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Wikipedia

Not to be confused with Spanish Army.
For the bullfighting term, see Spanish-style bullfighting. For a more general article on early combined arms practices, see Pike and shot.

A tercio (pronounced ; Spanish for "[a] third") was a military unit of the Spanish Army during the reign of the Spanish Habsburgs in the early modern period. The tercios were renowned for the effectiveness of their battlefield formations, forming the elite military units of the Spanish Monarchy. They were the essential pieces of the powerful land forces of the Spanish Empire, sometimes also fighting with the navy. The Spanish tercios were a crucial step in the formation of modern European armies, understood as made up of professional volunteers, instead of levies raised for a campaign or hired mercenaries typically used in other European countries of the time.[citation needed]

Surrender of Breda, by Velázquez, shows Ambrosio Spinola (at right), commander of a Spanish tercio, receiving the keys to the city from a defeated Dutch general in 1625.
Spanish Tercios
Founded1 January 1534; 488 years ago (1534-01-01) (name appearance)
CountrySpain
See details
TypeArmy
RoleLand warfare
Part ofSpanish Armed Forces
PatronCharles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Philip II of Spain
Philip III of Spain
Philip IV of Spain
Charles II of Spain
Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Motto(s)Spain my nature, Italy my fortune, Flanders my grave
EquipmentArquebuses, muskets, and pikes
Commanders
Gran CapitánGonzalo Fernández de Córdoba
ComandanteJohn of Austria
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Field Master of NavarreJosé de Elío y Ayanz de Navarra de Esparza Artieda y Vélaz de Medrano
Insignia
War flag

The tercios' internal administrative organization, and their battlefield formations and tactics, grew out of the innovations of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba during the Italian Wars. The tercios marked a rebirth of battlefield infantry comparable to the Macedonian phalanxes and the Roman legions. From the victory in Pavia (1525), and on to a period of over a century, their position as the finest infantry in Europe was built upon their professional training and high proportion of "old soldiers" (veteranos), in conjunction with the particular elan imparted by the lower nobility who commanded them. In addition, they were among the first to effectively mix pikes and firearms (arquebuses). The tercios were replaced by regiments in the early eighteenth century.

From 1920, the name of tercio was given to the formations of the newly created Spanish Legion; professional units then created to fight colonial wars in North Africa, similar to the French Foreign Legion. These formations are actually regiments bearing the name of tercio as an honorary title.

Contents

Tercios disembarking, 1583

During the war in Granada, the soldiers of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain were divided into three classes: pikemen (modelled after the Swiss), swordsmen with shields, and crossbowmen supplemented with the first portable firearms.[citation needed] As shields disappeared and firearms replaced crossbows, Spain won victory after victory in Italy against powerful French armies, beginning under the leadership of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (b. 1453 – d. 1515) nicknamed El Gran Capitán (The Great Captain).[citation needed] The military organizational and tactical changes made by de Córdoba to the armies of Spanish monarchs are seen as the precursors of the tercios and their methods of warfare.[citation needed] The combat effectiveness of the Spanish pike and shot armies pioneered by de Córdoba was based on an armament system that effectively united the pike with the compact firepower of the arquebus. An advantage of the Spanish pike and shot formation over the Swiss compact frame that had inspired it was in its ability to divide into mobile units and even individual melee without the loss of cohesion.[citation needed]

Initially, the tercio denoted not a combat unit, but an administrative unit under a general staff, commanding garrisons throughout Italy for battles on various distant fronts. This peculiar character was maintained when it mobilized to fight the Protestant rebels in Flanders. Command of a tercio and its companies of soldiers was granted directly by the king, and companies could easily be added or removed and moved to and from other tercios.[citation needed] By the middle of the 17th century, the tercios began to be raised by nobles at their own expense, patrons who appointed the captains and were effective owners of the units, as in other contemporaneous European armies.

From the conquest of Granada (1492) to the campaigns of the Great Captain in the kingdom of Naples (1495), three ordinances laid the foundations of the Spanish military administration. In 1503 the Great Ordinance reflected the adoption of the long pike and the distribution of infantry in specialized companies.[citation needed] In 1534 the first official tercio was created, that of Lombardy, and a year later it helped in the conquest of the Duchy of Milan. The Tercios of Naples and Sicily were created in 1536, thanks to the Genoa ordinance of Charles V.

At the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547, the imperial troops of Charles V defeated a league of Protestant princes in Germany thanks, above all, to the action of the Spanish tercios.[citation needed] In 1557 the Spanish army completely defeated the French at the Battle of San Quentin, and again in 1558 at Gravelines , which led to a peace greatly favoring Spain. In all these battles, the effectiveness of the tercio units stood out.

The origin of the term tercio is doubtful. Some historians believe the name was inspired by the tercía, a Roman Legion of Hispania. Some think that it designated the threefold division of the Spanish forces in Italy. Others trace it to the three types of combatants (pikemen, harquebusiers, musketeers). According to an ordinance for "people of war" of 1497, where the formation of the infantry is changed into three parts.

The pawns [the infantry] were divided into three parts. The one tercio with spears, as the Germans brought them, which they called pikes; and the other had the name of shields [people of swords]; and the other, of crossbowmen and spit bearers. [later replaced by arquebusiers]

Yet others derive the name from the three thousand men mustered in the first units. This last explanation is supported by the field master Sancho de Londoño in a report to the Duke of Alba in the 16th century:

The tercios, although they were instituted in imitation of the [Roman] legions, in few things can be compared to them, that the number is half, and although formerly there were three thousand soldiers, for which they were called tercios and not legions, already it is said like this even if they don't have more than a thousand men.

A bastioned square in battle

Although other powers adopted the battle formations and tactics perfected by the tercios, their armies fell short of the fearsome reputation of the Spanish army, which possessed a core of experienced professional soldiers. This army was further supplemented by "an army of different nations", a reference to the varied origins of the troops from the German and Italian states and the Spanish Netherlands and smaller units from other countries such as Ireland. In 1621, for example, of the 47 military units of the Spanish army, counting together the larger Spanish, Spanish Netherlands and Italian tercios, and the much smaller German, Burgundian and Irish regiments, only seven were manned by troops of Spanish origin.Such international musters were characteristic of European warfare before the levies of the Napoleonic Wars. However, the core Spanish troops were Spanish subjects, admired for their cohesiveness, superior discipline and overall professionalism.

Organization

Initially, each tercio that served in Italy and the Spanish Netherlands was organized into:

  • 10 companies of 300 soldiers each led by captains, in which
    • 8 were pikemen's companies and
    • 2 were of arquebusier companies

The companies were later reduced to 250 men and the ratio of arquebusiers (later musketmen) to pikemen steadily increased.

During the early actions in the Netherlands, the tercios were reorganized into three coronelias ("colonelcies"), led by coronels ("colonels") each composed of a headquarters unit and four companies each (the predecessor of today's battalions), but as a whole continued to be subdivided into the same 10 companies of 250 personnel each: two of arquebusiers and 8 of pikemen. Colonels were also of royal appointment.

Staff

Organization of a tercio
Schematic depiction of the pikemen's combat drill.

Company

Leadership of the tercio

Officers of a tercio: an alabardero, alférez and arcabucero

Similar to military organization today, a tercio was led by a maestre de campo (commanding officer) appointed by the king, with a guard of eight halberdiers. Assisting the maestre was the sergeant major and a furir major in charge of logistics and armaments. Companies were led by a captain (also royally appointed), with an ensign in charge of the company color.

The company non-commissioned officers were sergeants, furrieles (furirs) and corporals. A sergeant served as second-in-command of a company and transmitted the captain's orders; furrieles provided weapons and munitions, as well as additional manpower; corporals led groups of 25 (similar to today's platoons), watching for disorder in the unit.

Each company had corps of drums made up of drummers and fifers, sounding duty calls in battle, with the drum major and fife major being provided by the tercio headquarters.

The tercio staff included a medical component (made up of a professional medic, a barber, and surgeons), chaplains and preachers, and a judicial unit, plus military constables enforcing order. They all reported to the Maestre de campo directly.

Battle Formations

A training schematic of a tercio in bastioned square formation, circa 1600

Within a tercio's squares, ranks of pikemen assembled into a hollow pike square (cuadro) containing swordsmen – typically with short sword, buckler, and javelins. As firearms rose in prominence, the swordsmen were phased out. The arquebusiers (later, musketeers) were usually split up in several mobile groups called "sleeves" (mangas), typically deployed with one manga at each corner of the cuadro.[citation needed] By virtue of this combined-arms approach, the formation simultaneously enjoyed the staying power of its pike-armed infantry, the ranged firepower of its arquebusiers, and the striking power of its sword-and-buckler men. However, as the formation matured in practice, the number of swordsmen was reduced and then eliminated and the ratio of gunmen to pikemen increased over time. In addition to its defensive ability to repulse cavalry and other forces along its front, the long-range fire of its arquebusiers could be easily shifted to the flanks, making it versatile in both attack and defense.

Tercio companies advancing during the battle of Nieuwpoort 1600.

Groups of squares were typically arrayed in dragon-toothed formation, staggered, with the leading edge of one unit level with the trailing edge of the preceding, similar to hedgehog defence. This enabled enfilade lines of fire and somewhat defiladed the army units themselves. Odd units stood forward, alternating with even units stepped back, providing gaps for an unwary enemy to enter and expose its flanks to raking crossfire from the guns of three separate squares. Tercio companies also conducted particular operations independently of the main formations.

Tercios and the Spanish Empire

Tercios were deployed all over Europe under the Habsburg rulers. They were made up of volunteers and built up around a core of professional soldiers and were highly trained. Sometimes later tercios did not stick to the all-volunteer model of the regular Imperial Spanish army – when the Habsburg king Philip II found himself in need of more troops, he raised a tercio of Catalan criminals to fight in Flanders, a trend he continued with mostly Catalan criminals for the rest of his reign. A large proportion of the Spanish army (which by the later half of the 16th century was entirely composed of tercio units: The Tercio of Savoy and the Tercio of Sicily were deployed in the Netherlands to quell the increasingly difficult rebellion against the Habsburgs. Ironically, many units of the Spanish tercios became part of the problem rather than the solution when the time came to pay them: with the Spanish coffers depleted by constant warfare, unpaid units often mutinied. For example, in April 1576, just after winning a major victory, unpaid tercios mutinied and occupied the friendly town of Antwerp, in the so-called Spanish Fury at Antwerp, and sacked it for three days. Completely reliant on his troops, the Spanish commander could only comply.

Specialized tercios

On 24 February 1537 the Tercio de Galeras (Tercio of Galleys) was created. Today, the Real Infantería de Marina (Spanish Marine Infantry) consider themselves successors of the legacy and heritage of the Galleys Tercios making it the oldest currently operating marines unit in the world. There were other units of naval tercios such as Tercio Viejo de Armada (Old Navy Tercio) or Tercio Fijo de la Mar de Nápoles (Permanent Sea Tercio of Naples). Such specialized units were needed for the protracted war with the Ottoman Empire over the entire Mediterranean.

Naming conventions

Most tercios were named according to the place where they were raised or first deployed: thus they were Tercio de Sicilia, de Lombardía, de Nápoles (Tercio of Sicily, of Lombardy, of Naples) and so on. Other tercios were named for their commanding officer, such as Tercio de Moncada for its commander Miguel de Moncada (whose most famous soldier was Miguel de Cervantes). Some tercios were named by their main function, such as Galeras or Viejo de Armada.

Colours

  • The Cross of Burgundy was adopted as the symbol of the Tercios and the Spanish Empire.

  • Tercio de la Liga (1571)

  • Unknown Tercio flag (appears near commander Ambrogio Spinola in the painting "The Surrender of Breda" of Diego Velázquez) (1621)

  • Tercio de Alburquerque (1643)

  • Tercio Morados Viejos (1670)

  • Tercio Amarillos Viejos (1680)

Portuguese terços in the Battle of Alcácer Quibir (1578)

Portugal adopted the Spanish model of tercio in the 16th century, calling it terço. In 1578, under the reorganization of the Portuguese Army conducted by King Sebastian, four terços were established: the Terço of Lisbon, the Terço of Estremadura, the Terço of Alentejo, and the Terço of Algarve. Each had about 2,000 men, formed into eight companies.

The infantry of the army organized for the expedition to Morocco in 1578 was made up of these four terços together with the Terço of the Adventurers (totally made up of young nobles), three mercenary terços (the German, the Italian, and the Castilian), and a unit of elite sharpshooters of the Portuguese garrison of Tangier. This was the Portuguese force which fought the Battle of Alcácer Quibir.

While united with the Spanish Crown, from 1580 to 1640, Portugal kept the organization of terços, although the Army had declined. Several Spanish tercios were sent to Portugal; the principal of them, the Spanish infantry Tercio of the City of Lisbon, occupied the main fortresses of the Portuguese capital. The Terço of the Navy of the Crown of Portugal, the ancestor of the modern Portuguese Marines, was created in this period.

After the restoration of Portuguese sovereignty in 1640, the Army was reorganized by King John IV of Portugal. The terços remained the basic units of the Portuguese infantry. Two types of terços were organized: the paid terços (first line permanent units) and the auxiliary terços (second line militia units). Portugal won the Restoration War with these terços.

At the end of the 17th century, the terços were already organized as modern regiments. However, the first line terços were only transformed into regiments in 1707, during the War of the Spanish Succession – after the Spanish tercios were transformed into regiments in 1704. The second line terços were only transformed into militia regiments in 1796. Some of the old terços are direct ancestors of modern regiments of the Portuguese Army.

The Battle of Rocroi (1643) is often seen as the end of the battlefield supremacy of the tercios. (Painting by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau picture)

The first real challenge to the dominance of the Spanish tercios on the open battlefield came at the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600). The victor of Nieuwpoort, the Dutch stadtholder Maurice, Prince of Orange, believed he could improve on the tercio by combining its methods with the organisation of the Roman legion. These shallower linear formations brought a greater proportion of available guns to bear on the enemy simultaneously. The result was that the tercio squares at Nieuwpoort were badly damaged by the weight of Dutch firepower. Yet the Spanish army very nearly succeeded in spite of internal dissensions that had compromised its regular command. The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) in the Low Countries continued to be characterized by sieges of cities and forts, while field battles were of secondary importance. Maurice's reforms did not lead to a revolution in warfare, but he had created an army that could meet the tercios' battle formations on an even basis and that pointed the way to future developments. During the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) tercio style battle formations of the Holy Roman Empire suffered major defeats at the hands of more linear formations created and led by the Swedish soldier-king Gustavus Adolphus. However, the tried-and-true tactics and professionalism of the Spanish tercios played a decisive role in defeating the Swedish army at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634).

Throughout its history, the tercios' composition and battlefield formations and tactics evolved to meet new challenges. The classic pike and shot square formations fielded by the Spanish tercios and good cavalry support, continued to win major battles in the 17th century such as Wimpfen (1622), Fleurus (1622), Breda (1624), Nördlingen (1634), Thionville (1639), Honnecourt (1641). It was not until Rocroi (1643) that the Spanish tercio's reputation of invincibility in open battle was shattered. Still, the Rocroi defeat was precipitated by the collapse of the supporting cavalry rather than the failure of the tercios' infantry. Even then, the tercios continued to win battles after Rocroi, such as at Valenciennes (1656) but their composition and battlefield style had continued to evolve. In this period steady improvements in firearms and field artillery were increasingly favoring the linear style. By the late 17th century the tercios had adopted so much of the linear style that their battlefield formations and tactics often had little resemblance to the battle formations and tactics a century earlier. In 1704, the regular Spanish tercios were transformed into regiments and the pikeman as an infantry type was dropped. Those of the reserves and the militia would later be transformed into similar organisations.

Victories

Defeats

  1. English/Scottish parliamentary control 1689, British parliamentary control 1707.
  1. Walton, Clifford (1894). History of the British Standing Army. A.D. 1660 to 1700. Harrison and Sons. pp. 1–2.
  2. Noel T. St. John Williams (1994). Redcoats and courtesans: the birth of the British Army (1660–1690). Brassey's. p. 16.
  3. Chandler, David (2003). The Oxford history of the British Army. Oxford University Press. p. xv. ISBN 978-0-19-280311-5. It is generally accepted that the regular standing army in Britain was officially created – in the sense of being fully accommodated within parliamentary control in 1689, although it is, strictly speaking, only correct to refer to the British army from the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707.
  4. "No. 62738". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 August 2019. p. 14447.
  5. "No. 62738". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 August 2019. p. 14447.
  6. Pérez Calvo, 2014, p. 480 «El marquesado de las Hormazas». Revista Hidalguía (364-365): 473-498.
  7. ...y, con el Gran Capitán, la aparición ni más ni menos que del tercio español, de algo que equivale en la historia universal al nacimiento de la falange Macedonia o de la legión romana. Fernand Braudel, "El Mediterráneo y el mundo mediterráneo en la época de Felipe II", tomo II, pág. 28, FCE, 1.976.
  8. De Mesa Gallego 2009, p. 195. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDe_Mesa_Gallego2009 (help)
  9. Estes, Kenneth W.; Heinl, Robert Debs (1995). Handbook for Marine NCOs. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-238-2.
  10. "Historia de La Infanteria de Marina" (in Spanish). Spanish Navy Marines. Retrieved7 February 2010.
  11. Sancho de Londoño: Discurso sobre la forma de reducir la disciplina militar a mejor y antiguo estado, p. 14.
  12. Lynch, John. The Hispanic World in Crisis and Change, 1578–1700 Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992. Page 117.
  13. Mendoza, Ana. "Spanish Tercios1536-1704".{{cite journal}}:Cite journal requires |journal= ()
  14. Davies, T. R. 1961
  15. Lynch, John. Spain Under the Habsburgs, Volume One: Empire and Absolutism, 1516 to 1598. Oxford: Blackwell, 1964. Page 109.
  16. Lynch, Spain Under the Habsburgs page 200.
  17. Israel, The Dutch Republic, p. 185.
  18. Lynch, Spain Under the Habsburgs page 284.
  19. Laínez, Fernando Martínez (2011). Vientos de Gloria : grandes victorias de la historia de España. Madrid: Espasa. ISBN 9788467035605.

Bibliography

  • Christon I. Archer, John R. Ferris, Holger H. Herwig, Timothy H. E. Travers – For a history of Spanish arms in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Davies, T. R. (1961). The Golden Century of Spain 1501-1621. London: Macmillan & Co. – Brief description of the birth of the Spanish tercio.
  • López, Ignacio J.N. The Spanish Tercios 1536–1704. Osprey Publishing - The history of the tercio from its antecedents to its decline and ultimate realignment into a regimental system in 1704.
  • Spanish Tercio Tactics
  • Renaissance Armies: The Spanish (myArmoury.com article)
  • Spanish web site— Honors Alonso Pita da Veiga the most heroic Spaniard at the Battle of Pavia (Italy) 1525.
  • [1] Non-Official Web siteof the Modern "Spanish Marines" (in existence since 1537 few years after Battle of Pavia (Italy) 1525 and well before the Battle of Lepanto (Greece) 1571).
  • The Spanish Army of the Thirty Years’ War
  • List of Tercios
  • Lorraine White - The Experience of Spain’s Early Modern Soldiers: Combat, Welfare and Violence
  • Pierre de Bourdeille, Gentilezas y bravuconadas de los españoles (r/p Mosand, Madrid, 1996)
  • Marcos de Isaba, Cuerpo enfermo de la milicia española Ministry of Defence, Madrid(Brussels, 1589)
  • Sancho de Londoño, El discurso sobre la forma de reducir la disciplina militar a mejor y antiguo estado Ministry of Defence, Madrid(Brussels, 1589)
  • Bernardino de Escalante, Diálogos del arte militar Ministry of Defence, Madrid(1583)
  • Martín de Eguiluz, Milicia, Discurso y Regla militar Ministry of Defence, Madrid(pre-1591)
  • Diego de Salazar, Tratado de Re Militari Ministry of Defence, Madrid(1590)
  • Serafín María de Soto, Conde de Clonard, Album de la infantería española (1861)
  • Rene Quatrefages, Los Tercios (Madrid, ediciones Ejército, 1983)
  • Inspección de Infantería, La infantería en torno al siglo del oro (Madrid, ediciones Ejército, 1993)
  • Julio Albi de la Cuesta, De Pavia a Rocroi: los Tercios de Infantería española en los siglos XVI y XVII (Madrid, Balkan, 1999)
  • Enrique Martínez Ruiz, Los soldados del Rey (Madrid, Actas, 2008)
  • Pierre Picouet, Les Tercios Espagnols 1600–1660 (in French – Auzielle, LRT, 2010)

Tercio Article Talk Language Watch Edit Not to be confused with Spanish Army For the bullfighting term see Spanish style bullfighting For a more general article on early combined arms practices see Pike and shot A tercio pronounced ˈteɾ8jo Spanish for a third was a military unit of the Spanish Army during the reign of the Spanish Habsburgs in the early modern period The tercios were renowned for the effectiveness of their battlefield formations forming the elite military units of the Spanish Monarchy They were the essential pieces of the powerful land forces of the Spanish Empire sometimes also fighting with the navy The Spanish tercios were a crucial step in the formation of modern European armies understood as made up of professional volunteers instead of levies raised for a campaign or hired mercenaries typically used in other European countries of the time citation needed Surrender of Breda by Velazquez shows Ambrosio Spinola at right commander of a Spanish tercio receiving the keys to the city from a defeated Dutch general in 1625 Spanish TerciosFounded1 January 1534 488 years ago 1534 01 01 name appearance 1 2 note 1 CountrySpainSee details Habsburg Spain 1534 1704 TypeArmyRoleLand warfarePart ofSpanish Armed ForcesPatronCharles V Holy Roman Emperor Philip II of Spain Philip III of Spain Philip IV of Spain Charles II of Spain Charles VI Holy Roman EmperorMotto s Spain my nature Italy my fortune Flanders my graveEquipmentArquebuses muskets and pikesCommandersGran CapitanGonzalo Fernandez de CordobaComandanteJohn of Austria 4 Emmanuel Philibert Duke of Savoy 5 Field Master of NavarreJose de Elio y Ayanz de Navarra de Esparza Artieda y Velaz de Medrano 6 InsigniaWar flag The tercios internal administrative organization and their battlefield formations and tactics grew out of the innovations of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba during the Italian Wars The tercios marked a rebirth of battlefield infantry comparable to the Macedonian phalanxes and the Roman legions 7 From the victory in Pavia 1525 and on to a period of over a century their position as the finest infantry in Europe was built upon their professional training and high proportion of old soldiers veteranos in conjunction with the particular elan imparted by the lower nobility who commanded them In addition they were among the first to effectively mix pikes and firearms arquebuses The tercios were replaced by regiments in the early eighteenth century From 1920 the name of tercio was given to the formations of the newly created Spanish Legion professional units then created to fight colonial wars in North Africa similar to the French Foreign Legion These formations are actually regiments bearing the name of tercio as an honorary title Contents 1 History 2 Composition and characteristics 2 1 Organization 2 2 Staff 2 3 Company 2 4 Leadership of the tercio 2 5 Battle Formations 2 6 Tercios and the Spanish Empire 2 7 Specialized tercios 2 8 Naming conventions 2 9 Colours 3 The Portuguese tercos 4 Evolution and replacement 5 Famous battles 5 1 Victories 5 2 Defeats 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 8 1 BibliographyHistory Edit Tercios disembarking 1583 During the war in Granada the soldiers of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain were divided into three classes pikemen modelled after the Swiss swordsmen with shields and crossbowmen supplemented with the first portable firearms citation needed As shields disappeared and firearms replaced crossbows Spain won victory after victory in Italy against powerful French armies beginning under the leadership of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba b 1453 d 1515 nicknamed El Gran Capitan The Great Captain citation needed The military organizational and tactical changes made by de Cordoba to the armies of Spanish monarchs are seen as the precursors of the tercios and their methods of warfare citation needed The combat effectiveness of the Spanish pike and shot armies pioneered by de Cordoba was based on an armament system that effectively united the pike with the compact firepower of the arquebus An advantage of the Spanish pike and shot formation over the Swiss compact frame that had inspired it was in its ability to divide into mobile units and even individual melee without the loss of cohesion citation needed Initially the tercio denoted not a combat unit but an administrative unit under a general staff commanding garrisons throughout Italy for battles on various distant fronts 8 This peculiar character was maintained when it mobilized to fight the Protestant rebels in Flanders Command of a tercio and its companies of soldiers was granted directly by the king and companies could easily be added or removed and moved to and from other tercios citation needed By the middle of the 17th century the tercios began to be raised by nobles at their own expense patrons who appointed the captains and were effective owners of the units as in other contemporaneous European armies From the conquest of Granada 1492 to the campaigns of the Great Captain in the kingdom of Naples 1495 three ordinances laid the foundations of the Spanish military administration In 1503 the Great Ordinance reflected the adoption of the long pike and the distribution of infantry in specialized companies citation needed In 1534 the first official tercio was created that of Lombardy and a year later it helped in the conquest of the Duchy of Milan The Tercios of Naples and Sicily were created in 1536 thanks to the Genoa ordinance of Charles V 9 10 At the Battle of Muhlberg in 1547 the imperial troops of Charles V defeated a league of Protestant princes in Germany thanks above all to the action of the Spanish tercios citation needed In 1557 the Spanish army completely defeated the French at the Battle of San Quentin and again in 1558 at Gravelines which led to a peace greatly favoring Spain In all these battles the effectiveness of the tercio units stood out The origin of the term tercio is doubtful Some historians believe the name was inspired by the tercia a Roman Legion of Hispania Some think that it designated the threefold division of the Spanish forces in Italy Others trace it to the three types of combatants pikemen harquebusiers musketeers According to an ordinance for people of war of 1497 where the formation of the infantry is changed into three parts The pawns the infantry were divided into three parts The one tercio with spears as the Germans brought them which they called pikes and the other had the name of shields people of swords and the other of crossbowmen and spit bearers later replaced by arquebusiers Yet others derive the name from the three thousand men mustered in the first units This last explanation is supported by the field master Sancho de Londono in a report to the Duke of Alba in the 16th century The tercios although they were instituted in imitation of the Roman legions in few things can be compared to them that the number is half and although formerly there were three thousand soldiers for which they were called tercios and not legions already it is said like this even if they don t have more than a thousand men 11 Composition and characteristics Edit A bastioned square in battle Although other powers adopted the battle formations and tactics perfected by the tercios their armies fell short of the fearsome reputation of the Spanish army which possessed a core of experienced professional soldiers 12 This army was further supplemented by an army of different nations a reference to the varied origins of the troops from the German and Italian states and the Spanish Netherlands and smaller units from other countries such as Ireland In 1621 for example of the 47 military units of the Spanish army counting together the larger Spanish Spanish Netherlands and Italian tercios and the much smaller German Burgundian and Irish regiments only seven were manned by troops of Spanish origin 13 Such international musters were characteristic of European warfare before the levies of the Napoleonic Wars However the core Spanish troops were Spanish subjects admired for their cohesiveness superior discipline and overall professionalism 14 Organization Edit Initially each tercio that served in Italy and the Spanish Netherlands was organized into 10 companies of 300 soldiers each led by captains in which 8 were pikemen s companies and 2 were of arquebusier companies The companies were later reduced to 250 men and the ratio of arquebusiers later musketmen to pikemen steadily increased During the early actions in the Netherlands the tercios were reorganized into three coronelias colonelcies led by coronels colonels each composed of a headquarters unit and four companies each the predecessor of today s battalions but as a whole continued to be subdivided into the same 10 companies of 250 personnel each two of arquebusiers and 8 of pikemen Colonels were also of royal appointment Staff Edit Organization of a tercio Schematic depiction of the pikemen s combat drill Maestre de Campo colonel Coronel colonel lieutenant colonel Sargento mayor major Furriel mayor quartermaster Capellan mayor chaplain Pifano mayor fife major Tambor mayor drum majorCompany Edit 1 Capitan captain 1 Alferez ensign Abanderado standard bearer Sargento sergeant Capellan chaplain Furriel quartermaster Tambor drummer Pifano fifer Barbero barber surgeon Cabos de escuadra corporals 150 piqueros pikemen 100 arcabuceros arquebusiers later musketeers 40 coseletes sword and buckler menLeadership of the tercio Edit Officers of a tercio an alabardero alferez and arcabucero Similar to military organization today a tercio was led by a maestre de campo commanding officer appointed by the king with a guard of eight halberdiers Assisting the maestre was the sergeant major and a furir major in charge of logistics and armaments Companies were led by a captain also royally appointed with an ensign in charge of the company color The company non commissioned officers were sergeants furrieles furirs and corporals A sergeant served as second in command of a company and transmitted the captain s orders furrieles provided weapons and munitions as well as additional manpower corporals led groups of 25 similar to today s platoons watching for disorder in the unit Each company had corps of drums made up of drummers and fifers sounding duty calls in battle with the drum major and fife major being provided by the tercio headquarters The tercio staff included a medical component made up of a professional medic a barber and surgeons chaplains and preachers and a judicial unit plus military constables enforcing order They all reported to the Maestre de campo directly Battle Formations Edit A training schematic of a tercio in bastioned square formation circa 1600 Within a tercio s squares ranks of pikemen assembled into a hollow pike square cuadro containing swordsmen typically with short sword buckler and javelins As firearms rose in prominence the swordsmen were phased out The arquebusiers later musketeers were usually split up in several mobile groups called sleeves mangas typically deployed with one manga at each corner of the cuadro citation needed By virtue of this combined arms approach the formation simultaneously enjoyed the staying power of its pike armed infantry the ranged firepower of its arquebusiers and the striking power of its sword and buckler men However as the formation matured in practice the number of swordsmen was reduced and then eliminated and the ratio of gunmen to pikemen increased over time In addition to its defensive ability to repulse cavalry and other forces along its front the long range fire of its arquebusiers could be easily shifted to the flanks making it versatile in both attack and defense Tercio companies advancing during the battle of Nieuwpoort 1600 Groups of squares were typically arrayed in dragon toothed formation staggered with the leading edge of one unit level with the trailing edge of the preceding similar to hedgehog defence This enabled enfilade lines of fire and somewhat defiladed the army units themselves Odd units stood forward alternating with even units stepped back providing gaps for an unwary enemy to enter and expose its flanks to raking crossfire from the guns of three separate squares Tercio companies also conducted particular operations independently of the main formations Tercios and the Spanish Empire Edit Tercios were deployed all over Europe under the Habsburg rulers They were made up of volunteers and built up around a core of professional soldiers and were highly trained Sometimes later tercios did not stick to the all volunteer model of the regular Imperial Spanish army when the Habsburg king Philip II found himself in need of more troops he raised a tercio of Catalan criminals to fight in Flanders 15 a trend he continued with mostly Catalan criminals for the rest of his reign 16 A large proportion of the Spanish army which by the later half of the 16th century was entirely composed of tercio units The Tercio of Savoy and the Tercio of Sicily were deployed in the Netherlands to quell the increasingly difficult rebellion against the Habsburgs Ironically many units of the Spanish tercios became part of the problem rather than the solution when the time came to pay them with the Spanish coffers depleted by constant warfare unpaid units often mutinied For example in April 1576 just after winning a major victory unpaid tercios mutinied and occupied the friendly town of Antwerp in the so called Spanish Fury at Antwerp and sacked it for three days 17 Completely reliant on his troops the Spanish commander could only comply 18 Specialized tercios Edit On 24 February 1537 the Tercio de Galeras Tercio of Galleys was created Today the Real Infanteria de Marina Spanish Marine Infantry consider themselves successors of the legacy and heritage of the Galleys Tercios making it the oldest currently operating marines unit in the world There were other units of naval tercios such as Tercio Viejo de Armada Old Navy Tercio or Tercio Fijo de la Mar de Napoles Permanent Sea Tercio of Naples Such specialized units were needed for the protracted war with the Ottoman Empire over the entire Mediterranean Naming conventions Edit Most tercios were named according to the place where they were raised or first deployed thus they were Tercio de Sicilia de Lombardia de Napoles Tercio of Sicily of Lombardy of Naples and so on Other tercios were named for their commanding officer such as Tercio de Moncada for its commander Miguel de Moncada whose most famous soldier was Miguel de Cervantes Some tercios were named by their main function such as Galeras or Viejo de Armada Colours Edit The Cross of Burgundy was adopted as the symbol of the Tercios and the Spanish Empire Tercio de la Liga 1571 Unknown Tercio flag appears near commander Ambrogio Spinola in the painting The Surrender of Breda of Diego Velazquez 1621 Tercio de Alburquerque 1643 Tercio Morados Viejos 1670 Tercio Amarillos Viejos 1680 The Portuguese tercos Edit Portuguese tercos in the Battle of Alcacer Quibir 1578 Portugal adopted the Spanish model of tercio in the 16th century calling it terco In 1578 under the reorganization of the Portuguese Army conducted by King Sebastian four tercos were established the Terco of Lisbon the Terco of Estremadura the Terco of Alentejo and the Terco of Algarve Each had about 2 000 men formed into eight companies The infantry of the army organized for the expedition to Morocco in 1578 was made up of these four tercos together with the Terco of the Adventurers totally made up of young nobles three mercenary tercos the German the Italian and the Castilian and a unit of elite sharpshooters of the Portuguese garrison of Tangier This was the Portuguese force which fought the Battle of Alcacer Quibir While united with the Spanish Crown from 1580 to 1640 Portugal kept the organization of tercos although the Army had declined Several Spanish tercios were sent to Portugal the principal of them the Spanish infantry Tercio of the City of Lisbon occupied the main fortresses of the Portuguese capital The Terco of the Navy of the Crown of Portugal the ancestor of the modern Portuguese Marines was created in this period After the restoration of Portuguese sovereignty in 1640 the Army was reorganized by King John IV of Portugal The tercos remained the basic units of the Portuguese infantry Two types of tercos were organized the paid tercos first line permanent units and the auxiliary tercos second line militia units Portugal won the Restoration War with these tercos At the end of the 17th century the tercos were already organized as modern regiments However the first line tercos were only transformed into regiments in 1707 during the War of the Spanish Succession after the Spanish tercios were transformed into regiments in 1704 The second line tercos were only transformed into militia regiments in 1796 Some of the old tercos are direct ancestors of modern regiments of the Portuguese Army Evolution and replacement Edit The Battle of Rocroi 1643 is often seen as the end of the battlefield supremacy of the tercios Painting by Augusto Ferrer Dalmau picture The first real challenge to the dominance of the Spanish tercios on the open battlefield came at the Battle of Nieuwpoort 1600 The victor of Nieuwpoort the Dutch stadtholder Maurice Prince of Orange believed he could improve on the tercio by combining its methods with the organisation of the Roman legion These shallower linear formations brought a greater proportion of available guns to bear on the enemy simultaneously The result was that the tercio squares at Nieuwpoort were badly damaged by the weight of Dutch firepower Yet the Spanish army very nearly succeeded in spite of internal dissensions that had compromised its regular command The Eighty Years War 1568 1648 in the Low Countries continued to be characterized by sieges of cities and forts while field battles were of secondary importance Maurice s reforms did not lead to a revolution in warfare but he had created an army that could meet the tercios battle formations on an even basis and that pointed the way to future developments During the Thirty Years War 1618 1648 tercio style battle formations of the Holy Roman Empire suffered major defeats at the hands of more linear formations created and led by the Swedish soldier king Gustavus Adolphus However the tried and true tactics and professionalism of the Spanish tercios played a decisive role in defeating the Swedish army at the Battle of Nordlingen 1634 19 Throughout its history the tercios composition and battlefield formations and tactics evolved to meet new challenges The classic pike and shot square formations fielded by the Spanish tercios and good cavalry support continued to win major battles in the 17th century such as Wimpfen 1622 Fleurus 1622 Breda 1624 Nordlingen 1634 Thionville 1639 Honnecourt 1641 It was not until Rocroi 1643 that the Spanish tercio s reputation of invincibility in open battle was shattered Still the Rocroi defeat was precipitated by the collapse of the supporting cavalry rather than the failure of the tercios infantry Even then the tercios continued to win battles after Rocroi such as at Valenciennes 1656 but their composition and battlefield style had continued to evolve In this period steady improvements in firearms and field artillery were increasingly favoring the linear style By the late 17th century the tercios had adopted so much of the linear style that their battlefield formations and tactics often had little resemblance to the battle formations and tactics a century earlier In 1704 the regular Spanish tercios were transformed into regiments and the pikeman as an infantry type was dropped Those of the reserves and the militia would later be transformed into similar organisations Famous battles EditVictories Edit Cerignola 1503 Garigliano 1503 La Motta 1513 Noain 1521 Bicocca 1522 Pavia 1525 Landriano 1529 Vienna 1529 Serravalle 1544 Muhlberg 1547 St Quentin 1557 Lepanto 1571 Goes 1572 Empel 1585 Paris 1590 White Mountain 1620 Fleurus 1622 Breda 1625 Nordlingen 1634 Kallo 1638 Honnecourt 1642 Tuttlingen 1643 Valenciennes 1656 Defeats Edit Ravenna 1512 Castelnuovo 1539 Ceresole 1544 Alcacer Quibir 1578 Arques 1589 Ivry 1590 Fontaine francaise 1595 Amiens 1597 Turnhout 1597 Zaltbommel 1599 Nieuwpoort 1600 Kinsale 1601 Sluis 1604 Montjuic 1641 Lleida 1642 Rocroi 1643 Lens 1648 Arras 1654 The Dunes 1658 See also EditPike and shot Musketeer Captain Alatriste Military history Spanish Navy Marines units are called tercios The units of the modern Spanish Legion are also called tercios Notes Edit English Scottish parliamentary control 1689 British parliamentary control 1707 3 References Edit Walton Clifford 1894 History of the British Standing Army A D 1660 to 1700 Harrison and Sons pp 1 2 Noel T St John Williams 1994 Redcoats and courtesans the birth of the British Army 1660 1690 Brassey s p 16 Chandler David 2003 The Oxford history of the British Army Oxford University Press p xv ISBN 978 0 19 280311 5 It is generally accepted that the regular standing army in Britain was officially created in the sense of being fully accommodated within parliamentary control in 1689 although it is strictly speaking only correct to refer to the British army from the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707 No 62738 The London Gazette Supplement 13 August 2019 p 14447 No 62738 The London Gazette Supplement 13 August 2019 p 14447 Perez Calvo 2014 p 480 El marquesado de las Hormazas Revista Hidalguia 364 365 473 498 y con el Gran Capitan la aparicion ni mas ni menos que del tercio espanol de algo que equivale en la historia universal al nacimiento de la falange Macedonia o de la legion romana Fernand Braudel El Mediterraneo y el mundo mediterraneo en la epoca de Felipe II tomo II pag 28 FCE 1 976 De Mesa Gallego 2009 p 195 sfn error no target CITEREFDe Mesa Gallego2009 help Estes Kenneth W Heinl Robert Debs 1995 Handbook for Marine NCOs Naval Institute Press ISBN 1 55750 238 2 Historia de La Infanteria de Marina in Spanish Spanish Navy Marines Retrieved 7 February 2010 Sancho de Londono Discurso sobre la forma de reducir la disciplina militar a mejor y antiguo estado p 14 Lynch John The Hispanic World in Crisis and Change 1578 1700 Cambridge Blackwell 1992 Page 117 Mendoza Ana Spanish Tercios1536 1704 a href wiki Template Cite journal title Template Cite journal cite journal a Cite journal requires journal help Davies T R 1961 Lynch John Spain Under the Habsburgs Volume One Empire and Absolutism 1516 to 1598 Oxford Blackwell 1964 Page 109 Lynch Spain Under the Habsburgs page 200 Israel The Dutch Republic p 185 Lynch Spain Under the Habsburgs page 284 Lainez Fernando Martinez 2011 Vientos de Gloria grandes victorias de la historia de Espana Madrid Espasa ISBN 9788467035605 Bibliography Edit Christon I Archer John R Ferris Holger H Herwig Timothy H E Travers For a history of Spanish arms in the 16th and 17th centuries Davies T R 1961 The Golden Century of Spain 1501 1621 London Macmillan amp Co Brief description of the birth of the Spanish tercio Lopez Ignacio J N The Spanish Tercios 1536 1704 Osprey Publishing The history of the tercio from its antecedents to its decline and ultimate realignment into a regimental system in 1704 Spanish Tercio Tactics Renaissance Armies The Spanish myArmoury com article Spanish web site Honors Alonso Pita da Veiga the most heroic Spaniard at the Battle of Pavia Italy 1525 1 Non Official Web siteof the Modern Spanish Marines in existence since 1537 few years after Battle of Pavia Italy 1525 and well before the Battle of Lepanto Greece 1571 The Spanish Army of the Thirty Years War List of Tercios Lorraine White The Experience of Spain s Early Modern Soldiers Combat Welfare and Violence Pierre de Bourdeille Gentilezas y bravuconadas de los espanoles r p Mosand Madrid 1996 Marcos de Isaba Cuerpo enfermo de la milicia espanola Ministry of Defence Madrid Brussels 1589 Sancho de Londono El discurso sobre la forma de reducir la disciplina militar a mejor y antiguo estado Ministry of Defence Madrid Brussels 1589 Bernardino de Escalante Dialogos del arte militar Ministry of Defence Madrid 1583 Martin de Eguiluz Milicia Discurso y Regla militar Ministry of Defence Madrid pre 1591 Diego de Salazar Tratado de Re Militari Ministry of Defence Madrid 1590 Serafin Maria de Soto Conde de Clonard Album de la infanteria espanola 1861 Rene Quatrefages Los Tercios Madrid ediciones Ejercito 1983 Inspeccion de Infanteria La infanteria en torno al siglo del oro Madrid ediciones Ejercito 1993 Julio Albi de la Cuesta De Pavia a Rocroi los Tercios de Infanteria espanola en los siglos XVI y XVII Madrid Balkan 1999 Enrique Martinez Ruiz Los soldados del Rey Madrid Actas 2008 Pierre Picouet Les Tercios Espagnols 1600 1660 in French Auzielle LRT 2010 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Tercio amp 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