The bicorne or bicorn (two-cornered/horned or twihorn) is a historical form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by European and American military and naval officers. It is now most readily associated with Napoléon Bonaparte but in practice most generals and staff officers of the Napoleonic period wore bicornes, and it survived as a widely worn full-dress headdress until at least 1914.

Man's Bicorne LACMA M.2010.33.1 (1 of 4)
Early bicorne from France, c. 1790

Historic use

Left: Napoléon Bonaparte in his characteristic bicorne hat; Right: Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz wearing a bicorne

Detail from a painting of Napoleon
Alfred von Tirpitz-2

Descended from the tricorne, the black-coloured bicorne originally had a rather broad brim, with the front and the rear halves turned up and pinned together (in English, the shorter front brim was called "the cock"—hence "cocked hat"—and the longer rear brim was termed "the fan"), forming a semi-circular fan shape; there was usually a cockade in the national colours at the front. Later, the hat became more triangular in shape, its two ends became more pointed, and it was worn with the cockade at the right side. This kind of bicorne eventually became known in the English language as the cocked hat, although to this day it is still known in the French language as the bicorne.[

Worn in the side-to-side athwart style during the 1790s, the bicorne was normally seen fore-and-aft in most armies and navies from about 1800 on. This change in style coincided with the flattening out of the pronounced front peak of the original headdress. The French gendarmerie continued to wear their bicornes in the classic side-to-side fashion until about 1904 as do the Italian Carabinieri in their modern full dress.

Some forms of bicorne were designed to be folded flat, so that they could be conveniently tucked under the arm when not being worn. A bicorne of this style is also known as a chapeau-bras or chapeau-de-bras.

The bicorne was widely worn until World War I as part of the full dress of officers of most of the world's navies. It survived to a more limited extent between the wars for wear by senior officers in the British, French, US, Japanese and other navies until World War II but has now almost disappeared in this context.

In addition to its military/naval uses, the bicorne was widely worn during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by civilian officials in European monarchies and Japan, when required to wear uniforms on formal occasions. This practice generally ceased after World War I except in the context of diplomatic uniform. However British colonial governors in temperate climates and governors general in some countries of the Commonwealth (notably Australia, Canada and New Zealand) continued to wear bicornes with ceremonial dress until the second half of the twentieth century.

Cocked hat

Constable Dannatt
British Army cocked hat with General officer's plume, worn by Lord Dannatt, (Constable of the Tower).

By the twentieth century, the term cocked hat had come to be used more often than not in official UK usage (uniform regulations etc.) with reference to this shape of hat (particularly when worn as part of a uniform);[1] however, in the rare instances where hats were directed to be worn side-to-side ('athwarts') rather than front-to-back - e.g. by footmen in full state livery - the term bicorn tended to be preferred.

In its most commonly seen form at this time, the cocked hat was pinned up at two sides to form a hump-back bridge shape and was worn perpendicular to the shoulders, with the front end above the face and the back end over the nape. A cockade in the national colours might be worn at the right side (French tradition) and a plume might be attached to the top (British military c. 1800). Cocked hats were often trimmed with gold or silver bullion lace and tassels. Naval officers wore them without further decorations, but those worn by military and civilian officials might be lavishly decorated with coloured ostrich or swan feathers.

Current use

Bicorne hat Ecole Polytechnique
The full-dress uniform of École Polytechnique of France comprises black trousers with a red stripe (a skirt for women), a coat with golden buttons and a belt, and a cocked hat (officially called a bicorne).
Didier Burkhalter mit Weibel in Saignelégier
A state usher accompanying a federal councillor in Switzerland.

Members of the Académie française wear the habit vert (green habit) at the Académie's ceremonies. The habit includes a black jacket and a bicorne in the cocked-hat style, each embroidered in green.

Students at the École Polytechnique wear a bicorne as part of their Grand Uniforme (GU). Female students used to wear a tricorne hat but now also wear a bicorne. The bicorne also formed part of the historic black and red full dress of cadets at the French Military Medical School ("École de Sante des Armées") until this uniform was withdrawn in 1971, except for limited use on special occasions. The bicorne is still worn by the members of the Cadre Noir in full dress uniform.

The uniform of the horsemen of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna includes a bicorne.

Diplomatic uniforms worn on such occasions as the presentation of credentials by ambassadors normally included bicornes worn with feathers and gold or silver braiding. Until World War II such uniforms were worn by even junior embassy staff but now survive only for ambassadors in a few long-established diplomatic services such as those of Britain, France, Sweden, Belgium and Spain.

In the United Kingdom cocked hats continue to be worn by certain office-holders on special occasions:

In the Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree Knights of the Color Corps may wear regalia which includes a chivalric chapeau. The color of the plume denotes the office held by the wearer.

The Italian Carabinieri wear a bicorn with points sideways with their full dress uniform. The large tricolor cockade in front has given it the popular name of la "lucerna", the "lamp".

In Java, a cocked hat is still in use in the parade uniform of the Dhaeng and Ketanggung brigades; both are from Yogyakarta Sultanate. Since the end of the Java War, they no longer function as combat troops. This cocked hat is known in Javanese as mancungan hat, because of its shape like a pointed nose, mancung. Only used on special occasions, such as Grebeg and other cultural or ceremonial events held by the kraton (palace), the headgear came as a part of Western influence in Yogyakarta, during the reign of Sultan Hamengkubuwono IV.


Man's Walking Stick LACMA M.2007.211.831

French suit from 1790–1795 with a bicorne hat.


Horatio Nelson with his Bicorn hat (complete with Chelengk) in 1799.

Napoleon at the Great St. Bernard - Jacques-Louis David - Google Cultural Institute

Painting of Napoleon at the Great St. Bernard (1800) by Jacques-Louis David.

BemE StrashBylVr

Napoleon (The Enemy was terrible but God is merciful) by Elisabeth Bohm (1914 or earlier).

Almack's Longitude and Latitude

1813 cartoon showing men with collapsible bicornes tucked under their arms.

The Duke of Wellington on Copenhagen (1818) by Thomas Lawrence

The Duke of Wellington astride Copenhagen (1818) and his bicorn hat


Emperor Pedro II of Brazil with a bicorne under his arm, 1837.

Sir Edward H. Seymour 2

Sir Edward Seymour in 1911. Until 1956, Royal Navy officers in full-dress wore cocked hats.

Hermes da Fonseca (1910)

Marshal Hermes da Fonseca, former President of Brazil, wearing a bicorne, 1910.

Maestoso Basowizza & Oberbereiter Hausberger

Rider wearing a bicorne at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, 2006.

Military Knights of Windsor

Military Knights of Windsor wearing cocked hats, 2006.

Lord Mayor's Show, London 2006 (295521157)

Light Cavalry, Honourable Artillery Company (UK): the medical officer wears a cocked hat in place of the usual busby, 2006.

Steven Point BC

Windsor uniform cocked hat worn by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, 2009.

Lakeien Netherlands

Royal Footmen at The Hague, Netherlands, in 2010.

Mounted Police

The Commissioner of the City of London Police in full ceremonial uniform, 2012.

Anne of Great Britain (1950) June 2013

Anne, Princess Royal, as Colonel of the Blues and Royals at the Trooping the Colour in 2013.

Remembrance Sunday 2016 (25343449129)

The Governor of the Falkland Islands (centre) in 2016.

See also


  1. ^ E.g. Dress worn at Court, 1898ff, Lord Chamberlain's Office.
  2. ^ Mansfield, Alan D (1980). Ceremonial Costume: Court, Civil, and Civic Costume from 1660 to the Present Day. Barnes & Noble Books. p. 232. ISBN 978-0389201243.
  3. ^ "The Governor's Hat". Saint Helena Info. Retrieved 12 March 2018.

External links

Aegilops bicornis

Aegilops bicornis (syn. Aegilops bicorne (misapplied), Triticum bicorne Forsk.) is a species in the Poaceae family native to Palestine and the Levant.

Elsewhere this plant is commonly considered a weed.

For the hat, see Bicorne.
For the mythical beast, see Bicorn and Chichevache.

In geometry, the bicorn, also known as a cocked hat curve due to its resemblance to a bicorne, is a rational quartic curve defined by the equation

It has two cusps and is symmetric about the y-axis.

Bicorn and Chichevache

Bicorn and Chichevache are fabulous beasts that appear in European satirical works of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Bicorn is a creature—often described as a part-panther, part-cow creature with a human-like face—that devours kind-hearted and devoted husbands and (because of their abundance) is plump and well fed. Chichevache, on the other hand, devours obedient wives and (because of their scarcity) is thin and starving.

Blue beret

A blue beret is a blue-colored beret used by various (usually special) military and other organizations, notably the United Nations peacekeepers who are sometimes referred to as the Blue Berets.

Cavalry Stetson

The Cavalry Stetson is a Cavalry tradition within the United States Army.


"Chapeau" is a French term signifying a hat or other covering for the head. In mainland European heraldry, it is used as a mark of ecclesiastical dignity, especially that of cardinals, which is called the red chapeau. It is worn over the shield by way of crest, as mitres and coronets are.

A chapeau is flat, very narrow atop, but with a broad brim, adorned with long silken strings interlaced; suspended from within with rows of tassels, called by the Italians fiocchi, increasing in number as they come lower. The hat was given to them by Innocent IV in 1250, but was not used in arms till the year 1300. Until that time, the cardinals were represented with mitres.

Archbishops and patriarchs bore a green hat, with four rows of tassels; bishops wore the same color, but with three; abbots and apostolical prothonotaries with two.

The chapeau is also sometimes used as a mark of secular dignity, such as a cap, or coronet armed with ermine, worn by dukes, etc.

The crest is borne on the chapeau; and by the chapeau the crest and coat are separated; it being a rule that no crest must touch the shield immediately.

Some forms of bicorne were designed to be folded flat, so that they could be conveniently tucked underneath the arm when not being worn. A bicorne of this style is also known as a chapeau-bras or chapeau-de-bras (literally "arm-hat").

"Chapeau!" is often used as a generic expression of approval and appreciation in France and other parts of Europe: as a sign of admiration or respect, one shall indeed remove their hat. The expression is especially used as a sign of respect in the world of cycling, especially the Tour De France, as a way to show approval of a good performance.

Cocktail hat

A cocktail hat is a small, extravagant hat for a woman. It is usually a component of evening wear and is intended as an alternative to a large-brimmed hat. These hats are often decorated with beads, jewels or feathers, as well as a veil. They are closely related to fascinators, which are extravagant hairpieces worn on the side of the head.


The Doppa ((in Uzbek)), a square or round skullcap originating in the Caucasus and worn by Kazan Tatars, Uyghurs, Tajiks, Uzbeks. The Doppa means hat in Uzbek but however a baseball hat is not called a "Doppa" normally. The doppa is derived from a Turkic, more pointed, ancestral cap, which can be seen in some of the portraits of Jalaleddin Mingburnu.


Hovjägmästare in Sweden was a court official who supervised the Kungliga Hovjägeristaten at the Royal Court of Sweden and the royal hunting parks. The first hovjägmästare was originally the title of the head of the Kungliga Hovjägeristaten and later the title of any among the hovjägmästare. Today there is a hovjägmästare at the Royal Court of Sweden with the task of assisting in the planning of royal hunts. Hovjägmästare can be translated as Master of the Chase or Master of the Buckhounds and Överhovjägmästare can be translated as Grand Master of the Huntsmen.Hovjägmästare in Sweden has a uniform (equivalent to court uniform) consisting of a single row waffenrock of dark green cloth with gold galloon on the collar and cuffs, gilded buttons with the royal crown and the colonel's epaulettes (older model) with the head of state monogram; dark green trousers with gold galloon; gold belt with fringes; hirschfänger or sabre; white gloves and black bicorne with cockade and a green hanging plume. Överhovjägmästare and first hovjägmästare had the same uniform with general's insignia and bouillon tassels in the belt.

Italian Carabinieri Bands

Italian Carabinieri Bands (Banda dell’Arma dei Carabinieri) refers to the military/police bands that are a part of the Arma dei Carabinieri of the Italian Republic. These bands which serve at the Carabinieri's headquarters in the capital of Rome, are among the most famous musical groups in Europe. The bands perform in the corp's ceremonial uniform, which includes a distinctive black uniform made of silver braids, and a traditional two-pointed hat known as the Lucerna or a bicorne. Since 2000, the bands of the Carabinieri have been under the direction of Massimo Martinelli.


A karvalakki (Finnish: furry cap) is a cylinder-shaped, furry forage cap-styled hat typically worn in parts of Finland and Russia. Finnish TV presenter Hannu Karpo often wore a karvalakki on his show, Karpolla on asiaa.

In Finnish, the expression karvalakkimalli ("furry cap model") means a bare-bones, no-frills model, meaning the cheapest and most basic model that just works and does nothing extra. The term can also be used to describe anything that is very basic.

List of headgear

This is an incomplete list of headgear (that is, anything worn on the head), both modern and historical.

Mounteere Cap

Mounteere Cap (also known as a Montero Cap) is a type of cap formerly worn in Spain for hunting. It has a spherical crown and (frequently fur-lined) flaps able to be drawn down to protect the ears and neck.

Opera hat

An opera hat, also called a chapeau claque or gibus, is a top hat variant that is collapsible through a spring system, originally intended for less spacious venues, such as theatre and opera visits.

Typically made of satin in black colour, its advantage is that it folds vertically through a push or a snap on the top of the hat, in order to be conveniently stored in a wardrobe or under the seat. Invertably, it opens in the same one moment fashion by an easy push from underneath.

Polygonum pensylvanicum

Polygonum pensylvanicum (syn. Persicaria pensylvanica) is a species of flowering plant in the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae. It is native to parts of North America, where it is widespread in Canada and the United States. It has also been noted as an introduced species in parts of Europe and South America. Common names include Pennsylvania smartweed and pinkweed.

Rallier du Baty Peninsula

The Rallier du Baty Peninsula (French: Péninsule Rallier du Baty or Presqu'ile Rallier du Baty) is a peninsula of Grande Terre, the main island of the subantarctic Kerguelen archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean. It occupies the south-western corner of the island, and is about 35 km long, extending from north to south, and 25 km across at its widest. The 1,202 m high Bicorne rises in the southern coast of the peninsula. It is named for Raymond Rallier du Baty, a French sailor who charted the archipelago in the early 20th century. The Îles Boynes, France's southernmost land apart from Adélie Land in Antarctica, lie 30 km south of the tip of the peninsula.

Satyrium bicorne

Satyrium bicorne is a species of orchid endemic to southwestern Cape Province. It is the type species of the genus Satyrium.


A spodik (or spodek) is a tall fur hat worn by some Hasidic Jews, particularly members of sects originating in Congress Poland.


The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referred to as "cocked hats". At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne varied greatly in style and size, and was worn not only by the aristocracy, but also as common civilian dress, and as part of military and naval uniforms. Typically made from animal fiber, the more expensive being of beaver-hair felt and the less expensive of wool felt, the hat's most distinguishing characteristic was that three sides of the brim were turned up (cocked) and either pinned, laced, or buttoned in place to form a triangle around the crown. The style served two purposes: first, it allowed stylish gentlemen to show off the most current fashions of their wigs, and thus their social status; and secondly, the cocked hat, with its folded brim, was much smaller than other hats and therefore could be more easily tucked under an arm when going inside a building, where social etiquette dictated that a gentleman should remove his hat. Tricornes with laced sides could have the laces loosened and the sides dropped down to provide better protection from the weather, sun, and rain.Tricornes had a rather broad brim, pinned up on either side of the head and at the back, producing a triangular shape. The hat was typically worn with one point facing forward, though it was not at all unusual for soldiers, who would often rest a rifle or musket on their left shoulder, to wear the tricorne pointed above their left eyebrow to allow better clearance. The crown is low, unlike the steeple hats worn by the Puritans or the top hat of the 19th century.Tricornes ranged from the very simple and cheap to the extravagant, occasionally incorporating gold or silver lace trimming and feathers. In addition, military and naval versions usually bore a cockade or other national emblem at the front. This style of hat remains in use in a number of countries to the present day as an item of ceremonial dress.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.