A section devoted to questions and answers for this period.
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Hello does anyone know what this uniform description means of a Grenadier of the foot guards
They were dressed in Piebald, yellow and red and looked very fearsome indeed!
Now I know the red will be for the coats but what is piebald and yellow??
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Piebald is traditionally used to describe an animal (commonly a horse) with a coat of irregular patches of black and white. The non-black (usually brown) and white version being a skewbald. Both are refered to as a pinto in the US.
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Might it be the effect of yellow and red overall to a non military observer?
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God, War, Drink.
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This description never made much sense to me, I always imaged they wore fur caps the fur of which might be piebald. To go back to the original description from the diary of John Eveyln, from 1678;
Now were brought into service a new sort of soldier called Grenadiers, who were dexterous in flinging hand grenadoes, every one having a pouch full ; they had furred caps with coped crowns like Janizaries, which made them look very fierce, and some had long hoods hanging down behind, as we picture fools. Their clothing being likewise piebald, yellow and red
It could well be that he means clothes of red and yellow are "piebald" in the sense that they're a mix of two colours. Seems like a semicolon might have made more sense, but such is 17th century punctuation. All that is just speculation on my part though.
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You're right Clibinarium, 'piebald' is commonly used in early modern English simply to refer to something which has two colours and doesn't imply any particular pattern or mixing. Jesters ('fools') commonly wore piebald clothes hence Evelyn's thought train travelling from the hats to the cloth.