Spanish tercios at the french fronteer (1570)


Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
Well Dupuydumazeldan...

A really very hard question. About bordered to Aragon. isn´t it?.

The Spanish Army under Hasbourg were consisted by three great set:

Ejército del Interior (Home Army): Only in Spain (Castile-Aragon-Navarre-Portugal-Granada)
Ejército del Exterior (Foreign Army): In Europe and Africa... Most of Tercios were in the Ejército del Exterior.Not all the Spcanish Army consisted by Tercios.. In fact, only a minority were Tercios. The Tercios were Elite Force... and between the Tercios were The Tercios Viejos (Old Tercios) they were the Elite between the Elite.
Ejército de Ultramar (Seaborne Army): in America, Asia etc.

So, you would like to know the Spanish Forces in Aragon, bordered Bearn.(Remember Home Army, Aragonese section).

Well. The military contribution of the Kingdom of Aragon within the Spanish Empire was aimed at defending the kingdom. These forces were created by an agreement adopted in the Aragonese courts or by agreement between the diferent estates (named Brazos in Aragon). The former were named Servicio General (General Service) and the later Servicio Particular (Particular Service). The Particular Service was set into the context of feudal-vassalage relations and the king only went to them in case of extreme need.

The General Service was carried out within certain condition:

1st: The chiefs of these units must be natural from the Kingdom of Aragon.
2nd: These units only could be employed in defense of the kingdom (Aragon).
3rd: Only volunteers. (Not compulsory service).
4th: For a certain period of time
5th: Under previously agreed conditions
6th: They had to know in advance the economic conditions of the service.

Under the famous Ferdinand II (V Castile) took place 3 General services approved by Courts (Tarazona, 1495, Saragossa, 1502, and Monzón, 1512). Not Service General at all after Monzón in 1512. Charles I and Philip II used the Particular Service instead of. Tne General Service in 1512 defeated the Béarnais who had invaded la Jacetania (Jaca region).

The General Service was funded by the Sisa, a kind of VA.

With the Habsburg, the King tried to submit to that Aragonese nobility and that feudal system to the Royal Army ... but that claim was not exempt from serious problems because of the opposition of the nobility protected by the fueros. (Old laws and privileges). The king justified his intervention in the many attacks that the French (Béarnais) did on Aragonese border: 1503 1512, 1521, 1579, 1589, 1592 and 1597 = 7 times.
The kingdom showed its local "zeal" when French invaded Navarre (d´Albrecht) . The Kingdom of Aragón "forgot to comply" with the "demands" for relief that King Charles I had requested.

So, dear Dupuydumazeldan...I am afraid not Tercios at all in Aragon in 1570 (nor sooner nor latter). For example, during the war with France (1551-1559) the Spaish Forces in Aragon (to guard the Bearn border) and to support the Forces in Catalonia consisted by: 997 men -of-arms. and 600 militiamen (August 1558) So it means around 3.000/4.000 men. Not Tercios at all.

In fact, the first time the Royal Army had standing units in Aragon... was in the year 1570.. but not tercio. The Royal Army in 1570 had in Aragón:

60 horsemen
200 arquebusiers.

This force was regular... belonged to the State (Royal Army). Not to the Feudal-vassalage Army as General or Particular Service.. but the Royal Army. But you can see: only 260 men for the whole of the Kingdom of Aragón. The cost of the army was 5.000 livres from Jaca in the year 1570.
In the year 1573, the Royal Army grew till 410 men (80 horsemen and 330 arquebusiers).

I hope to have help.

The Elite of the Spanish Forces... were not in Spain!!!! but fighting in Italy, Hungary, Germany, Flanders, France, Balkan... Africa... but funny... not in Spain!
We see Tercios in Spain in 1580 (they invaded Portugal) and in 17th Century... but that ... that's another story ...

Likes: Tulius
May 2017
Buenos dias y muchissimas gracias Caballero por vuestra generosidad y erudicion.I have discovered something very curious.During the war of Bearn (1569-1570) part of the third civil war (1568-1570),the king of Spain,Felipe II, has let Montgommery,the leader of the huguenots,exterminating in Navarrenx, Orthez and Pau the catholic army of the viconde de Lomagne de Terride.We know that the spanisn Navarra (Pampeluna etc...) was lost by the kings of Navarre in 1512.In 1562,the tercios Don Carvajal made the campaign in the province of Agen,and fought until the battle of Dreux.During the second civil war (1567-1568) the spanish troops (belgas-holandesas-mercenarios etc...) of Jean de Ligne,were ready to attack by the north but did Nothing.I ask myself if the passivity of Felipe II was justified by his hostility to the presence of the army of Charles IX at the fronteers of the Basque country,Aragon and Catalonia..The result of his passivity was the total Victory of Montgommery,and the edification of a big french Navarre in the north,with the huguenot religion of state (the catholicism was forbidden).Curiously,when Coligy made the tour de France,from Montcontour to Arnay le Duc,Felipe II gave no orders to fight against the huguenots,and in these conditions,the heroe of Saint Jean d Angely,the famous baron Armand de Clermont de Piles (killed in Paris the 24 august 1572) entered in Catalonia and recruited a batallion of "bandoleros" who were used for the training of the new soldiers recruited in the South,and to win in Borgona against, the luterians german reitres of Charles IX…..absolutely unic.Perhaps Felippe II was satisfied to see a little state,in rivality with the kingdom of France,creating a sort of "glacis de seguridad".During the others wars of Religion,the spanish troops have fought everywhere,except in Bearn,which was at the fronteer.Really curious.
Likes: Tulius


Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
Merci opour ton aimables et préciaux paroles que j´ai beacoup de estimés quand´elles viennent d´un bon et admirable internaute comme vous. The Béarn-Aragón Front was very difficult to be operated... in both directions... so, nor French nor Spanish had never many forces there... most of them local forces (in both sides).

By other side as you well know... in that operation theater... is almost impossible.... in 1570 only little local groups... nothing more... for an Army was impossible.

Spanish - French (Aragon - Bearn) border:

So... Can you imagine in 1570? Monte Perdido -Gavarnier area.

By other side you are right.... Philip II was very strange rol during French Religious war... Well, in fact, as it is said by a French historian girl.... Philip is one of the most mysterious man in history. He wanted a Catholic France but yes... why not a Secutiry glacis... he was also a Burgundian at the end of the day...

I prefer to lost one thounsand times one thousand kingdoms than being king of heretics for one day.

Maybe one day i will write sur Philippe if I can.

Merci, mon ami.

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