(from French cavalier, “horseman,” and garde, “guard”), a special cavalry unit in the Russian guards from the 18th to the early 20th century; they were used as bodyguards and as honor guards at coronations and other celebrations.
The Kavalergardy were formed for the first time in 1724 at the coronation of Catherine I from officers of the guard and numbered 71 men. Later, from 1725 to 1731, and again from 1762 to 1796, the Kavalergardy formed the Kavalergardy Corps, numbering from 70 to 80 men. In 1797 the corps was increased to three squadrons but was soon deactivated. In 1799 the Kavalergardy were restored as the guards of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, a title assumed by Pavel I. Until 1800 the unit was recruited only from noble officers. In 1800 the Kavalergardy were transformed into a guards cavalry regiment composed of three squadrons, which were increased to five in 1804 and to six in 1813. The Kavalergardy fought in the war with France of 1805–07, in the Patriotic War of 1812, in the foreign campaigns of the Russian Army of 1813–14, in the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1830–31 and of the Hungarian revolution of 1848–49, and in World War I.