The Spanish army

1 The Spanish armies

Spain had been the first land power in Europe up to the peace of the Pyrenees in 1659. By 1700 the Spanish army had however been annihilated by financial mismanagement, especially the inability of the crown to pay a regular sold to its soldiers.

To a certain extent the 'Spanish army' did not exist. There was a Spanish army in Spain, one in the Spanish Netherlands, and one in Italy, all with their own paymasters.

We'll start with the army in the Spanish Netherlands, then the army in Spain and finally describe the Spanish army in Italy. A lot of information about the previous tercios of the Spanish army can be found at La época de los Tercios (archived)

2 The Spanish army in Spain

Some say that in Spain itself the Spanish army numbered only about 17,000 men in 1700. On 24 December 1702 it was stated to count 17 infantry regiments and 7 cavalry regiments. That same day a decree was issued to bring all infantry regiments to a strength of 1,000 men, the cavalry regiments to 500 men and to raise 1 cavalry and 4 dragoon regiments, but one can doubt the execution of this decree20.

3 The army in the Spanish Netherlands

The regiments of the army in the Spanish Netherlands are described on separate pages. cf Spanish Netherlands Cavalry and Spanish Netherlands Infantry.

In the Spanish Netherlands the strength had gone from 70,000 in 1658 via 15,000 in 1690 to perhaps not more than 6,500 in 1695 1. By 1701 the army of the Spanish Netherlands numbered 18 'miserable' infantry regiments and 14 cavalry and dragoon regiments to a total of 6,000 'gueux et voleurs' (beggars and thiefs).

The task to rebuild the army in the Spanish Netherlands was entrusted to Puysegur. His job was to rebuild this army to 49 infantry battalions of 650 men and 46 cavalry and dragoon squadrons of 140 men each. These were to be supported by 6 Spanish and 3 Italian infantry regiments. This plan thus called for an army of about 44,000 men. This was not unreasonable for this part of the Spanish Empire, but the bad reputation for payment and the short time in which the soldiers had to be recruted forced the government to press young men into service, which had a negative effect on the quality and loyalty of these troops.

On 20 July 1702 there were 25 batallions and 27 squadrons in service2. Somewhat later an overview of the cavalry was made which showed 31 cavalry squadrons and 9 dragoon squadrons3. By January 1702 another 20 battalions were forming and the cavalry strength was listed as 40 squadrons4 .

4 The Spanish army in Italy

4.1 The situation in Milan

In the Spanish part of Italy there was also a Spanish Army. For the Duchy of Milan some particulars are known of the situation in May 1703. At that time the infantry of the duchy numbered 12 battalions of whom 3 foreign. Also in 1703 the Spanish cavalry in northern Italy numbered 7 cavalry regiments and 1 dragoon regiment and totalled 4,124 horse. The Spanish contribution in northern Italy was however especially welcome as regards the large amounts of artillery that were available in the arsenal of Pavia. This and the large quantities of forage that Lombardy provided would substantially aid the two crowns against the alliance30

4.2 Spanish cavalry in Italy

4.3 Spanish infantry in Italy

5 Sources

The two most important sources for the Spanish Army of the time are SAMANIEGO and CLONARD.

SAMANIEGO wrote the Disertacion sobre la Antiguedad de los Regimientos de Infanteria, Cavalleria y Dragones de Espana in 1738.

CLONARD wrote the very large work: Historia Organica de las armas de Infanteria y Caballeria.

PELET brought together an enormous amount of Orders of Battle and other data about the War of the Spanish Succession. In these data many names of regiments of the Spanish Netherlands are mentioned, giving the opportunity to cross-check data.

6 Notes

1) Israel
2) Pelet Tome 1 page 98
3) Staatse Leger VIII/I
4) Pelet Tome 1 page 540 renders this in a state made by Puységur on 21 January 1702
20) The Hollandsche Mercurius for 1703 page 139 mentions a decree issued in Montferrat on 24 December 1702.
30) See 1706 Le Aquile e i Gigli. Una Storia mai Scritta by Jean Cerino Badone
31) Letter by Electress Sophie to Leibniz on 19 November 1701 about the fight near Cassano d'Adda: '....Les Imperiaus ont passé le 31 le Dada la nuit et ont ruiné 3 regiments espagnols, celuy de Sesto (700), Fuenstes(600) et Moray (500)...
32) Letter by Electress Sophie to Leibniz on 19 November 1701
33) Letter by Electress Sophie to Leibniz on 19 November 1701, also mentioned by Pelet Tome 1 page 597 as 'De Mauroy'espanols 6 escadrons.
36) Pelet Tome 1 page 623 mentions Napolitenean troops which probably were from the Naples tercio
37) Nouvelle collection de Mémoirs pour servir à l'histoire de France, has Berwick memoirs with the statement about Louvigny.
41) Clonard V8 page 5 for the Corona regiment a.k.a. Mar de Napoles
42) Clonard V8 page 181 for the Lisboa regiment later known as Zaragoza. As Lisboa in SAMANIEGO
43) Clonard V7 page 349 about the Sicilia Tercio, and SAMANIEGO under AFRICA
44) Clonard V7 page 356 (mistyped as 256) about the Vilches regiment
45) Pelet Tome 1 page 623 renders the 'Relation de la trahison faite aux troupes espagnoles et françaises à la Mirandole, par la princesse de ce nom, le 21 décembre 1701. It tells of Spanish troops: 'du régiment d'Aguilar, terces de Lombardie'. Also CLONARD v. 7 p. 423
46) Clonard V7 page 472 mentions Don Tomas Caraccioli's regiment
47) Pelet Tome 1 page 625 has a Spanish 'Savoy' regiment, and CLONARD vol 7 p. 96