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History of the Friborg Grenadier Contingent

Friborg (in Switzerland), founded in 1157 by Duke Berthold IV of Zaehringen, was, since its foundation, protected militarily by its bourgeois.

In the development of weapons over the centuries, the hand grenade appeared in 1634 and – from 1637 – Swiss soldiers, among others from Fribourg, were specially instructed in the use of this weapon in the Swiss regiments in the service of France.

The danger and the reach of the new weapons meant that the grenadiers became elite soldiers with a position of honor within the armies.

Grenadiers were also incorporated into the Friborg cantonal troops.

In 1798, troops of the French Revolution invaded Switzerland. When Napoleon withdrew his armies in 1803, the canton of Friborg (in Switzerland) reorganized its military protection. The Corps franc was created in 1804 and was equipped with the blue uniform – heritage of the old State Guard – with red lapels – heritage of the French Service – uniform that the Grenadiers of the Noble Contingent of Friborg still wear today today. These Friborg troops took an active part in protecting confederal neutrality in 1805, 1809, 1813 and 1815.

The highest feat of arms was, on June 1, 1814, the occupation of Geneva by troops from Friborg and Solothurn, in anticipation of French attacks against this city.

This mission entrusted by the Federal Diet was a mission of trust. “Perfectly trained” soldiers were required, subject to “rigorous discipline” and “experienced officers”.

The 1st Contingent was commanded by Lt-Colonel Louis Girard.

This occupation was one of the beginnings of the admission of Geneva into the Swiss Confederation.

During internal unrest, Friborg troops were successfully set up in 1830 in Fribourg, in 1831 in Basel, in Neuchâtel and in Valais in 1839.

The grenadiers then joined the federal troops in 1844.

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The 1914 Contingent

When the canton of Geneva celebrated, in 1914, the centenary of its membership of the Swiss Confederation, the Authorities of this canton invited the canton of Friborg to reconstitute a detachment of soldiers with the old blue uniforms of 1814.

Delighted with their participation in the festivities of 1914 in Geneva, certain members of this historic delegation decided in 1919 to reconstitute the Friborg Contingent, as a company responsible for maintaining the military traditions of the country of Fribourg.

The number of active members was set at a maximum of eighty, in memory of the eighty Friborg grenadiers who fell valiantly during the Tuileries massacre during the French Revolution of August 10, 1792 and for whom A. de Lamartine wrote: “These men had no for soul than discipline and for opinion than honor.”

The Contingent is made up of a Commander with his staff (Vice-commander, chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, officer at disposal, ensign, Swiss standard bearer, non-commissioned adjutant, sergeant-major and quartermaster), 6 sappers, a clique (20 fifes and drums) commanded by a drum major and three sections of 16 carrying flint guns, loaded through the orifice, model 1774/8, bayonets and sabers extracts from museums. They march and fire salvos according to the Friborg military regulations of 1790 and – following their magnificent flag – they participate in historical and military demonstrations in Switzerland and abroad.

They did honor to Switzerland and Fribourg, among others to Paris, Munich, Rome,  Calais, Troyes, Freiburg im Breisgau, Dijon, Rueil-Malmaison, Valence, Marengo, Argentina, Corsica, Monaco, Lourdes, Moscow and Uruguay to name only their main campaigns.

In the Charter of October 2, 1964, the Government of the canton of Friborg designated the Contingent as the “Guard of Honor of the Higher Authorities of the Canton of Fribourg” by decree of the Council of State.

Even today, the Contingent follows a rigorous organization. On the occasion of each campaign, the troop is set up in marching order and the demonstration invariably begins with the taking of the flag – a sign that the grenadiers are officially under military rule – and ends with the presentation of this same emblem. . In the first quarter of each year, the Taking of Arms Ceremony solemnly marks the start of the events to which the Contingent is invited; Periodically, the recipients (new active members) are promoted to “grenadier” during a ceremonial called “Passage under the flags” by swearing the motto of the Contingent.


"Honor and Loyalty"

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