Thursday, 26 March 2009

An Introduction and an Excellent Reference Work

The Tactical formation of the French Infantry under Louis XIV
Reprinted from "The Spanish 'Tercios' 1525 - 1704"
Dr. Pierre Picouet and Dr. Susana Pombo

Now that Ralphus has "Let open the gates" so to speak, please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste... No, sorry, that's the Rolling Stones. What I am is Sir William the Aged (or other adjectives depending on the wife's mood), AKA Bill McHenry. I reside in that quaint corner of the World known as North Texas, formerly of the Republic of Texas, late of the Confederate States, home to the Kiowa and Comanche, and usually a grudging participant in the United States of America. One would think that the Lace Wars would be about as far from Texas as you could get, but not so! The early history of Tejas, as it was known to the Spanish, is filled with explorers and settlers from Spain, Mexico and France. Early 18th century settlers included Irish and Germans as well. To this day there are still many ethno-centric communities throughout Texas that still honor their heritage with festivals and museums. In 1691 a group of explorers and missionaries arrived at a river and native American village in South Tejas on June 13th, the feast day of St. Anthony, and named the spot and the river in his honor. Later, in 1716, the Spanish Council of War approved establishing a presidio, or fort, on this site and called the fort and resulting settlement San Antonio, the second-largest city in Texas today with well over 2 million souls. No Lace Wars in Texas you say?

I have been a figure collector since the late 60's, a wargamer since the early 70's, a painter, contributor to Society journals, occasional figure reviewer, and general bon vivant for way too many years. I did take a hiatus from all things gaming from 1991 until 2006, just got burnt out from the constant traveling, tournaments, conventions, and so on. Also got very tired of feeling like I needed a lawyer (solicitor to the folks across the Pond) present to play a game. Too much stress. My return has been hampered by pesky health problems, the product of my mis-spent youth, no doubt; but I think those are mainly behind me and I'm ready to return with a vengeance!
So, on to the good stuff! As I sit here stewing the chicken (no, that's not a euphemism, I am the commissariot for today and am making my famous stewed chicken with home made noodles), I've been trawling some of my favorite sites and gathering material for my upcoming French army of 1661 to 1680. One of my favorite sites of late was referenced in a comment I made to an earlier post, The Spanish “Tercios” 1525 - 1704. This site was obviously a labor of love for its creator's, Dr. Pierre Picouet and Dr. Susana Pombo. As the name would indicate, the Tercio and its development are the primary focus, and well documented and explained if you're into Spanish armies. After spending the morning re-reading much of the material there, and contemplating opponents for my French, I decided that this site deserved more exposure than a simple comment. The site contains an amazing amount of information, all laid out and presented in a very scholarly and orderly manner. You can not only follow the Spanish development, but click on chapters dealing with the "Combat Tactics" of the era, from which the illustration above is lifted, for all major western nations. You can also click on the chapter for "Foreign Forces of Europe" for a summary of all of the major participants and...the Ottoman Empire! This is an especially welcome chapter as the Ottoman's are not covered in many on-line reference sources. Ottomans and Spanish in the Med or Vienna and 1683?
Here's the link for the site:

If you are primarily interested in recreating the Spanish of the era, there are, of course, several excellent chapters dealing with them. One of the more useful for gamers would be chapter 3, "Weapons and Uniforms", from which these two plates are derived:

Musketeer and the colours of the Morados Viejo Regiment of Seville in the later part of the 17th century. Excellent reference for the budding painter of a Spanish Army! There is also a color matrix showing the uniform colors and location of all of the Spanish regiments of foot, in Europe and Colonial, at the close of the century. Good stuff! I have a copy of James Hinde's book, "Spanish Army of Phillip V" published by Editions Brokaw on the way, which should "dovetail" nicely with this site to let me do a possible Spanish army when my French are finished. Wars of the Devolution anyone? Spanish can be very colorful!
That's enough for now. Hopefully I can provide some bits of useful information from time to time. Like Ralphus, I too have been a re-enactor in the past, but my re-enacting involved a pair of reproduction Colt Richards-Mason conversion 1851 revolvers, a reproduction Winchester M1866 (the Yellow Boy), and playing Cowboy a lot. Probably not the same thing, but it does require the same attention to accuracy and detail if done right.
Until next, vaya con Dios
Sir William the Aged


Ralphus said...

excellent stuff Bill... very grateful for your contributions. I also have the 'Spanish Army of Philip 'V and have felt something ought to be written about the Spanish but found myself a bit adrift. Thanks for some great info

Sir William the Aged said...

"De nada señor"

Glad for the opportunity. I'd love to see someone out there tackle the Spanish, very colorful with all the yellows, purples, oranges and reds!


Anonymous said...

Don't forget GianCarlo Boeri's book, "The Spanish Armies in the War of the League of Augsburg (Nine Years War 1688-97)" Copies are available on CD from me at or Peter Berry at Baccus


Dan Schorr

Poliamore said...

An excellent reference work. I have found your site a very informative and useful resource. I am a guide at the Fortress of Fenestrelle (a Savoy fortress constructed to keep out L 14 from Piedmont.
Would love to show you around some time!

Geronimo2006 said...

Is that Spanish soldier wearing lapels? Unusual for the time.

Anonymous said...

the links in english is down... this is the same link but in spanish.