Tercio Provincial de Sevilla Morados
During the dark age of the decadence of the Spanish monarchy, when obedience fell in disgrace and a bad spirit of provincialism was a real menace for the work of unification of the catholic kings, when the flames of war devoured the hearts and Catalonia and Flanders were ravaged, when loyalty was as changing as a flag in the wind wind, turning as fortune, the plan to create a well disciplined unit was conceived. The aim was to raise a regiment capable of a valid service and able to protect his majesty body person. This was the origin of the king’s own regiment.
The question of the origin of the regiment was a difficult and contradictory one. People were instinctively afraid of a military force who could be used for repression. Therefore, a number of high dignitaries of Spain were against the project of the Duke de Olivares, for fear that the already powerful minister intended to create a “praetorian” guard for himself in order to become “invincible”.
Philip IV when in Catalonia, in 1632, decided to raise a unit composed of veteran soldiers in order to compensate for the complete lack of discipline in the army. The Marquis de Castrofuerte and Don Juan de Castro y de Castiglia were put in charge of the task. A first staff company of 140 men was stationed in Almansa. A request asking for volunteers was dictated and sent to general captains and majors of the cities. Problems soon aroused related to the double aspect of creating a new “elite” unit and its political and military implications.
A commission headed by the Archbishop of Toledo and composed by the Duke de Villahermosa, Don Fernando Castelvi, Don Geronimo Villanueva, Don Juan de Castro y Castilla, Don Jose de Napoles, Don Geronimo de San Vitores, Don Bernardo de Ribera, Don Manuel Vasconcelos and the Cid de Almeyda was created in 1634 in order to debate the matter.
This was the origin of the old King’s own Regiment, often referred as “immemorial”. The use of such a term, indicating something that was so old that it was impossible to ascertain its origins, gives a poor idea of our knowledge, revealing not only a complete impotence to find the historical documents out but, also of the laziness or the wrong directions of the students.
By chance all the documents we have found out are authentic and are a firm base. So the title “immemorial” should be avoided as far the king’s regiment is concerned.
Glory and merits were a characteristic of this unit, raised to be the most regarded formation of the Spanish army.
Origin and History
In 1632, the marquis de Castrofuerte and Don Juan de Castilla tried to organize a new “elite” unit but only 140 men, including officers, NCO, drummers and soldiers were gathered. In 1633, the creation was interrupted by a debating committee till, by a direct royal order, the unit was finally fully organized, dressed and equipped. Finally, the tercio was officially created on 22 August 1634.
In 1635, at the beginning of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the unit was transferred to Madrid in order to be employed as “security” at the palace. In 1637, under the command of the Duke de Cardona, the tercio served in Catalonia, in the invasion of Languedoc at the end of August 28 and in the siege of Leucate (2 September). On 28 September, the tercio was routed during an engagement with the French army. It reformed in Rosellon. In 1638, after a long fighting in the Eastern Pyrenees, the “Tercio de la Guardia” was transferred in a hurry to the western side, because the Prince of Condé was menacing the crucial place of Fuenterrabìa. General Roò was in charge of the tercio but, the Marquis de Los Velez, acting as CiC, directly ordered the unit to storm the enemy entrenchments positioned on the mount de Jaizquibel. It was considered a difficult task to assault a prepared position defended by 3,000 experienced men. On 7 September, the mission was accomplished and the regiment obtained a complete victory. So decisive was this action that Condé, abandoned his movements against Fuenterrabìa, left his camp and decided to retire to France. The campaign ended and the tercio took up its winter-quarters. In 1639, it was back in Catalonia under the Marquis de los Balbases. It attacked the French army and, on 19 September, stormed the enemy entrenchments at Salses. At the beginning of 1640, Salses was besieged by the Spanish army and surrendered on 6 January. Catalonia then revolted. There were clashes at Fornelles, San Feliù de Pallarols, Olot, Mer, Blanes, Vuidreras and Santa Coloma. The tercio seemed to be everywhere until it needed a period of rest and refit in Aragon. Rejoining the active army, it was present at the storming of the Hill of Balaguer. The place surrendered on 10 December. Cambrils surrendered five days later. Then the important place of Tarragona surrendered, after a short siege, on 23 December. In 1641, the place of Martorell was reached and the Catalonian insurgents were defeated by the Spanish regular army and fled in disorder. The tercio was divided between Barcelona and Tarragona (threatened by the French Maréchal de La Motthe) to assume garrison duties. Then the tercio was re-united in Tarragona, after a clash in Llorens against French troops near the Noguera Pallaresa pass. The siege of Tarragona was abandoned. On 15 December, the battle of Perpignan was a decisive one. The Maréchal de Brezé was defeated. On 19 February 1642, the tercio took part in the battle of Grana which was lost by the Spanish army. On 7 October, the bloody battle of Lerida remained indecisive. Some rest and refit were needed. On 17 November 1643, despite a fierce resistance the place of Monzon surrendered to general Don Felipe of Silva. In 1644, the defeat of Lerida was avenged when General de Silva completely defeated de la Motthe. On 31 July, Lerida surrendered. In 1646, the Comte de Harcourt captured Lerida once more. This important place was lost a second time. On 19 September 1650, the tercio was present at the storming of Flix; on 8 October at the capture of Mirabete; and on 3 November, at the capture of Tortosa. In 1651, in Barcelona, the besieged insurgents resisted the Spanish army. John of Austria was determined to besiege the city. In 1652, Barcelona was besieged. In 1653, a new French advance under the command of the Maréchal de Hocquincourt laid siege to Gerona. John of Austria counter-attacked and the French army was repulsed. In 1655, the “praetorian” unit was employed in mountain warfare against small French parties in the Pyrenees. The last action of the campaign was the surrender of the place of Solsona on 7 October. On 29 April 1658, the Spanish CiC, the Marquis de Mortara fought the decisive battle of Campredon. The French army was crushed. The “Tercio de la Guardia” fought gallantly.
In 1660, the tercio was transferred to the Lines of Irun. It acted as an escort for the Infanta Maria Teresa, the promised wife of Louis XIV.
In 1661, fighting to prevent the independence of Portugal. After a series of initial successes, military operation relented to a halt. In 1662, the tercio was reorganized as an ordinary Tercio, and under his first maestre de campo, Don Fernando de Còrdova, went to Talaveruela to join the Spanish army in order to operate against an Anglo-Portuguese force. It saw action at Borba on 13 May; at Jurumenha, on 26 May; at Malpica, on 27 May. Veiros and Monforte surrendered. In 1665, the tercio took part in the siege of Evora which surrendered on 22 May. On 4 June, an enemy relief force attacked the Spanish. The “Tercio de Còrdova”, moving to the left flank came under heavy artillery fire coming from a British gun battery. The talented commander was hit and killed by a cannonball. He was regretted but, the tercio proved unstoppable and under the Spanish pressure the Anglo-Portugueses were forced to retreat by Estremoz. On 6 June, the Spanish army came again under heavy artillery fire and the battle was lost. The Spanish cavalry unexpectedly fled exposing the flanks of the infantry. The tercio was in square formation, in the front line. The whole army soon disintegrated and fled, in disorder, to Estremadura. In 1664, the whole year was spent in recovering from the crushing defeat. The same year, the tercio was renamed “Tercio Provincial de Sevilla”. It then went to the frontier again. In 1665, the tercio took part in the siege of Villaviciosa. On 10 June, the Spanish besieging army was confronted by an enemy relief force. The “Tercio de Cordova” was on the front line, on the right wing with the tercios of Guadalajara and Armada. The right wing repelled a British attack conducted by three regiments but, it was in vain. The left wing soon collapsed and retreated in disorder. At this point, the enemy concentrated all his forces against the last standing units. Fourteen cavalry squadrons and six battalions attacked. The tercio offered a stubborn resistance until the order of retreat, given by General Don Diego Caballero, was received. In the darkness, exhausted, it retreated. In 1666, the Portuguese army was on the offensive. The reputed Maréchal Schomberg moved with 4,000 men to Nebla. The tercio was sent to garrison Ayamonte.
In 1668, after the war, the tercio went to Gibraltar in order to assume naval service duties. The important place of Ceuta, however, was in danger. A large part of his walls had been ruined by war, so the tercio was diverted in order to garrison the place until sufficient repairs had been made. In 1670, the tercio was again in Gibraltar employed in garrison duties and naval service. In 1671, the Count de Punorostro, Don Juan Arias Dàvila y Pacheco, replaced the former commander, the Marquis de Carpio. On December 13, the tercio was sent to Cartagena.
In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the tercio embarked at Cartagena for Catalonia. In 1674, it was part of the Rosellon Army commanded by the Duke de San German. It saw action at Maurellas and Ceret. It behaved satisfactorily near Pertus in a fight against General Bret’s forces. In 1675, it distinguished itself in the heroic defence of Pertus Hill against the forces of, the so-defined “the eternal enemy of Spain”, Maréchal Schomberg. On 4 July 1677, the Count de Monterey was completely defeated at Espolla (Roussillon). Louis XIV dictated the harsh terms of the Peace of Nijmegen.
From 1685 to 1689, the tercio was held in reserve. The period was characterized by garrison duties and scarce actions. Rested and refitted, the tercio re-entered the active army.
On August 20 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the tercio took part in the battle of Camprodon. The Spanish CiC was the Duke de Villahermosa . The French commander was the Maréchal de Noailles. The French army was defeated. In 1690, the tercio garrisoned Rosas. On 29 July, it was relieved by the “Tercio de Granada” and it joined the blockade of Castelfollit where it assumed trench service. It also saw some action around Peralda. In 1692, the tercio took part in some unnoticeable actions around Bera and Ripoll. Then it joined the ultra-secret expedition against Sardinia, under the Duke de Medina-Sidonia. The Baron de Preux was in charge of the tercio. Sardinia was invaded but the tercio showed a solid but rather un-brilliant service near Pons de Molins. In 1693, as part of the garrison of Rosas, it helped in the defence of the place during the siege, led by Noailles. Without help the place capitulated, with honour on 10 June. The tercio then served in the Berga and Espolla districts. Winter time was spent in Gerona. The same year, the tercio was renamed “Tercio Provincial de los Morados”. In 1694, the impatient Spanish General Marquis de Villena, collected his forces and marched against the General de Noailles who was awaiting a Spanish assault and was well entrenched, on the Lines of the Ter. The French cavalry defeated the Spanish wing and disordered the centre of the formation. The tercio resisted gallantly several infantry attacks. Then, in the ensuing general rout of the Spanish army, it was forced to retreat to Foxà by the Marquis of Conflans. This rearguard movement, conducted with remarkable coolness and in good order, contributed to save the rest of the army. The tercio was part of the garrison at the defence of Gerona, besieged by Noailles. Gerona surrendered. According to the articles of the surrender, the tercio was forced to avoid further fighting against the French army for the rest of the campaign. The unit was quartered in the alcazar of Toledo.
In 1695, new dangers aroused along the coast of Africa and the tercio was transferred to the threatened place of Ceuta to resist an attack of the Moroccan army. On 28 May, a party of 50 men led by Captain Don Martin de Jaque stormed one of the enemy batteries. The same officer's company, in conjunction with Captain Don Andre Lopez's company stormed the whole external works of the enemy. After five days of fighting, under the command of the Maestre de Campo Diaz Pimienta, the enemies were finally repulsed. The joy of victory was diminished by the loss, in combat, of the Sargento Mayor Don Bartolomé of Olmo.
In 1697, the tercio was back in Catalonia. By 26 July, it was quartered in Barcelona. The city was besieged by the French General Duc de Vendôme and capitulated on 10 August. The tercio moved to Martorell. After the Peace of Riswick, it returned to Barcelona.
In 1703, the tercio was reorganised as a regiment and renamed “Regimiento de Castilla”.
In 1710, the regiment was renamed “Regimiento Immemorial de Castilla”.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the tercio was under the command of:
- from 1699: Don Francisco Antonio Diaz Pimienta y Zaldivar (1662-1707) became Marquis de Villareal de Buniel in 1703; promoted to lieutenant-general of cavalry in Catalonia in 1703; appointed governer of the arms of Guipozcoa in 1706; promoted to lieutenant-general of the Royal Guard in 1707
- from 11 May 1703: Don Juan Isidoro de Padilla y Rojas dismissed of his functions in 1705 after surrendering the place of Albuquerque; reintegrated in 1707 and appointed governor of Orihuela; vainly asked for a promotion to brigadier
- from 12 December 1705: Emmanuel d'Orléans Comte de Charny (1692-1740) grandson of the Duc d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIII, colonel of the Trujillo regiment in 1704, promoted to brigadier in 1706, appointed inspector of the infantry of the Army of Aragon in 1711; appointed governor of Denia in 1714 until 1724
- from 1710 until 1728: Francisco Miguel de Pueyo
Service during the War
In 1701, the tercio was charged of the security of King Philip V. For this reason, it was transferred to Madrid on 9 May.
In 1702, in order to accomplish the dignity of the service, the tercio received a brilliant uniform and was entirely re-equipped. The government decided to move back the tercio to Barcelona. After three months of garrison duties the tercio embarked and sailed for Cádiz. The ship carrying the Sargento mayor and seven companies of the tercio narrowly escaped a dreadful tragedy. The Genoan vessel hit the ground at the Almunecar Beach. Five people lost their lives, a women and a child included. Only a miracle saved the remaining people who continued the journey to Cádiz by land.
In 1703, the unit lost its title of tercio and was reorganized as a regiment. His first colonel was Don Isidro de Padilla y Rojas. The regiment was sent to Badajoz, ready for action against the Kingdom of Portugal.
In 1704, the regiment took part in the operations against Portugal. Under the command of the Prince Tzerclaes Tilly, the main Spanish army besieged Portoalegre which surrendered. So did Castel-Davide after a siege of a few days.
In 1705, six companies out of a total of twelve tried to defend Valencia with a poor result. The remaining six companies were trapped in Alburquerque and surrendered after a fierce resistance. Then, the companies were sent to Badajoz by the enemy Generals Galloway and the Marquis de Das-Minas. The capital of Extremadura was in danger of encirclement. The Maréchal de Tessé, the French commander, and the Spanish general, the Marquis de Bay reacted and avoided a siege.
In 1706, the Great League of European powers federated against the House of Bourbon made an imposing effort. The enemy armies made a two pronged assault from both the eastern and western sides of the peninsula. Philip V was forced to abandon his capital and to take refuge in loyal provinces in the north. The regiment, under the Duc de Berwick, left Badajoz and rapidly reached Madrid. To join the main army, assembled near Atienza, the regiment was forced to march north to Siguenza, via Somosierra. The Spanish army recovered the offensive. The enemy retreated across the Province of Valencia. Oribuela and Elche were reconquered. On 23 October, the regiment was reviewed at Elche and quartered in Murcia.
On 5 April 1707, the regiment took part in the Battle of Almansa where it rivalled with the rest of the army in courage and discipline. The direct consequences of the battle were the conquest of Requena, Valencia and Alcira. Jàtiva surrendered. Even if unlucky at Dénia, the “Regimiento de Castilla” did well at Alcoy, storming the place after a short siege.
In 1708, the regiment fought undisciplined parties of rebels in Valencia. It also took part in the second siege of Dénia. On 12 December, walls being breached, the regiment stormed the city. With the city lost, the British garrison retreated inside the citadel. After a few days, the unsupported garrison surrendered. The regiments of Castilla and Bajeles assumed garrison duties.
In 1709, the single battalion of the regiment was transferred to the place of Tortosa. On 17 July, a second battalion was raised.
In 1710, the regiment took part in operations in Catalonia. On 13 June, as part of the army of the General Marquis de Villadarias, it stormed the entrenched camp of Balaguer. With General Ronquillo, the regiment was then posted in rearguard, around the Noguera Pass in order to cover the retreat of the army. On 27 July, attacked near Almenar, it fought, even if heavily outnumbered against the Austro-British army. On 15 August, it was at Penalva where the enemy was defeated. Then, on 20 August it was virtually annihilated at the Battle of Saragossa. The remnants of the regiment were gathered around Soria and was incorporated into the Army of Estremadura. Inspected in Plasencia by the king, the regiment was sent to man the Lines of the Tagus. The Confederate army left Madrid for Catalonia. On 9 December, the regiment was at the Combat of Brihuega against General Stanhope. On 10 December, it was at the Combat of Villaviciosa where Starhemberg was disgraced.
In 1711, the regiment was at the siege of Mirabet. Then, it joined Vendôme's Army. Thereafter, it manned the Lines of Calaf.
In 1712, the regiment operated in the Province of Lerida, under the Prince Tzerclaes-Tilly. It was quartered in Barbastro.
In 1713, the regiment was at the camp of Aitona where were gathered the forces of the Duke de Popoli . From there, the Spanish army marched against Barcelona.
In 1714, the regiment killed 300 insurgents in a fight in the village of Bagà. It then took part in the siege of Barcelona. On 11 September, the final assault was one of the bloodiest fight of the war. The regiment penetrated the breach at Puerta Nueva and reached the middle of the city. After the capture of Barcelona, it formed part of the garrison.
The unit probably retained its old uniform until 1704 or even 1707.
|Coat||purple with red lining and with tin buttons on the right side and 1 tin button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red with tin buttons|
|Stockings||red fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap|
|Gaiters||no information found|
Rank and file were armed with a sword, a bayonet and a musket
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.
In the infantry, officers wore a silver or gold gorget and a spontoon.
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: baton as worn under the reign of the Habsburg
- lieutenant: baton as worn under the reign of the Habsburg
- sub-lieutenant: baton with a horn band and a silver ring
The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:
- sergeant : baton without knob and halberd
- mariscal de logis (quartermaster): small white woolen epaulette
- brigadier: swagger stick
- corporal of squadron: swagger stick
- second corporal of squadron (rank suppressed in 1706): swagger stick
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This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Clonard, Conde de, Historia Orgánica de las Armas de Infantería y Caballería, vol. IX, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 5-95
Dr. Marco Pagan for the translation of the section of the work of the Conde de Clonard dedicated to the “Rey Regiment” (formerly “Castilla Regiment”).