Cockade

From Academic Kids

A cockade is a rosette, knot of ribbons, or other symbol of distinctive colours which is usually worn on a hat.

Cockades of the French Revolutionaries

In the eighteenth century, it was pinned on the side of a man's tricorn or cocked hat, or on their lapel. Women could also wear it on their hat or in their hair. A cockade uses distinctive colors to show the allegiance of its wearer to some political faction, their rank, or as part of a servant's livery. In pre-revolutionary France, the cockade of the Bourbon dynasty was all white. The Hanoverian monarchy of Great Britain had one that was all black. But elsewhere and at other times there was more variety.

Cockades were widely worn by revolutionaries and proponents of various political factions in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. Distinctive colours and styles of cockade would indicate the wearer's faction -- although the meanings of the various styles were not entirely consistent, and varied somewhat by region and period.

Today, the term is often used to indicate the tricolour cockade in specific, which became a relatively common symbol of nationalism during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Cockades of the European Military

Also from the eighteenth century; European monarchies used cockades to denote the nationalities of their military. Ribbon-style cockades were worn on tricornes and bicornes just as the French did, and also on cocked hats and shakoes; metal cockades were worn at the right side of helmets; small button-type cockades were worn at the the front of kepis and peaked caps.

In particular, the Germans under the Kaiser used two cockades on each army headgear: one (black-white-red) for the empire; the other for the individual German provinces and kingdoms, which had used their own colors long before. The Weimar republic removed these, as they might promote faction which would lead to the dissolution of Germany into petty prinicpalities again. In the Second World War, the imperial or Kaiserliche colors of black on the outside, then white, and red on the inside were used on all army caps.

France began the first Air Force in 1910 and soon picked the traditional French cockade as the first national emblem on military aircraft. Later, other countries often took a cockade or a development of it as their own national emblem, painted on certain military airplanes:

  • from the inside to the outside blue, white and red on the French military planes (those from the French navy have a black anchor drawn upon the cockade);
  • from the inside to the outside red, white and blue on the British Royal Air Force planes. Strictly speaking this is not the British national cockade (for the traditional British cockade colour was plain black) but is the RAF roundel.
  • from the inside to the outside green, white and red on the Italian military planes.
  • The emblem on Japanese military aircraft, the hinomaru, was not a cockade as such, but comes from a different source. Nevertheless it was used as a cockade on civilian official's cocked hats before World War II.

Countries which expected to fight France and Britain took some other emblem so they would be recognized by their own forces.

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