the Swiss guards protect for over 500 years, the Pope and the Vatican. Their colourful parade uniform alludes to the time of the birth. It is not only in the colors of the Vatican. The POM POM Sleeves, the stockings and the caps come the style from the early 16th century. Century. Similarly, the huge helmets, chest armor, and the weapons with the halberd. The guard consists, since the year 1506, the Pontificia Cohors Helvetica is the oldest active military Formation in the world. Immortal fame of the troupe, however, only 21 years later.

super power Switzerland

Around the year 1500 in Switzerland rose for a short time to the military super power. The end of the 15. Century revolutionized the Swiss to land the conduct of the war. The free land of the Confederation were considered from the surrounding feudal lords for a long time sought after. You did Try the Swiss to submit to. But their will to resist and their ability, the characteristics of the landscape for the conduct of the war to exploit, led to the Failure of the invaders. In the so-called Burgundian wars of the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold tried to defeat the most modern army of the world the Confederation, and was beaten at the end of crushing. His army of well-trained armored knights were overrun by the “violent bunch” of Swiss farmers.


The mercenaries plundered the treasures of the town and murdered the inhabitants.

©akg-images Picture-Alliance

The Swiss used their foot soldiers in large groups. They put in huge rectangles, extremely long skewers, the mounted knights held them by the neck. These clusters were in motion, had to March in the front rows more, of the following bunch pressed them forward. Nothing could stop these formations. So two things happened at the same time: The infantry-dominated for the first Time in centuries the battle-field, and hardly-trained foot soldiers were the state-of-the knightly profession, warrior is superior. These men forced their way into the international Mercenaries, and changed it tremendously. The war was big business.

+++ read more about this topic, too: How farmers, the proud knight, and makes Switzerland a super +++

has been defeated The best soldiers in the world

of Course, wanted to be the Pope of the best soldiers in the world protect. Sure, it has also played a role that was found in the ränkevollen the Rome of the Renaissance country foreign trust-worthy, than the Locals. With the Gold of the Fuggers, the first 150 “rice runners were recruited” for the protection of the Pope. Your greatest test you had 21 years later. The whole of Italy sank back into Wars and Chaos. The Swiss way of warfare was quickly adapted, also German and Spanish mercenaries fought now in this way.

infantry Like peasants, the proud knight, the deeds of the defeated and Switzerland to became super power By Gernot Kramper

the Mercenaries rulers were able to set up in a short time very large armies – you also. The Problem: you were unable to pay this amount of soldiers. And that’s what happened in Italy. There, the Habsburg Charles V against the French king Francis I. to Charles’s unpaid troops fought rebel. As the leader of the German Landsknechte Georg von Frundsberg, a stroke suffered, they decided to plunder and to keep on this way, harmless.

189 Swiss of 24,000 mercenaries

the 24,000 German mercenaries, Spanish mercenaries and Italian Condottieri to rolling around in Rome. The Pope himself had little of its own troops, the militias of the citizens of the city didn’t want to take the fight against the war-tested troops. Almost effortlessly, the mercenaries entered the town and caused a bloodbath.

Fitness somersault in full armor, and slingshots – the most famous of all the knights Of Gernot Kramper

Incompetent consultants trained had the Pope Clement VII, previously insured, that the wild Mercenary cluster was never the fortifications of the city break. So Clement remained in the city and was surprised by the war cries of the mercenaries in the prayer. Only the Swiss guard of only 189 man braced himself against the murderous mercenaries. In order to allow the Pope to flee, stood up to 147 Swiss under the commander Kaspar Had on the St. Peter’s square to the attackers.

Protestants, protect the Pope,

Kaspar Had been since 1518 the captain of the Swiss guard, his father Marx had held the office. In the meantime, had set in Zurich, the hometown of Had the Reformation. But in spite of the differences of Belief, the guards were not retrieved. Even in 1523 the Council of the city of the Pope assured: “We… will never fall off of Your Holiness and the Holy see.” First, in 1526, was won by the unduldsame reformer, Zwingli, in Zurich, the mercenaries should return to Switzerland. Now, however, the commander refused. He and his men as “true men of war, and servants” were not in the position of the Pope and the College of cardinals to leave now “in great distress” in the lurch. So it was that the guards, the of the Reformation were close, were the last defenders of the Pope Klemens VII., which protected him from the Catholic mercenaries.

On St. Peter’s square, the guard resisted, until all the Swiss who had fallen. The last of the guards have died under the high altar of St. Peter’s. As they fell, was also sealed the fate of the civilians that had sought refuge in the Church. All the Romans were slaughtered by the frenzied Spaniards down. Kaspar injured dragged into his apartment was Had a hard. The mercenary followed the commander and hacked him on the bed, in pieces. His wife, Elizabeth Klingler threw himself protectively over the Dying and lost several fingers.

The victim saved the Pope

In the meantime, escort the remaining 42 guardsmen, under the leadership of Hercules Göldli the Pope through a secret passage in the angel castle. The former Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Hadrian was expanded to a fortress, where the guards of a multi-week siege defied. Until the Pope agreed to a harsh peace Treaty.

In this way, the Pope was rescued, while his city was plundered in the so-called Sacco di Roma, eight days and burnt. 12,000 inhabitants were murdered. Until today, all the new guards are on the 06. In may, the day of the Sacco di Roma, sworn in.

The legendary commander Had appeared in numerous historical and fantastic novels. Also, the Swedish Power Metal Band Sabaton keeps the memory alive. Their Song “The Last Stand” – also the title of the albums specific – describes the struggle of the guards in St. Peter’s square in pathetic words.

source: shepherd’s staff and halberd: The Pope of the Royal Swiss guard in Rom 1506-2006

you can also read:

– How to farmers, the proud knights and Switzerland to

– Salto was skidding defeated in full armor and Stone – the most famous of all the knights.

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