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Pelisse: Wikis


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A woman's fur-lined pelisse in a fashion plate from Ackermann's Repository, 1811.
A British hussar officer (ca. 1809) wearing a military pelisse slung over the shoulder

A pelisse was originally a short fur lined or fur trimmed short jacket that was usually worn hanging loose over the left shoulder of hussar light cavalry soldiers, ostensibly to prevent sword cuts. It was fastened there using a lanyard. In cold weather it was worn over a stable jacket or shell jacket, but at all other times it was worn loose over the left shoulder over a jacket of similar style but without the fur lining or trim called a dolmen jacket. The appearance of the pelisse jacket was characteristically very short, extremely tight fitting (when worn), with patterns sewn with bullion lace on the back, cuffs, and collar. The front distinctively featured several rows of parallel frogging and loops, and either three or 5 lines of buttons. For regular officers this frogging was generally of gold bullion lace, silver for Yeomanry, and various colours for other ranks, but that varied from unit to unit and country to country. The style originated with the Hussar mercenaries of Hungary in the 17th Century. As this type of light cavalry unit became popular, so to did their Eastern fashion. In the 19th century pelisses were in use throughout all armies in Europe, and even North and South America. The prevalence of style began to wane towards the end of the 19th Century, but was still in use by some units up until World War I.

Ladies fashion

In early 19th-century Europe, when military clothing was often used as inspiration for fashionable ladies' garments, the term was applied to a woman's long, fitted coat with set-in sleeves and the then-fashionable Empire waist. Although initially these Regency-era pelisses copied the Hussars' fur and braid, they soon lost these initial associations, and in fact were often made entirely of silk and without fur at all. They did, however, tend to retain traces of their military inspiration with frog fastenings and braid trim.

A slightly later pelisse without fur from Observateur des Modes, 1818.

Pelisses lost even this superficial resemblance to their origins as skirts and sleeves widened in the 1830s, and the increasingly enormous crinolines of the 1840s and '50s caused fashionable women to turn to loose mantles, cloaks, and shawls instead.


  • Myerly, Scott Hughes, (1996). British Military Spectacle: From The Napoleonic Wars Through The Crimea. Cambridge, Massachusetts- London, England: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674082494.  
  • Orbis Books, (1973). Military uniforms: the splendour of the past. London, England: orbis books. ISBN 0856131369.  

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PELISSE (through the Fr. from 'Lat. pellicia: sc. vestis, a garment made of fur, pellis, skin), properly a name of a cloak made of or lined with fur, hence particularly used of the furtrimmed "dolman" worn slung from the shoulders by hussar regiments. The word is now chiefly employed as the name of a long-sleeved cloak of any material worn by women and children.

Pelissier, Aimable Jean Jacques (1794-1864), duke of Malakoff, marshal of France, was born on the 6th of November 1794 at Maromme (Seine Inferieure), of a family of prosperous artisans or yeoman, his father being employed in a powdermagazine. After attending the military college of La Fleche and the special school of St Cyr, he in 1815 entered the army as sub-lieutenant in an artillery regiment. A brilliant examination in 1819 secured his appointment to the staff. He served as aide-de-camp in the Spanish campaign of 1823, and in the expedition to the Morea in 1828-29. In 1830 he took part in the expedition to Algeria, and on his return was promoted to the rank of chef d'escadron. After some years' staff service in Paris he was again sent to Algeria as chief of staff of the province of Oran with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and remained there till the Crimean War, taking a prominent part in many important operations. The severity of his conduct in suffocating a whole Arab tribe in the Dahra or Dahna caves, near Mustaganem, where they had taken refuge (June 18, 1845), awakened such indignation in Europe that Marshal Soult, the minister of war, publicly expressed his regret; but Marshal Bugeaud, the governor-general of Algeria, not only gave it his approval, but secured for Pelissier the rank of general of brigade, which he held till 1850, when he was promoted general of division. After the battles of October and November 1854 before Sevastopol, Pelissier was sent to the Crimea, where on the 16th of May 1855 he succeeded Marshal Canrobert as commander-in-chief of the French forces before Sevastopol (see Crimean War). His command was marked by relentless pressure of the enemy and unalterable determination to conduct the campaign without interference from Paris. His perseverance was crowned with The legend was commonly believed in the middle ages. Epiphanius, bishop of Constantia, in his Physiologus (1588), writes that the female bird, in cherishing her young, wounds them with loving, and pierces their sides, and they die. After three days the male pelican comes and finds them dead, and his heart is pained. He smites his own side, and as he stands over the wounds of the dead young ones the blood trickles down, and thus are they made alive again. The pelican "in his piety" - i.e. in this pious act of reviving his offspring - was a common subject for 15th-century emblem books; it became a symbol of self-sacrifice, a type of Christian redemption and of the Eucharistic doctrine. The device was adopted by Bishop Fox in 1516 for his new college of Corpus Christi, Oxford. - [H.

success in the storming of the Malakoff on the 8th of September. On the 12th he was promoted to be marshal. On his return to Paris he was named senator, created duke of Malakoff (July 22, 1856), and rewarded with a grant of ioo,000 francs per annum. From March 1858 to May 1859 he was French ambassador in London, whence he was recalled to take command of the army of observation on the Rhine. In the same year he became grand chancellor of the Legion of Honour. In 1860 he was appointed governor-general of Algeria, and he died there on the 22nd of May 1864.

See Marbaud, Le Marechal Pelissier (1863); Castille, Portraits historiques, 2nd series (1859).

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