Jean-François Allard

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Portrait of Jean-François Allard, by Joseph-Désiré Court

Jean-François Allard (1785 - 1839) was a French soldier and adventurer.

Born in Saint Tropez, he became a soldier and was twice injured while serving in Napoleon's army. He was awarded the Légion d'honneur,[1] and promoted to Captain of the 7th Hussars. After Waterloo, he drifted around and went to Persia where he visited Abbas Mirza to propose his services. He was promised the position of a Colonel, but never actually received the troops corresponding to his function.[2][3] In 1820, Allard left for Punjab, where he in 1822 entered the service of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was commissioned to raise a corps of dragoons and lancers. On completion, Allard was awarded the rank of general, and became the leader of the European officer corps in the Maharaja's service.[citation needed]

General Allard with family. Sikh painting, 1838.[1]

Allard was a charming and gentle man, very different from some of the other European mercenaries in the Punjab. He also took the trouble learning Persian, and is said to have composed poetry in his new language.

In June 1834, Allard returned to France on leave, but returned 18 months later. He continued to serve the Maharaja until his death in 1839.

Another European taking service in the Punjab with Allard in 1822 was the Italian Jean-Baptiste Ventura. They were joined four years later by the Neapolitan Paolo Di Avitabile and the Frenchman Claude August Court.[1] A Spaniard, Oms, also served with them for a while. Together, these officers drilled the Sikh army into a formidable force.

Allard was awarded the Légion d'Honneur by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Bright Star of the Punjab by Ranjit Singh.[1]

Allard was also an amateur numismatist and contributed greatly to the early study of Ancient Indian coins.[4]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sikh art and literature by Kerry Brown p.43ff
  2. ^ John Gorton, A General Biographical Dictionary, p. 16
  3. ^ Chambers's encyclopaedia p.152
  4. ^ Proceedings of the Numismatic Society, 1836/1837-1838/1839 Royal Numismatic Society (Great Britain) p.71 [1]

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