The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Partizan
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1620
  • Steel, gold, copper alloy, silk, velvet and cotton, blued and damascened
  • Length: 222 cm
    Length: 53.3 cm, head
    Weight: 3.104 kg
  • Inscription: 'L' With collars of the Orders of St Michel and the Saint-Esprit
  • A1005
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Partizan, with a wavy, leaf-shaped blade, semi-circular at the base where it projects into two crescent-shaped cusps; a wide central moulding at the bottom becoming a pronounced ridge as it ascends towards the point. The surface is blued to within six inches of the point and overlaid with gold. In the centre are the arms of France, surrounded by the collars of the Orders of Saint-Michel and the Saint-Esprit (incorporating the royal initial L). Above is a large royal crown and festoons of drapery, and laurel branches below. The whole is contained within a border of gold lines following the edge, and a break in their continuity indicates that at some period the cusps have been slightly reduced in width.

    Socket of circular section with moulded neck and base, carrying two diagonally curved spikes or hooks. The socket is blued, but gilt at the neck. Tassel of red silk and velvet. Modern octagonal staff covered with red, ribbed cotton, and profusely studded with brass-headed nails. Blued steel ferrule.

    French, about 1620.

    This partizan is one of those carried by the Gardes du Corps of King Louis XIII. It is of more robust construction and simpler in decoration than A1008, and probably earlier in date. Sometimes these partizans bear the names of the noblemen who carried them. See for example one formerly in the Mackay Collection (loan exhibition, New York, 1931, no. 518) which is inscribed with the name "Domoin de Villequier". See note under A1008.

    The outer edge of each wing has been severely cropped. The conventional cross-bar has been replaced by a recurved one sharply pointed at each end. The ferrule is not original nor is the tassel. The presence of the letter L, the initial of both Louis XIII and Louis XIV, in the collar of the Saint-Esprit, should indicate a date before 1667, when Louis XIV changed it for an H, the initial of both the founder of the order, Henri III, and of his own grandfather, Henri IV, the founder of the new dynasty. The absence of the arms of Navarre, usually displayed at this date beside those of France, is puzzling (compare A1008). Colonel M. Dugue McCarthy informed A.V.B. Norman, however, that in France minor heraldic distinctions were often treated somewhat cavalierly when used on military equipment and are therefore not reliable criteria for dating (letter of 9 August 1982). This group of partizans, of which there are many variants, is thought to have been carried by members of Les Gardes de la Manche, who belonged to the 1ere Compagnie des Gardes du Corps du Roi, which was originally recruited solely from Scots, being descended from the Scottish archer guard of Charles VII. A partizan of this type is illustrated in the hand of a Scots Guard in the drawing by P. Dulin of the Sacre de Louis XV (J. Guiffrey and P. Marcel, Inventaire general des dessins du Musée du Louvre et du Musée de Versailles. Ecole francaise, V, 1910, cat., no.3795, inv. no. 26354, illus.). G. Aries (fasc. X, 1968, no. 3) illustrates a partizan, comparable with A1005, which he places in the Regency (1715-23) and describes as being- for use in undress (petite-tenue). It is inscribed RAVOISIE FOVRBISSEVR DV ROY A PARIS. The area in which the signature would appear on A1005, if it was originally signed, has been cut away. A number of different fourbisseurs of this name are recorded by P. Jarlier (repertoire, I, p. 234, 1er Supplement, p. 53, and 2e Supplement, p. 235). Aries later suggested the possibility that this pattern of partizan was carried by a brigadier or sous brigadier of the Gardes du Corps du Roi when on duty within the Palace (fasc. XXII, 1974).
    The weapon in the Mackay collection, mentioned above, was formerly in the Spitzer collection (1892 cat., VI, no. 257, pI. XLII). Since 1943 it has been in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, no. 42.50.11. A very similar weapon is now in the Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Vienna, inv. no. A2273. Its socket is inscribed "Doumont Devillequier". Neither is strictly comparable with A1005, since their decoration is even more lavish than A1008. Because of the inscriptions on their sockets, it has been suggested that the original owner was Anton d'Aumont de Rochbaron, due d'Aumont, Marechal de France, Capitaine des Gardes du Roi (died 1667), whose mother was Charlotte de Villequier de Clairvaux (Grancsay, Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, VII, p. 109).