Gendarmes de la Garde
Origin and History
This company was created by Henri IV on December 14, 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 April 29, 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 XV, 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 Seven Years' War, the company was under the command of the following captain-lieutenants:
- from July 1734: Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise
The company was disbanded on September 30, 1787
Service during the War
By August 1, 1757, the company was stationed at Versailles. The unit did not take part in the early campaigns of the Seven Years' War.
In 1761, the company took the field with the army of Soubise. On July 16, it was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen but was not engaged.
In 1762, the company formed part of Condé's Army of the Lower Rhine. On August 30, it was present at the Combat of Nauheim (aka Johannisberg) but was not engaged.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced gold, with a black cockade and a white plume|
|Coat||scarlet lined red, with all seams laced gold and with golden brandebourgs
|Waistcoat||buff laced and bordered in gold|
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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