Origins of "Turncoat"

#1
I know its meaning to be "traitor", but when was it first used?

SK

p.s the origins of the word not of the Rumration/Arrse member. :)
 
#2
It was originally used when soldiers turned their jackets inside-out when deserting as not to get shot by the enemy.

Not sure which war? Napoleonic possibly? Tried google?
 
#3
Found this......unfortunately it doesn't say any more.

turncoat - someone who changes sides - one of the dukes of Saxony, whose land was bounded by France and England had a coat made, reversible blue and white, so he could quickly switch his show of allegiance.
 
#4
Murphy_Slaw said:
Found this......unfortunately it doesn't say any more.

turncoat - someone who changes sides - one of the dukes of Saxony, whose land was bounded by France and England had a coat made, reversible blue and white, so he could quickly switch his show of allegiance.
(My bold italics)

How does that fit? It's geographically impossible for a German principality to have a common border with France (to the west) and England (much farther west).

Cheers,
Cliff.
 
#5
CliSwe said:
Murphy_Slaw said:
Found this......unfortunately it doesn't say any more.

turncoat - someone who changes sides - one of the dukes of Saxony, whose land was bounded by France and England had a coat made, reversible blue and white, so he could quickly switch his show of allegiance.
(My bold italics)

How does that fit? It's geographically impossible for a German principality to have a common border with France (to the west) and England (much farther west).

Cheers,
Cliff.
Go back far enough in history and you might find that it was possible.

Large bits of what are now France used to belong to the English crown, and where part of England.
 
#6
It comes from the Duke of Saxony in the 15th century who, according to legend, wore a reversible coat with the Saxon colors on one side and the French colors on the other so he could change his allegiance whenever he felt like it.

England was never mentioned so it might be one of the many geographially challenged septics who added that bit to colour the argument
 
#7
Some Saxony background and maps here:

http://www.tr62.de/maps/s2.html

Still hard to see how Saxony could be switching between England and France, but the state certainly grew, shrank and changed other allegiances dozens of times.

Possible that kings of England and France may have owned titles or possessions in the Saxony area at some time, but you'd have to be a don in medieval history to know exactly when.

Wasn't Hannover actually part of the United Kingdom until the early 19th century? The spams like to go on about Hannovarian mercenaries being used by the King in the War of independence, but technically they were actually British subjects.....
 

Sixty

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#8
Possibly not of Saxon origin:

King John Balliol (Toom Tabard)

1249 - 1313

Son of Devorguilla Balliol (c.1209-90) and father of Edward Balliol (c.1283 - 1364). One of several contenders for the Scottish throne, following the death of King Alexander III (1241-86), his claim won through and he was crowned at Scone in 1292. His epithet means turn-coat. To win the throne he had to pledge allegiance to the English King Edward I (1239 - 1307), but soon he found Edward's demands too much and forged the 'Auld Alliance' with France. Edward reacted by invading and the humiliating Balliol, who sued for peace at Stracathro in Angus. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but later released provided he went to France, where later died.
 
#9
Sixty said:
Possibly not of Saxon origin:

King John Balliol (Toom Tabard)

1249 - 1313

Son of Devorguilla Balliol (c.1209-90) and father of Edward Balliol (c.1283 - 1364). One of several contenders for the Scottish throne, following the death of King Alexander III (1241-86), his claim won through and he was crowned at Scone in 1292. His epithet means turn-coat. To win the throne he had to pledge allegiance to the English King Edward I (1239 - 1307), but soon he found Edward's demands too much and forged the 'Auld Alliance' with France. Edward reacted by invading and the humiliating Balliol, who sued for peace at Stracathro in Angus. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but later released provided he went to France, where later died.
Surely "TOOM TABARD" means "EMPTY COAT"
 

Sixty

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Book Reviewer
#10
You may well be right. Did seem to remember it was turn-coat or empty-coat depending on source but having had a quick look through my books, can't find a reference to turn-coat.

I blame having a leaky sponge-bag for a brain :D
 
#12
4(T) said:
Some Saxony background and maps here:

http://www.tr62.de/maps/s2.html

Still hard to see how Saxony could be switching between England and France, but the state certainly grew, shrank and changed other allegiances dozens of times.

Possible that kings of England and France may have owned titles or possessions in the Saxony area at some time, but you'd have to be a don in medieval history to know exactly when.

Wasn't Hannover actually part of the United Kingdom until the early 19th century? The spams like to go on about Hannovarian mercenaries being used by the King in the War of independence, but technically they were actually British subjects.....
No they were'nt, they were subjects of a geezer who also happened to be the KOE, not the same thing at all, otherwise we wouldn't have had Bismarck, ww1, ww2 etc
 
#13
TheSpecialOne said:
It comes from the Duke of Saxony in the 15th century who, according to legend, wore a reversible coat with the Saxon colors on one side and the French colors on the other so he could change his allegiance whenever he felt like it.

England was never mentioned so it might be one of the many geographially challenged septics who added that bit to colour the argument
Probably right, "gee, now let me see here Elmer, I reckon them Saxons musta bin in England, right? So anything to do with them Saxons is Briddish"
 
#14
And when we were "adventuring" on the Continent, the majority of our Infantry would have been wearing red. Blue and white were French colours, white worn by the Bourbons, blue by the Republic... Or Austrians who also wore white!
 
#15
CliSwe said:
Murphy_Slaw said:
Found this......unfortunately it doesn't say any more.

turncoat - someone who changes sides - one of the dukes of Saxony, whose land was bounded by France and England had a coat made, reversible blue and white, so he could quickly switch his show of allegiance.
(My bold italics)

How does that fit? It's geographically impossible for a German principality to have a common border with France (to the west) and England (much farther west).

Cheers,
Cliff.
He was a species of small cod.
 
#16
Hello,

red is the colour of the British army of Parliament,the old King's army wore blue or white,I forget which.

tangosix.
 
#17
Ok in British terminolgy I think its a civil war term

Troops were usually only issued their weapons and a coat and when captured they were often conscripted into the other sides army. On doing this until issued with the correct coat would wear theirs inside out showing the lining. So they literally turned their coats .

As to colours during the Civil Wars there was no established coat colour by which you could tell each side apart both sides had red, blue, yellow, green and grey coated units. To give you an example the Earl of Manchesters foot received coats of red lined green, green lined red and Grey in one issue and yet if you read a book they are called green coats. The New Model were clothed in Red eventually but this was a gradual proccess as it took time to re coat c 8,000 infantry.

As to Hanoverians the KOE from George 1st was also the Elector of Hanover. Hanover kept a seperate army

The Germans the Americans were reffering to were Hessians who were contract supply troops supplied by their Prince.

Hope this helps
 
#18
4(T) said:
Wasn't Hanover actually part of the United Kingdom until the early 19th century? The spams like to go on about Hanoverian mercenaries being used by the King in the War of independence, but technically they were actually British subjects.....
Not exactly. The Kingdoms of Hanover (or in Hanover's case Electorate, but same difference really) and Great Britain were in a personal union, this is where they're both still separate sovereign states with their own governments, laws and armies but they share the same head of state - in this case King or Queen.

George I was originally Elector of Hanover but Parliament decided that if and when the current King William III and his sister in law Princess Anne died without heirs his (George's) mother Sophia would inherit the throne, skipping around 50 closer candidates, since she was Protestant and they didn't want a Catholic to inherit. They both died without heirs and since his mother had already died he was offered the throne of Great Britain. So whilst he became King of Great Britain he was still separately Elector of Hanover as well.
 
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