Author Topic: How tall was Napoleon  (Read 14724 times)


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Re: How tall was Napoleon
« Reply #15: March 15, 2014, 01:38:38 AM »
Disregarding the huge necro here:

During a recent lesson in my university by a guest professor we learned about a single regiment of the 'Chasseurs à Cheval' because of a sort of diary saved by the great-great grandfather of the professor.

In any case, recruitment for Napoleon's Grande Armée was done through drawing of lots of the commonfolk. If you had bad luck you'd be recruited. There were regulations as to who was and wasn't allowed t draw lots. In order to be eligible you had to be at least 21 years and not have a brother already in the army. (and some other details I can't remember)

Then, the recruits would be tested on physical condition at a recruitment center, where they were checked for any physical deficiences that'd prohibit combat. And they were measured. Any recruit shorter than 1.53m was immediately rejected. The shortest allowed recruits would join the infantry, the tallest would be sent towards the cavalry. The great great grandfather of our guest-professor was 1.72m, relatively tall, and was as a result sent to the light cavalry. (On an unrelated sidenote: of the 300 recruits that left Brabant with him, 15 returned, including our main character, hence the reason our guest-professor exists)

Now, to add perspective to this, and just because I like drama, about 1/3rd of the recruits was rejected for being too short. That'd mean the average lenght in that time would be somewhere around 1.60m - 1.65m , which'd mean Napoleon was a pretty tall guy.

Now I'm here wondering how I would have looked as a cuirassier, being 1.92m tall.


I'm not entirely sure about the age correctness, perhaps it only applied to the Brabantian recruits at that moment., as I found records of many younger soldiers. On the other hand, about soldier lenght, I found this:

The small but agile horses required shorter and lighter riders. Thus the hussars and chasseurs were the shorterst of all cavalrymen. The minimum height requirements were: for carabinier 179 cm, cuirassier 173 cm, dragoon 170 cm, and for the chasseur and hussar only 160 cm.

The actual average height of cavalrymen :
for 400 cuirassiers - heavy cavalry   
for 400 dragoons
for 300 chasseurs - light cavalry
for 600 hussars - light cavalry

Thus the average chasseur was 2 cm taller than the average hussar. However, the hussars more readily accepted the very tall and the very short (but physically strong) recruits than the chasseurs and dragoons. In terms of height the hussars were a mixed bag.
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« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 11:29:19 AM by Roran »