The Swiss in French Service


Didier Davin, André Jouineau

Date Published :
December 2012
Publisher :
Histoire and Collections
Series :
Officers and Soldiers of
No associated books available.


That association of mountainous territories shut in among the European powers, Switzerland solved part of its financial problems as early as the Renaissance by developing a truly mercenary industry. Each canton could sign a contract (a capitulation) to recruit military units with their own officers and regulations in exchange for pay and equipment for a neighboring state. On the eve of the Revolution there were therefore Swiss units in the government guards or the troops of the Line in France, the Italian States, Spain and the United Provinces.

The revolutionary process in France ran up against their loyalty to their employer: the King, and the sad events of the massacre of the Swiss Guard on 10 August 1792 whereas the Swiss regiments of the Line were disbanded.

During the vast European reorganization led by France between 1793 and 1813, Switzerland was politically and geographically transformed and furnished its big neighbor whether it liked it or not with troops of great worth who upheld their favorite motto “Honneur et Fidélité”.

A lot has already been written on the Swiss regiments. The book skims over the Swiss troops in service with the King on the eve of the Revolution to concentrate on those who served the Republic, the Consulate and then the Empire, focusing on less well-known aspects.

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