Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cent-Suisse Bodyguard

Cent-Suisse in the reign of King Francis I. These guardsmen wear a good example of the mi-parti uniform. As you look at the illustration, the left side is mi-parti yellow and white and the right side a reddish-orange color. The plumes and cap would continue these colors. A large number of plumes would signify a veteran of long service. The shaft of the halberd was violet, as was the scabbard of the longsword. The music of the Cent-Suisse consisted of four drummers and two fifers. Musicians wore white (NYPL).
 Another view of a Cent-Suisse guardsman. The mi-parti uniform is not otherwise identified or attributed to a royal livery (NYPL).

The elite corps of the Swiss in the French army was the Company of the Cent-Suisse (Hundred Swiss) of the Garde du Roi. Instituted by Charles VIII in 1496, these men served as a bodyguard to the king and protected his residence. When the king was on the march or in the field, he was preceded by the Cent-Suisse carrying halberds. In wartime, the Cent-Suisse wore a light corselet. Their dress was in the colors of the king’s livery. A custom instituted under Charles VIII was to provide each man with plumes and two uniforms in the king’s colors each year. The plumes were never discarded, being quite valuable, and veterans were colorfully festooned with the accumulation of years of service. Under Henri II, the livery was black and white.

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