and went to Flanders in June, where it was in the action at the IJssche. On 6 January 1706 Louis Prévost, Marquis de Surville was appointed as colonel. In the Battle of Ramillies the regiment du Roy was on the extreme left flank. Here it was ordered to fall back to a position it held earlier. Once there it perceived that this position had already been abandoned, but took the risk to attempt to regain its luggage. This resulted in catastrophical losses when alliance cavalry overran it.

The prestige of the crown of course demanded that the regiment was rebuilt and to that end it went to Dunkirk and stayed there for the whole of 1707. On 26 May 1708 the regiment du Roy was in the Spanish Netherlands in camp at Soignies with four battalions6. Later that year it fought in the Battle of Oudenaarde where it participated from the start of the fighting. During the Siege of Lille the regiment stayed in camp at Pottes.

In 1709 the regiment participated in the Battle of Malplaquet. 1710 was uneventful and the regiment wintered in Amiens. On 26 January 1711 Louis Armand de Brichanteau Marquis de Nangis was appointed as colonel-lieutenant. Later that year the regiment was in the attack of Arleux. In 1712 it fought at Denain and in the taking of Marchiennes, Douai, Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713 it fought in the last siege of Landau and the siege of Freiburg. After the peace of Rastadt it was quartered in Marly.

Flag of the regiment du Roy

The flag of the regiment du Roy had two red quarters symbolizing the sun and two pale green quarters symbolizing its ancestry from the Lorraine regiment. It also had one golden fleur de lys in the center of the cross and three in each branch.7.

Notes

1) Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française volume IV, page 90 for most of this article about the regiment du Roi.
2) Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française volume IV, page 92 names Dangeau Colonel-lieutenant, which is the same as a Colonel Commandant.
3) See 'Campement welches Ihr. Konigl. Maj. bei Hauterive, den 19 Maij 1691gesteller haben. HStAM WHK 7/76.
4) See the map of the siege of Mons present in the DIGAM HStAM WHK7/72.
5) See Bataile formée par les François devant Namour en l'année 1692
6) See Ordre de bataille sous son altesse le prince et Duc de Bourgogne au camp de Soigny le 26 May 1708.
7) Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française volume IV, page 93-94 (and the note) for the flag of the regiment du Roi.