Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Champagne Regiment...

Have just finished another regiment...please click on any of the pictures for a bigger view.This regiment was among the most senior regiments in the French army, and was a member of that group of that group of regiments known as the “Vieux Corps”. Regiment Champagne could trace their regimental ancestry back to 1569 and the reign of Henry II (along with the Picardie & Piémont regiments). Altogether though there were six regiments considered “vieux”, these three, plus Navarre, de la Marine, Normandie.

The regiment was originally created from four company’s of the Royal Guard (Gardes du Roi) and as expected had a fairly eventful War of the Spanish Succession. The Champagne regiment was first mentioned in the battle of Dormans in 1575 and later on in 1580 at the siege of La Fere under Henri II. In 1595 the Champagne regiment was present at the siege of the castle of Beaune and the siege of Dijon.

In March-April 1691 the Champagne regiment participated in the siege of Mons with four battalions. In 1692 the Champagne regiment was on the extreme right near Namur. During the war of the Spanish Succession the regiment was first commanded by “the famous Blainville” (but he died in 1702)

At Blenheim they served in Bligny’s Brigade (Marquis de Bligny) where they comprised three battalions with one battalion of the Saintonge regiment. Bliny’s were in the division of Marechal de Camp Dorrington, in Lieutenant General the Marquis de Blainville’s Corps.

For the battle they were positioned in the village of Oberglau where they played a key part in in the repulse of the Prince of Holstein-Beck’s assault.

At Blenheim they were commanded by a gentleman called the Marquis de Seignelay (1683 - 1712) who had taken command of the regiment in 1702 (at the age of nineteen!) There isn’t much information on the man himself, but in the following picture the little boy on the left in armour is believed to be him.

The picture is titled the “The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons” and was painted by Pierre Mignard in 1691. The lady is Catherine-Thérèse de Matignon Thorigny, his mother. She had married his father Jean-Baptiste-Antoine (the Marquis de Seignelay) in 1679, but this was painted the year after he’d died.

His father (that's him to the left) was the eldest son of the "great Colbert" and immensely wealthy; in addition he was also the second generation of Colbert in charge of the French navy – reading Wikipedia and other sources, the family had immense power & “interest” in the court of Louis XiV and this (together with the money) may explain how Colbert junior found himself in command of a vieux corps regiment at such a young age.

In 1712 the regiment was taken over by the chevalier de Tessé which coincides with the death date of Seignelay – I’ve not managed to find out any information at all on his death but one is forced to the conclusion that he may have died in service. After much searching I found that the the regiment was present at the Battle of Denain and my guess would be that he may have died during that battle?

It’s also worth noting that another member of the Seignelay family took command of the regiment in 1762…

Figures are Minifigs 15mm, with the exception of the commanding officer who is one of the new range of figures from Black Hat - he's a little too old to represent Seignelay, but hey, the regiment is also wearing a temporary consignment of red stockings while their more likely grey or white ones are at the laundry!

Other sources:
Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française


  1. Very nice indeed, plus some history.
    Only regimental loyalty (from my En Garde days) to the Picardie forces me to be so restrained in my admiration

  2. I concur. As fine a body of dastardly Frenchmen as you can find.

    Also I really like the history plus figures posts.

  3. Steve,

    Once again I appreciate the glimpses of history along with those of the figures.

    -- Jeff

  4. Great background notes to go wth the very fine French figures.

    I still think you should consider publication of this information.

  5. Grimsby - yikes - I'd be up before the beak for shamelessly ripping off others hard work..! :o) Thanks for the kind words though...

    B.t.w - on the assumption that the others who posted comments may have a link back to this post, I would encourage all to go and have a look at how Grimsby depicted the regiment (with correct hosery!) here - stunning:


  6. Steve, it's always a pleasure when I get into work to make myself a coffee and then sit down to read one of your unit histories. Excellent work, sir!