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Set 240

French Garde du Corps

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2022
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Red
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)


The most prestigious part of the army under Louis XIV was the Maison du Roi, the royal household troops, and naturally the cavalry were the elite of that group. As detailed in other reviews, the cavalry of the Maison du Roi was made up of several units, but the very first in order of precedence was the Garde du Corps, the King’s personal bodyguard, so these figures represent the absolute highest level of the French military. The ranks of the Garde du Corps were filled from the nobility and the cream of society, and while there were only four companies of them, the size of each company was much larger than for ordinary cavalry - for the period of the War of the Spanish Succession a figure of between 300 and 400 seems likely. Although they attended the king personally, and took part in ceremonial, they were also a genuine fighting unit and were expected to be an example to the rest of the army. They seem to have lived up to this expectation, and had a fine reputation on the battlefield, particularly distinguishing themselves at Malplaquet (1709) amongst other actions.

The figures in this set are very much in combat poses, with fully half of them holding a drawn sword in various ways. There is also a man with pistol in hand, and another firing his carbine, which add to the utility of this set as firing while mounted was still an important part of French tactics at this time. The command figures of a trumpeter, standard-bearer and two officers complete the line-up, making a really nice selection where the only disadvantage is that it offers a lot of command figures if you want to buy several sets to build a large unit. The most interesting pose is the officer holding aloft a baton (several ranks of officer had a baton as a symbol of their authority), but all the poses are good and useful.

It need hardly be said that the uniforms of such an august body were something special, and the king himself paid special attention to them. The richly-laced coats with large cuffs followed the fashion of the time, and another fashion item was the tricorn, which all these figures wear, dating them from the 1690s when this garment became widespread. Although it is only visible on one of the officers, who has his coat open, it is likely that all the men here are wearing a breastplate under their coat, while the officers would also have worn a back plate. This was compulsory when on campaign, as these figures seem to be, but sources differ as to whether they were also worn at reviews and other events, though the king was in favour of its wider use. Long riding boots with the reinforced turndown tops complete the wardrobe, but the officers naturally have more decorated coats and hats, and the trumpeter is almost completely covered in lace decoration, including the traditional false sleeves on the coat. This uniform, which is correctly done here, remained much the same until well past the middle of the 18th century, allowing these figures to be used for numerous campaigns.

The men all carry a standard straight cavalry sword (which technically means they are not of the first ‘Scottish’ company), with a scabbard hung from a waist belt, and all but the command figures also carry a carbine, which was rifled for some. This is held by a belt over the left shoulder which has been engraved with a pattern of squares; there are different interpretations of this pattern in different sources, but this one is the most commonly seen. No other kit is carried by the man, so we must assume that any ammunition was carried on the saddle since no illustrations show a pouch.

The horses are the same as those in previous sets of French Maison du Roi cavalry from Strelets. They offer a range of animals walking, at the canter and galloping, so as with many cavalry sets everyone here must be on the move. This is all very well for most, but the man aiming his carbine would need a steady mount under him if he is to have any hope of hitting anything. The animals all have a brace of pistols at the front of the saddle, and a cylindrical valise at the rear. The bridle, saddle and all elements look appropriate for these men.

Of the sculpting we can only say that, as usual, it is excellent. Lovely detail on figures that are very demanding in that respect, with great, expressive faces and natural proportions. The hair is another outstanding feature, with the queues of the men in a bag as was the fashion, and the larger wigs of the officers beautifully done. The men all look natural, and they fit the horses well. The horses have very little flash, and the men even less, so a really nice, neat piece of production. The standard has not been engraved, which is always good in our view, and it is about the right size, although it is not quite square, which it should be.

If we were being really picky then we would say that the standard should have cravats as well as the cords it has been given, but that does feel like a mean criticism of what is a beautiful set. We cannot fault the poses or the historical accuracy either, so simply an all-round great set of figures for a colourful subject.


Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 10
Mould 9

Further Reading
"Fontenoy" - Histoire et Collections (Men & Battles Series No.4) - Denis Gandilhon - 9782352500575
"From Pike to Shot 1685 to 1720" - Wargames Research Group - Charles Stewart Grant - 9780904417395
"Louis XIV's Army" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.203) - René Chartrand - 9780850458503
"Louis XV's Army (1) Cavalry & Dragoons" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.296) - René Chartrand - 9781855326026
"Standards and Uniforms of the French Cavalry under Louis XIV" - Pike & Shot - Robert Hall - 9781902768311
"The Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough's Wars" - Partizan (Historical Series No.3) - CS Grant - 9781858185064
"The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715: Vol 1" - Helion & Company (Century of the Soldier No.41) - René Chartrand - 9781911628606
"The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough" - Spellmont - David Chandler - 9780946771424
"The Lace Wars Part 1" - Ward Lock - Lilliane and Fred Funcken
"Military Illustrated" - No.62
"Tradition (English Language)" - No.17
"Uniformes (French Language)" - No.105

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