Friday 25 April 2014

Rossbach French Flags Project - Corps Royal de l'Artillerie

The history of the Corps Royal de l'Artillerie is a complicated one, beginning with the creation of the  Fusiliers de Roi regiment in 1671, which was renamed  Régiment royal d'artillerie in 1693. In 1720 the bombardiers, pioneers and miners were combined with the Royal Artillerie into a single regiment of 5 battalions. The full history and complexity can be found at Kronoskaf here:
A sixth battalion was added in January 1757 and throughout the Seven Years War "the arm was repeatedly reorganised" (Kronoskaf - see previous link). Naturally every army the French deployed throughout the war used guns and gunners, and often pioneers and miners too.

During the SYW each battalion had one colonel's colour and one Ordonnance colour. The Ordonnance colours were unusual, as the material of which the coloured quarters were made was made of "tafettas changeant", a weaving technique in which warp and weft threads are of different coloured silks - as Pierre Charrié, the expert on French flags, says, these colours are difficult to represent as an illustration. The 1753 entry in État Général des Troupes Françoises is very unclear: "cinq Drapeaux d'ordonnance aurores & verts taffetas, changeant & aurores & rouges de même par opposition dans les quarrés". This seems almost to be the standard definition of the flags for the period - but I found in a 1721 volume on Google a very clear description which as far as I can tell is also accurate for the SYW. The book is Histoire de la Milice Françoise Volume 2, 1721, by R.P.G. Daniel and the flag description is on page 540. It says: "Le drapeau au premier & quatriéme canton est aurore & vert changeant, au second & troisiéme aurore & rouge changeant, la croix blanche au milieu semée de fleurs de lys d'or". Mouillard renders them as a rather stripey mix for the aurore-rouge cantons and the aurore-vert cantons somewhat blotchy, with the green emphasised. The 1757 MS shows much more strongly defined blotches of the 2 colours in each canton. Here below is my first attempt to render this flag (I'm still trying alternative methods):

And here is the 1757 MS depiction of both flags and uniforms:

I'd like to thank Jean-Louis Vial, Christian Rogge and Stefan Schulz for helpful discussion on and useful suggestions about how to depict the Ordonnance flag of this regiment.