Gendarmes de la Garde

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Gendarmes de la Garde

Origin and History

This company was created by Henri IV on 14 December 1602 at the birth of his son Louis, who was then Dauphin de France. The company initially numbered 200 men. When Louis acceded to the throne, under the name of Louis XIII, he incorporated the unit into the Maison du Roi on 29 April 1611.

There were no minimal height required to join the company but the gendarmes had to be old enough and of an outstanding family, and to have good looks, good manners and enough revenue to live honourably without the help of a pay.

During the reign of Louis XIV, this company formed a squadron of 210 gendarmes divided up into 4 brigades. One of these brigades always served to guard the king. The company consisted of:

  • 1 captain (the king)
  • 1 captain-lieutenant
  • 3 sub-lieutenants
  • 3 ensigns
  • 3 guidons
  • 1 commissaire à la conduite
  • 10 maréchaux des logis
  • 2 quartermasters
  • 8 brigadiers
  • 8 sub-brigadiers
  • 4 standard bearers
  • 4 aides-majors
  • 4 trumpeters
  • 1 kettle-drummer
  • 178 men

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the company was under the command of the following captain-lieutenants:

  • from 24 September 1673: François de Rohan, Prince de Soubise
  • from 1 December 1703 to July 1734: Hercucle-Mériadec de Rohan, Prince de Soubise

The company was disbanded on September 30, 1787

Service during the War

In July 1701, the company was posted at Colmar. It was transferred to the Moselle at the end of July.

In January 1702, the company was allocated to the Army of Flanders. As of 28 September, the company formed part of the Army of the Maréchal de Boufflers campaigning in the Low Countries. In November, the company took up its winter-quarters in Paris.

In May 1703, the company formed part of the field army operating in the Low Countries.

In mid-May 1704, the unit crossed the Meuse River at Namur and marched to Luxembourg with the rest of the "Maison du Roi".

On 23 May 1706, the company took part in the Battle of Ramillies, where it was deployed behind the first line of the cavalry right wing.

On 11 July 1708, the unit took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform Details as per
Susane
Headgear black tricorne laced gold, with a black cockade and a white plume
Neck stock white
Coat scarlet lined red, with all seams laced gold and with golden brandebourgs
Collar none
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced gold with 6 golden buttonholes (according to Mouillard)
Cuffs black velvet laced gold with 3 gilt buttons and 3 golden buttonholes (according to Mouillard)
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat buff laced and bordered in gold
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt none
Waistbelt covered with golden laces
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth scarlet laced with two golden braids: a thin outer braid and a wider inner braid
Housings scarlet laced gold
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a rifle. For combat, they wore a blackened breastplate and an iron skullcap over their tricorne.

The troopers mounted bay horses.

The uniform was modified in 1762 by the addition of a black velvet collar, black velvet lapels, black velvet turnbacks, a black velvet saddle-cloth and black velvet housings.

Officers

Gendarmes de la Garde officer in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

Officers wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following differences:

  • a wide golden braid covered with golden foliage pattern sewn over all seams of their coat, cuffs, pockets, housings and on their waistcoat
  • Black waistcoat

Like for all units belonging to the Maison du Roi, the horses of the officers had to be grey.

Musicians

Gendarmes de la Garde kettle-drummer in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

Trumpeters and kettle-drummers wore a scarlet coat (blue velvet according to Susane) heavily laced with golden braids.

The saddle cloth, housings as well as the aprons of the kettle-drums and the pennants of the trumpets were blue decorated in gold.

The musicians were mounted on grey horses.

Standards

The satin standards had a white field fringed in gold, and decorated with golden embroideries. The centre device consisted of a scene depicting thunderbolts bursting out of a cloud with the motto “Quo jubet iratus Jupiter”.

Along with those of the Chevaux Légers de la Garde, the standards of the Gendarmes de la Garde were deposited in the King's room.

References

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

  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 2-6
  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 222-225

Other sources

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, Appendix 10

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (an interesting website which seems to have disappeared from the web)

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

Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

Vial, J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar