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Osprey Men-at-Arms 203 : Louis XIV's Army

One of the great armies of history is now almost forgotten, yet it was in many ways the first modern army. Louis XIV strove for order and an army which was both disciplined and large. Many measures that are now standard in our present day armies were introduced during his reign. When Louis XIV assumed power in 1661, the French army amounted to perhaps 70,000 men. The army may have been 'royal', but the king did not have direct control of it. The most powerful man in the army was probably the Colonel General of the French Infantry whose power, according to the king's Memoirs 'was infinite...and greater than the king himself over the principal forces of the state.'. For example, it was the Colonel General, not the king, who issued officers' commissions. Thus, when the Duke d'Epernon died in office, Louis abolished the post of Colonel General of Infantry and assumed its powers himself. From then on the officers had commissions signed by the king. A good many towns had 'private' troops of their own and governors who were all but independent from central authority. Louis cut off funds, gradually replaced the town troops by royal garrisons, and eventually instituted the rotation of postings for governors. Thus, within a couple of years, the king enjoyed direct power over the armed forces in his realm. Rene Chatrand's examines King Louis' formidable army, from uniforms and tactics to colours and standards and beyond, accompanied by illustrations by Francis Back.

    Contents
  • Chronology
  • The Era of Louis XIV
  • The Army in 1661
  • Units, Uniforms and Weapons - Maison du Roi
  • Line Infantry
  • Line Cavalry
  • Colours and Standards
  • The Plates

 

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