Its origin is a hat that became fashionable in France in the 18th century

The history of the tricorn, the characteristic and famous headwear of the Spanish Civil Guard

The Civil Guard is a Spanish armed institute that carries out security functions together with the National Police Corps.

The colors of the berets of the different units of the Spanish Army
The distinctive garments of the regulars of the Spanish Army explained by two soldiers

Founded in 1844, the Civil Guard is the oldest Spanish police force with continuity over time. Its 180 years of history have given rise to various characteristics and traditions within the body that today are part of Spanish popular culture. Without a doubt, one of the most famous elements of the Civil Guard is the tricorn.

The three-cornered hats used by the Civil Guard between 1844 and 1854, today used with historical uniformity in some celebrations (Photo: Guardia Civil).

In its origins, this headwear was called a three-cornered hat. In fact, no official document of the Civil Guard refers to it as a "tricorn", using the expression "three-cornered hat" or simply "hat". Its origin was the wide-brimmed hats used in Spain in the 18th century, which were folded upwards forming a hat similar in appearance to the current one. It was a fashion that spread from France to other countries at that time. In fact, the name of this hat comes from the French "trois cornes" (three horns).

A civil guard with the uniform used in the mid-19th century (Photo: Guardia Civil).

The Ministry of Defense of Spain explains the beginnings of this hat as follows: "From 1844 to 1860 the brimmed hat was made up of a front and a back brim that folded over the crown and was kept up thanks to a button located on the front blade. In 1860 the previous blade was considerably reduced. Already in 1866 it took a shape similar to that of our days and it is, between 1873 and 1922, when its use was authorized with a summer cover made of white canvas, or a winter cover made of black rubber, in unpopulated and highway service, as well as in the town in case of rain or snow since being made of felt it was complicated to maintain its cleanliness."

A civil guard in 1941. The tricorn hat was larger than the current one (Photo: Guardia Civil).

In 1899 the Civil Guard began to use the cork tricorn, like the current one, "where its use was authorized voluntarily in previous cases and the felt one was left for occasions when those that had to be carried without a cover," says the Ministry of Defense. This tricorn has changed in size over time. In 1922 the white felt cover was replaced by another greenish-gray one. Finally, "in 1989 the current model was reached, consisting of a cork armor and the now characteristic patent leather outer lining. which constitutes a single piece."

Riders of the Civil Guard Cavalry Squadron wearing their gala tricorns (Photo: Guardia Civil).

In addition to that tricorne covered in patent leather, the Civil Guard points out that in The current "the gala tricorn is also regulatory, similar to the original felt but adapted to current measurements", a garment that is reserved for formal uniformity and great label, the Cavalry Squadron and the Young Guards of the Valdemoro School, for grand gala uniforms.

The tricorn hat with patent leather lining currently used by the Civil Guard.

A few days ago, the Ministry of Defense published an interesting video that briefly reviews the history of the tricorn hat, showing historical and current images of this famous headwear (the video is in Spanish, you can activate the automatic English subtitles in the bottom bar of the player):


Main photo: Guardia Civil.

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