Mestre de camp

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Mestre de camp or Maître de camp (French pronunciation: ​[mɛtʁ də kɑ̃], camp-master) was a military rank in the Ancien Régime of France, equivalent to colonel. A mestre de camp commanded a regiment and was under the authority of a Colonel General, who commanded all the regiments in one "arme". The rank also existed in Portugal and Spain, as mestre de campo.

When the role of infantry colonel general was abolished in 1661, the mestre de camp took the title of colonel. The cavalry regiments, on the other hand, remained under the authority of a colonel general, were commanded individually by mestres de camp up until the French Revolution. Like the rank of captain, the rank of mestre de camp was "vénale", that is, it could be purchased and/or handed on to another man without hindrance. Consequently, precocious rejects from the high aristocracy could accede to the rank at a very young age and thus be in a good position to obtain promotions (by seniority) to the rank of brigadier.

The rank of mestre de camp was demonstrated by wearing a pair of épaulettes with gilded or silver fringes.

The rank was abolished at the Revolution and replaced by that of chef de brigade.

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