Saturday 22 October 2016

The Duchy of Modena

My Piedmontese army is largely finished. Ten out of twelve battalions have been painted and two cavalry regiments. The artillery is on my table to complete leaving only the infantry mentioned above and two dragoon regiments.

So my mind has turned to whom they should fight. A number of factors needed to be considered – reliable painting sources, flags, nice figures I want to paint and a real contemporary opponent. This boiled down to a choice between Spain, France, Naples and Modena. I want to do the Spanish for sure but I am waiting for samples of figures because the coat is unusual and is buttoned up the front. The French, for the moment, I want to avoid as they only participated in the campaign in the Alps which, at the moment, interests me less than the campaign in central Italy. But I love the French figures from Black Hussar so I have decided to paint the army of Modena using these figures from Black Hussar.

Modena was swiftly invaded by Piedmont in 1742 with the Duke fleeing south to join the Spanish. So the Modenese army falls into two distinctive shapes (in a similar way to the Saxons in the later SYW); firstly the larger pre-invasion force and secondly, the much smaller remnants fighting allied to the Spanish. It is the former I wish to replicate. The campaign was too swift to have been of much interest but I will assume that ‘my’ Modenese army will be able to withdraw south to, eventually, unite with the Spanish or Neapolitans or both.

There are three decent uniform sources but they need to be treated carefully.
1)The Vinkhuizen plates are lovey and detailed but are dated wrongly I suspect. Many show dates of 1740’s (clearly typed in the corners)but the uniforms shown date from the SYW. For example the dragoons are in blue (which is correct for the SYW) but in the WAS they wore red coat.
2) Steven Manleys excellent books. I consider these to be the best source, in particular “The War of the Austrian Succession, Part VII, Uniforms of the Italian States (Piedmont, Genoa, Modena and Naples).  This is my primary source.
3) Kronoskaf for the Modena Army in the SYW which has good examples of the flags which had not changed.

Here is Manley’s excellent introduction to the Modena section.

“Charles Emmanuel III of Piedmont-Sardinia regarded the Duchy of Modena with some avarice. The ruling Duke, Francesco III d’Este [his picture is at the top of the blog] held a General’s commission in the Austrian Army, had been a close personal friend of the late Emperor Charles VI and the living Marshal Traun [who commanded Austrian troops in Italy]. Additionally he had no particluar desire to see a Spanish client state (Milan) established on his northern borders to match the one already existing (Naples) [ technically the Papacy was between both but they were neutral and weak] to his south. All this should have made Modena an obvious candidate for participation on the Austro-Piedmontese side.

However, the gradual expansion of Modena’s small. But highly efficient army, and the good terms that Francesco was on with the Austrian establishment, led Charles Emmanuel to perceive the Duke as a future rival in Italy. Sensing the latent threat to his dominion from Piedmont-Sardinia, Duke Francesco felt obliged to balance his position by opening negotiations for a defensive alliance with the Spanish. By way of “self-fulfilling prophecy” the rumours of these negotiations gave Charles Emmanuel III the pretext he needed to stage an invasion of Modena – with the half-hearted acquiescence of the Austrians as they need the Modenese bridges in order to get to Naples. A massive blow by the Piedmontese-Sardinians rapidly over-ran the Duchy and the Duke fled south to join the Spanish in the south.”

Here is another (heavily edited) article by Alberto MENZIANI that shows a different angle:

“Under Francis III (1737-1780), a prince of remarkable personality, great ambition and very interested in military matters, the Este military apparatus was quickly modernized and upgraded. In 1739 the Duke was in fact able to send two regiments of 800 men each, under the command of colonels Villeneuve and Prini, to fight against the Turks in the Balkan Peninsula with the imperial army. The campaign was not favorable for the Christian army, but the Este troops fought bravely at the Battle of Grocka and the defense of Belgrade, then returned to Modena in the first half of 1740, decimated by losses suffered in combat, and even more by hardship and disease (including the two commanders who perished in the expedition).

Then the war of the Austrian Succession broke out and, on April 30, 1742 the Duchy concluded an alliance with Spain, pledging to make available to the latter five thousand well-equipped men. It was the Swiss regiment de Grooss (Maderna), with a strength, on June 4, 1742 of 1,296 men, and Palude regiment, named after its  commander Count Cesare of Palude, a veteran of the Balkan adventure, which on May 7, 1742 numbered 1,240; three regiments of "national" infantry formed with elements from the militia (about 1,800 men in total); and one hundred twenty gunners and three hundred sixty soldiers cavalry, half horse, half-dragons (Montecuccoli Regiment Cuirassiers and Dragoons regiment Rangoni). Francesco III also had two other two regiments "national", in 1740-1741 having raised five, namely the "Reggio", the "Modena", the "Mirandola", the "Frignano" and the "Garfagnana", who wore white uniforms and different distinctive facings. Almost all these troops, however, were almost immediately put out of action, because the Austro-Sardinian blocked the towns of Modena and Mirandola forcing them to surrender, after an honorable resistance, in June-July 1742 while the Spanish army of the Duke of Montemar remained inactive on the Papal frontier. In the remainder of the conflict d’Este hired  another two Swiss regiments, Bavois and Mottet, which remained in ducal service until the end of the war, when they were merged into one unit under the command of  Jean Fran├žois Bressencour in February 1749.The Royal Armoury of Turin still holds seven flags of infantry and one of cavalry pennant of Modena, captured by the Piedmontese but so fortunately preserved.”

In conclusion, I will paint a small-ish Modenese army. I expect it to be smaller than the Piedmontese one I have almost finished but perhaps it will be of better quality.

Lastly, here is a link to the Spencer Wilkinson book "The defence of Piedmont 1742-1748" printed in 1927

1 comment:

  1. Nigel,

    Great informative post. Looking forward to the figures.