Cuirassiers Regiment (Italy)
The Cuirassiers Regiment (Italian: Reggimento corazzieri) is a Carabinieri Cuirassier regiment acting as honour guard of the President of the Italian Republic. Their motto "Virtus in periculis firmior" means Courage becomes stronger in danger.
Corazzieri official seal
|Country|| Duchy of Savoy|
Kingdom of Sardinia
Kingdom of Italy
|Garrison/HQ||Barrack "Alessandro Negri di Sanfront", Rome, Lazio, Italy|
|Motto(s)||VIRTUS IN PERICULIS FIRMIOR|
Courage becomes stronger in danger
|Col. Luciano Magrini|
|Colonel-in-Chief||President of the Italian Republic|
Until 24 December 1992, the division was called Reggimento Carabinieri Guardie della Repubblica (Carabinieri Guards of the Republic Regiment) and until 1990 it had been known as the Comando Carabinieri Guardie del Presidente della Repubblica (Carabinieri Guards of the President of the Republic Command).
The first examples of a division of Archers and Esquires for the security of members of House of Savoy are dated back to the 15th century, but only during the dukedom of Emmanuel Philibert (1553-1580) a "Guard of Honor of the Prince" (Guardia d'Onore del Principe) was established with about fifty army-men led by a captain. This guard made its first appearance during the battle of St. Quentin in 1557.
The division was subsequently expanded until in 1630 it had about 400 men, divided into 4 companies.
Under the reign of Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia (1675-1730), the security units and ceremonial guards were merged into the "Body Guards" (Guardie del Corpo), which was subdivided into four companies.
Since then, few changes had been made to the uniforms or to the composition of the unit, which has performed normal operational functions as well as serving in war campaigns.
During the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars and following the occupation of Piedmont, King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia left the Kingdom in 1798 with only a few guards and took refuge briefly in Sardinia and Spain, until his return to Rome where he abdicated in favour of his brother Victor Emmanuel I on 4 June 1802. Thus, most of the Guards were transferred to the French government which formed the Squadron of Piedmontese Carabineers (Squadrone Carabinieri Piemontesi).
Exiled for over a decade, Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia regain possession of his territories only on 20 May 1814, restoring the institutions existing before the Napoleonic rule. The corps of the Body Guards was re-established with the same dimension it originally had. On the following 13 July, the King established the "Corps of Royal Carabinieri" (Corpo dei Carabinieri Reali) with the occasional tasks of “escorting royals” (initially belonging to the Body Guards), along with the law enforcement and public security purposes according to the Royal Licences (Patenti Reali). Reforms of Charles Albert of Sardinia (1834-1849) reduced the personnel and competences of Body Guards while giving a greater relevance to the Carabinieri, who were also designated to form a mounted squadron of honour for the wedding of the Crown Prince Victor Emmanuel II with the Archduchess Adelaide of Austria in 1842. The Body Guards took part to the First Italian War of Independence alongside the Carabinieri in order to protect the King.
The Body Guards were formally dissolved in 1867, although during the previous twenty years only one company had continued to perform security services exclusively at the Royal Palace of Turin. They were absorbed by the Carabinieri, which were established as an Army Corps with the Royal Decree on the 24 of January 1861.
Kingdom of ItalyEdit
The Body of Cuirasses was established on 7 February 1868 in Florence (the Italian capital at the time). It was formed by carabinieri on horseback from the legions of Florence, Milan and Bologna. There were 80 carabinieri; each wearing a black helmet with crest and a black breastplate with a cross on the chest, white suede trousers and white gauntlets, high boots and silver spurs. The armour was wore above the Carabiniere uniform and epaulettes. The division was subsequently formed on the occasion of the wedding between Princess Margherita of Savoy and Prince Umberto I of Italy. Since then it had been never been disbanded. Members of the “Company of His Highness’s Cuirasses” (Compagnia Corazze di Sua Altezza) used to wear the monogram of the King on their breastplates, which were similar to those previously worn by other units. Cuirasses Company had one commander captain, 4 officers, 9 deputy-officers and 69 carabinieri.
In 1870, "Royal Guards Companies of the Palace" (Compagnie Guardie Reali del Palazzo) were dismantled and the "Carabinieri Guards of the King Squadron" (Squadrone Carabinieri Guardie del Re), also known as "Cuirassiers Squadron" (Squadrone Corazzieri), began the only division with the task to protect the Royal family.
Many Cuirassiers also joined the Italian resistance movement after the Badoglio Proclamation of 8 September 1943 and the escape of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, when they were left without orders.
Republic of ItalyEdit
On 13 June 1946, the last King, Umberto II of Italy, was exiled after the proclamation of the Republic and he freed the Cuirassiers from their oath to the Monarchy. The division was then renamed as the "3rd Mounted Carabineer Squadron" (3° Squadrone Carabinieri a Cavallo) and members wore new uniforms.
The squadron returned to the Quirinal on 11 May 1948, when the second president of Italy Luigi Einaudi restored the "Squadron of Carabineer Guards" (Squadrone Carabinieri Guardie) with the historical uniforms of 1876.
In 1961 the division was called "Squadrons Group" (Gruppo squadroni) and it was renamed "Carabineer Command of the Guards of the President of the Republic" (Comando Carabinieri Guardie del Presidente della Repubblica) in 1965.
In 1990 the division was transformed into the "Carabineer Regiment of the Guards of the Republic" (Reggimento Carabinieri Guardie della Repubblica) and it was officially renamed in "Cuirassiers Regiment" (Reggimento Corazzieri) on 24 December 1992 with a decree of the 9th President of Italy Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
The members of the Regiment, which are a specialized force of the Carabinieri, are distinguished by their uniforms and strict requirements needed to join the Regiment.
A Cuirassier has to be at least 190 cm tall, with a "harmonious" body, a strong resistance and athletic preparation, important qualities for the long shifts during which he must stand with austere immobility in every condition. Moreover, candidates have to have an undisputed personal and familiar morality and it is necessary to have excellent disciplinary and service records, demonstrated by at least six months of territorial service and as many months of traineeship in the Regiment (with a final exam).
Among the regiment there are snipers, martial artists, experts of personal defence and paratroopers. Cuirassiers must manage with expertise their vast range of equipment, known as "bottino" ("booty"), and they are trained to ride perfectly Irish Sport Horses and drive Moto Guzzi California cruisers, a means of complementary or alternative transport in daily services but also in many ceremonial services.
Being in charge to escort the President of the Republic, Cuirassiers have to be able to manage promptly many delicate operations characterized by a large public presence and by the need to ensure a discreet, but always effective, protection.
Cuirassiers use the same uniforms which were established in 1878 but with some slight differences. Lance corporals and brigadiers wear single-breasted horse jackets while marshals and officers wear the double-breasted ones. In special circumstances, for example during guard shifts or ceremonies in the Quirinal, Cuirassiers wear mess dress uniforms, helmets with chinstraps and horse hair crests. During particular honour services, like the Italian Republic Day on 2 June, the distinctive cuirasses of the regiment are worn.
Coat of armsEdit
The decree of the President of the Republic of 24 December 1986 had given a coat of arms for the Cuirassiers. It is a shield divided in two parts: on the left side, there are the colours representing the Italian capitals where the regiment had served (blue for Turin, silver for Florence and red for Rome) with a black eagle (symbol of the House of Savoy) above with the acronym "RI" (Repubblica Italiana), while on the right there is the coat of arms of the Arma dei Carabinieri. The shield is surmounted by a mural crown and it is sustained by two golden lions which bear the Italian Flag (left) and the Presidential standard (right).
Lions stand on a banner reading the Latin motto «VIRTUS IN PERICULIS FIRMIOR», which means "The courage becomes stronger than the peril".
The current coat of arms has been changed twice, in 1990 and in 1992, accordingly to the changes made on the Presidential standard.
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