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Cocked hat, France, 1790-1831

This hat was worn by a military surgeon in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15) in which Napoleon Bonaparte attempted, unsuccessfully, to build an Empire in Europe. It was part of a colourful uniform with plenty of braid, buttons and buckles which would have become very unhygienic in the course of a military campaign. The brass medal on the front of the cocked beaver hat shows a snake coiled around a rod – the traditional symbol of medicine associated with Asklepios, the Greek and Roman god of healing.

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Glossary: hat

Shaped coverings for the head having a brim and crown, or one of the two.