Thursday, 19 August 2010

Carolus II and Philipus V of Spain

In Salamanca one of the main sights is the Plaza Mayor with its shaded arcade (very pleasant in the midst of the afternoon). Above the arcade one will see the portraits of famous and/or notable Spaniards. Amongst them Charles II and Philip V, of interest of course for the period of War of the Spanish Succession. (The above pictures are a bit crappy because of the late afternoon sun in combination with harsh shadows.)

On the opposite side of the plaza a very famous British general who successfully did fight the French in Spain a century later.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Holland Regiment of Foot Guards

In the historical record of the 3rd Regiment of Foot, the Holland Regiment, compiled by captain Knight in 1904 one can read about certain events surrounding the commission of the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield as colonel of the regiment. In his commission one can read that Chesterfield was to be
Colonell of our Holland Regiment of Foote Guards ...

(dated 6 November 1682).

Unfortunately, Chesterfield crossed the ego of the Duke of York (future King James II) over Chesterfield's wish to appoint the Duke of Monmouth as his successor for Chief Justice of eyre. This was not to the liking of James as he hated Monmouth. So James talked with his elder brother, King Charles II, and in late 1683 it was decided to withdraw the name guards from the regiment. According to Chesterfield under the pretext it was an error that needed to be corrected. Chesterfield wanted to resign his commission, but was promised by the king that his regiment would take precedence over the regiments of Kirke and Dumbarton (the future 2nd and 1st Regiments of Foot) that were about to return from Tangier. Again, reality (or court intrigues) turned out to be not so nice for Chesterfield as his regiment would take rank after these two regiments and the regiment of the Duke of York!

Chesterfield didn't think twice and resigned his commission, effective by 26 January 1684.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Hair fashion in the army

Because of the holiday season an easy to digest subject: hair fashion in the army.

In issue 23 from 1988 of Armentaria, the magazine (actually yearbook) of the Dutch Army museum a rather nice article is found on Haar- en baarddracht (hair and beard styles) in the Dutch army during the last 300 years. The article is unfortunately in Dutch only, and the pdf lacks the images in the paper article, so I made a few scans.

A (very) short summary: In the late 17th century there were no strict regulations: top-left image in above image. This changed during the 18th century and tended to become quite strict and hair was wrapped up in tails with colorful ribbons. Apparently the example of the Prussian army was followed in the second half of the century. Arranging hair in horizontal or vertical (pattes de chien) rolls and powdering it with flour become part of the soldiers morning routine. For grenadiers and sappers different styled were adopted. In the bottom-left figure of the above image we see a grenadier with cadenettes, a sort of braids that were fixed upwards. This, in combination with the moustache, was intended to impress friend and foe.

Roughly speaking the army followed what was fashionable in society. At the same time soldiers had to look as tidy/martial/impressive as possible via these hair regulations. When the rolls and powdering were dropped in early 19th century, we see the appearance of massive sideburns and moustaches, and beards for the pioneers. Again, trends in society were copied in the army, and since the former changed regularly, the army followed suit.

That brings us to the image below, showing Dutch soldiers in the early 1970s clearly depicting civilian influences and closely matching the (absence of) style in the 17th century.

Happy holidays!