Tuesday, 27 July 2010

More Pontifical Zouaves

Thanks to Uwe of History in 1/72 for sending these - he's working on a small diorama of the battle of Mentana which is the subject of the top painting from 1907.


  1. It might be may politics but I don't think of this unit as the "good guys." Maybe some red plastic MARKSMEN troops or AIP's blue plastic WW I Germans could give my gray plastic MARKSMEN Pontifical Zouaves a bashing.

  2. Big question, are the ZPs the good or the bad guys? They certainly represented the conservative view, as opposed to the piedmontese/garibaldians who were supposed to stand for modernity, i.e a unified Italy "à la Bismarck". But the consequence of unifying Italy as it happened from 1870 was that the South became an economic desert as the North made sure to control all economic levers. This is not very different from what happened after the ACW in the USA and sadly, also what happened to the South of Belgium when the Flemish ( North of the country) came to control everything, especially from 1960.

  3. I, too, do not share the politics of the Papal Zouaves, but I prefer not to think of the antagonists at Mentana as good guys and bad guys but rather as brave men doing their duty as they saw it (in the case of the Zouaves, that was principally their duty to God).

    In case any readers of this blog do not realise it, the central mounted figure in this picture of Mentana is the same man as the similar figure in Charles Castellani’s painting of Loigny posted earlier. This is Athanase de Charette, Lieutenant Colonel of the Papal Zouaves at Mentana and Colonel of the Volunteers of the West at Loigny. The ex- Papal Zouaves serving in the French Army of the Loire in autumn and winter 1870 were officially known as the Volunteers of the West, but almost everyone went on calling them the Papal Zouaves, then and later.

    I have not seen this picture before and I would like to know where the original is. On downloading a copy, I saw that the artist is Lionel Royer. Aged 18, Royer served in the Volunteers of the West at Loigny, and was later commissioned. He painted two pictures for the reconstructed church at Loigny, one for each of the two side chapels. One shows the last Mass of the Papal Zouaves on the night before the battle, and the other shows the wounded General de Sonis lying out on the freezing battlefield the night after the battle and being consoled by a vision of the Virgin Mary.

    In later life, Royer became a successful Salon painter and his painting of Vercingetorix surrendering to Julius Caesar at Alesia is often reproduced.

    Like so many on the Catholic Right in France, Royer was strongly anti-Dreyfusard and drew a notorious cartoon of Dreyfus being cast into hell.