Fantasist & Futurist
- Nov 23, 2002
Did not know this, but apparently for 400 years the Kings of France were protected by an elite Scottish Guard:
It was during the latter days of the Hundred Years’ War that the French King created an elite personal bodyguard comprised of Scottish warriors called the Garde Écossaise (Scottish Guard).
Joan of Arc marched into Orléans to the sound of bagpipes. She entered the city accompanied by a guard of around 60 Scottish men-at-arms and 70 archers. The pipers played Hey Tuttie Tatie – the song that, legend has it, was played for Robert the Bruce as he marched into battle at Bannockburn. In fact, Scottish soldiers made up a significant portion of the relief army as a whole in addition to Joan’s guard.
The Garde Écossaise saved Charles VII’s life in 1442 when his lodgings near Gascony were set on fire. Historian M.G.A. Vale writes that King Charles “escaped death, but only through the prompt action of his Scots archers, who made a breach in a wall by which he escaped.”
By the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774), the Scottish Guard was comprised of 330 men with 21 officers and had transitioned to being a mounted unit. Despite this change, the Scots still fought with the traditional claymores, distinguishing them from all other heavy cavalry of the era.
The Garde Écossaise continued to guard the French Monarchy until the French Revolution disbanded it. Even then, the Garde was reformed along with the monarchy during the Bourbon Restoration. The Garde Écossaise was disbanded permanently in 1830 with the fall of the French Monarchy, over 400 years after they were founded. But they were still honored with the title “Les Fiers Ecossais” (The Proud Scots).