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"Bandes de Picardie early 16th century" Topic

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Personal logo DucDeGueldres Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 3:51 a.m. PST

As far as I know the Bandes de Picardie consisted of about 2.000 foot soldiers who during the 2nd half of the 15th were quatered at the camp Pont de l'Arche and formed the (foot) army reservoir for the French King. Until 1494, as King Charles VIII formed the Bandes de Piémont for his first Italian War.
Does anyone know if these Bandes de Picardie kept on serving after 1494?
E.g. in 1507 about 2.000 French foot served under French command to support Guelders against the Habsburgs.

My available sources speak of French troops. I can't find whether these were 'native' French troops or mercenaries, e.g. Swiss or Landsknecht.

Does anyone know more about the service of the Bandes Picardie during the first decades of the 16th century?

Le Duc

Puster Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 6:19 a.m. PST

There is a chapter on the forming of the French infantry in Pottes "Renaissance France at war".

P95ff in general, 105ff in particular

search for "quest permanent infantry"

Alas, while he mentions the formation of infantry, its usually in a larger size: 1481 Lois aimed for 10000 infantry, with 4000 from Normandy and 6000 from the Picardy – armed with pikes and helbards. In 83 they were disbanded due to their cost after the Kings death.

There are no "bands of Piemont" mentioned, I assume this is a name given later to the armies formed for the invasion of Italy which had a large number of "aventuriers" – soldiers hired not by the state but as a company by a leader that has a general contract (very much like a Condotta or the raising of a Fähnlein of Landsknechts) and were usually for one campaign (one aventure) – at least that is what I could deduct from the sources.

On the very issue you ask for there is this quote in "FRANCE AND HER ARMY" by Charles de Gaulle:

"The work was already begun by Louis XL lId 1481 at the camp of Pont de I'Arche he ordered d'Esquerdes and William Picquart to muster twenty thousand seasoned foot-soldiers of France to be formed into regular troops; These goodly companies subsequently garrisoned the towns on the Somme, this river then forming the French frontier, and later became the "Picardy Bands". Anne de Beaujeu made use of them during her regency to prevent Maximilian from invading French territory during Charles VIIFs minority. Later, the attempts of Charles V against the eastern provinces led Francis I to complete the bands of Picardy by those of "Champagne". Meanwhile, Louis XII brought into existence the "Bands of Piedmont" to form the nucleus of the infantry to be used beyond the Alps. "Piedmont" recruited chiefly Gascons, Provencals, and Basques, as well as those Corsicans who were "law-abiding and conscious of their duties" ; "Picardy" and "Champagne", on the other hand, drew their recruits chiefly from the northern provinces. In this way two bodies of in- fantry were formed in France, each with its own characteristics ; the northerners heavier and tough, dependable and somewhat dour ; the southerners quicker, more adaptable, mercurial and high-spirited. These distinctions were destined to remain ; the armies of the Rhine have always been different in character from the armies of Italy. "


I would not take this as a historical source, though. De Gaulle certainly had other concerns then doing serious historical research, but it looks like it is either based on the same info as your question or somehow the original source for it.

The (native) French infantry of the era from around 1450 to 1550 is among the less investigated issues of Renaissance warfare, and if you find more please post any sources here.

Personal logo DucDeGueldres Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member06 Jan 2013 2:10 p.m. PST

Thanks Puster for this extensive answer.
As you may have noticed befor I'm investigating the Guelders campaigns in the early 16th Century and especially the French help they received.
I've considered before to buy the Potter book, but it's high price kept me off from buying it up to now. Through our Dutch libraries it isn't available unfortunately. Do you know if its worth the price?

By the way nice to read about De Gaulle's book on the French army. Perhaps Churchil inspired him to try the same?

I'll gladly share any sources I may come about. One I came across up to now is 'Mémoires de Maréchal de Florange', dealing with the period 1505-1535.

Le Duc.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2013 4:41 p.m. PST

The google link above lets you read a good deal of Potter.

I am not sure wether it is worth it. Its price is pretty stiff, and there is next to no historical account in it (including not much on the campaings) – it is more an approach to all facettes of creating and maintaining the forces. If you need something very specific, it probably is in the book or not available in english at all. You have to build a comprehensive picture of the history for yourself, though – it will add and deepen understanding of France and the French army in that era, but not create such understanding by itself.

I like it for myself, and deem it worth the money, but I would not recommend it without reserve. Just take a look into some passages via google and decide for yourself.

Daniel S09 Jan 2013 5:02 a.m. PST

By the mid-sixteenth century, the main French infantry were the so-called
'old' and 'new' bands (of 300 each), the latter sometimes called aventuriers.
The date of their emergence is obscured by the repeated unsuccessful attempts
to create a reliable French infantry. The francs-archers of 1448, little used to
collective training and exposed badly at the battle of Guinegatte in 1479, had
been suppressed in 1480 when Louis XI sought to create a force of 10,000
permanent infantry armed with bows, pikes and halberds and paid L 9 per
month. Esquerdes played a leading role in the organisation in camps de
manoeuvres for them in Picardy, with units mobilised in bands of 4,000 as with
the francs -archers.4* It is at this time that the bandes picardes appear. In 1485,
however, the franc-archer system, with one man to be raised per eighty
hearths, was reintroduced and the force taken to Ghent in 1488 by Esquerdes
consisted of 12,000 of them paid at the old rate of L 5 per month. Their
quality was poor and the failure of Gie's attempt in 1504 to raise another
infantry force of 20,000 shows that the vielles bandes were still not in being.49
The latter probably emerged in the 1520s, recruited in the province, commanded
by men of local prestige and kept on permanent footing. These were
possibly the men whom Admiral Bonnivet told Vendome that the king 'veult
estre retenuz a sa soulde et le demourant cassez . . . pour le bien du pouvre
peuple' in October 1522. Elsewhere it was in Italy that the 'vieilles bandes de
Piedmont' emerge much more clearly from the 1530s.

The new bands, or aventuriers, were temporary formations and, like the
francs-archers before them, prone to disorder and crime. The fact that six
ordonnances were issued between 1518 and 1543 for putting down discharged
aventuriers who had turned to robbery indicates the nature of the men. Picardy
was regarded as a fruitful area for their recruitment. In the 1480s, 2,000 men
were 'nouvellement mis sus au pays de Picardie' for the Breton war and in
1552 there was a report of '17,000 Gascons and Picards, footmen well exercised in the wars in the name of Venturers'.51 In fact, Gaston Zeller showed
conclusively that aventurier was a name used for all types of infantry during
the reign of Francis I, but that under Henri II it became increasingly confined
to 'new bands' recruited for a specific campaign.

Picardy 1470-1560
David Potter
Page 170-171

Rampjaar Inactive Member10 Jan 2013 8:15 a.m. PST

Check out this article on Stephane Thion's blog:

The reference book he used,"Recueil de documents inédits concernant la Picardie, publiés par Victor de Beauvillé, 1867" is available on google books.

Personal logo DucDeGueldres Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 3:29 p.m. PST

Rampjaar, thanks for the link.
Although it's on the cavalry, it's nevertheless very interesting. The book I've looked at and contains lots of interesting stuff.

However my concern is for the moment with the question if the Bandes de Picardie as a military force on foot saw service during the period 1500-1510 outside France.

As for Daniel's quote from Potter, there may be some doubt that the 4.000 French foot that fought with Guelders in 1507 in the Walloon area were drawn from the Bandes de Picardie. Question is if they were foreign mercenaries. However the only French source I could find up to now just speaks of 4.000 foot.
The size of the force however fits with Daniel's quote from Potter.

Daniel S22 Jan 2013 4:09 p.m. PST

The Bandes de Picardie did not exist in 1500-1510 as they only came into being in the 1520's if Potter is correct. (And I see no reason to belive that he is wrong)

So the 4000 foot raised for the Guelders war would have been "Aventuriers" if native French or foreigners.

Personal logo DucDeGueldres Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Jan 2013 3:14 p.m. PST

Thanks Daniel for your clear point of view.

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