Illustration for Twisting-Toyz
WWII action figures
Sketch by Davide Fabbri
color by me.
Pontifical Swiss Guard
Swiss Guards is the name that has been given to Swiss mercenary soldiers who have served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards, and palace guards at foreign European courts from the late 15th century until the present day.
They are now represented in some sense by the Papal Swiss Guard.
They have generally had a high reputation for discipline and
loyalty to their employers. Apart from household and guard
units, some formations have also served as fighting troops in
There were, for example, regular Swiss mercenary regiments
serving as line troops in various armies, notably those of
France, Spain and Naples until the 19th century.
Various units of "Swiss Guards" have existed for hundreds of
The earliest such detachment was the Swiss "Hundred Guard"
(Cent-Garde) at the French court (1497 1830).
This small force was complemented in 1567 by a Swiss Guard
regiment. The Papal Swiss Guard in the Vatican was founded
in 1506 and is the only Swiss Guard that still exists. In the
18th century several other Swiss Guards existed for periods in
various European courts.
The Corps of the Pontifical Swiss Guard or Swiss Guard (Ger:
Schweizergarde, Ital. Guardia Svizzera Pontificia, Lat.
Pontificia Cohors Helvetica, or Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a
Pontificis) is something of an exception to the Swiss rulings
of 1874 and 1927. It is a small force responsible for the
safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic
Palace and access to the entrances to the Vatican City. Its
official language is Swiss German.
While the error is understandable, it is wrongly said to be
part of the Military of the Vatican City, since an army of the
sovereign state of the Vatican no longer exists.
The Swiss Guard has served the popes since the 1500s.
Ceremonially, they shared duties in the Papal household with
the Palatine Guard and Noble Guard, both of which were
disbanded in 1970 under Paul VI.
Today the Papal Swiss Guard have taken over the ceremonial
roles of the former units. At the end of 2005, there were 134
members of the Swiss Guard.
This number consisted of a Commandant (bearing the rank of
"oberst" or Colonel), a chaplain, three officers, one sergeant
major ("feldweibel"), 30 NCOs, and 99 "halberdiers", the rank
equivalent to private (so called because of their traditional Halberd).