The Spanish tercios were a military unit that was considered one of the best infantry of all time. Although there were precedents in the Macedonian phalanxes, the Roman legions and the Swiss army, their genesis lies in the innovations of the Gran Capitán, who cemented a permanent, professional and disciplined army. They arose around 1530 in the defence of Charles V’s Italian territories, thus giving rise to the Old Tercios (Naples, Sicily and Lombardy). They were named after three basic weapons (pike, arquebus and sword with buckler) or the three Italian corps. Burgundians, Italians and Germans fought in their ranks, so they had a multicultural character in which the Spanish represented a fifth of the total and were the backbone of the army. Within the Spanish tercios, they could only be commanded by those who spoke Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese or Sardinian (the language of Sardinia). Anyone else was barred from promotion. On occasions, Italians who spoke Spanish would pass themselves off as Valencians in an attempt to be promoted.
Project: 5. Power and powers in the history of Europe: oligarchies, political participation and democracy., 6. Under a cloak of terror: violence and armed conflict in Europe.
Chronology: XVI, XVII
Scope: Secondary Education, Baccalaureate, University
Resource type: Image
Owner: Álvaro Romero González (Modernalia)
Abstract: Example of how the tercios would be formed militarily during the Spanish MonarchyImage