Brigade - Origin

Origin

The brigade was invented as a tactical unit by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. It was introduced during the Thirty Years' War to overcome the lack of coordination between normal army structure consisting of regiments by appointing a senior officer. The term derives from Italian brigata, as used for example in the introduction to The Decameron where it refers only to a group of ten, or Old French brigare, meaning "company" of an undefined size, which in turn derives from a Celtic root briga, which means "strife".

The so-called "brigada" was a well mixed unit, comprising infantry, cavalry and normally also artillery, designated for a special task. The size of such "brigada" was a reinforced "company" of up to two regiments. The "brigada" was the ancient form of the modern "task force".

This was copied in France by General Turenne, who made it a permanent standing unit, requiring the creation in 1667 of a permanent rank of brigadier des armées du roi (literally translating to brigadier of the armies of the king) which would in time be renamed simply Général de brigade (but would still be referred to occasionally as brigadier for short).

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