The Spanish Tercios 1536–1704

The Spanish Tercios 1536–1704

Men-at-Arms 481
  • Author: Ignacio J.N. López
  • Illustrator: Gerry Embleton
  • Short code: MAA 481
  • Publication Date: 20 Jul 2012
  • Number of Pages: 48
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About this Product

A mixed infantry formation made up of about 3,000 men armed with pikes, swords and handguns, the innovative and influential tercio or 'Spanish square' was the basic combat unit of the armies of Spain throughout much of the 16th and 17th centuries. Arguably the first permanent tactical formation seen in Europe since the Roman cohort, the tercio was the forerunner of modern formations such as the battalion and regiment. The variety of different weapons fielded in the tercio meant the Spanish infantry could resist opposing cavalry forces while overcoming every kind of enemy infantry deployed against them. Featuring full-colour artwork and photographs of rare items held at the Spanish Army Museum, this study covers the whole period during which the tercios were active, opening with the third Italian war between the forces of France and the Holy Roman Emperor and concluding with the final transformation of the Spanish tercios into regiments in 1704.

Biographical Note

A captain in the Spanish infantry, Ignacio J.N. López studied at the military academies of Lerida, Zaragoza and Toledo and is currently a professor at the Spanish Army NBC School. This is his first book for Osprey.


Antecedents of tercios in Gonzalo de Córdoba's early 16th-century Italian campaigns
Ordinance of Geneva, and creation of first tercios by Emperor Charles V
Recruitment, training, organization and logistics - the ‘Spanish Road' across Europe
Ranks and duties within a tercio
Morale and esprit de corps - the ‘Spanish Fury'
Weapons, armour, clothing, flags
Tactics - use of weapons in combination
Evolution - orders of battle - naval tercios

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