The Picardie regiment, 3 battalions

Regiment de Picardie
Chateau du Verger
Chateau du Verger
Ancestral seat of the Rohans
Commanded by:
Roger de Sarrieu29 May 1569
François d'Epinay Saint-Luc1578
J.F. de Faudoas de Sérillac1579
Montcassin T. de Grenet1585
Montcassin T. des Houlieres1587
Gilles de Faverolles1589
J.M. Baron de RomefortJan. 1590
L. d'Estrées M. de Coeuvres1593
J. de St Blancard Biron 1 Feb. 1695
Louis de Melun d'Epinoy25 Feb. 1691
F.A. de Rohan de Montbazon18 June 1702

1 Early history of the Picardie regiment

1.1 History before becoming a regiment

The history of the Picardie regiment1 starts with the more or less permanent units that would later form this regiment. Its history as regiment however dates from 29 May 1569, when the infantry was reorganized and the history of the French regiments begins.

1.2 The regiment of Roger de Sarrieu

On 29 May 1569 a reorganization of the French infantry took place at the camp of La Rochefoucaud. Mestre de Camp Roger de Sarrieu had 16 companies assigned to him, of which 10 came from the guards and 6 from the old Bandes de Picardie.

The regiment was named for its Mestre de Camp (colonel) Roger de Sarrieu. In 1572 he bought the Seigneurie Saint Martin les Martres, which contained the castle now called Château de Martres-Tolosane. His tomb is in the church of Martres-Tolosane.

In early 1573 the Sarrieu regiment was part of the army that besieged Sancerre. At the end of June the regiment participated in the general assault that was repulsed with heavy losses2. In 1574 it participated in the siege of Fontenay le Comte3.

This was followed by the siege of Lusignan. Here its reputation for discipline made that in the January 1575 capitulation the defenders stipulated that only the Sarrieu regiment would enter the town. After that the regiment fought near La Rochelle.

1.3 The regiment of François d'Epinay Saint-Luc

In 1578 Roger de Sarrieu was replaced by François d'Epinay Saint-Luc, governor of Brouage. Saint-Luc was had been one of the 'mignons' of King Henry III, and as such a notable figure at court. He set up an intrigue by which he wanted to fake the appearance of an angel to the king. This intrigue was betrayed by Arques (later Duc de Joyeuse), but Saint Luc was warned in time and fled to Brouage, where he was governor. Here Saint Luc succeeded in maintaining himself by approaching the Ligue, but he most probably lost the regiment. The events of the intrique are told by Agrippa d'Aubigné as having happened in 15804.

1.4 Régiment de Sérillac

In 1579 a de Sérillac became colonel of the regiment. Susane held this to be Jean François de Faudoas de Sérillac, who would later become Comte de Belin and governor of Paris for the Ligue. A family history of the House of Faudoas appeared in 1724. In it there is question whether this might not have been Jean de Faudoas second son of Olivier de Faudoas in stead of Jean François, the fifth son.

At about the time of Sérillac's appointment the regiment returned to its traditional quarters in Picardy. In 1580 the regiment was in the Siege of La Fère. There is an explicit statement that in this siege 'Serillac' commanded the Picardie regiment, but the question remains which Serillac5.

2 The regiment becomes titled as Picardie

2.1 Régiment de Montcassin de Tagens

In 1585 Jean Lupiac de Montcassin de Tagens de Grenet became colonel. He had a younger brother Philippe Antoine le Houlier who would later succeed him. It was also the year the regiment dropped the name of its colonel and took the title Régiment de Picardie. In 1586 the Picardie regiment marched to Languedoc and Guyenne and participated in the sieges of Lusignan and Marans.

In May 1587 the regiment joined a small army that the Duc de Joyeuse assembled Saumur. This marched and fought some successful battles against the Calvinists near Saint Maixent and Croix-Chapeau. This little campaign ended with the conquest of Maillezais. Emboldened by this success the Duc de Joyeuse marched to Périgord in order to stop Henry of Navarre. On 20 October 1587 the forces met in the Battle of Coutras where the royal army was soundly defeated. The Picardie regiment suffered heavy losses from artillery fire and was almost annihilated. The small number of men that escaped at Coutras was later employed in the sieges of Mauléon. Montaigu and La Garnache.

In May 1589 the accomodation between Henry III and Henry IV started. Henry III had the regiment commanded by Lupiac de Moncassin posted to guard the suburbs of Tours. For late 1589 we have a mention that Le Houllier younger brother of De Montcassins was killed in June 1589 at Gergeau while commanding the Picardie regiment6. Or, more specifically that Philippe Antoine de Moncassin-Houliez, colonel of the Picardie regiment was killed7.

2.2 Régiment de Faverolles

Next we have Gilles de Faverolles seigneur de Bléré as colonel of the regiment. This was perhaps already the case when King Henry III of France was assassinated in August 1589 and the Picardie regiment pledged aligeance to Henry IV. Later in 1589 the Picardie regiment was present in the siege of Paris under Henry of Navarre. It then defended Pontoise which was lost to the Duke of Mayenne on 6 January 1590. In this siege Faverolles was killed8.

2.3 Régiment de Romefort

The next colonel was Jean Messeau Baron de Romefort, appointed in January 1590. In the 1590 campaign the Picardie was in the siege of Dreux, which was followed by the battle of Ivry and the blockade of Paris. In 1591 Picardie was at the siege of Chartres, where it had a conflict about precedence with the Navarre regiment. In 1593 Louis d'Estrées Marquis de Coeuvres was appointed as colonel. More campaigns followed, and in 1594 the Picardie accompanied Henry IV during his solemn entry in Paris. Next came the Siege of Laon, where its colonel Marquis de Coeuvres was killed.

2.4 Régiment de de Saint Blancard Biron

On 1 February 1595 Jean de Gontaut Baron de Saint Blancard Biron succeeded to the regiment9. This appointment he no doubt owed to being the younger brother of Charles de Gontaut duc de Biron, the favorite marshal of Henry IV. In 1595 the Picardy regiment went to Bourgogne and served in the sieges of Beaune, Autun and Dijon. In 1596 it served in the blockade of La Fère, which surrendered on 22 March. In March 1597 the Spanish had surprized Amiens, and the Picardie was engaged in the siege to take it back. During the siege the Picardie suffered heavy losses because of Spanish sorties, but in the end Amiens surrendered on 25 September 1597.

After the 1598 peace of Vervins the Picardie regiment was quartered in Picardy and stayed there till 1615. At the demobilization of the army in 1601 the Picardie regiment was one of the few that were not disbanded and as such it became part of Les Vieux Corps or the old troops. On 31 July 1602 the colonel's older brother was decapitated for treason, and so Jean de Gontaut became his heir for everything but the dignity of Duke. Jean thus became Baron de Biron, Saint Blancard, Montaut, Brizembourg, Chefboutonne etc.

In 1643 the regiment was in the battle of Rocroy10.

3 The Picardie regiment in the Nine Years War

In 1688 the Picardie started in the Nine Years war with the siege of Philippsbourg. As the oldest regiment it had the honor to open the trenches. It was followed by the siege of Mannheim, where it entered in November and remained in garrison. On 25 February 1691 Louis de Melun Prince d'Epinoy was appointed colonel of this regiment. In 1692 it was again augmented by a third battalion and was employed in taking Pforzheim. In 1693 the Picardie was in the siege of Heidelberg, where the Prince d'Epinoy distinguished himself. Later d'Epinoy was wounded while Oppenheim was taken.

In 1694 and 1695 remained in defensive positions at Lambsheim. In 1696 the Picardie went to the Meuse army. In 1697 it covered the siege of Ath and with that the war ended for the Picardie. In 1698 the regiment was part of the camp of Compiègne and after that it went into garrison at Aire.

4 The Picardie regiment in the War of the Spanish Succession

4.1 Before the start of hostilities

Before the start hostilities in the War of the Spanish Succession the three battalions of the Picardie regiment were part of the forces that were ordered to seize the most important places of the Spanish Netherlands. The Picardie thus marched into Antwerp11. In July 1701 the Picardie regiment was mentioned as part of Boufflers' army, but that does not mean it left Antwerpen12. On 3 October 1701 the whole Picardie regiment was still in Antwerpen13, and on 31 December 1701 it continued there14.

4.2 Prince de Montbazon

In 1702 war erupted in the Netherlands and the Picardy probably expected to see some action. In April it was on the extreme right of the first line of the army that was in Upper-Gelre15. During this campaign the aristocratic François Armand de Rohan Prince de Montbazon was appointed as colonel of the Picardie regiment on 18 June 170216.

François Armand de Rohan Prince de Montbazon was the eldest son of Charles III de Rohan, duc de Montbazon, prince de Guéméné (30 septembre 1655 – 10 octobre 1727), who always styled himself Prince de Guéméné. Of course François Armand could not be Prince de Guéméné while his father was the prince. Therefore he styled himself Prince de Montbazon. Due to the fact that he died before his father, François Armand did not become Prince of Guéméné.

4.3 First campaigns

The Picardie regiment was probably present in the affair of Nijmegen, the The March to Peer and the Cannonade at Helchteren. In a 28 September 1702 OOB of the main force it is present with 3 battalions17. In the siege of Liège the third battalion was present under the command of De Grandmaison. It put up a good resistance, but lost three captains, five lieutenants and 50 soldiers before capitulating. At the end of the campaign the Picardie regiment was designated to winter in Namur with two battalions, and in Bapaume with its third18.

On 4 May 1703 the first two battalions of the Picardie regiment were camped near Namur, while the third battalion was with the troops under 't Serclaes19. On 17 June 1703 the second battalion was in Valenciennes and its citadel, while the first and third were with the main force20. The Picardie regiment did miss the Battle of Ekeren, but its three grenadier companies distinguished themselves there under its lieutenant-colonel (since 24 November 1698) Jean Pierre de Selve. The Picardie wintered in Valenciennes.

The Picardie regiment started the 1704 campaign by marching from Valenciennes to Louvain21. On 29 February the whole regiment was in advanced quarters at Tirlemont22. In March 1704 it then marched to re-establish the lines of Wasseige (part of the lines of Brabant)23. When it became clear that Marlborough was marching in the direction of the Moselle the Picardie regiment followed on a paralel course. On 8 July 1704 the Picardie regiment was in the Upper Rhine army commanded by Villeroy24. After the Battle of Blenheim the regiment marched across the Black Forest to Biberach in order facilitate the retreat of the beaten armies.

In 1705 the Picardie regiment started in the Moselle army, but later joined the main army in Flanders with three battalions25. The regiment missed the fighting on the Brabant lines. In the IJssche affair it was part of Grimaldi's detachment that covered the flank of the main force. For 1 November 1705 there is a list that states that the Picardie's three battalions counted 1,293 men26.

4.4 The Picardie regiment at Ramillies

In May 1706 the Picardie was in the Army of Flanders, but its traditional place of honor on the right of the first line was taken by the Colognese and Bavarian guards27. Later that month the Picardie regiment fought in the village of Ramillies during the Battle of Ramillies. Here it was in one brigade with the Clare regiment. After the battle was lost this brigade formed a square formation and was the rearguard of the army till it reached Menin. Ramillies had cost it a major, three captains and a lieutenant killed, three dozen other officers were put out of action. The regiment went to Tournai to reorganize and in August it was again in the field. The Picardie passed 1707 in Lille.

4.5 The Picardie regiment in 1708

In 1708 the Picardie was in the surprise of Brugge and Gent. It was followed by the Battle of Oudenaarde where it fought handsomely under its colonel the Prince de Montbazon. A captain and a lieutenant were killed and a lot of wounded officers were taken prisoner. During the Siege of Lille the Picardie stayed in the field and went into winter quarters at Arras in December. Meanwhile Jean Baptiste Basset de Chateaubourg had been appointed as lieutenant-colonel on 23 September 1708.

4.6 The Picardie at Malplaquet

In 1709 the Picardie started near Denain, and after the loss of Tournai it marched in the direction of Mons. In the Battle of Malplaquet it lost its commander d'Ornaisson, three captains and four lieutenants. The Picardie then wintered at Amiens, where it stayed till the start of the 1711 campaign. Not much happened for the Picardie and it wintered in Abbeville. In 1712 the Picardie regiment missed the battle of Denain, but was present in the conquest of Douai, Quesnoy and Bouchain. It wintered in Saint-Omer.

In 1713 the regiment covered the Siege of Landau, with only the grenadiers participating in the siege. This was followed by the siege of Freiburg, and finally the peace of Rastadt. In 1713 the Villemort regiment was incorporated, and in 1715 those of Saint-Germain-Beaupré and Chalmazel.

5 Notes

1) For a description of the Régiment de Picardie: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française by Susane, v. 2 page 221
2) Volume 2 of L'Histoire de France by La Poplinilere's printed 1582, page 247 tells about the Siege of Sancerre.
3) Histoire Universelle by De Thou volume 7 page 168 treats the Siege of Fontenay le Comte and mentions Captain Péricard of the 'Serriou' regiment.
4) L'histoire Universelle du Sieur d'Aubigné page 375 for Saint Luc's intrigue
5) L'histoire Universelle du Sieur d'Aubigné page 367 has: 'Celui de Picardie par Serillac'
6) Pieces Fugitives a l'histoire de France contains the Memoires du duc d'Angouleme, in a note on page 54 it has further explanation.
7) Histoire Universelle page 481 for de Thou's statement that Houliez was colonel of the regiment at that time.
8) Histoire de Touraine v. 3 page 37 for Faverolles dead in Pontoise
9) Histoire Genealogique des pairs de France page 33 has a paragraph about Jean de Gontaut.
10) See 'Bataille gagnée par les François contre les Espagnols prés de Rocroy en Ardenne le 19 May 1643'. WHK 36/31
11) Pelet vol. 1 page 436: Etat des troupes du Roi qui ont ordre de se rendre dans les places de la Flandre Espagnole.
12) Pelet vol. 1 page 450: Etat général des troupes sur la frontière, 20 juillet 1701 has the three battalions of the Picardie in Boufflers army.
13) Pelet vol. 1 page 517: Etat des troupes de l'armée de Flandre et des lieux qu'elles occupent le 3 Octobre 1701 has the three battalions of the Picardie in Antwerpen.
14) Pelet vol. 1 page 532: Etat général des troupes de l'armée de Flandre au 31 Décembre 1701 also has the three battalions of the Picardie in Antwerpen.
15) Pelet vol. 2 for 1702; page 484: Ordre de Bataille de l'armée, le 22 avril 1702 has the Picardie regiment in the first line with 3 battalions.
16) Dictionnairre de la Noblesse seconde édition, Paris 1778, Tome XII page 268: François Armand de Rohan was born on 4 December 1682 and died on 26 June 1717. His father was Charles de Rohan Prince de Guémené, duc de Montbazon, pair de France (1655-1727). It seems that as long as the prince de Guémené was alive his successor wore the title prince de Montbazons.
17) Pelet vol. 2 for 1702; page 588: Etat des troupes qui composent l'armée, 28 Septembre 1702.
18) Pelet vol. 2 for 1702; page 630: Disposition pour les Quartiers d'hiver has the Picardie wintering in Namur.
19) Pelet vol. 3 for 1703; page 742: Disposition Générale des troupes, tant des garnisons que des Armées, dans la Flandre Espagnole, pour le 4 May 1703, has two battalions of the Picardie camped near Namur. On page 748 that the third battalion was with 't Serclaes.
20) Pelet vol. 3 for 1703; page 757: Etat des troupes de campagne et de garnison, depuis la mer jusqu'a Luxembourg, 17 Juin 1703, has the second battalion in Valenciennes and ciradel, page 761 for the other two.
21) Pelet vol. 4 for 1704; page 678: Etat des troupes destinées a marcher a la tête de la frontière has the march from Valenciennes to Louvain.
22) Pelet vol. 4 fot 1704; page 679: Etat des troupes destinées a marcher dans des quartiers avancés; 29 February 1704 has the whole Picardie in Tirlemont.
23) Pelet vol. 4 for 1704; page 682: Etat des troupes destinées a marcher pour rétablir la ligne de Wasseige; 26 March 1704.
24) Pelet vol. 4 for 1704; page 897: Ordre de bataille de l'armée de M. le Maréchal de Villeroy, 8 Juillet 1704.
25) Pelet vol. 5 for 1705; page 567: Ordre de bataille de l'infanterie de l'armée de Flandre; 1er Juillet 1705, and page 568.
26) Pelet vol. 5 for 1705; page x: Etat de la Force des bataillons de l'armée de Flandre; 1er Novembre 1705.
27) Pelet vol. 6 for 1706; page 486: Ordre de bataille de l'armée de Flandre; 15 Mai 1706.