Guardias de España

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Guardias de España

Origin and History

The “Exterior Guard” of the Governor of Flanders was created in 1559 and initially consisted of one company of mounted arquebusiers. This company was disbanded in 1567.

In 1578, John of Austria re-established a company of mounted arquebusiers and added a company of lancers.

Maximilien II of Bavaria, governor of the Spanish Netherlands since 1691, designated the two companies of the unit according to the coat of their horses: the 1st Company was known as the “Chevaux noirs” and the 2nd Company as the “Chevaux bais”. A third company seems to have been added before the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was known as the “Chevaux gris”.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive captains of the companies of this unit were:

  • for the 1st Company of “Chevaux noirs”:
    • from 1701: Andrés Benitez de Lugo
    • from 1705: Philippe Antoine d'Urgel, Comte de Milan
    • from 1707 until 1717: Philippe François de Glymes, Prince de Berghes
  • for the 2nd Company of “Chevaux bais”:
    • from 1698: Manuel de Peralta
    • from 170?: Comte Alberti
    • from 1705 to 1717: Wolfgang-Guillaume de Bournonville, Marquis de Sars

The regiment was disbanded in 1717.

Service during the War

In the Spring of 1701, 3 companies of the regiment were stationed in the Spanish Netherlands.

On 28 February 1702, the unit was increased to 120 guards.

By 18 April 1702, the regiment was part of the army of the Marquis de Bedmar. Two companies were encamped between between Lierre and Aarschot behind the Line of the Nete while the "Chevaux bais" were encamped between Antwerp and Lierre. By mid-May, the “Chevaux bais” were with Bedmar's field army. By 13 June, they were encamped at Aardenburg. At the beginning of July, they were once more posted between Antwerp and Lierre. On 17 September, two companies (designated as Bavarian Gardes) were probably part of Tallard's Army on the Lower Rhine.

At the beginning of May 1703, the “Chevaux bais” were still encamped between Antwerp and Lierre while the “Chevaux gris” and the “Chevaux noirs” formed part of the field army under Maréchal de Villeroy and Maréchal de Boufflers. By mid-June, the “Chevaux bais” were attached to Bedmar's Army while the “Chevaux gris” and the “Chevaux noirs” were still with Villeroy and Boufflers.

In 1710, the unit was designated as the “Guardias de España». It was transferred into the French service and was placed under the command of the Colonel d'Escars.

In 1713, the regiment marched from Alsace to Spain.

On 1 March 1714, the regiment was reviewed at Alcober, it then counted 216 mounted guards and 65 dismounted guards. On this occasion, it was designated as “Guardias de Flandes”.


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Uniforms of officers differed from those of privates and NCOs by the finer material used. Their waistcoat, saddle cloth and housings were edged with a wide golden braid. They always wore a tricorne notwithstanding the headgear worn by soldiers.

The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • colonel: a baton with a gold knob
  • lieutenant-colonel: a baton with a silver knob
  • sargento mayor: a baton with a silver topped knob
  • captain: silver or golden epaulettes (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on both shoulders
  • lieutenant: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the right shoulder
  • cornet: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the left shoulder


The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • sergeant : baton without knob and halberd
  • mariscal de logis (quartermaster): small woolen epaulette (red or of the distinctive colour of the regiment)
  • brigadier: swagger stick
  • corporal of squadron: swagger stick
  • second corporal of squadron (rank suppressed in 1706): swagger stick


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Dragonas Magazine

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.


Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.