Monday, May 10, 2010

Regiment Royal de St. Vignobles

click to enlarge

The Marquis wrote:

"The outfitting of  L’armée de l’Oise proceeded apace, with overall efficiency and considerable expense- particulary on my part.  Monies for uniforms, arms and accoutrements and victuals were always in short supply.  The shortfall was inevitably made up by my dipping into my own coffers. 

While I was able to bestow some amount of patronage for some tidy sums, not to mention the occasional- and lucrative- games of chance, those gentlemen who managed my considerable estate were not averse to chiding me for such excess.  They urged that I bring the spending under control, and begged that I pressure Versailles to be more forthcoming with the resources needed to prepare the army for war.

This war within a war for ever-scarce funding alloted to me its share of little victories as well as defeats.  Yet overall, it must be said, the balance of success went to those low-bred, pestilential and mean-spirited troglodytes who inhabited the counting-houses of Versailles.  

Indeed, late one evening Count Sarkozy arrived back from a reconnaissance to find me in a most highly agitated and irritable state with my staff over the issue.  On perceiving my evident distress, he promptly offered to ride with some of his men to Versailles with the intention of hanging the scoundrels in question up by their tongues until they agreed to loosen the purse strings.  I must confess that I did mull over the merits or otherwise of the scheme for some moments before politely- yet firmly- refusing the Count's well-intended proposal.

Nonetheless, I was not without some skillful experience with the machinations of the court, and I was able to obtain some favours in return for my forbearance with such rogues, chief of which for the purposes of this narrative was the refitting and elevation of my own regiment, that of St. Vignobles.

The campaign of Dettingen in which the regiment had distinguished itself had reduced the uniforms of the men to a most wretched and deplorable state.  Having just outfitted the Regt. de Bouillon Cantinat,  and seeing clearly that my finances were not what they were during the peace, I resolved that if the Ministry of War failed to underwrite my expenses as was my due, then I would see if I could not indeed manage to elevate the regiment and my House to a status fitting with the illustrious lineage and service of the Bouillon-Cantinats.

So debts were quietly called upon to be made good, and understandings were negotiated with the mighty and influential.  As well as with their wives & mistresses, for over the years one learns where true fountains of power and decision making lay.  With such stratagems, and in the fullness of time, the carefully nurtured seeds of ambition bore their fruit.  

Many months had passed when finally we received the welcome news from His Gracious Majesty that the Regt. de St. Vignobles, ...'on account of its proven valour and dedication to the House of Bourbon', would receive the unique honour of being bestowed with the title of "Royal".  While steadfastly maintaining its independent character and certain privileges,  it was to be taken into the French army as a native rather than as a foreign regiment.   

As befitting the new status of the regiment (and in exchange for a considerable pecuniary gift of sundry movables) I was granted some small but fairly profitable holdings in the Aquitaine.  

Furthermore, it was agreed that my eldest son was to be betrothed to the Duchesse de Limoger.  A somewhat dim-witted young woman, but a niece of the King and the eldest of four children, all daughters; thus is the House of Bouillon-Cantinat to find itself tied to that of the Bourbons.

I insisted upon the condition that the regiment would all the while remain under the command of its chef, and that it would be subject to the needs of the hereditary Prince Ecclesiastical of the Bishopric of St. Vignobles whenever the principality was to find itself threatened by an external foe.   

The price of such arrangements was dear. A further reduction of a stock of the best vintage St. Vignobles had to offer, some sudden (and calculated) desertion of skill and luck on my part at the card table, and a tacit agreement that the regiment was to expect no financial support from Versailles other than that of pay (when available), arms, and equipment.  But as these were already less than forthcoming I felt it a very practical solution and a pleasing outcome to me, one which would bring further lustre to the already brilliant stars in the Bouillon-Cantinat firmament.

The day the colours were presented to the regiment by the King and his party was one renowned for its splendour, with gentlemen and ladies of quality the region over coming into camp to take part in the festivities, including also some officers of my acquaintance from the Pragmatic armies, visiting on parole to pay their respects.  

I myself performed the benediction over the new regimental drapeaux.  These were designed by a most willing and appreciative Duchess D'Argenson and her daughter.  In richness of  fabric and in their embroidery the new colours were magnificent in execution, equally the rivals of those borne by the Gardes Francaises

Dinner that evening was a sumptuous affair, in which the finest wines of St. Vignobles flowed like the melting snows of spring.  This repast was accompanied by music provided by a party of musicians led by the esteemed M. Boismortier, as well as by the regimental hautbois.  There was, of course, a display of fireworks followed by dancing, which was welcomed by the young officers of the army as being a rare opportunity for some pleasant dalliance.

The rest of the night was passed by games of vignt-et-un, in which I played with even more than my customary skill and ruthlessness in order to cover at least part the evening's expenses, which I woefully suspected would be prove to be a daunting sum. 

Indeed, my chief comptroller had rather irritably begged me to excuse him from duty that evening, as he desired to retire to bed early with what he suspected to be a case of imminent apoplexy."


Basically I was never that happy with my first design for the uniform and flag of the Regiment de St. Vignobles, and as I develop the character of the Marquis de Sangfroid and L’armée de l’Oise I have had a better idea for the flag and uniform.  I've also become a lot more familiar with the graphics programs I have, so I can do a better job than before.  

I like the idea of wine or madder-red as the distinctive colour of the Principality, and it is a colour that goes much better with off-white than with the mid to dark blue of the foreign regiments in French service.  So I had our scheming hero concoct a plan to have the regiment become a regular French one- with privileges!  

And frankly, I've enough blue to paint with the Dutch and my French Napoleonic infantry.


abdul666 said...

Indeed this promotion allowed the Regiment to receive excellent uniform & flags -and more 'in character': compliments!


Fitz-Badger said...

I agree with Jean-Louis, very nice plate and background!

David said...

Yes, the colour scheme works very well. Good write up too - and good to see the templates in use more too. :-)



alanp said...

Brilliant - I have a French 7YW army, the Corps du Vin, made up of all the wine producing regions - Champagne, Medoc, Baujolais etc.

I was in the process of recruiting some Reichsarmee regiments, but it would be even more fun to recruit the Regmnt de Vignobles and others.

Do you mind if I paint it up?

Robert said...

Of course you can paint up the Marquis' regiment- I'd be honoured!

All I ask is that if possible, send me a picture and I'll post it here.



Robert said...

BTW if you'd like a file with "wargames-friendly" flags (both sides printed, just wrap it around the flagpole), send me an email via the blog and I'll shoot one off to you.

It's for 28mm miniatures, but can easily be resized if needs be.

Anonymous said...

Great - I will email etc.

Actually that's a great idea re flags - I can adapt my Frenchies into my own Imagi-nation just by switching flags: Goodbye Champagne, hello Wurstemburg 2nd :-)

alan p said...

Btw my French are 28mm....