THE FRENCH HEAVY CAVALRY OF
THE "LACE" WAR S
Illustrations reproduced from the book by Philip Cranz published by Uniformology in 2009
The Cavalry of France in the ‘Ancien Regime’ had a long lineage. In 1445 Charles IV issued regulations regarding his army establishing various corps and regiments especially cavalry. By the thirty years war they had become a formidable force. The improvement of firearms and artillery prompted the establishment of regiments which allowed commanders to better organize and distribute their troops during battle. The basic structure of the cavalry, in place for the next 75 years, had already been established by the time of the War of Spanish Succession. This study concerns the regulations from 1740 to 1758. The senior branch was the “Cavalry Legère” which despite the description was essentially ‘Heavy’ Cavalry’ and had become Cuirassiers by the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
The uniforms were relatively standard for the period. The headwear was the black tricorne with, increasingly by the 1740s, an iron skull cap inside. An exception was the Royale Allemande who wore a fur grenadier cap. The coat was blue or red for Royal regiments or grey for the line. Cuffs, lapels and turnbacks were in facing colour. The breeches were white or buff and the boots were black leather high top jack-boots. A cuirassier breastplate with quilted padding was worn in front under the coat. The exception was the Cuirassiers du Roy which wore the full cuirass over the coat.
Saddle cloths were generally the same colour as the tunic when blue or red and they were generally red for grey clad cavalrymen. The devices on the saddlecloth and the holster flounces were as shown on the Colonel General's below while the line regiments had devices shown either side or none at all.
(For a more detailed description of this subject search for a copy of Uniformology Book 37 "French Heavy Cavalry of the Seven Years War." on line.)