Real Guardia de Alabarderos
Origin and History
N.B.: the principal source about the Alabarderos (halbardiers) was lost during the Spanish Civil War.
The Guard of Alabarderos was a palace guard unit, the halberd being the attribute of the Royal Guard, raised on May 6 1707 from veterans coming from three ancient company sized units of Philip IV:
- la Amarilla' ( “The yellow one”)
- la Lancilla
- la Viéja (literally “The ancient/old unit “)
The throne of San Fernando was now under the French sphere of influence. Besides political matter, France was, at that time, leader in military organization.
Philip V was an Anjou and, when he reached the Palace of Buen Retiro, was 17 years old and could not speak Spanish. Louis XIV of France boasted “…..Pyrenees Mountains are no more…”
The brand new unit mustered:
- 4 officers
- 1 captain
- 1 1st lieutenant
- 2 2nd lieutenant
- 1 adjutant
- 100 men (later 150) armed with halberds.
Some variation may be found:
- 1 captain
- 1 1st lieutenant
- 1 2nd lieutenant
- 1 1st sergeant
- 1 2nd sergeant
- 1 chaplain
- 1 quartermaster
- 4 corporals (Cabos de Escuadra)
- 100 soldiers
- ? drummers
- 2 oboists
The Spanish Household units were modelled along French lines. The Alabarderos assumed a similar role as the French Garde du dedans (Inner Guard) of the Louvre Palace. Indeed, the Alabarderos were in charge of the internal security service of the Palace. They depended from the Mayordomo Mayor de Palacio but received orders directly from the king. They in particular controlled the doors of the Royal Apartments and the stairs. Their barracks were located on the Tesoro del Rey road.
In term of precedence, the unit ranked immediately after the Reales Guardias de Corps.
During the reign of Philip V, the unit was under the command of three successive captains:
- from: 1707: Martín de Guzmán, marquis de Montealegre y Quintana
- from 1731: prince de Masserano desde el 1731 hasta el 1740.
- from 1740: duke de Medinaceli.
As for the captains of the companies of the Reales Guardias de Corps, the captain of Alabarderos also ranked as general of the Spanish army and Grandes de España. Officers as well as soldiers had to demonstrate their nobility and purety of blood.
Service during the War
The unit did not take part in any campaign, remaining in Madrid as palace guard.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced silver with a red cockade|
|Coat||blue lined scarlet with 6 silver buttons and 6 silver buttonholes arranged 1-2-3 top-down
|Waistcoat||scarlet edged silver with silver buttons and silver buttonholes (left side only); horizontal pockets laced silver|
|Stockings||red with silver knee garters|
Armaments consisted of a halberd and a sword.
Same uniform as the troopers with the following exceptions:
- coat, cuffs, pockets and waistcoat edged and heavily laced with a silver braid
- white stockings
no information available
The unit never received guidons nor standards.
Album de Taccoli, 1759
Chartrand, René and Bill Younghusband; Spanish Army of the Napoleonic wars., Vol. 321, 332 and 334, Men-at-arms series, Osprey
Gonzalez, Manuel Gimenez; El Ejército y La Armada desde la antiguedad hasta 1862, 1st Ed., Madrid: Almena Ediciones, 2003
Dr. Marco Pagan for the initial version of this article.