Tercio de Flandes

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

Origin and History

On 27 February 1566, a unit known as the Tercio de Lombardia was raised by Don Sancho de Londoño. It counted 10 companies (4 of arquebusiers and 6 of pikemen), totalling 2,200 men. On 2 June 1567, the tercio was incorporated into the expeditionary force led by the Duke of Alba and destined to Flanders. This army crossed Savoy and Bourgogne, entered into Flemish territories and arrived at Thionville. From 1567 to 1577, this Spanish army fought the Protestants in the Low Countries. In 1577, the tercio was transferred to Milan and served in Italy until 1580 when it was sent back to the Low Countries. For the next 10 years, the tercio took part in campaigns in the Low Countries.

In 1590, the Tercio de Lombardia was renamed Tercio departamental de Flandes. Its headquarters were now in Malines (present-day Mechelen). The same year, the tercio was sent to France to relieve Paris and support the Catholic League in its combat against the French Protestants. The tercio then served in France until 1594 when it took up its quarters in Namur. In 1595, it served in Flanders. In 1596, the tercio took part in the capture of Calais and then returned to Saint-Omer and operated in Flanders. It took up its winter quarters in Ypres where it was reinforced with 8 companies from the disbanded tercio of Don Martin Mejia. In 1597, the tercio saw action at Amiens (11 March) and wintered in Tournai and Saint-Amand. In 1598, it operated in the Duchy of Cleves and in Westphalia. In 1599, it fought on the Meuse River and took up its quarters at Namur. In 1600, it took part in the Battle of Nieuwpoort (2 July) won by the Dutch army. The tercio then retreated towards Bruges with the Spanish army. From 1601 to 1604, the tercio took part in the siege of Ostend who finally capitulated on 20 September 1604. In 1605 and 1606, the tercio operated on the Rhine.

In 1614, the tercio was part of the Spanish army who invaded the Duchy of Jülich. In 1617, the tercio returned to Flanders and took up its quarters in Malines.

In 1624, the tercio garrisoned the town of Essen and then took part in the siege of Breda who surrendered on 5 June 1625. In 1626, it relieved Lingen and Grohl, besieged by a Dutch army. From 1627 to 1635, the tercio served in the Low Countries. On 1 January 1632, when the tercio was reviewed in Bruxelles, it counted only 1,218 men divided up in 21 companies. In 1636, it was part of the army who invaded Picardie. In 1637, this army retired from France and returned to Flanders. In 1638, it initially garrisoned Hulst but retired to Beveren to prevent the enemy to penetrate into Brabant. On 20 June 1638, it fought in the Battle of Kallo. In 1640, the tercio tried to relieve Arras. In 1641, it was at Aire. In 1642, it fought against the French at Honcourt. From 1643 to 1645, it served in Brabant. After the defeat of Rocroi, the tercio retired to Lorraine. In 1646, after the loss of Courtrai, the tercio retired to Brabant and finally took refuge under the guns of Bruges. In 1647, it took part in the reconquest of Armentiers, Landrecies and Dixmude. In 1648, it recaptured Courtrai and fought in the Battle of Lens (20 August).

In 1649, the tercio joined the Spanish army concentrating in Cambrai which recaptured Ypres. From 1650 to 1659 , it took part in the campaigns in Northern France.

In 1667, the tercio defended Fournes and capitulated with the honours of war. In 1668, after the peace, it garrisoned Maastricht.

In 1672, the tercio left Maastricht and joined a Dutch army which had crossed the Meuse River to fight the French and to besiege Charleroi. When the Allied army was forced to lift the siege, the tercio retired to its quarters in Maastricht. In 1673, it was forced to abandon the town who soon surrendered to a French army. From 1674 to 1678, the tercio served in Flanders against the French.

In 1683, when war broke out once more in Flanders, the tercio occupied Antwerp which was finally captured by the French in 1684.

In 1689, the tercio joined a corps from Brandenburg and took part in the relief of Bossu besieged by the French. In 1690, it defended the lines of the Sambre River, took part in the Battle of Fleurus (1 July) and, after the defeat, retired to Bruxelles. In 1691, it was sent to defend Mons who capitulated on 10 April. In 1692, the tercio vainly tried to prevent the capture of Namur. In 1693, it was at the defeat of Neerwinden (29 July). In 1694, it recaptured Huy (28 September) and then marched to Bruxelles. In 1695, after the recapture of Namur, it was sent to this place as garrison.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the command of:

  • in 1701: Don Juan Antonio Hurtado de Amézaga
  • in ????: Don Francisco de los Rios, Marquis de los Rios
  • from 1715: Don Fernando Mariño, Marquis de la Sierra

Service during the War

In 1702, the tercio joined the French forces and besieged Kikuyt (unidentified location).

In 1703, the tercio took part in the sieges of Huy and Liepart (unidentified location). On 30 June, it fought in the Battle of Ekeren.

In 1705, the tercio defended the Lines of Brabant and covered the retreat when the Allies broke through these lines.

In 1706, after the Battle of Ramilies, the tercio defended Ghent and surrendered on 28 May. The capitulation specified that the tercio could not participate in hostilities in the Low Countries for the rest of the war.

In 1713, the tercio returned to Spain and took up its quarters in Benavente.



Uniform circa 1702 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Musketeer black tricorne laced silver with a red cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced silver with a red cockade
Neckstock white
Coat grey-white with red lining, pewter buttons on the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with pewter buttons
Breeches red
Stockings red fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Leather Equipement
Crossbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Footwear black shoes with a brass buckle


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. VIII, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 77-126