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Guilherme Dias Ferreira S




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 9:10 am    Post subject: Gendarmes         Reply with quote

I know that the gendarme was a generic term for men-at-arms. So, I could say that were many kinds of gendarme, using different sorts of gear (for example, ones less armoured and others more...) and having distinct levels of training, considering that they could be knights, sergeants or professional soldiers (hired by the national state).
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: Gendarmes         Reply with quote

Guilherme Dias Ferreira S wrote:
I know that the gendarme was a generic term for men-at-arms. So, I could say that were many kinds of gendarme, using different sorts of gear (for example, ones less armoured and others more...) and having distinct levels of training, considering that they could be knights, sergeants or professional soldiers (hired by the national state).


Guilherme;

It is my understanding that, at least in the late-15th-through-16th Centuries, the term "Gendarme" was reserved for the fully-armoured Man-at-Arms, riding a heavy war-horse which was also to be armoured, who led a "Lance" of other lighter-armed horsemen in a "compagnie d'ordonnance".

In a standard compagnie d'ordonnance of the early 16th Century, there was one "gendarme", a "coustillier", who was also a man-at-arms and who rode a lighter horse, but was still fully armoured himself, and three "archiers" all of whom were somewhat more lightly armoured, and rode somewhat lighter horses yet. There could also be pages, mounted servants and a host of others in the retinue. A "Lance" could, depending upon the era, be composed of 7 men, or later, two Lances could be composed of 5 men (two gendarmes sharing three archiers). At the end of the 16th Century a French Royal compagnie d'ordonnance had two gendarmes sharing a single archier, so that two lances equalled three men (IIRC! I'll have to look it up later today).

The gendarme generally was of noble, or at the minimum gentle birth, and had worked his way up to the position from lower in the Lance. Some such as Blaise de Montluc went from a simple archier to Marshal of France, others of less luck and industry stayed as archiers, or perhaps were content to rise to gendarme. In any event, the companies of gendarmes were the primary offensive arm of France for 150 years, and the Gendarmerie was made up of the flower of French nobility. When disaster struck a French army, and they lost large numbers of the Gendarmerie, it was a national crisis, which explains why in the Wars of Religion the French Crown was hesitant to risk them in an all-or-nothing battle with the Huguenots (since the Huguenot Heavy Horse usually won the cavalry fights, even if the lost the battles).

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, also raised his own compagnies d'ordonnance, which were inherited by the Habsburgs and remained in service until the end of the period as well. Never as numerous, nor as well equipped as the French model, they were never the less the core of Spain's mounted forces in the Low Countries through the 16th and into the 17th Centuries.

In any event, I'm sure that in earlier era's the term "gendarme" was more generic, and refered to simply a man-at-arms, but in the period from the end of the Hundred Years War to the early 17th Century, it was pretty specific.

Allons!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Gendarmes         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
It is my understanding that, at least in the late-15th-through-16th Centuries, the term "Gendarme" was reserved for the fully-armoured Man-at-Arms,...


Gendarme is a contraction of gen d(e) arme so there you have it. Times change, arms change so what the guy is armed with.... Wink
Well, words change their meaning over time, especially this one, so it depends on when it was used, like you pointed out in the first place Laughing Out Loud

Peter
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 1:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Gendarmes         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Gordon Frye wrote:
It is my understanding that, at least in the late-15th-through-16th Centuries, the term "Gendarme" was reserved for the fully-armoured Man-at-Arms,...


Gendarme is a contraction of gen d(e) arme so there you have it. Times change, arms change so what the guy is armed with.... Wink
Well, words change their meaning over time, especially this one, so it depends on when it was used, like you pointed out in the first place Laughing Out Loud

Peter


I believe " Gendarme " is currently or at least in 1950's French films is applied to police officers: So meanings do change over time. Laughing Out Loud

And as Peter pointed out: Gendarme or " Gens-d' Armes " is in literal translation " Men of weapons " or very close to
" Men-at-arms ". So essentially the French version of the English name evolved into a more specific designation as the heaviest Cavalry as it pertains to armour coverage of Knight and horse. ( At least this is what I conclude from Peter's and Gordon's previous post and my knowledge of French as my first language. )

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,
gendarme is still used in Canada, our national Police force, the RCMP (english) or GRC (french) is the Gendarmerie
Royale du Canada, and notes a mounted police force ( The ''Mountie'')... and is also currently still in use in France as the ordinary police force, les ''gendarmes'' . ...
Gens D'Armes is generic, and Viollet Le Duc doesn't even mention the term in his medieval encyclopedia as the meaning is self evident in french.
Salut.
Jean-Carle

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
Jean,
gendarme is still used in Canada, our national Police force, the RCMP (english) or GRC (french) is the Gendarmerie
Royale du Canada, and notes a mounted police force ( The ''Mountie'')... and is also currently still in use in France as the ordinary police force, les ''gendarmes'' . ...
Gens D'Armes is generic, and Viollet Le Duc doesn't even mention the term in his medieval encyclopedia as the meaning is self evident in french.
Salut.
Jean-Carle


RCMP " Gendarmerie Royale du Canada " Eek! Now I'm embarrassed ! Blush Laughing Out Loud Must be a case of forgetting or not noticing what is closest and more obvious and looking for a more distant example.

And as you said in French " Gendarme " is self-descriptive.

( Note: We should have lunch again sometime soon. Big Grin )

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
Gens D'Armes is generic, and Viollet Le Duc doesn't even mention the term in his medieval encyclopedia as the meaning is self evident in french.


Quite.
Nowadays there has been a complication added. Two in fact.
Marketing makes use of he powerful tool language itself presents. If you call a product a Rectifier this implies not only a solution but also a problem.
As more people are literate nowadays the general level of literacy has dropped.
Now combine these two and the meaning of words gets polluted rather rapidly. Just look at the word for extreme fear, terror.
Pat Parelli cleverly uses the word carrot-stick for a training aid but found it is a bit too clever. When I translated the word into Dutch I received a lot of criticism. The word had gotten a meaning of its own and even though PP INTENDED the inclusion of the carrot (he even painted the stick orange Laughing Out Loud ) versus the stick this was both too simple and too clever.
Nowadays the carrotstick has become something it is not. An intend to present a tool as something as simple as black &white has become cloaked with magic of its own just because of the low level of literacy....
Even in france the man in the street sees a blue&white car in his mind when reading the word gendarme and would think you raving if you would point out the contratcion of the word to him.
The selfevidency of words unfortunately is no longer something we can rely upon to communicate. There is hardly an area where this is more clear than in horseriding where one time selfevident words have become mangled beyond recognition. This lead to increasing confusion when modern riders start reading old books. Quite a problem too with translations as I have encountered.
Maybe ONE day we can get back to words that just mean what they say but for now, good question Guilherme.

Sorry about that. The abuse of language sometimes gets to me as it bogs me down so often Blush

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 5:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm. Gendarmes? The actual form used in the original 1445 Ordinances were "homme d'armes," which meant simply "man-at-arms." Even then it was used to designate only the most heavily-armored elite, though. I wonder what motivated the change in terminology from "hommes" to "gens" at some time between 1445 and 1500?

Incidentally, the non-men-at-arms elements in the French fighting forces were sometimes mentioned together under the general appellation "gens de trait."
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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette,
I haven't read the ordonnance to which you refer, but as ''traits'' has the same meaning as the modern word ''flèches'' (arrows in english), are those not archers and arbaletriers (crossbowmen), simply referred to indistinctly?

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Hm. Gendarmes? The actual form used in the original 1445 Ordinances were "homme d'armes," which meant simply "man-at-arms." Even then it was used to designate only the most heavily-armored elite, though. I wonder what motivated the change in terminology from "hommes" to "gens" at some time between 1445 and 1500?

Incidentally, the non-men-at-arms elements in the French fighting forces were sometimes mentioned together under the general appellation "gens de trait."


I finally got a chance to look this stuff up, and at least as of the Wars of Religion (some hundred years later than the original ordnances) the term "hommes d'armes" was still the specific name for the leader of the lance, with the followers still being refered to as "archiers". However, the general term for the mass of "hommes d'armes" within the compagnies d'ordonnance, as well as of the fighting elite of France, was "gendarmerie".

I was mistaken as to the make-up of a lance as well: at this time it consisted of one homme de d'armes a,d two and one-half archiers, the Lance by this time being more of an accounting term than any sort of tactical formation. Thus a company of 30 lances would consist of 30 hommes d'armes and 45 archiers, for a company strength of 75 horsemen.

Anyway, obviously the term "Gendarme" has metamorphosed over the intervening centuries. It didn't occur to me that someone wouldn't know that such a term applied to French/French Canadian policemen... Eek!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Hm. Gendarmes? The actual form used in the original 1445 Ordinances were "homme d'armes," which meant simply "man-at-arms." Even then it was used to designate only the most heavily-armored elite, though. I wonder what motivated the change in terminology from "hommes" to "gens" at some time between 1445 and 1500?

Incidentally, the non-men-at-arms elements in the French fighting forces were sometimes mentioned together under the general appellation "gens de trait."


I finally got a chance to look this stuff up, and at least as of the Wars of Religion (some hundred years later than the original ordnances) the term "hommes d'armes" was still the specific name for the leader of the lance, with the followers still being refered to as "archiers". However, the general term for the mass of "hommes d'armes" within the compagnies d'ordonnance, as well as of the fighting elite of France, was "gendarmerie".

I was mistaken as to the make-up of a lance as well: at this time it consisted of one homme de d'armes a,d two and one-half archiers, the Lance by this time being more of an accounting term than any sort of tactical formation. Thus a company of 30 lances would consist of 30 hommes d'armes and 45 archiers, for a company strength of 75 horsemen.

Anyway, obviously the term "Gendarme" has metamorphosed over the intervening centuries. It didn't occur to me that someone wouldn't know that such a term applied to French/French Canadian policemen... Eek!

Cheers,

Gordon


Oh, I just forgot about the formal name of our national police force as they are often just called the Mounted police or in French " La Police Montée " This police is a VERY British Empire era thing in origine and the French name is it's official French version. ( After all Canada is officially a bilingual country but I'll spare you all a few centuries of local political debate as to how much and where it is bilingual. )

Homme d'armes make a lot of sense when speaking of a single " man-at-arms ": With the word gendarme which has become a single word it breaksdown into GENS-d'armes when talking of a groups i.e. Gens in the plural.

Just to contradict myself a bit Homme d'armes or just the word homme can be made plural with the addition of the (s) but in that case hommes and gens are both plural ( And gens is always plurals ! No such thing a singular gen Eek! )

I would mention that the above is somewhat guesswork about possible grammatical reasons for the evolution of the terms and that I am not an expert in linguistics. Eek! Laughing Out Loud

Oh, lastly the " archers " could be true archers or crossbowman or even archebusier but I think the name at some point was just to distinguish the support troops and many might not literally be archers ! ( Could be wrong about that but I vaguely remember reading that somewhere !? I always want to make it clear when I'm not sure about my facts. )

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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Oh, lastly the " archers " could be true archers or crossbowman or even archebusier but I think the name at some point was just to distinguish the support troops and many might not literally be archers ! ( Could be wrong about that but I vaguely remember reading that somewhere !? I always want to make it clear when I'm not sure about my facts. )


Jean;

At first the archers were indeed mounted bowmen, but before long they morphed into an only slightly ligher armed cavalryman than the homme d'armes, mounted on a slightly less costly war horse. Again, as of the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) the Archers were to be outfitted similarly to the hommes d'armes, with the exception of not having to have cuisses and polynes, and not being required to have armour for their horses. They were still, like the hommes d'armes, required to have full armour otherwise, (corselet, pauldrons, vambraces and tassets) as well as a close helmet. The archers were expected to form the second and third ranks of the charge, and be able to fight hommes d'armes if needed.

BTW, d'Aubigney notes that one of his Huguenot prisoners refered to these hommes d'arms, who were fully equipped per the ordonnance, as "gens d'combat, and they decide the day"

Allons!

Gordon

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 4:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
Lafayette,
I haven't read the ordonnance to which you refer, but as ''traits'' has the same meaning as the modern word ''flèches'' (arrows in english), are those not archers and arbaletriers (crossbowmen), simply referred to indistinctly?


I've seen it used to refer to the Ordonnace archers and the francs-archers, but sometimes it also seems to refer to "juzarmiers" (guisarmies/voulgiers?) and other kinds of troops.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
At first the archers were indeed mounted bowmen, but before long they morphed into an only slightly ligher armed cavalryman than the homme d'armes, mounted on a slightly less costly war horse. Again, as of the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) the Archers were to be outfitted similarly to the hommes d'armes, with the exception of not having to have cuisses and polynes, and not being required to have armour for their horses. They were still, like the hommes d'armes, required to have full armour otherwise, (corselet, pauldrons, vambraces and tassets) as well as a close helmet. The archers were expected to form the second and third ranks of the charge, and be able to fight hommes d'armes if needed.


Somehow, I got the impression that by the 16th century the archers and coustiliers had begun to separate from the gendarmes proper and formed their own groups of chevaux legeres, or at least that's how I read the feature article on the 16th-century French army on this site. Could you confirm or deny this?
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Somehow, I got the impression that by the 16th century the archers and coustiliers had begun to separate from the gendarmes proper and formed their own groups of chevaux legeres, or at least that's how I read the feature article on the 16th-century French army on this site. Could you confirm or deny this?


Lafayette;

There were some interesting, and counter-productive cross-currents at work in the late 16th Century, at least insofar as France is concerned. (In a LOT of ways, but we'll just focus on this one... Wink ) There were indeed companies of cheveaux-lèger being raised among both the Royalist/Catholics and the Huguenots, but most of those raised by the Royalists were eventually converted over to compagnies d'ordonnance. And while the differences between an archier of a compagnie d'ordonnance and a cheveau-lèger were small (both were expected to be able to ride in the line of battle as necessary), the archier was an integral part of the compagnie d'ordonnance, while the cheveaux-lèger formed his own distinct companies. However, this being said, again, these same companies of cheveaux-lèger were fairly easily transformed from a species of "light" cavalry to the heavy cavalry of the compagnies d'ordonnance by increasing the armour and quality of horse-flesh of the 4/7ths of them.

For those interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend two sources of information. First is James B Wood's "The King's Army: Warfare, soldiers and society during the Wars of Religion in France, 1562-1576" (Cambridge 1996) and "All the King's Horsemen: The Equestrian Army of Henri IV, 1585-1598" by Ronald Love (published in the Sixteenth Century Journal, volume XXII, Number 3, Fall 1991). Both of these sources have wonderful amounts of information in them that to me at least is a joy to behold!

Anyway, hope this helps,

Allons!

Gordon

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Guilherme Dias Ferreira S




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's true that the gendarmes were the heaviest cavalry of the Europe?
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 6:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guilherme Dias Ferreira S wrote:
It's true that the gendarmes were the heaviest cavalry of the Europe?


If you are speaking of the French gendarmerie of the compagnies d'ordonnance of say 1450-1600, then yes, I would say so. The "Burgundian" compagnies d'ordonnance from the Netherlands, based upon the French model, weren't, to the best of my knowledge, ever quite as heavily armoured, but I'm sure that there were some significant exceptions to that and may well have been pretty much the equvalent of a French company. Likewise the Italian condottieri companies were pretty heavily armoured as well, and on fine horses too, but usually got smacked down pretty hard whenever they came up against the French gendarmerie. Iberia just didn't have sufficient numbers of the heavy, knightly cavalry to be able to form such companies, and thus the kings of Spain (read Charles V and Philip II) generally relied upon either their Burgundian or Italian heavy cavalry when dealing with the French. Germans certainly had heavy cavalry, but from what I can gather, they just didn't, as a general rule, manage to field anywhere near as many fully armoured horsemen on fully armoured horses as France did.

Allons!

Gordon

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Dec, 2006 12:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
and thus the kings of Spain (read Charles V and Philip II) generally relied upon either their Burgundian or Italian heavy cavalry when dealing with the French.


Italian being???

Please bear in mind that from the early crusades untill well into the 19th century the southern half of italy was under spanish rule. Geographically speaking it was Italy but politically part of Spain.
Obviously it is not as simple and clearcut as this but the political brilliancy of Pepin the Great sure took the south of geographic Italy out of italian politics for roughly a 1000 years untill Garibaldi.
What I mean is, that Naples is nowaday thought of as an Italian city. The annologue with words changing their meaning is striking!
Naples was a spanish kingdom spanning the southern half of italy (and often Sicily) for many centuries longer that it has been a city inside the Italian nation.....

One could even argue wether per example Pignatelli, the reputed italian renaissance horseman, was italian. Technically speaking he was not. Probably not even from ethnically italian origins. He was Naepolitan nobility, neither spanish nor italian.
You see, not only our perception of words as we use them NOW clouds our view....

Peter
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Dec, 2006 1:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Gordon Frye wrote:
and thus the kings of Spain (read Charles V and Philip II) generally relied upon either their Burgundian or Italian heavy cavalry when dealing with the French.


Italian being???

Please bear in mind that from the early crusades untill well into the 19th century the southern half of italy was under spanish rule. Geographically speaking it was Italy but politically part of Spain.
Obviously it is not as simple and clearcut as this but the political brilliancy of Pepin the Great sure took the south of geographic Italy out of italian politics for roughly a 1000 years untill Garibaldi.
What I mean is, that Naples is nowaday thought of as an Italian city. The annologue with words changing their meaning is striking!
Naples was a spanish kingdom spanning the southern half of italy (and often Sicily) for many centuries longer that it has been a city inside the Italian nation.....

One could even argue wether per example Pignatelli, the reputed italian renaissance horseman, was italian. Technically speaking he was not. Probably not even from ethnically italian origins. He was Naepolitan nobility, neither spanish nor italian.
You see, not only our perception of words as we use them NOW clouds our view....

Peter

Naples and Sicilly were ruled by by the Norman dynasty created by Robert Guiscard during the "Early Crusades" (i.e 11th and 12th Centuries). In 1194 the Kingdom was conqured by the German Hohenstauffens who ruled the are until defeated by the French led by Charles of Anjou who set up the Angevin dynasty. The Angevines then lost Sicilly durign the War of the Sicilian Vespers 1282-1302 when Peter III of Aragon took over the island. The Angevins however retained their mainland possesions in Naples and ruled the Kingdom of Naples until 1442 when Alfonso V of Aragon conqured Naples as well. Naples remained a part of the Aragones empire until 1458 when the Kingdom was inherited by Ferdinand I (Don Ferrante, the 'Natural' son of Alfonso). Sicilly however remain part of the Aragonese domain.
The kindom of Naples became the scene of the first part of the Italian wars upon Ferdinand I death in 1494 and only became a part of the 'spanish' domain in 1504 when Ferdinand/Ferrantes line was extinct and the kingdom was taken over by Ferdinand II of Aragon, now king of a de facto unfied Spain sinc he as king of both Aragon and Castile.

So The Kingdom of Naples only became Spanish or more correctly Aragonese in 1442 (not exactly the early crusades period), then enjoyed a period of indepence starting in 1458 (ruled by a separate line of Aragones dynasty) and was only fully brought into the Spanish domain in 1504 when the Great Captain brilliantly defeated the French.

The Spanish army itself used the word 'Italian' to describ the nationality of units serving in the Army of Flanders in the 16th Century. Wether these units were recruited in Naples or in the Duchy of Milan also controlled by the Spanish Crown I can't say at the moment. During the Italian wars the Spanish army recruiued 'Italian' mercenaries extensively and such troops came from the entire Italian penninsula.

Daniel
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Dec, 2006 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking at the documents quoted by Ferdinand Lot it's seems like the entire force and the companies of the Gendarmerie was referred to by just that name but the individual man-at-arms was called a Hommes d'Armes. I.E What Gordon just wrote while I was sleeping on the other side of the Atlantic ;-)

I'd like to follow up Gordons fine posts on the subject with some additional information much as a coustilier follows up where the hommes d'armes has cleared the way. :-)

Regarding the organization of the companies, at the start the ordonnace companies were made up of a 100 lances each, however by the last decade of the 15th Century (if not earlier) documents begin to mention companies of 50 and 25 lances. For example the detached corps tasked with the occupation of Naples contained three 100-lance companies, two 50-lance companies and two 25-lance companies as well as 100 lances not organised into companies.

By the Wars of Religion the companies could vary wildly in strength, companies of 20 to 120 lances (actual strength)are recorded, however the most common types were the 30 lance company and the 'double company of 60 lances. (i.e 75 or 150 fighting men). However just to confuse us later day types the letters of commision still referred to these reduced companies as companies of 50 or 100 lances.

As mentioned the archiers started of as mounted longbowmen during the 100-Years War, from the start they were often more heavily armored than their english counterparts, often described as wearing leg harness, something only sparsely mentioned in connection with English archers. By the start of the Great Italian Wars (1494-1559) the archers still fougth primarily as dismounted missile troops, in 1494-1495 an Italian eyewitness described them as wearing sallets, breastplates and carrying 'great' bows. The last instance of the archers fighting dismounted on a large scale seems to have been the battle of Ravenna were 1000 dismounted took up position of a flank together with 2000 light cavalry. (It has been suggested that the archers actually fought mounted at Ravenna, apparently the sentence in question can be interpreted both ways). Sometimes during the 1510-1530 period the archers began to replace the the coustiliers as the mounted supports of the hommes d'armes. Just how, why and when? I simply don't know, the exact process seems to be poorly documented and the various historians date the change to slightly different periods. Lot seems to have the change in place by 1525 at the latest. But Lot reduces the lance to 3 combatants as early as 1515 when making his calculations.
At the same time the Coustilier lost his combatant status and was reduced to the role of servant. A somewhat strange fate for some one who ranked only second to the hommes d'armes when the companies were created in 1445.

In the early 17th Century the Gendarmerie was a much reduced force, most companies only contained 25-30 fighting men and except for those of the Guard or connected with the high nobility the companies were temporary formations raised for individual campaigns. They seldom contributed more than 500-600 troopers to a field army.
In numerical strength they found themselves completely surpassed by the Cavalerie Leger, in 1634 there were 91 companies of chevaux Legers and 7 of Carabins.
In 1635 the Cavalerie Leger expanded into a huge force, 15 regiments of French Chevaux Legers as well as 1 of Carabins were formed from the old companies or raised from scratch. 8 'Foreign' regiments were recruited from outside France, one ex-Swedish (German) regiment, two Hungarian regiments, two Lorrainer regiments, a Savoyard regiment and a Piedmontese regiment. In the fall of that year Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar brought along 16 regiments of German cavalry when he entered French service but the Weimarians were in many ways a semi-independent force. By 1638 the Cavalarie Leger counted 36 French regiments and 25 'Foreign' ones.
This rapid expansion of course lowered the quality of the French cavalry as a whole and while the Gendarmerie often put in a fine performance they were to few to turn the tide if the battle went badly for the Chevaux Leger. During the early part of the 'French phase' of the 30-Years War the French depended heavily on formerly Swedish regiments of German Cavalry either recruited singly or brought over en masse by Duke Bernhard. This gave French the numbers and quality needed to fight on four fronts at once.

During the mid-late 17th Century the Gendarmerie matured into it's new role, no longer forming the bulk of the French cavalry it became a Corps d'Elite and alongside the Maison du Roi it became the most feared cavalry in western Europe thanks to it's many exploits in the wars of Louis XIV. In the War of Spanish Succsesion the Gendarmerie suffered some much written about defeats but on the whole it remained a highly effective fighting force. during the reign of Louis XIV the Gendarmerie consisted of twelve companies, each of 100 men. 8 of the companies were title 'Gendarmes' while the remaining 4 were Chevaux Legers. in 1690 another 4 companies were added and the strength of the Gendarmerie increased to 1600 men. My sources cover period after 1714 only very sparsely so I'll have to conclude the tale of the Gendarmerie with their being disbanded in the late 1780's as the French Revolution took the stage. It was in this period that the military police force responsible for the French countryside was renamed the Gendarmerie National and it was from this body of men that Napoleon drew the recruits for the Gendarmes d'Elite of the Imperial Guard. The Gendarmes d'Elite functioned primarily as an elite force of miliary police rather than battle cavalry although the were capable of fulfilling that role as well.

I'm out of time at the moment., but will return later with some more information on the French and Burgundian Gendarmes including the organization of the Burgundian Bandes d'Ordonnance in Spanish service and their period of superiority over their French counterparts in the 1550's.

Daniel
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