Monday, January 21, 2008
Le Regt. de St. Vignobles
(Curiously, there are no references to this regiment in the works of Lucien Mouillard-Ed.)
Raised on behalf of King Louis XIV for service in the Palatine campaign in 1688 by my grandfather, Etienne-Germinal Délancé Bouillon-Cantinat, the 8th Marquis de Sangfroid, Prince Ecclesiastical and Bishop of St.Vignobles.
The regiment wears the blue coat of foreign regiments rather than the justeaucorps gris of the bulk of the French troops. It was decided by the Ministry of War that as the Principality of St. Vignobles found itself wedged between the Duchy of Lorraine and the River Rhine, and thus its borders were not contiguous to the lands of France proper, then logic necessitated that it should be raised as a German regiment in the service of the King. This was despite the fact that at that time, the Duchy of Lorraine was in fact occupied by France and not the independant entity it had been in previous times.
This was a decision that went against the wishes of my grandfather and indeed, one which vexed him considerably. The Bouillon-Cantinats have always considered both our estates- and our warriors- in direct service of the Crown, and worthy of inclusion amongst the roll of native French Regiments.
As way of protest of the decision by the War Ministry to classify his regiment as being "foreign", the Marquis declared that its officers and sergeants would wear reversed colours as a sign of their "true" place in the French Army. Likewise, the Marquis (being a proud man) had his drummers clothed in the yellow and blue of the family livery. This also happened to be a combination of colours being detested- perhaps not entirely without intention on grandpére's part- by the then Minister of War, M. Le Tellier fils, the Marquis of Barbezieux.
(NB: it is said that a certain indiscretion on the part of my grandfather regarding an attractive young niece of the Chevalier de Bejart led to some disfavour within close circles of the court at the time; the lady in question being a ward under the care of of Madame Le Tellier, wife of the minister, as well as being a favourite lady-in-waiting of Madame de Maintenon, wife of the King.
The Bouillon-Cantinats, both male and female, have always had a reputation for being somewhat mercurial in temperament, and none more so than my grandfather the 8th Marquis. His passion for beautiful women and for vignt-et-un had often, alas, obscured his otherwise commendable common sense. )
Upon the field of battle and as both besieger and defender in the siege of many a fortress, the Regiment de St. Vignobles has always distinguished itself for it's coolness under fire and the honour of its officers. It has served with distinction in a number of campaigns since its establishment during the Nine-Year's War, in both the Low Countries and the Palatinate. During the War of the Spanish Succession at the beginning of this century it stood steadfast under fire at the great battles of Malplaquet, Oudenaarde and most famously at Denain, where it's gallantry earned praise from the great M. de Villars himself.
One of the proudest moments for the regiment was the refusal of its second battalion, under the command of the Chevalier Ludovici Battisto di Bulgari, to participate in the destruction of the castle at Heidelberg as he considered it to be an action inconsistent with the honour that is expected from an officer in the service of France.
The colours of the regiment feature the motto of the Bouillon-Cantinats, and were designed by the Duchess of Burgundy in 1692. Thus they include the cross of Burgundy, as a reminder both of the origins of St. Vignobles as a part of the estates of Charles the Bold, and of the gracious benevolence shown by the Duchess towards the establishment of the regiment (she being the cousin of my grandmother on the Cantinat branch of our family).
The original uniforms and arms were purchased at her expense as a gift to the family of Bouillon-Cantinat; my grandfather finding himself in somewhat impecunious condition at the time. This is said to have been due to regrettable excesses at the gaming table, during which Mademoiselle Fortune (always a fickle mistress) deserted his cause.
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