The Catholic monarchs’ healthy ideal of establishing unity in Spain was not without good and legitimate reasons, but in practice the question of religion was still an unrealizable dream. The Muslims who remained on the peninsula appeared to be submission and, above all, a false conversion, and the more rebellious who went to Africa were a focus in the Mediterranean waters of the perpetual piracy that was in constant distress on the Levantine coast. in addition to a dangerous connection to the impending expansion of the Ottoman Empire.
In order to stop this evil, in the opinion of the Queen and on the advice of Cardinal Cisneros, it was decided to take North Africa. Meanwhile, King Ferdinand, remembering ancient aspirations of the Kingdom of Aragon, placed kings on the Italian peninsula.
To carry out this plan, drawn up by the wise Don Fernando, a military expedition under the command of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, already accredited in the guides of Granada, set out for Italy to implement new tactics and new concepts of infantry who would be left behind in future competitions would be the one who would be the best infantry in the world. In Italy he was to meet an opponent who had not supported the plans of the Spanish king, the French king Carlos VIII. But Don Gonzalo does not care about the aspirations of this monarch to defeat in a resounding way, to increase his fame and rank. Spain in the performance area. The Great Captain who laid the foundation for this unforgettable infantry will be the one who, over time, once his mythical epic is over, will give way to modern military organizations and, while maintaining his spirit of patriotic love, will create the glorious Tercios. for giving Spain so much prestige.
These thirds, created in Italy, received their entirety to Flanders, where they caused so much fear and admiration that they made people scream with enthusiasm for the camp during their parades. Rather, they all seemed to be children of noble birth because they were arrogant and gallant.
In Italy and in 1530 the first four thirds were formed: that of Sicily, Naples, Lombardy and Sardinia. Then the one with the Spanish name would be added: Malaga. The Sicilian one depicted on the sign was commanded by Field Master Don Diego Enrquez, and the second chief was Sergeant Major Don Antonio de Vila.
As I said, these Tercios de Espaoles were created in Italy and are usually located there. Old thirds, which were named later and were endowed with new blood, were sent to Flanders while Charles V was still ruling, and which reached their maximum splendor under Felipe II. The name Tercio is not clear enough and its origin is unclear. Some historians say it is because the three arms are formed: crossbowmen, arquebusiers, and pikemen; others, reduced as a primitive force from 3,000 men to 1,000, accepted a third of it. Most obvious, however, its establishment is inspired by the ancient Roman legions, which consisted of 3,000 soldiers in its day.
Each tercio was composed by three colonels according to the authorized version of the Earl of Clonard, reduced to 12 companies of the 60 originally composed. Each colonel was ordered by a colonel, and the command of the three was exercised by a field master. Of the 12 companies, two were Harquebusiers and ten were pikemen. Their organization was as follows: field master, sergeant major, furriel major, munitions man, drum general, company captain Barrichel, company lieutenant, doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, chaplain and 8 German halberds for the field master’s honor guard. .
This panel shows three components of the Tercio Sicilia: a sergeant with a complete corset, a bastion, cut breeches, a halberd and a girdled sword; The arquebusier wears a steel lattice collar, a bacinete, stabbed riding breeches and a doublet, equipped with an arquebus and a sword, glasses with gunpowder, a pocket for bullets and a wick. The pikeman wears the corset complete with gloves, bastion and armed with shield, long lance and sword; choked leggings.
The Tercio Sicilia was not only active in its beginnings for the Milanese and Piedmont, but also took part with Carlos V in the army of the Marquis del Vasto and in the siege of Vienna by Solimn II. He left Vienna in March with the Emperor in October 1532, to arrive in Barcelona the following year, where he took care of the preparations for the attack on Tunis and the schooner, an operation the Emperor carried out in the company of the Duke of Alba, Don Alvaro de, personally carried out Bazn and Andrea Doria. In 1535 the great battle would take place and our Tercio seems to have fought with a remarkable brother until Tunis was victoriously conquered.
He also intervened when the attack on the possession of Algiers, where the Spanish weapons had suffered a major setback, more because of bad weather that did not allow total action.
Later the Sicilian third was ordered to come to the aid of the King of Tunisia, Muley Hassan. As soon as the order was fulfilled, he had to face the behavior of his field master Don lvaro de Saud.
Already at the end of the emperor’s reign he appeared in an open fight against the reformers in the Battle of Mhlberg in the army of the Duke of Alba.
At the beginning of the reign of Felipe II, the old Tercio Departamental de Sicilia was sent to northern France and Flanders. He fought in the army of the Marquis del Vasto throughout the French Picarde and then intervened in São Paulo, Montrel and Terouann. then in Carmaola, where Del Vasto’s rival, the Marquis of Saluces, perishes.
The decree of 1560 increases the strength of the Tercio Sicilia, its companies increase to 300 men and those of the Tercio to 3,000, anticipating a campaign carried out on a large scale by Flanders and organized by the Third Duke. from Alba, Don Fernando de Toledo. Our Tercio is now commanded by one of its most respected leaders: Don Julin Romero, and with him he will cover himself with glory during the past and long campaign that sparked the uprising in the Netherlands.
Text and drawing by Miguel Montaner
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