The Armies and Wars of the Sun Kng 1643-1715: The Guard of Louis XIV

Discussion in 'Historical References, Literature & Media Review' started by Chrisr, Dec 20, 2019.

  1. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715. Volume I: The Guard of Louis XIV. René Chartrand, Helion & Company, Warwick, 2019. 214pp

    This lavishly illustrated book is the first of a projected four covering the wars the French engaged in during Louis XIV's reign, and the French regiments of the army he transformed into a well organised and highly trained force. This volume addresses the initial years, including the period before Louis formally assumed the throne, taking us to 1671 and the conclusion of the War of Devolution with Spain. It then details a range of subjects concerned with the French Army such as command and governance, the senior officials and officers, orders of chivalry, and concludes with a discussion of each the various regiments, cavalry and infantry, of Louis's Royal Guard - including several of the lesser known ones.

    Although the narrative of Louis' early life, and the conflicts that occurred both within France and in foreign realms could only be described as a primer for those new to the subject, it is enough to provide a good understanding of them. Chartrand doesn't delve into the details of the sieges and battles that were fought, instead he renders a good understanding of the campaigns which set the scene for the rest of the book, and we learn how Louis took charge of the army and transformed its command, training and supervision to make it a professional force to be reckoned with.

    We then get into the meat of the subjects concerned with the army, and in this Chartrand delivers an easy read filled with information. A short chapter addresses how it was financed, royal governance, and how Louis went about choosing his commanders. A sizeable chapter provides brief biographies of varying length for some eighty-four senior officers; from those entrusted with the overall management of the army through commanders of royal blood to marshals and a few of the generals. This is followed by a description of the world they lived in, their dress, liveries of the Sun King and selected senior officers, military pageantry and is rounded out with a chapter on the various Orders of Chivalry that were bestowed upon them.

    The last four chapters are concerned with each of the regiments of Louis' Royal Guard - La Maison du Roi. Organised into those regiments which served within the royal palace, those which served outside it, the royal guard infantry, and other guard units, altogether seventeen regiments and bodyguards are discussed, ranging from the famous Gardes du Corps, the Mousquetairs de la Garde, the Gardes Suisses, and the Gardes Francais to lesser known units such as the Gardes de la Prevote de l'Hotel and the Chevau-legers de la Reine.

    Obviously greater space is devoted to the more famous regiments, which run to several pages, than to the minor ones which get a paragraph or two. For the principal regiments Chartrand discusses their history, organisation, a list of the major campaigns and battles they fought in, and their uniforms, standards, and the weapons they carried. The discussion on uniforms, standards and equipment are supplemented by an abundance of illustrations, primarily in black and white together with thirty-two colour plates, each of which have a commentary at the back of the book.

    These latter chapters provide a rich source of information for figure modellers and painters. While this period is largely neglected in the hobby, this book shows there is a good range of subjects to be discovered by sculptors and painters alike.

    Overall, this is an excellent book that opens up a much neglected subject, having something for everyone who wishes to learn about how Louis built the French Army into a formidable instrument, its senior commanders, and the regiments that comprised the Royal Guard.

    I look forward to reading the second volume which takes the story through the Dutch War (1672-1678) and other events ending in the late 1680's, and which will discuss the French infantry regiments and mercenary units.

    Royal Guard 1.jpg Royal Guard 2.jpg Royal Guard 3.jpg Royal Guard 5.jpg Royal Guard6.jpg Royal Guard 5.jpg Royal Guard 7.jpg
    Nap likes this.
  2. Nap A Fixture

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for a look at this book certainly looks good and with the illustrations as well ..even better

    Happy reading


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