Royal Dragons

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years' War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal Dragons

Origin and History

The regiment originated from the Dragons Etrangers du Roi initially raised on 14 June 1656. On 2 April 1668, this regiment was split into two distinct regiments: the first regiment taking the name of Royal Dragons (12 companies) and the second of Colonel Général.

In 1668, the regiment was at the capture of Besançon and Dôle. In 1670, it formed part of the expeditionary corps which occupied the Duchy and Lorraine, where it participated in the capture of Épinal and Chasté.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was present at the capture of Burik, Arnheim and Fort Skenke and at the Combat of Woerden. In 1674, it campaigned in Germany under Turenne and fought in the battles of Entzheim and Mulhouse. In 1675, the regiment took part in the battles of Turckheim and Altenheim, and in the occupation of Haguenau and Saverne; in 1676, in the combat of Kochersberg; in 1677, in the siege and capture of Freiburg; and in 1678, in the Battle of Rheinfelden and in the sieges of Kehl and Lichtemberg; and in 1679, in the Combat of Minden.

In 1681 and 1682, the regiment was at the camp of the Sarre. In 1684, it took part in the siege of Luxembourg. In 1685, it was at the camp of the Saône.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment campaigned in the Low Countries, where it fought in the Battle of Walcourt. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the siege of Mons and in the Battle of Leuze; and in 1692, in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment served on the Moselle and the Rhine; in 1694, on the coasts of France; in 1695, on the Meuse; and in 1696, in Flanders. In 1697, it took part in the siege of Ath.

In 1698, the regiment was at the camp of Compiègne.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) the regiment campaigned in Flanders. In 1703, it took part in the Battle of Ekeren. In 1704, it campaigned on the Moselle, and in 1705, in Flanders. In 1706, it supposedly took part in the Battle of Ramillies, but we found no trace of it in the order of battle. Similarly, in 1708, it supposedly fought in the Battle of Oudenarde. In 1709, it was present at the Battle of Malplaquet. In 1712, it contributed to the recapture of Douai and Le Quesnoy. In 1713, it campaigned on the Rhine and took part in the capture of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1727, the regiment was at the camp of Stenai.

In 1733, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was initially posted in Bretagne. In 1734, it was transferred to the Rhine and took part in the siege of Philippsburg. In 1735, it fought in the Battle of Clausen.

In 1736, the regiment took up its quarters in Maubeuge.

In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia and took part in the occupation of Prague, in the affairs of Pisek, Sahay and Frauenberg, and in the unsuccessful defence of Prague. In 1743, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen; in 1744, in the sieges of Menin, Ypres and Furnes; in 1745, in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the sieges of Tournai, Oudenarde, Termonde and Ath; in 1746, in the occupation of Bruxelles and Antwerp, and in the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the siege of Berg-op-Zoom; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Metz; in 1751, at Vaucouleurs; in 1752, at Rouen; in 1754, at Lille; and in 1755, at Aimeries.

Bt 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 3rd.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the nominal command of King Louis XV.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of its successive mestres de camp lieutenant:

  • from June 7, 1744: Marquis de la Blache
  • from June 10, 1757 to January 1, 1770: Joseph Alexandre, Comte de la Blache

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed on the coasts of Flanders and Artois where it remained until 1760.

By August 1, 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Saintes in the Aunis Country. In September, during the British raid on Rochefort, it was posted in the city. On September 23, the vanguard of the British fleet came in sight of the little Island of Aix at the mouth of the river leading up to Rochefort. Vessels were sent to reconnoitre, and to sound for a suitable place of disembarkation on the mainland. The French now feared of a landing on the Coast of Fouras and, at 7:00 p.m., transferred Royal Dragons from Rochefort to Fouras.

In 1760, the regiment joined the French army in Germany. By May 23, the regiment was part of a detachment under the command of MM. d'Amezaga, Duc de Fronsac. On June 15, the regiment was at Ratingen and Mettmann. On July 31, it took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed as the leftmost unit of the first line of the cavalry centre. On August 22, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick crossed the Diemel with 12,000 men and advanced against Broglie's left flank, his vanguard reaching Zierenberg. His light troops engaged a French detachment (Royal Dragons, Thianges Dragons and part of the Chasseurs de Fischer) under M. de Travers, which had been left at Oberelsungen to observe the movements of the Allies. Allied light troops were soon supported by the Hereditary Prince at the head of the 2nd North British Dragoons (Scot Greys) and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and the British grenadiers. The French were finally driven back with considerable loss and took refuge in Zierenberg. On October 1, Broglie sent M. de Chabo towards Hachenburg with Royal Dragons and Thianges Dragons. On October 11, Chabo took position between Neuss and Meerbusch. On October 16, the regiment was at the Battle of Clostercamp where it formed part of the Reserve.

By February 9, 1761, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Lower Rhine and was deployed in the corps of the Lieutenant-General de Roquepine in the area of Moers. During the same month, the regiment was allocated to de Muy’s Corps, which was sent towards Hachenburg to reinforce the Maréchal de Broglie. By June 1, the regiment had rejoined the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 16, the regiment was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen, where it formed part of the corps of the Prince de Condé. On July 18, the Duc de Coigny (Chamborant Hussards, Volontaires de l'armée under M. de Sionville and Royal Dragons brigade) was posted in front of the left wing on the heights of Ruhne.

In 1762, the regiment returned to Lille in France.



Uniform in 1757 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754,
the Etrennes Militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1760 and 1761

completed where necessary as per Raspe
Headgear blue fatigue cap with red turn-up edged white
or black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small white button
Neck stock black cravate
Coat blue with red lining; white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 2 by 2 down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps left shoulder: blue shoulder strap edged white, fastened with a small white button

right shoulder: fringed blue epaulet edged white

Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pocket flaps, each with 3 white buttons and 3 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs red, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat red edged white with white lining; white buttons on one side and white laced buttonholes on both sides
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat blue
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather stitched white
Waistbelt buff leather stitched white
Cartridge Pouch red leather
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear buckled shoes with oiled calf leather soft bottines (sort of leather gaiters) or, for foot service, white gaiters
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with a wide and a narrow white braids
Housings blue bordered with with a wide and a narrow white braids

N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • a black bearskin with a red bag and a red tassel for troopers
  • no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
  • only 3 buttons on the cuffs
  • black cavalry boots

In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with red as distinctive colour.


The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:

  • the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
  • linings were made of woollen cloth as well
  • no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
  • Raspe publication illustrates a plain red waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
  • saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
  • standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)

Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.

The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth dyed in half-scarlet. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.


Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.

King's Livery - Source: PMPdeL

Since this unit was a royal regiment, drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.


Regimental guidons (4 gros de Tour linen swallow-tailed guidons) blue field spangled with golden fleurs de lys and fringed in gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”

Royal Dragons Regimental Guidon – Source: Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar


This article is partly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Royal Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also 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. 306-317
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 426

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web) Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas, Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

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

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