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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject: Swiss Guard honored for 500 years of service         Reply with quote

The Vatican's Swiss Guard reached its 500th anniversary today. They began as a band of Swiss mercenaries who came to protect Pope Julius II in 1506. They have remained a fixture at the Vatican since then.

I'm not a Catholic, so I have no particular ties to the Vatican. This group fascinates me, though, since their dress has not really changed from a 16th century style. They carry halberds and wear plumed morions. They're certainly an interesting link to the past.

CNN Article







(photos from the Associated Press)

Happy

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I've certainly followed this with interest. My grandfather, Henry (Heinrich) Tobler, was a guard in the early 1920's before coming to America:



All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Too bad they didn't wear their half-armor. They have some awesome 16th century breastplates with full arm-protection and stuff.
They have their own armorer who repairs these centurys old pieces. They usually wear their full armor during the swearing-in ceremony.

Their website: www.schweizergarde.org


A pic from the Vereidigungs-Zeremonie


A nice pic Big Grin


armor can be trickyLaughing Out Loud


Last edited by Wolfgang Armbruster on Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd love to know if these men have been trained in the use of the "antiquated" weapons they carry. How functional are their halberds? Are the just for show or are the useable? Are their duties primarily ceremonial these days or are they still counted on to protect the pope and his staff?

The whole concept of men dressed in 16th century gard carrying halberds in the 21st century fascinates me.

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Addison C. de Lisle




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They have quite a few requirements to join: celibacy, must be under 30, over 176 cm tall, male, Catholic, Swiss, and have served at least 3 years in the Swiss military. I also read on their website that "their duties do not involve much moving around", so consequentially they exercize and run around on their own time. This would lead me to believe that their use of medieval weapons is somewhat limited. Of course, I could be entirely wrong.
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They know how to march and how to present their weapons, but I doubt they are trained in using them in the "old way".
However, I do know that they carry firearms. On the outside in sight of the public they carry halberds and partisans, but as soon as you get into the "inner circle" of the Vatican you'll see them carrying MP5s and pistols.
The halberds seem to be more of the ceremonial kind, meaning that they're not suited for the battlefield. They're quite good for crowd control and such things. A long point and a hook are still dangerous Wink

Interesting side note: The swissguards often have to show tourists they way or simply answer questions (often in 5 different languages). Laughing Out Loud


Last edited by Wolfgang Armbruster on Sun 22 Jan, 2006 12:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My grandfather did actually use his halberd for crowd control, during a very humorous incident. Busloads of schoolgirls from Spain were at the Vatican for an audience with the Pope. Almost like screaming girls at an appearance by the Beatles, they rushed towards the Pontiff in a frenzy; to keep them back, the guards leveled their halberds, forming a barrier in front of him.

As far as I know, most of the halberds, btw, are rather old, though I suspect some were made in the late 19th century as well.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Jonathon Janusz





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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very cool. Happy 500th gentlemen!

Christian, I thought I heard somewhere a while back that you were working on a harness and uniform in the style of your grandfather. If so, how is that coming along?
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Jan, 2006 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jonathon,

I haven't actually pursued this further. I think on the uniform front though, I'd likely have a 'fantasia' done on that theme...I just don't feel comfortable 'posing' as a member of a military organization in which I've never actually served.

I'm getting more interested in doing the armour though, now that there are more photos available online to work with.

And I'm starting to think I might know the armourer for the job.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Christian Henry Tobler
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Location: Oxford, CT
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Jan, 2006 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW, as an additional point of interest, in my grandfather's time they wore maille skirts along with the pikeman's half armour. They don't seem to ever do that anymore.

CHT

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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