Chevau-légers de la Reine

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

Origin and History

This company belonging to Marie-Thérèse of Spain, queen of France, was created on 13 June 1664.

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 senior company of the fifth squadron of the Gendarmerie de France, paired with the Gendarmes de Berry.

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 King Louis XIV while a captain-lieutenant assumed effective command:

  • from 20 April 1699: Charles-Louis Cadot, Comte de Sebbeville
  • from April 1707: N. d'Héricy, Marquis d'Estréhan
  • from 1709 to 1716: Marquis de Bugenval

The company was disbanded on March 1, 1763 and incorporated into the Gendarmes de la Reine.

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

Queen's Livery - Source:PMPdeL

Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore the queen's livery.

The musicians were mounted on grey horses.

Standards

The company carried the same standard (exceptionally called guidons in the Gendarmerie de France) as the Gendarmes de la Reine which was made of silk and had a red field sown with golden fleurs de lys, embroidered in gold and silver, fringed in gold and silver; centre device consisting of two cartouches side by side (one with the Arms of France, the other with the Arms of Spain) surmounted by a royal crown and surrounded by palm leaves tied up with a blue ribbon in its centre with the motto “SEU PACEM, SEU BELLA GERO”. As for all company standards of the Gendarmerie de France, the obverse and reverse were identical.

Tentative Reconstruction
Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

Standards were carried on red tournament lances by troopers 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, 257-258
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 17-18
  • 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

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.