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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Savoyard Army >> Guardie

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1654 by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy and was the first unit to be raised in the Duchy. It was also one of the first permanent regiments in all Europe as the Duke covered all expenses related to this unit.

This regiment was the duke's personal bodyguard, accompanying him on the battlefields. In these days, the dukes of the House of Savoy personally took part in battles.

On 18 August 1690, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the Battle of Staffarda. On 4 October 1693, it fought at the Battle of Marsaglia.

The Reggimento Guardie or Régiment aux Gardes represented the first regiment of the Reggimenti d’Ordinanza (regular regiments of the Savoyard Army).

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted three battalions, a unique exception in the Savoyard Army. Every battalion consisted of 1 company of grenadiers (53 men) and 5 companies of fusiliers (90-95 men each).

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was commanded by:

  • no information found yet

Service during the War

In July 1701, two battalions of the regiment were part of the Savoyard contingent which joined a Franco-Spanish army to contain an Imperialist invasion of Northern Italy. On 3 July, these battalions as well as 1 cavalry rgt and 1 dragoon rgt of the Savoyard Army arrived in the Duchy of Milan where they were cantoned on the Oglio waiting for the duke's arrival. On 1 September, the two battalions were at the Battle of Chiari, where they were deployed in the center of the first line.

In June 1702, one battalion of the regiment was part of the Savoyard contingent which joined a Franco-Spanish army for the campaign in Northern Italy.

In September 1703, the regiment was not involved in the combat of San Sebastiano.

At the end of 1704, after the capture of most Savoyard units at San Sebastiano the previous year, the Duke of Savoy reconstituted and redeployed his army. The third battalion of the regiment was attached to the field army while the first and second battalion were stationed in the town of Vercelli.

In 1706, the regiment played an active role in the defence of Turin during the siege. Its 1,212 men stubbornly defended the bastions of the city in several actions. At the end of the yera, the regiment was reduced from three to two battalions.


The uniform of the Guardie is well known through original Ducal documents, bills of materials and paintings.

From 1701 to 1709, the unit wore the model 1691 uniform described hereafter.


Uniform in 1701 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details
Musketeer black tricorne, laced gold and with a golden cord around the crown; the brim was already turned upwards (by 1709 the brim was firmly fastened to the crown in three points, a blue cockade appeared on the left side of the tricorne and the gold cord around the crown of the tricorne had been removed)
Grenadier bearskin cap, called bonnet, with a red hanging bag
Neck stock white, wrapped several times around the collar of the shirt to keep it closed, and knotted with the ends hanging freely on to the breast (from 1714 the ends were fastened behind the neck and were not hanging freely)
Coat blue with red lining and with 24 gilt buttons with silver frogs
Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets placed low on the coat, each pocket flap was fastened with 4 gilt buttons
Cuffs red, each with 2 gilt buttons and 2 silver frogs
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat blue with gilt buttons and silver frogs
Breeches blue
Stockings red fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Gaiters ???
Leather Equipement
Crossbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Cartridge Pouch natural leather
grenadiers had a bigger black pouch to carry grenades
Bayonet Scabbard blach with a brass tip
Scabbard black with brass metal fittings
Footwear black shoes with a brass buckle

Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre. Grenadiers also carried a pistol.


Uniforms of NCOs were almost identical to those of privates but had a silver lace edging each cuffs.

NCOs carried a halberd.


Until 1750, officers didn’t have to wear any official uniform. In fact, they usually wore a uniform similar to the one of the troops but of better quality, probably decorated with golden lace on the edges of the coat and with gold buttons.

Officers always wore a blue sash around the waist.


Uniforms of drummers were of reversed colours:

  • black tricorne laced gold
  • white neck stock
  • red coat laced gold (maybe silver) with additional braids on the pockets; sleeves were decorated with blue and silver braids; blue cuffs
  • blue breeches
  • red stockings

The shell of the drum was red and was sown with little white crosses of Savoy. The drum heads were painted blue


Colonella Colour: blue field with a white cross; bordered with blue and white flames; centre device consisting of the arms of Savoy, flanked by two lions and surmounted by a ducal crown.

Ordinanza Colour: red field with a white cross; bordered with blue and white flames; in each canton, the crowned cipher of Duke Victor Amadeus II in gold.

Colonella Colour - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore
Ordinanza Colour - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore

Hereafter, we reproduced a variant of an Ordinanza Colour which was captured by the French at Vercelli in 1704 and has long been on display at Notre Dame de Paris and reproduced in "Les Triomphes de Louis XIV", a collection of five books now kept at the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.

Ordinanza Colour circa 1704 - Copyright: Kronoskaf


Bona, Federico: Bandiere e Uniformi Sabaude

Cavalieri, Giorgio: Uniformi Piemontesi 1671- 1798, L'Arciere - 2004 - Riva di Chieri

Deputazione Sopra gli Studi di Storia Patria per le Antiche Provincie e la Lombardia: Le Campagne di Guerra in Piemonte (1703- 1708) e l'Assedio di Torino (1706), Vol. I, Torino Fratelli Bocca Librai di Sua Maestà

Fiorenti, Fabio: A me i miei dragoni, Gaspari Editore, Udine, 2006

Mola di Nomimaglio, Gustavo with Roberto Sandri Giachino, Giancarlo Melano, Piergiuseppe Menietti: L'esercito ducale sabaudo nel 1706. Organizzazione, uniformi, bandiere., Turin: Centro Studi Piemontesi, 2006


Michele Savasta Fiore for the initial version of this article