Origins of "Turncoat"

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by SKJOLD, Jan 28, 2008.

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


    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. (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).

  5. 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:

    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.....
  8. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    Possibly not of Saxon origin:

  9. Surely "TOOM TABARD" means "EMPTY COAT"
  10. Sixty

    Sixty LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. ARRSE Cyclists and Triathletes

    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. 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. 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. He was a species of small cod.