Gendarmes de la Garde

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Gendarmes de la Garde

Origin and History

Gendarme de la Garde ordinaire du Roi - Source: Lucien Mouillard, Les Régiments sous Louis XV

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:

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.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etrennes Militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1761
Headgear black tricorne laced gold, with a black cockade and a white plume
Neckstock n/a
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 red 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

Uniform of the musicians in 1758 - Source: PMPdeL
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.

Gendarmes de la Garde Standard – Copyright: Kronoskaf

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