Chevau-légers de Berry

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Chevau-légers de Berry

Origin and History

This company was created on 1 October 1690 for the Duc de Berry, third grandson of King Louis XIV.

During the reign of Louis XIV, the Gendarmerie de France had fought in first line in all major engagements in Flanders, Germany and Italy.

During the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders, where it distinguished itself at the Battle of Leuze (September, 18, 1691), and on the Rhine. In 1693, it served in Italy under Catinat and distinguished itself at Marsaglia (October 4, 1693).

For the organisation of this company, please refer to Gendarmerie de France Organisation. At war, it was the junior company of the sixth squadron of the Gendarmerie de France, paired with the Chevau-légers de la Reine.

Until 1763 the headquarters of the Gendarmerie de France were at Châlons-sur-Marne while the company was quartered in Nivernais and Limagne.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the company was under the nominal command of the Duc de Berry while a captain-lieutenant assumed effective command:

  • from 1 October 1690: Marquis de Kérouartz
  • from 12 June 1703 to 30 March 1715: Jacques de Balzac, Marquis d'Illiers

The company was disbanded in March 1763 and, on June 5 of the same year, incorporated into the Gendarmes de Berry which were renamed Gendarmes d'Artois the same year.

Service during the War

In 1701, at the beginning of the war, the Gendarmerie de France served with the Army of Italy.

On 15 August 1702, the Gendarmerie de France fought in the Battle of Luzzara, where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing.

In 1703, the Gendarmerie de France served with the Army of Germany. On 15 November, it fought in the Battle of Speyerbach, where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing.

On 13 August 1704, the Gendarmerie de France was crushed in the disastrous Battle of Blemheim.

From 1706 to 1713, the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders and on the Rhine.

On 11 July 1708, the Gendarmerie de France took part in the Battle of Oudenarde.

On 11 September 1709, the Gendarmerie de France took part in the Battle of Malplaquet.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1701- Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details in 1701
as per Rousselot, Mouillard, Funcken, Marbot, Rigo
Headgear black tricorne laced silver, with a black cockade
Neckstock black cravate
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, bordered with a silver braid, with silver buttons and silver buttonholes, and a silver braid on each sleeve
Collar none
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced silver, each with 3 silver buttons and 3 silver buttonholes
Cuffs scarlet cuffs en botte laced silver, each with 3 silver buttons
Turnbacks none
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes and edged with a silver braid
Breeches scarlet (probably buff leather at war)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff bandoleer laced silver
Waistbelt buff laced silver
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black leather with a silver tip
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth scarlet laced silver (the saddle was of black leather)
Housings scarlet laced silver, even during this period the cypher on the saddlecloth and housings seems to have varied depending on the owner of each company (king, queen, dauphin, a duke...). Here are a few examples:
Gendarmes Écossais Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes Anglais Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes Bourguignons Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes de Flandres Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes du Dauphin Cypher - Copyright Frédéric Aubert
Gendarmes d'Orléans Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sabre (silver handle), a pair of pistols and a rifled carbine. Officially for combat they wore a blackened breastplate over their leather jerkin.

The horses of the troopers were of various colours.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers.

They also wore a blackened breastplate over their leather jerkin for combat.

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following peculiarities:

  • silver braids on all seams of the coat
  • silver buttons
  • full cuirass worn over the coat

Officers were armed with a strong sword.

Musicians

No information yet on the uniforms worn by trumpets and kettle-drummers.

The musicians were mounted on grey horses.

Standard

The silken standard (exceptionally called guidons in the Gendarmerie de France) had a blue field heavily decorated with silver and gold embroideries, fringed in gold and silver; centre device consisting of a scene depicting a flying eagle with the motto “QUO NON FERET INCITA VIRTUS” (other sources also mention “PAR NON FERET INVITA VIRTUS”). As for all company standards of the Gendarmerie de France, the obverse and reverse were identical.

The standard was carried on a tournament lance by a trooper designated as porte-étendards (even though the standards of the Gendarmerie de France were called guidons).

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 240-243, 268
  • Guignard, Pierre Claude de: L'école de Mars; Paris: Simart 1725; p. 565

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Lienhart & Humbert: Les uniformes de l'armée française 1690-1894; Leipzig 1897-1906

Marbot, Alfred de: Les uniformes de l'armée française de 1439 à 1815; Paris 1848

Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Rigondeau (Rigo), Albert: Planches Le plumet – Série Ancien Régime; Paris 1980

Rousselot, Lucien: L'Armée française, ses uniformes, son armement, son équipement; Paris 1943-1971

Vial J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.