Bicorne

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Early bicorne from France, c. 1790 Man's Bicorne LACMA M.2010.33.1 (1 of 4).jpg
Early bicorne from France, c. 1790

The bicorne or bicorn (two-cornered/horned or twihorn) is a historical form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by European and American military and naval officers. It is now most readily associated with Napoléon Bonaparte but in practice most generals and staff officers of the Napoleonic period wore bicornes, and it survived as a widely worn full-dress headdress until at least 1914.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

An army or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state. It may also include aviation assets by possessing an army aviation component. In certain states, the term army refers to the entire armed forces. Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army.

Navy Military branch of service primarily concerned with naval warfare

A navy or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.

Contents

Historic use

Detail from a painting of Napoleon.jpg
Alfred von Tirpitz-2.jpg
Left: Napoléon Bonaparte in his characteristic bicorne hat; Right: Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz wearing a bicorne

Descended from the tricorne, the black-coloured bicorne originally had a rather broad brim, with the front and the rear halves turned up and pinned together (in English, the shorter front brim was called "the cock"—hence "cocked hat"—and the longer rear brim was termed "the fan"), forming a semi-circular fan shape; there was usually a cockade in the national colours at the front. Later, the hat became more triangular in shape, its two ends became more pointed, and it was worn with the cockade at the right side. This kind of bicorne eventually became known in the English language as the cocked hat, although to this day it is still known in the French language as the bicorne.

Tricorne hat with the brim cocked or turned up on three sides

The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referred to as "cocked hats". At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne varied greatly in style and size, and was worn not only by the aristocracy, but also as common civilian dress, and as part of military and naval uniforms. Typically made from animal fiber, the more expensive being of beaver-hair felt and the less expensive of wool felt, the hat's most distinguishing characteristic was that three sides of the brim were turned up (cocked) and either pinned, laced, or buttoned in place to form a triangle around the crown. The style served two purposes: first, it allowed stylish gentlemen to show off the most current fashions of their wigs, and thus their social status; and secondly, the cocked hat, with its folded brim, was much smaller than other hats and therefore could be more easily tucked under an arm when going inside a building, where social etiquette dictated that a gentleman should remove his hat. Tricornes with laced sides could have the laces loosened and the sides dropped down to provide better protection from the weather, sun, and rain.

Cockade ornament consisting of or imitating a rosette or knot of ribbon, worn usually on a hat as a badge of office or party, as part of livery dress, or as decoration

A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- or oval-shaped symbol of distinctive colours which is usually worn on a hat.

National colours are frequently part of a country's set of national symbols.

Worn in the side-to-side "athwart" style during the 1790s, the bicorne was normally seen fore-and-aft in most armies and navies from about 1800 on. This change in style coincided with the flattening out of the pronounced front peak of the original headdress. The French gendarmerie continued to wear their bicornes in the classic side-to-side fashion until about 1904 as do the Italian Carabinieri in their modern full dress.

The Carabinieri are the national gendarmerie of Italy who primarily carry out domestic policing duties. It is one of Italy's main law enforcement agencies, alongside the Polizia di Stato and the Guardia di Finanza. As with the Guardia di Finanza but in contrast to the Polizia di Stato, the Carabinieri are a military force. As the fourth branch of the Italian Armed Forces, they come under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. In practice, there is a significant overlap between the jurisdiction of the Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri, who are contacted on separate emergency telephone numbers. Unlike the Polizia di Stato, the Carabinieri have responsibility for policing the military, and a number of members regularly participate in military missions abroad.

Some forms of bicorne were designed to be folded flat, so that they could be conveniently tucked under the arm when not being worn. A bicorne of this style is also known as a chapeau-bras or chapeau-de-bras.

The bicorne was widely worn until World War I as part of the full dress of officers of most of the world's navies. It survived to a more limited extent between the wars for wear by senior officers in the British, French, US, Japanese and other navies until World War II but has now almost disappeared in this context.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

In addition to its military/naval uses, the bicorne was widely worn during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by civilian officials in European monarchies and Japan, when required to wear uniforms on formal occasions. This practice generally ceased after World War I except in the context of diplomatic uniform. However British colonial governors in temperate climates and governors general in some countries of the Commonwealth (notably Australia, Canada and New Zealand) continued to wear bicornes with ceremonial dress until the second half of the twentieth century.

Diplomatic uniform ornate uniforms worn by ambassadorial and consular officers on formal public occasions

Diplomatic uniforms are ornate uniforms worn by diplomats—ambassadorial and consular officers—at public occasions. Introduced by European states around 1800 and patterned on court dress, they were abandoned by most countries in the twentieth century, but diplomats from some countries retain them for rare, formal occasions.

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.

Cocked hat

British Army cocked hat with General officer's plume, worn by Lord Dannatt, (Constable of the Tower). Constable Dannatt.jpg
British Army cocked hat with General officer's plume, worn by Lord Dannatt, (Constable of the Tower).

By the twentieth century, the term cocked hat had come to be used more often than not in official UK usage (uniform regulations etc.) with reference to this shape of hat (particularly when worn as part of a uniform); [1] however, in the rare instances where hats were directed to be worn side-to-side ('athwarts') rather than front-to-back - e.g. by footmen in full state livery - the term bicorn tended to be preferred.

In its most commonly seen form at this time, the cocked hat was pinned up at two sides to form a hump-back bridge shape and was worn perpendicular to the shoulders, with the front end above the face and the back end over the nape. A cockade in the national colours might be worn at the right side (French tradition) and a plume might be attached to the top (British military c. 1800). Cocked hats were often trimmed with gold or silver bullion lace and tassels. Naval officers wore them without further decorations, but those worn by military and civilian officials might be lavishly decorated with coloured ostrich or swan feathers.

Idiom

To be knocked into a cocked hat is to be soundly and swiftly defeated.

Current use

The full-dress uniform of Ecole Polytechnique of France comprises black trousers with a red stripe (a skirt for women), a coat with golden buttons and a belt, and a cocked hat (officially called a bicorne). Bicorne hat Ecole Polytechnique.jpg
The full-dress uniform of École Polytechnique of France comprises black trousers with a red stripe (a skirt for women), a coat with golden buttons and a belt, and a cocked hat (officially called a bicorne).
A state usher accompanying a federal councillor in Switzerland. Didier Burkhalter mit Weibel in Saignelegier.JPG
A state usher accompanying a federal councillor in Switzerland.

Members of the Académie française wear the habit vert (green habit) at the Académie's ceremonies. The habit includes a black jacket and a bicorne in the cocked-hat style, each embroidered in green.

Students at the École Polytechnique wear a bicorne as part of their Grand Uniforme (GU). Female students used to wear a tricorne hat but now also wear a bicorne. The bicorne also formed part of the historic black and red full dress of cadets at the French Military Medical School ("École de Sante des Armées") until this uniform was withdrawn in 1971, except for limited use on special occasions. The bicorne is still worn by the members of the Cadre Noir in full dress uniform.

The uniform of the horsemen of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna includes a bicorne.

Diplomatic uniforms worn on such occasions as the presentation of credentials by ambassadors normally included bicornes worn with feathers and gold or silver braiding. Until World War II such uniforms were worn by even junior embassy staff but now survive only for ambassadors in a few long-established diplomatic services such as those of Britain, France, Sweden, Belgium and Spain.

In the United Kingdom cocked hats continue to be worn by certain office-holders on special occasions:

In the Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree Knights of the Color Corps may wear regalia which includes a chivalric chapeau. The color of the plume denotes the office held by the wearer.

The Italian Carabinieri wear a bicorn with points sideways with their full dress uniform. The large tricolor cockade in front has given it the popular name of la "lucerna", the "lamp".

In Java, a cocked hat is still in use in the parade uniform of the Dhaeng and Ketanggung brigades; both are from Yogyakarta Sultanate. Since the end of the Java War, they no longer function as combat troops. This cocked hat is known in Javanese as mancungan hat, because of its shape like a pointed nose, mancung. Only used on special occasions, such as Grebeg and other cultural or ceremonial events held by the kraton (palace), the headgear came as a part of Western influence in Yogyakarta, during the reign of Sultan Hamengkubuwono IV.

See also

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References

  1. E.g. Dress worn at Court, 1898ff, Lord Chamberlain's Office.
  2. Mansfield, Alan D (1980). Ceremonial Costume: Court, Civil, and Civic Costume from 1660 to the Present Day. Barnes & Noble Books. p. 232. ISBN   978-0389201243.
  3. "The Governor's Hat". sainthelenaisland.info. Saint Helena Info. Retrieved 12 March 2018.