The Spanish army was early in using uniforms. In 1663 the tercio got this uniform, worn until the early 80's
The tertio de Sevilla , also known as morados viejos (the old purples) is claimed to be the origin of the oldest unit of the Spanish army. The discussion about the origins is very hot, there are many dates and lineages given. One version gives February 27, 1668, that by order of the then Queen Regent the name tertio provincial de Sevilla was given to the tercio de Castilla. That tertio was a former guard unit, probably converted into a line unit in 1662.
The guard unit is said to be formed in 1634 when King Philip IV ordered the formation of a coronelia of 2.500 to 3.000 veteran soldiers. This unit of tertio size was to precede the rest of the forces. In 1640 (or 1642) the unit got the guards title and a new organisation in 5 companies an 80 horse. In 1701 the unit, now officially known as the Tercio Viejo de los Morados, was summoned to Barcelona by Philip V to become the core of a new permanent division of 6.000 Spanish infantry. In 1707 the name changed to Castilia regiment and the coat colour changed to white. .In 19th century it became the 1st regiment.
The origin of the purple uniform colour too is open to discussion. Some claim the guard connection , other the purple banner of Castilia. In the early 1680’s the uniform style changed, the front lapels disappeared.
Another version claim 1663 as year of origin of the tertio Sevilla and that in 1663 the new five provincial tercios in Spain got the first official uniforms. (Tercio Provincial de Burgos, Tercio Provincial de Sevilla, Tercio Provincial de Valladolid, Tercio Provincial de Madrid and Tercio Provincial de Toledo)
The Tercios of the Army of Flanders and of Italy still should have 15 companies of 200 men (~ 3.000 men) in 1672 . The Tercio from the Iberic peninsula had in theory 12 companies of 250 men.(~ 3.000 men), the five provincial ones 16 companies with 1119 men and officers.
But most tercios had more or less companies. (11-27 companies) . The reality for the five provincial tercios in a review of 1667 gives only 618 men per tercio but an average of 18 companies (from 16 to 21 companies) In the battle of Estremoz 1663, the Spanish Army had 11.120 infantrymen from 15 Spanish Tercios with 202 companies (13,5 companies per Tercio), 5 Italian Tercios with 58 companies and 3 German Tercios with 26 companies. In total 286 companies with an average of 39 men per company
(In 1690 the tercio should have 12 companies of 6 officers and 60 men. 6 companies forming a battalion. The last reform in 1698 in Flanders reduced the tercio to 12 companies of 36 men)
grant wrote:Awesome! Always good, and always a history lesson!
So some more?
The Spanish word tercio means “third” and there are many different modern explanations why that word was used for these Spanish units. In my opinion there is only one convincing. In 1534 the Spanish army in Italy combined the independent companies into three brigade size units, comparable to the three battles of the traditional battle order since medieval times. So each of these units was a third of the force, a tercio. These first three tercios are named Lombardia, Sicilia and Napoles.
The first mentioning of these large Spanish units is from 1534. Interestingly the French started a year earlier to form legions.
It is important to distinguish between the tercio and the tactical formation of the same name. The first is a permanent organisation of soldiers. Modern authors vary to name the infantry tercio a regiment or a brigade. Being a permanent unit regiment would seem more appropriate, even if the size compares to a modern brigade. The name tercio was not limited to infantry, permanent Spanish cavalry units got named tercio too.
The second is the tactical use on the battlefield, normally a hollow block of pikemen / piqueros (the cuadro) surrounded by a screen of long range troops with mobile units of more long range missile troops (mangas ~ sleeves) . The long range missiles comprised at first black powder / arcabuccero and crossbow / ballastero men, later musketeers and arkebusiers Before the introduction of the tercio of pikemen the Spanish swordsman with his espada / sword and buckler became famous in Europe. The Spanish tertio included only up to 8 alarbarderos with the German Hellebarde polearm served as maestro de campo’s guard. The standard representation in plans are four mangas, positioned at the corners of the cuadro.
The tactical tercio was copied by other armies, they formed it from regiments or companies. But even the Spanish tactical tertio was formed from more than one organisational tertio if not enough men are present.
The Spanish military organisation in 17th century was based in war and peace on the Captain General of a province , an infantry tercio formed in a district. Most tercios are named after the commanding maestro de campo. Similar to regiments of other nations or later times he also commanded the first company. The flag of the company was selected by the captain and the one of the first company was also the flag of the tercio.
Apart from the Spanish national tercio there was also the tercio of the “army of different nations”. The typical “Spanish” tercio in TYW was recruited in Italy and marched over the “Spanish alley “along the Rhine north. (17th century Spanish and Austrian policy focussed around the safety of that route) Other tercios are recruited in the Walloon provinces or among German, English and Irish mercenaries.
Throughout its history the form and composition of the tercio was never static as it evolved to meet the new challenges. Post TYW the tactical formation of the tercio changed from the massive tactical tercio to a linear formation with pikes in centre and wings of musketeers and flintlocks. Shortly post 1700 the tercios are converted into regiments. In fact the change was insignifant, the traditional number of around 3.000 men has officially reduced to 500 men in the 1690’s.. And in war most tercios hardly reached a 1.000 men long before. The main difference is in the number of companies and officers and the change to the musketeer only unit.
The "lessons" are extracts from my own external brain. No need to learn all that stuff if you can store the informations on paper. Yes paper, I prefer the old way.
I use to write together all informations I find for later use. So I did regimental lists for the armies of the 1672 war. Including the names of the colonels, dress informations, battle participation. The Dutch regimental list 1672-79 alone has 16 pages......
I collect informations, much more than I collect "hardware". But all the books, hard to believe but the book storage became much more complicated than the IO miniatures storage.
In the moment I'm preparing a Dutch cavalry regiment. Based and primed. And a story of duelling and ....