10 Amazing Facts about the Swiss Army

1. The Swiss were available as mercenaries throughout the middle ages, most notably as expert pikemen.

2. The Swiss Guard serve as the Vatican City’s Army.

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The Swiss Guard

3. Napoleon had four Swiss regiments in his army during the Napoleonic War.

4. The Swiss had a civil war in 1847 called the Sonderbund War. The Sonderbund consisted of Lucerne, Zug, Uri, Fribourg, Valais, and Schwyz.

5. Everybody 19 and above must serve in the modern Swiss army for a few years.

6. The Swiss Army in the First World War only consisted of 100 professional soldiers.

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A Swiss infantryman in the Napoleonic Wars

7. The Swiss accidentally invaded Liechtenstein in 2007, but both sides decided it was completely fine and no fighting broke out.

8. Karl Elsener created the legendary Swiss Army Knife in 1891.

9. The Swiss Air Force is closed on the weekends and at night.

10. William Tell, a Swiss folk hero, has a song written about him in 1501 called the Tellenleid.

Book Review: Dutch Armies of the 80 Years’ War 1568-1648 (1)


This book, published by Osprey Publishing, discusses the Dutch Infantry in the wars against the Spanish from 1568-1648. The author, Bouko de Groot, is a graduate of Leiden Clog 1University and served in the Royal Netherlands Army. He outlines the drastic changes that Maurice of Nassau brought to the Dutch military, and later, to the world of pike and shot.
Maurice’s revolutionary tactics are explained well and presented in diagrams drawn by the author. The 80 Years’ War is divided among three separate wars: the Civil War, the War for Independence, and the Coalition War. There is a map of all the locations of battles presented in the book, and de Groot relates tactics and soldiers with examples of certain battles during the wars. The uniforms are covered well, and the author will be releasing a second book about 
the Dutch cavalry, engineers, and artillery later on. 

Praise: I was very pleased with this book, as it uses prints from the era to show some intriguing elements of the Dutch forces. One interesting part of this book is de Groot’s “Regimental Genealogy” which tells you what regiments (Dutch and foreign) served in the Dutch forces at the time. The illustrated plates of the soldiers and their descriptions were very well done by Gerry and Sam Embleton, and it conveys the wide array of weaponry and uniforms that were used in the 80 Years War. There is also an interesting set of illustrations of flags throughout the war. I appreciated the descriptions of the changes in Dutch tactics, and how they affected those of the Germans, English, and Swedes in the 30 Years War, English Civil War, and other battles of the time.

Criticism: Most of my criticism for this book is purely based on my lack of knowledge of the pike and shot era of warfare. De Groot does not explain to you what a “caliver” is, so I looked it up myself, and discovered it was an early musket that had a standardized bore so it was easier to load. These soon were replaced with the matchlock. I felt as if the uniforms could have been described in more detail, perhaps by giving examples of some period dress the units would have worn.

Overall, this book was a great introduction to the 80 Years War, and the development of warfare during the 16th and 17th centuries. I was very pleased, and would definitely say it is worth purchasing if you are interested in that time period, or would like to learn more about tactics of that period as well as the uniforms of Dutch infantry themselves.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you would like to read de Groot’s interview with Osprey Publishing, you can find it here

If you would like to purchase “Dutch Armies of the 80 Years’ War”, click here