Human history has been fraught with wars and conflict. And to serve this conflict, amies have marched across the Earth since the day mankind grew enough to form nations. Though nations have risen and fallen since the dawn of man, many persist even to this day. If we were to ask ourselves about the oldest army in the world, we’d have to first look amongst the longest-running countries and states.
Spain, France, Rome, and Britain represent some of the oldest nations and empires of the world. Their history is rich with conquest, victory and defeat. Their borders have expanded and receded ceaselessly throughout the centuries. And all of this has been possible because of the discipline and strategical deployment shown by their troops.
If we were to look for the oldest military unit that is still active today, we’d have to settle on the “King’s Own Immemorial 1st Infantry Regiment”. This regiment belongs to the Spanish Army, and was founded almost 800 years ago, in the year 1248. During Spain’s conquest of Seville, the then-king ‘King Ferdinand III of Castile’ assaulted and took over a tower with some of the troops. The king showed such bravery and control throughout the whole ordeal that the men accompanying him found a new level respect and admiration for him.
When the campaign against Seville ended, the king decided to keep those men as a new force, thus founding the above-mentioned regiment. It was one of the earliest formal armies in Europe at that time, and remains to date the oldest active one. The regiment has seen many name changes throughout the centuries, and only got its present name in the year 1995.
The First Honor Guard Company of the regiment wears a white uniform with a green emblem. Grenadiers were selected from amongst the bravest and the tallest of the soldiers. Grenadiers usually formed the vanguard when storming a building, and wore the colors of their country to let the opposing troops know who was coming. Grenadiers used to, and still do, wear short sabers.
The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire by William Maltby is an interesting and concise read about the Spanish Empire, which once stretched across a huge portion of the globe. The book focuses on all the important events that took place, who they were orchestrated by, and why they happened. It also discusses the various groups and organizations that frequently came and went as Spanish society evolved and the Empire grew and fell.
- Swiss Guard (Wikipedia)
- Vatican City (Wikipedia)