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The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715 Volume 3

The Cavalry of Louis XIV

Series : Century of the Soldier 1618-1721 #58

Author : René Chartrand

The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715 Volume 3 : The Cavalry of Louis XIV


General - Pages : 312 | Images : 144 b/w illustrations, 32 pages of colour plates, 23 b/w maps

Paperback - Size : 248mm x 180mm | ISBN : 9781913118853 | Helion Book Code : HEL1212

The reign of Louis XIV of France had a great impact on the course of European and world history. The years 1643 to 1715 were a defining epoch for western military, diplomatic, economic and cultural matters. It was an era during which the French and eventually all armies saw extraordinary changes such as the rise of large professional armies, standardized command practices, professional training, improvements in discipline and control, technical advances in military sciences and weapons thus affecting tactics, introduction of uniforms, introduction of obligatory military service, financial and logistical practices that permitted the upkeep of large armies.

This four-volume series is the first to present all the aspects of the Sun King’s extraordinary armed forces – the best and largest in western Europe – and their enormous influence on all other armies. His armies will be looked at in detail insofar as what they were, how they performed, who led them and what sort of world officers and men lived in through their material culture – arms, uniforms, colours, food, healthcare and money to name a few topics. Auxiliary forces such as the unknown yet very numerous militia forces of several types are also presented.

Each volume has a wealth of some 200 illustrations, many in colour, plus 5 specially commissioned colour plates illustrating largely unknown colours and uniforms carefully reconstructed from descriptions in original documents of the period.

Volume 3 examines an age of intolerance: the Protestant tragedy in France and the Irish tragedy. Tens of thousands of Protestants fled France. Various military and political events of the later 1680s, notably the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 which chased out King James II and installed William of Orange as King William III of Great Britain, led to hostilities in 1689-1691 with Ireland being secured by William. The French cavalry, by far Europe’s largest cavalry force, is examined in detail. It included the Gendarmerie de France, which was a privileged division between the guards and the line cavalry. The line cavalry evolved from a fairly standard heavy cavalry force in the 1640s to a more complex arm of the service that first added numerous dragoon regiments in the 1670s, a division of rifled-armed elite Carabiniers in the 1690s and also the advent of Hussars as light cavalry at that time. The peculiar organisation of the cavalry with its Mestre de Camp Général and Colonel Général is also described, and some of its personalities had rather colourful careers. Arms, accoutrements and dress of the cavalry are discussed, and also the horses and the never-attained challenge of furnishing enough for some 60,000 troopers in the 1690s.

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