Subject: mousquetaire musketeer
Culture: Bourbon French
Setting: France mid-late 17thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p132
"King Henry of IV of Navarre established France's regular army in 1597. In the 1600 reforms, he founded a company of his personal guard. These were gentlemen armed with carbines, and they were called Carabiniers du Roi. In 1622, Louis XII changed their carbines for the lighter muskets, and their name also changed, to Mousquetaires du Roi.
"Louis XIV ascended the throne of France in 1643, when he was only five; until his coming of age, the country was ruled by Cardinal Mazarin, who had the musketeers under his patronage. In 1661, after the cardinal's death, Louis formed another company of 300 musketeers. The older ones were called the Mousquetaires Gris (grey), and the new troop the Mousquetaires Noirs (black), the colours corresponding to those of their horses' saddle-cloths."
* Musée de l'Armée Invalides > Mousqetaires! Exposition en ligne
"En l’absence d’une véritable école d’officiers, les compagnies de mousquetaires accueillaient les jeunes nobles pour leur offrir une formation guerrière et une initiation à la discipline militaire ainsi qu’à toutes les violences du combat.
"Apprenant à obéir et à commander, formés à l’équitation, à l’escrime, mais aussi à la danse, parfois aux lettres et aux mathématiques, les jeunes mousquetaires pouvaient, après quelques années, prétendre à un commandement dans l’armée royale ; à la condition toutefois qu’ils survivent aux missions particulièrement dangereuses confiées à leur unité en temps de guerre."
* Maund/Nanson 2005 p106
"This new musketeer company [the King's Musketeers] became one of a number of guard companies which formed part of the King's household. The King's musketeers were trained to fight both on foot and on horseback, and were considered a light cavalry unit, even though, at that period, most musket-armed troops were infantry. This was due both to their origins in the Carabins, a cavalry unit, and to the fact that nearly all musketeers were members of the gentry. The martial traditions of the gentry emphasised riding skills as well as swordsmanship, and while infantry officers were gentry, cavalry carried higher prestige. Gentlemen very rarely found themselves fighting as common infantrymen.
"The musketeers were an elite unit. In peacetime, their primary duty was to act as the King's escort when he travelled, whether between the various royal residences, or on progress. They always formed the van of the royal cortège, a jealously guarded privilege, but one which required mobility and stamina. They also took part in regular military reviews and in the mock battles that formed part of the entertainment of the royal court. In times of war, they would accompany the King when he was with an army, but were also frequently entrusted with particularly hazardous operations. With their speed and manoeuvrability, they could reach any part of the front where they were needed. They rapidly gained a reputation for acts of conspicuous, if sometimes foolhardy bravery, a status they worked hard at maintaining, from the captain down to the newest recruit. At sieges, they often led the assault, the position of greatest danger, and seem to have made a point of being the first into any fortress or city."
* Musée de l'Armée Invalides > Mousqetaires! Exposition en ligne
"Appelés mousquetaires du roi, ils reçoivent la célèbre casaque bleue ornée de croix fleurdelisées, signe de leur appartenance à la Maison du souverain et se voient confier des missions très variées : escortes du cortège royal, opérations de police et de maintien de l’ordre, mais ils sont surtout au premier rang des troupes royales quand il s’agit d’emporter une place assiégée."
* Maund/Nanson 2005 p109-110
"The musketeers did not wear armour for military service, and the unit did not have an official uniform until 1673. Prior to that, they were identified by their cassocks. These were essentially a sort of sleeved tabard, which fastened down the back. Under Louis XIII, these cassocks were blue with a cross in white on the front, back and each sleeve. Initially, they were relatively short, but over time they lengthened to around knee-length. Underneath these cassocks, musketeers could and did wear what they chose -- an element used for satirical purposes by Courtilz de Sandras in his depiction of Besmaux, and taken over by Alexandre Dumas for his characterisations both of Porthos and Aramis. In the 1660s, after the creation of the second company, some distinctions were made in the cassocks: those of the first company were decorated with gold braid, while, for the second company, the braid was silver. In 1673, Louis XIV introduced a standard outfit for the company: thereafter their uniform consisted of a coat with large double pockets, which was lined and decorated in scarlet, with fringing, buttons and button-holes in gold; breeches and stockings in red; and a hat edged with gold and adorned with a white plume. Their horse trappings were once again scarlet with gold trimmings.
"The use of the distinctive cassock continued, but its increased length had proved impractical in warfare, as it impeded movement. It was replaced in 1683 by the famous blue tabard. This retained the colour and emblem of the cassock (although the latter in a more elaborate form), but, being looser and shorter, was far more practical. The cross device was still white, and the arms of the cross ended in fleurs de lys, with flames in the corner angles. The two companies were distinguished by the form and colour of these flames. For the first company, the flames were red and ended in three points; those of the second company were dark orange and ended in five points. The tabards were lined in red and trimmed with silver braid."
* Maund/Nanson 2005 p110-111
"...[R]apiers ... were probably used at least as much as the firearms in war (and more in peacetime, if their reputation for duelling can be believed).
"... The rapier is a sword which is wielded with one hand, and is designed primarily for thrusting at an opponent rather than slashing or cutting. It has a long, thin blade, around a metre in length and less than 3cm wide. The blade is usually a diamond shape in cross-section, though this is often flattened slightly to produce a slightly hexagonal shape. As the rapier is a thrusting weapon, commonly only the last 15cms or so are sharpened to any great degree. The length of the blade means that it can be used effectively from horseback, acting almost as a lance. The blade is normally edged to within a few inches of the hilt, where there is a flat area, the ricasso. This can be used as an extension of the hilt, to give the swordsman greater control. The hilt consists of the grip, guard and pommel. The grip is shaped slightly to fit the hand and would have been wrapped in wire or fish skin (normally ray or shark) to reduce the chance of it slipping in the hand. The pommel is a metal ball at the end of the grip, which adds some extra weight to the hilt, thereby improving the balance of the sword. A thin extension of the blade, known as the tang, passes through the grip and pommel and is secured by a nut. The guard protects the hand from the opponent's sword. There are two main forms: the swept hilt, which consists of a series of thick wire rings, which curve up round the hand towards the pommel, or the cup hilt, where a metal cup covers the hand entirely from the front.
"The rapier is normally seen as a gentleman's weapon, to be worn as a badge of honour and used in duels, while the sabre, a curved sword more suited to slashing from horseback, takes the military role. However, this distinction between military and civilian swords was not complete in the seventeenth century, and thus the musketeers would have used the same sorts of blades in both contexts. When Charles Castelmore d'Artagnan died in 1673, he had two swords -- one with a gold-adorned guard and a brass grip, the other of blackened steel. One sword was for court and dress occasions, the other, very probably, for battle. The details are preserved in the inventory of his possessions made after his death, and the only distinctions drawn between the two swords relates to this decorative aspect, not to form."