Bicorne
Overview
 
The bicorne or bicorn is an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an and American military
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 and naval
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

. 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.
Descended from the tricorne
Tricorne
The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

, 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
Cockade
A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- or oval-shaped symbol of distinctive colors which is usually worn on a hat.-Eighteenth century:...

 in the national colours at the front.
Encyclopedia
The bicorne or bicorn is an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an and American military
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 and naval
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

. 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.

Historic use

Descended from the tricorne
Tricorne
The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

, 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
Cockade
A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- or oval-shaped symbol of distinctive colors which is usually worn on a hat.-Eighteenth century:...

 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.

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.

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
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 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.

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 but British colonial governors in temperate climates and governors general in some countries of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 (notably Australia, Canada and New Zealand) continued to wear bicornes with ceremonial dress until the second half of the twentieth century.

Current use

On formal occasions such as a prorogation speech, the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 wears a tricorne
Tricorne
The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

 hat, but the other Lords Commissioners
Lords Commissioners
The Lords Commissioners are Privy Counsellors appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom to exercise, on his or her behalf, certain functions relating to Parliament which would otherwise require the monarch's attendance at the Palace of Westminster...

 wear bicorne hats.

Members of the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

 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 Ecole Polytechnique
École Polytechnique
The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

 wear a bicorne as part of their Grand Uniforme (GU). Female students used to wear a tricorne hat
Tricorne
The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

 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 ("Ecole 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
Cadre Noir
The Cadre Noir is an equestrian display team based in the city of Saumur in western France. The troop was founded in 1828, and gets its name from the black uniforms that are still used today...

 in full dress uniform.

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

Diplomatic uniform
Diplomatic uniform
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 20th century, but diplomats from some countries retain them for...

s worn on such occasions as the presentation of credentials by ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

s normally included bicornes worn with feathers and gold or silver braiding. Until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 such uniforms were worn by even junior embassy staff but now survive only for ambassadors in a few long-established diplomatic service
Diplomatic service
Diplomatic service is the body of diplomats and foreign policy officers maintained by the government of a country to communicate with the governments of other countries. Diplomatic personnel enjoy diplomatic immunity when they are accredited to other countries...

s such as those of Britain, France, Belgium and Spain.

At the annual Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and the Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points...

 in London, British generals taking part in the ceremony wear the scarlet-and-blue full dress of their rank, which includes a bicorne. Certain officers of the Brigade of Guards
Brigade of Guards
The Brigade of Guards is a historical elite unit of the British Army, which has existed sporadically since the 17th century....

 who hold administrative positions such as that of quartermaster wear bicornes (described as cocked hats) in full dress instead of the usual bearskin
Bearskin
A bearskin is a tall fur cap, usually worn as part of a ceremonial military uniform. Traditionally, the bearskin was the headgear of grenadiers, and is still worn by grenadier and guards regiments in various armies.-Origins:...

.

Cocked Hat

"Cocked hat" is another name for the bicorne. As such it was a style of formal headgear, or hat, worn by certain civilian, military and naval officials from the early 19th century until the beginning of World War II.

In its most commonly seen form 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
Cockade
A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- or oval-shaped symbol of distinctive colors which is usually worn on a hat.-Eighteenth century:...

 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); the cocked hat was often trimmed with gold or silver bullion lace and tassels. Naval officers wore this hat without further decorations, but those worn by military and civilian officials might be lavishly decorated with coloured ostrich or swan feathers.

See also

  • List of hats and headgear
  • Chapeau
    Chapeau
    -Mainland Europe:"Chapeau" is a French term signifying a hat or other covering for the head. In mainland European heraldry, it is used as a mark of ecclesiastical dignity, especially that of cardinals, which is called the red chapeau...

  • Tricorne
    Tricorne
    The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

  • 1813 cartoon showing men with collapsible bicornes tucked under their arms
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