THE KING'S CAVALRY
 


 
LINE CAVALRY OF THE FRENCH ARMY  •  SEVEN YEARS WAR
 
Images Added March 2016

 Régiment Aquitaine  •  Régiment Cuirassiers du Roy
 

Notes
 

At the time of the Seven Years War (1756-63), the cavalry of the French Army consisted of the Gendarmes de France, the Cavalerie Légère (light cavalry) and the Dragons (dragoons). The Gendarmes were classed as part of the Maison Militaire du Roi (troops of the royal household); the Cavalerie Légère, despite its name, embodied the regular line cavalry. The Dragons originated as mounted infantry, armed with short muskets and bayonets instead of pistols or carbines. As time passed, however, their role tended to merge with that of the Cavalerie Légère. True light cavalry in the form of Hussards and Chasseurs à Cheval was introduced as the century wore on, often as the mounted element of the various composite "legions" raised for service during the Seven Years War.

The  regiments of the Cavalerie Légère were divided into three categories: royal regiments (including the three staff regiments), prince de sang (prince of the blood) regiments and gentleman regiments. The King was the titular mestre de camp (colonel) of the royal regiments, actual command being delegated to a lieutenant-colonel. The staff regiments bore the titles of the high offices of the cavalry arm: Colonel Général, Mestre de Camp Général and Commissaire Général. The holder of the office was the mestre de camp of the corresponding regiment. The prince de sang regiments were attached to the titles reserved for brothers, sons or grandsons of the king; the bearer of the title was mestre de camp of the regiments belonging to it. Gentlemen regiments were those raised by members of the nobility who were not members of the ruling house. The relative poverty of the provincial nobility made the upkeep of a cavalry regiment increasingly burdensome, and the gentleman regiments had disappeared by 1762. Thereafter all cavalry regiments were either royal regiments or prince de sang regiments.

The uniform coats of the Cavalerie Légère were blue (for royal and prince de sang regiments) or white (for gentlemen regiments). Of the three staff regiments, Régiment Colonel Général wore red coats and the other two white coats. Headdress for most regimentsd was the cocked hat with a white Bourbon cockade. The troopers were armed with straight swords, a carbine and a pair of pistols. Each regiment possessed a regimental standard (etendard d'ordonnance), the basis of issue being two per squadron. Régiment Colonel Général and Régiment Commissaire Général also has colonel's standards: white with the gold radiant sun (cornette blanche) for the former and blue semé of gold fleurs de lys for the latter. These colonel's standards were carried by the first squadron of the regiment in lieu of a second squadron standard. All standards were fringed, made of embroidered silk, were slightly rectangular, and measured about one meter at the hoist.

The Cavalerie Légère regiments were abolished in the years following the Revolution as the Army was reorganized and reformed. Though many were revived after the Restoration, they received standards of a different pattern.

Note on the Illustrations: For each regiment, the obverse (right) and the reverse (left) of the standard is shown, even though in some cases these were identical. Where a single standard is shown under multiple regimental titles, that standard was used by all those regiments.
 


 

STAFF & ROYAL REGIMENTS

 

 

 

Colonel's Standard      Régiment Colonel Général Cavalerie      Squadron Standard
 

  Régiment Mestre de Camp Général Cavalerie

 

 

Colonel's Standard      Régiment Commissaire Général Cavalerie      Squadron Standard

 

Régiment du Roi & Régiment Royal-Cravate Cavalerie

 

Régiment Royal Cavalerie

 

Régiment Royal-Etrangers Cavalerie
Régiment Royal-Roussillon Cavalerie

 

Régiment Cuirassiers du Roy
 

 

PRINCE DE SANG REGIMENTS

 

Régiment Aquitaine Cavalerie

 

  Régiment d'Orléans Cavalerie

 

  Régiment Berry Cavalerie

 

GENTLEMAN REGIMENTS

 

  Régiment Descars Cavalerie

 

Régiment Bussy-Lameth Cavalerie

 

Régiment Tallyrand Cavalerie
 

 

  Régiment Fitz-James Cavalerie
 



BACK to FRANCE ANCIENT Page