Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Most Recent Archeological Discovery of Clay Pipes under the Reign of Louis XIV

In 1669 Louis XIV, King of France,

Louis XIV in 1661 par Charles Le Brun.

had just won his first war. 

Louis XIV in Douai during the war of Devolution, 1667, by Charles Lebrun

The war of Devolution against the Kingdom of Spain had started over the failure of the King of Spain to provide France with the dowry of 500,000 gold écus for his wife, Marie Thérèse, the eldest daughter of Philippe IV of Spain.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle on May 2, 1668, had just given France significant territories.

Louis XIV et Marie Thérèse à Arras en 1667, par Adam Frans van der Meulen

Louis XIV was already setting his sight on further territorial conquests. After all the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle had not addressed some of the basic claims he held. 

He needed more troops.

He ordered a training fort to be built in Saint-Germain en Laye, some twenty kilometers away from Paris,

and most importantly in close proximity to the Royal Castle of Saint-Germain where he had established his court in 1666.

Vue du Châteauneuf de St-Germain-en-Laye, etching by Israel Silvestre, c. 1660

Saint-Germain-en-Laye A view of the castle when Louis XIV moved to Versailles - 1682

The fort itself which was designed to house 15,000 troops and over 5,000 horses. By the time the troops left in August 1670, over 30,000 had been trained for battle and the fort was razed.

It is highly likely that such training was led by Vauban, a Marschall of France,

whose genius in building and breaking down fortifications would become a major asset to Louis XIV.

Recent archeological excavations on the location of the fort have unearthed ceramic pots, glasses, rolling dice, and clay pipes.

Plain clay pipe bowls excavated from Fort Saint-Sébastien, 1669-1670

 Some decorated with Fleur de Lys, crowns and dolphins.

Decorated stems and clay pipe bowls excavated from Fort Saint-Sébastien, 1669-1670

Soldiers who trained here joined Comte d'Artagnan, the captain of the Musqueteers of the guard of Louis XIV, in the Franco-Dutch campaign that followed

The arrival of d'Artagnan

Could it be that d'Artagnan was smoking a similar clay pipe during the siege of Maastrich?

or perhaps one of those?

Musketeer ("Pipe de Mousquetaire") Iron Pipe XVIIth century, France

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