Who were the real musketeers

The word “musketeer” evokes a romantic halo and we usually recall the novel by A. Dumas or the film of the same name with M. Boyarsky in the title role and imagine a stately man with a sword bald, in a hat with a feather ... well, something like that, in general. In fact, of course, a musketeer is a soldier armed primarily with a musket, not a sword. And a musketeer is not necessarily a bright handsome man, a gentleman and a hero-lover.

The word musketeer comes from the French mousquetaire. So, starting from the 16th century, a soldier armed with a musket was called. The musketeer had a sling with 12 natruskas (from the verb to rub - pour): one contained powder pulp for transferring fire to the charge, and the rest contained the charges themselves. There was also a sack of bullets and a wick in the sling.

Soda cartridges were closed with a stopper, they contained a strictly dosed amount of flint to prevent the danger of a musket bursting if there was too much gunpowder in the barrel. Wooden, copper or bone cartridges tapped each other as they walked, so that the regiment of musketeers could be heard from afar. When it was required to approach the enemy unnoticed, the cartridges were placed in a special bag that concealed the noise from the blows.

Previously, European armies were almost entirely mercenary; some of the soldiers were on permanent civil service. The heart of the European infantry were musketeers and pikemen, armed with pikes. It was not easy to be a musketeer: the musket was a hand firearm, it weighed an awful lot, and its recoil was such that the soldiers constantly had bruises on their shoulders. When firing, the musket was placed on a special bipod, and the soldier's equipment always had a pad on his shoulder to soften the strong recoil.

The musket appeared in Spain in 1521, it replaced the even more primitive arquebuse. "Arquebusa is one of the original samples of Western European hand-held firearms, which appeared in the first third of the 15th century." (Great Soviet Encyclopedia). Initially, the muzzle of this smooth-bore weapon was charged with stone bullets (some time later - lead), and the powder charge was manually ignited through the seed hole in the barrel.

The musketeers who had fired off switched to close combat; for this, in their equipment there was a sword (from the Italian. Spada). Usually, the sword was taken out after the first shot (not always successful, I must say), since reloading the musket took too much time. If there is a sword, there is also a dag. Daga is a dagger (from 20cm to 50cm) for the left hand with a triangular blade, designed mainly for protection.

Both the sword and the dagi had a guard: a cross, reinforced with a shield or exusson, from which two semicircular branches or arcs go to the blade. Garda reliably protected the warrior's hand from being hit by the enemy's blade. Contrary to the misconception, the musketeers did not wear uniforms as such, it was often even difficult to distinguish an enemy soldier from an ally.

But there were also elite musketeers. These are, of course, the royal musketeers - the personal guard of the French kings in the years 1622-1775. They differed significantly from their brothers in arms: firstly, only nobles were taken into such musketeers; secondly, they could no longer be called only foot soldiers, since at first they were riding infantry, and then they became horse riflemen altogether. The latter brought them closer to dragoons - warriors capable of fighting both on foot and on horseback.

At first, the king's personal bodyguards (from 1600 - under Henry IV) were carabinieri - nobles armed with light carbines. Later, in 1622, Louis XIII ordered to arm the personal guards with muskets instead of carbines, and since then these soldiers began to be called musketeers.

I must say that the fact that the musketeers were nobles greatly reduced the costs of the state: the soldiers were given only a musket, and the horse with harness, a servant, clothing, ammunition, edged weapons had to be purchased by the nobles themselves. As a result, all musketeers tried to be different from others in something: a more expensive horse, fashionable clothes, etc.

Despite this, the royal musketeers of the 1st and 2nd companies had their own distinctive mark, so well known to us from the films about d'Artagnan - this is a short Kazakin cloak. It was light blue, trimmed along the edges with silver braid (braid). On the front, back and sides of the musketeer's cloak were white crosses with royal golden lilies at the ends, and four red shamrocks next to the crosshairs. In the ranks it was also possible to distinguish the 1st company from the 2nd: the first were on gray horses, and the second on black ones. From this, the 1st company is sometimes called gray, and the 2nd - black.

Like all nobles, the royal musketeers watched over their appearance. The legendary wide-brimmed hats with ostrich feathers were not removed even indoors and at the table. But in front of the ladies, of course, the musketeer was glad to take off his fine hat and bow his head in bow, shaking his long hair.

True, shoulder-length curls were not only for the sake of beauty. Long hair, rawhide straps that were woven there, wide-brimmed hats and wide collars - all this was primarily in order to protect the neck from the chopping blow of the enemy's sword or saber. And, of course, all the musketeers had to have spurs ... even the poorest, those who did not yet have the money to buy a horse.

After the death of King Louis XV in the course of the military reform that began on December 15, 1775, the musketeer detachments were abolished.

Source: shkolazhizni.ru