Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Swiss Guards
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Author:  silverstar [ Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Swiss Guards

I wonder how the French Monarchy came to be guarded by the Swiss Guards ...
originally they must have been quite a foreign looking army of men
protecting the French Monarch.

Did nt they trust the French regiments ?

Author:  Lilly [ Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swiss Guards

You inspired me to look into this a little - I copied the following from a site called "The Mad Monarchist" ....there is some great information there.

Of all the royal guardians in the world some of the most famous must be the Swiss Guards of France. Switzerland had long been renowned for its soldiers and every monarch worth his salt had to have some Swiss troops at his disposal. The tradition started in France in 1497 with the arrival of the famous "Hundred Swiss" to serve as a private protection force for the King. Later, in 1567 the French King added a complete Swiss Regiment to his Royal Army. Later these were formalized into two distinct royal guard units. The first was the Hundred Swiss who served closest to the King, inside the palace as his bodyguards. The second was the "Swiss Guard" who served outside as palace guards at the gates and keeping watch on the perimeter. Units of Swiss troops also served with the French army on campaign as regular mercenary soldiers. Today one might consider it odd for a monarch to place his personal safety in the hands of foreign troops rather than his own people, but the people could always turn on you (though rest assured he had French bodyguards too) and the Swiss mercenaries were famously loyal -so long as they were paid- and given that could always be counted on. The famous phrase, "no silver, no Swiss" did not come about for no reason. The Hundred Swiss had many famous episodes in their history since their initial employment by King Charles VIII. At the famous battle of Pavia, for instance, they fought to the death against the Spanish trying to protect King Francis I from capture.

However, their moment of immortality came on August 10, 1792 when they fought to the death defending the Tuileries Palace from the revolutionary mob for King Louis XVI. The guard fought heroically against impossible odds, losing some 600 men in the clash or from being massacred after surrender for the handful that tried. The only survivors were about a hundred men who were taken in by sympathetic Parisians and a corps of 300 that was serving in Normandy. Many of those who did live were later killed in the September Massacres anyway. It was a moment of heroic sacrifice that would never be forgotten by the royalists of France and, over a great deal of time, even the revolutionaries came to appreciate the courage and determination of the Swiss Guards. In 1821 a monument to their sacrifice and heroism was erected in Lucerne (known as the "Lion of Lucerne") which is a truly moving sight to see. After being banned for a time the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte brought back the Swiss Regiments and the Swiss Guards returned to service when the monarchy was restored. They were dissolved during the July Revolution of 1830 and never saw service again though some of the veterans did go on to form the original core of the French Foreign Legion.

Author:  silverstar [ Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swiss Guards

Perhaps the Household Cavalry are the British Monarchys equiv of the Swiss Guards ?

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