Guardia Española de Alabarderos

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Guardia Española de Alabarderos

Origin and History

N.B.: the main sources about the Alabarderos (halberdiers) was lost during the Spanish Civil War.

The Guard of Alabarderos was a palace guard unit, the halberd being the attribute of the Royal Guard, raised on 6 May 1707 from veterans coming from three ancient company sized units of Charles II who, exceptionally had not been disbanded as the other Habsburg units of the Casa Reale:

  1. la Amarilla' ( “The yellow one”)
  2. la Lancilla
  3. la Viéja (literally “The ancient/old unit “)

The throne of San Fernando was now under the French sphere of influence. Besides political matter, France was, at that time, leader in military organization.

Philip V was a Bourbon and, when he reached the Palace of Buen Retiro, was 17 years old and could not speak Spanish. Louis XIV of France boasted that “..Pyrenees Mountains are no more…”

The brand new unit mustered:

  • 4 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 1st lieutenant
    • 2 2nd lieutenant
  • 1 adjutant
  • 100 men (later 150) armed with halberds.

Some variation may be found:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 1st lieutenant
  • 1 2nd lieutenant
  • 1 sergeant
  • 1 surgeon
  • 1 chaplain
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 4 corporals (Cabos de Escuadra)
  • 100 soldiers
  • 2 drummers
  • 2 oboists

The Spanish Household units were modelled along French lines. The Alabarderos assumed a similar role as the French Garde du dedans (Inner Guard) of the Louvre Palace. Indeed, the Alabarderos were in charge of the internal security service of the Palace. They depended from the Mayordomo Mayor de Palacio but received orders directly from the king. They in particular controlled the doors of the Royal Apartments and the stairs. Their barracks were located on the Tesoro del Rey road.

In term of precedence, the unit ranked immediately after the Reales Guardias de Corps a caballo.

During the reign of Philip V, the unit was under the command of three successive captains:

  1. from: 1707: Martín de Guzmán, Marquis de Montealegre y Quintana
  2. from 1731: Prince de Masserano desde el 1731 hasta el 1740.
  3. from 1740: duke de Medinaceli.

As for the captains of the companies of the Reales Guardias de Corps a caballo, the captain of Alabarderos also ranked as general of the Spanish army and Grandes de España. Officers as well as soldiers had to demonstrate their nobility and purity of blood.

Service during the War

The unit did not take part in any campaign, remaining in Madrid as palace guard.



Uniform in 1707 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details in 1707 as per Gonzalez
Headgear black felt tricorne laced silver with a red cockade
Neck stock white cravate
Coat turquin blue edged with a wide silver braid with red lining; silver buttons
Collar none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets edged with a wide silver braid; silver buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 silver buttons and 3 buttonholes laced with wide silver braids
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat scarlet edged with a wide silver braid; silver buttons and buttonholes laced with a wide silver braids
Breeches turquin blue
Stockings red
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt none
Waist-belt natural leather
Cartridge Pouch none
Scabbard no information found
Footgear black leather shoes with a buckle

Troopers were armed with a sword and a halberd (red tassel under the blade, silver pole decorated with a scarlet braid wound around the pole).


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Dragonas Magazine

Gonzalez, Manuel Gimenez; El Ejército y La Armada desde la antiguedad hasta 1862, 1st Ed., Madrid: Almena Ediciones, 2003, pp. 85-86

Memorias para la historia de las troas de la Casa Real de Espana 1818

Ministerio de Defensa – El Ejército de Fernando VI, 1993, pp.


Jean-Pierre Loriot and Dr. Marco Pagan for the initial version of this article