Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Goan Portuguese

Well, here is a rather poor photo of my Portuguese units in India circa 1750.

I will, hopefully, have better quality pictures after Christmas of all my Portuguese troops. Still trying to work the camera out   : (    Again, the figures were painted by my friend Peter.

As far as I can ascertain, there were three infantry units at the time, although  in the 1740s there were more infantry units stationed in Goa.

In 1744/45 the Portuguese Governor of Goa was the Marquess of Alorna. He "demanded" that the European troops be uniformed as follows:

Green cloth for coats of both regiments and red for the cuffs ...and lining of the same colour for the jackets; for another cloth dark gold colour for the cuffs and ...lining of the same colour for the jackets.

Not only was green the colour of Braganza, the Portuguese Royal House, but also of Alorna.

The two infantry regiments appear to have been named the Regt do Coronel Dom Luiz Valadares Souto-Maior and Regt do Coronel D. Luiz Pierrepont in 1735, before being renamed the Regt de Infantaria da Guarnicao de Goa and Regt de Infantaria da Cidade de Goa in 1741. It also appears that the Pierrepont regiment was the senior unit. Change in title is unclear due to the loss of records in the archieves.

In 1735, both infantry units were in white jacket, waistcoat, breeches and turnbacks. The Pierrepont Regiment had red cuffs and the Souto-Maior blue cuffs.

In 1741, the Pierrepont (now 1st Regiment) had red cuffs and waistcoat. Souto-Maior (now the 2nd Regiment) had green, blue or yellow cuffs and waistcoat. Then came the Marquess' "regulations."

By 1783 the uniforms had changed again!

Gaiters were white in summer and black or gray in winter.

Colours/ standards are conjectural and I have been unable to locate any firm information. It would be common for at least one Royal colour to be carried, although there are references to Portuguese units at home carrying multiple colours of uncertain design.

Kronoskaf (from where I have copied the above flag) has further information at

There was also the Bardez Regiment, composed of the "Portuguese of India." Essentially, these troops were of mixed race, or Christianised Indians. The Marquess required them to be uniformed in blue cloth with red turnbacks and cuffs.

There were no trained or uniformed sepoy units at this time. There were, however, "auxillary" units, equipped in native style and variously armed with matchlock, bows and other native weapons.

In regards to cavalry, there was only one unit of Portuguese cavalry in Goa at this time, the Presidential Guard. It probably never exceeded 80 troopers.

Again, the Marquess had ordered that the Guards be uniformed in red cloth. An illustration by Mr Manuel Rodrigues, who has inspected numerous contemporary records, depicts them as follows:

Yep, curassiers! It must have been quite uncomfortable in the cuirass in the Indian heat.

Artillery was also to be uniformed in blue with red cuffs and turnbacks.

I am indebted to Mr Rodrigues, Portuguese military historian for this information.  Between 1990 and 2000 Mr Rodrigues inspected archieves at Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Malacca, Goa, Diu, Daman, Brazil, Malta, Macau. France, England, Spain Morocco, Belgium, Italy and Germany!


  1. Nice mate, how are you coming along with the sepoys?

  2. shouldn't the white colour be to the right of the c0loured colour..and yes a very terrible picture..

  3. Probably not for the Portuguese - the green/white flag is in the colours of Braganza. This was the flag that the regulations prescribed. The white is hypothetical(ok, made up), Colonel's having a lot of leeway to design their own.

  4. Hawkwood, I seem to have deleted your post.Sorry. Facing colour is a great idea. I will consider getting the whites repainted as suggested

  5. I am not sure about the cavalryman cuirass. Portuguese cavary didn´t use the cuirass in Europe, so why to use it in India?
    About flags, is possible that portuguese infantry battalions carried two flags: one royal flag, probably white and green (I did a similar design as from Kronoscaf years ago, for my paper on the portuguese army), and a coronela flag, that was choosen byn the coronel.

    Emilio Moskowich.

  6. Emilio,

    I understand that the cuirass was quite effective protection against native weapons encountered. I have also read that the cuirass could be worn by officers in Europe, if they so wished. Some did, some didn't.

    Secondly, Europeans in India had to impress the local rulers. The French were good at it, particularly Dupleix. Pomp and ceremony were an important part of showing one's power. A cuirass on the Governor's Guard may be part of that.

    Dupleix, whenever he left the Governor's residence, did so with a large entourage and riding an elephant. Doing so placed him on an equal level with the native rulers.


  7. "Between 1990 and 2000 Mr Rodrigues inspected archives at Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Malacca, Goa, Diu, Daman, Brazil, Malta, Macau. France, England, Spain Morocco, Belgium, Italy and Germany!"

    And yet he didn't come to Petersham, aka Little Portugal, to try the flat chicken.

    A rare oversight, I'll wager.

    PCC the Apathostic