“He is wearing a triangular hat …” – the history of a military cocked hat

Any object that crowns the head of a warrior must first of all be of some practical benefit to him. In the era of swords and battle axes, preference, of course, was given to metal or leather helmets, which gave a chance to survive, having received a fair blow to the top of the head, and at the same time not “brainwash”. With the advent of firearms, wide-brimmed hats, well known to all of us from the films about the musketeers, took precedence. Such a headdress did not save from bodily harm, but at least it gave protection from the sun and rain.

On the other hand, as it turned out pretty quickly, the hat had very significant drawbacks, and first of all just for the shooters. Try to load a musket, pishchal or fusea, and even more carefully aim with them, having on your head a structure creeping over your eyes with wide fields and, in addition, a structure of feathers. Many of these very obstructing fields began to simply fasten or pin to the crown. If you remember, Porthos sported a hat of exactly this style in the Soviet film adaptation of Dumas …

However, all this turned out to be nothing more than a half measure. According to historical evidence, the Italians were finally tired of the eternal struggle with their own hats. It was in the army there that they first began to cut off their fields completely (it turned out terribly unaesthetic – some kind of pot on the head), and then they began, bending over so as not to interfere, to sew in the corners. This is how, in fact, the famous cocked hat was born, which for a whole century became the main headdress not only of military and seafarers, but also of many civilians. It was painfully convenient and practical thing …

The French, however, dispute the primacy in this matter among the inhabitants of the Apennine Peninsula, claiming that they built the first “tricorne” after all. Well, be that as it may, but the cocked hat really entered the general fashion, including among the military, during the time of the French “Sun King” Louis XIV, in the brilliant 17th century. By the way, another great historical figure who glorified this headdress is Frederick II the Great.

In principle, he did not recognize any other cover for his own truly brilliant head, due to which 99% of his known images flaunt in an invariable cocked hat. But the famous lines written by Lermontov about Napoleon: “He is wearing a triangular hat and a gray marching coat …” are, imagine, a historical mistake. The famous Bonaparte hat was no longer a bicorne hat, which became the next “hat evolution” and replaced its predecessor, including on the heads of the military, in the 18th century. However, I am getting ahead of myself.

In tricorne, Europe fought, discovered new lands, had fun and was sad. It is clear that this headdress, like everything else in those days, had a completely clear “social gradation”. The tricorne hats of ordinary soldiers or townspeople were made of felted felt or wool of the simplest and most practical colors. Those who deigned to put on their shining heads the commanders, court rakes and other representatives of the nobility, were true works of haberdashery art. They were sewn from such “aristocratic” materials as expensive brocade and satin, decorated along the edge of the fields with lush braid and the number of feathers that depended solely on the taste and financial capabilities of the customer.

The ladies were especially zealous in this matter. Yes, yes … Young (and not so) beauties quickly appreciated tricorne and included in their own wardrobes, “slightly” hung with bows and precious stones. By the way, interestingly, cocked hats in women’s fashion have been preserved longer than in men’s! The reason for this was the coming into fashion of incredibly voluminous and lush wigs. For men, naturally. In the truest sense of the word, cocked hats did not fit on such a design – so I had to carry them under my arm, using them exclusively in the process of bowing in front of each other.

Longest of all, the cocked hat existed as part of military uniforms, as well as classic suits for hunting and riding in general. Ladies’ – first of all. In our Fatherland, this headdress not only appeared, but also took the most solid positions, as you might guess – during the reign of Peter the Great. The first Russian Emperor dressed up the army he was building on the European model in cocked hats. And even their own courtiers – and even more so. And the tsar himself, who loved to flaunt in military uniform, most often appeared in public in a cocked hat.

Everything in this world, as you know, follows the path of simplification. About 100 years after the appearance of the tricorne, the same military decided that three corners were too much, more than two would be enough. This is how the two-cornered bicorne appeared, in many armies preserved as part of the ceremonial uniform of the highest command personnel until the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century, or even to this day. The common soldier was ahead of the era of shako and caps. No corners at all …

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