— Jean Froissart, Chronicles, Ch 2
To the untrained eye, there is little to distinguish the Gendarmes from Noble Knights who still form the core of any European heavy cavalry corps - they still carry the same weapons (lances, swords and axes) and the same armour. However, deep down there are two distinct differences: the Gendarmes continues the French tradition of fast-moving, hard-hitting heavy cavalry. Enhanced speed and more devastating attack means that French heavy cavalry can even be used to flank and even ride down dispersed infantry whereso needed. In the Imperial Era, this could be a godsend, especially against arquebus-heavy nations, since it would mean that Gendarmerie (like all unique cavalry units) can take down the offending gunners before suffering too much damage themselves.
Even so, all this would be laughable were it not for one major advantage — the upgrade time for these units are very, very fast. While your opponent would still be charging around with plain vanilla Knights, you might be on the way to obtaining the new Gendarmerie. Having a better unit faster than your opponents could be of utmost importance, especially in the late game where technology becomes all the more important.
It was in France that the first non-noble cavalrymen of the modern era were introduced. At the parlement of 1439, Charles VII issued an ordinance to establish the creation of gendarmes d'ordonnance, or armed companies consisting of cavalry and mounted infantry. At the head of each company was a knightly cavalryman, followed by several other followers, including medium cavalry and archers. The difference between this new practice and that of feudal custom was that the companies were not disbanded and continued to be salaried during peacetime, forming the core of one of Europe's first modern standing armies. With the onset of gunpowder and improvements in firearms technology, however, the gendarmes in France began losing their focus as heavy cavalry and eventually became lighter and by their dissolution in the late 18th century, were instead kitted out with pistol and sword. With the advent of the French revolution, the term was soon applied to citizen cavalry troopers specialised in keeping law and order like the "yeoman cavalry" of Britain.
- Faster and more devastating heavy cavalry unit.
- The Quick and the Dead — The speed and attack of Gendarmes make them extremely well-disposed towards "disposing" of arquebusiers — although gunpowder units en masse can easily harm them.
- Hammer and Anvil — Given their better speed and attack, use these units to flank and even ride down dispersed infantry whereso needed.
- Bulletproof — As the Gendarme is a unique heavy cavalry unit, it takes reduced damage from non-naval gunpowder units.