Friday, 27 March 2009

Gendarmes Anglais

Interesting elite cavalry unit in the French service in the Franco-Dutch war. From New Monthly Magazine 1855

Louis XIV. had not only Swiss, Germans, Irish, Scotch, Licgeois, Italians, Corsicans, Swedes, Savoisiens, Piedmontese, Spaniards, Flemings, Danes, Poles, Croats, and Hungarians in his service, but also English.
The company, so called, of Gendarmes Anglais, was taken over to France in 1667 by Lord George Hamilton. It was said to be composed of English, Scotch, and Irish Catholics, who had formed part of the guard of Charles II., and whose dismissal had been insisted upon by the English Parliament. Louis XIV., finding that they were "bons hommes et bien faits," after having placed the Scotch in the Gendarmerie Ecossaise, organised a company of English gendarmes of the remainder, reserving to himself the captaincy, and appointing Hamilton captain- lieutenant.
The regimental colours bore a sun and eight eaglets flying towards it, the whole worked in gold, as was also the device—Tuus ad te nos vocat ardor. The king had adopted the sun as an emblem. The device of the English gendarmes was therefore a flattery to the great monarch.
The uniform of both companies was—coat, lining and facings of red cloth, bordered with silver throughout, the sleeves of the coat laced with silver ; scarlet waistcoat, red breeches, top boots, hat bordered with silver, black cockade, buttons silvered. The first company wore a sash of yellow silk, the second one of violet. The arms were the mousqueton— a short musket or blunderbuss—a sword, and pistols. The horse-cloths were also red, bordered with silver.
The French got gradually admitted into this guard of honour, and finished by depriving it entirely of its national character. When it was disbanded, in 1788, the name had for a long time previously been a misnomer.

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