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FRANCS-ARCHERS. The institution of the francs-archers was the first attempt at the formation of regular infantry in France. They were created by the ordinance of Montils-les-Tours on the 28th of August 1448, which prescribed that in each parish an archer should be chosen from among the most apt in the use of arms; this archer to be exempt from the taille and certain obligations, to practise shooting with the bow on Sundays and feast-days, and to hold himself ready to march fully equipped at the first signal. Under Charles VII. the francs-archers distinguished themselves in numerous battles with the English, and assisted the king to drive them from France, During the succeeding reigns the institution languished, and finally disappeared in the middle of the 16th century. The francs-archers were also called francs-taupins.

See Danlel, Histoire de la milice française (1721); and E. Boutaric, Institutions militaires de la France avant les armées permanentes (1863).