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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Why are the swiss guards at the vatican?

4 Answers

  • El
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    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 the field. 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 years. 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 Sacra Custodia 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 history of the Swiss Guards has its origins in the 15th century. Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) already made a previous alliance with the Swiss Confederation and built barracks in Via Pellegrino after foreseeing the possibility of recruiting Swiss mercenaries. The pact was renewed by Innocent VIII (1484-1492) in order to use them against the Duke of Milan. Alexander VI (1492-1503) later actually used the Swiss mercenaries during their alliance with the King of France. During the time of the Borgias, however, the Italian Wars began in which the Swiss mercenaries were a fixture in the front lines among the warring factions, sometimes for France and sometimes for the Holy See or the Holy Roman Empire. The mercenaries enlisted when they heard King Charles VIII of France was going to raise a war against Naples. Among the participants in the war against Naples was Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II (1503-1513), who was well acquainted with the Swiss having been Bishop of Lausanne years earlier. The expedition failed in part thanks to new alliances made by Alexander VI against the French. When Cardinal della Rovere became pope Julius II in 1505, he asked the Swiss Diet to provide him with a constant corps of 200 Swiss mercenaries. In September 1505, the first contingent of 150 soldiers started their march towards Rome, under the command of Kaspar von Silenen, and entered the city on January 22, 1506, today given as the official date of the Guard's foundation. "The Swiss see the sad situation of the Church of God, Mother of Christianity, and realize how grave and dangerous it is that any tyrant, avid for wealth, can assault with impunity, the common Mother of Christianity," declared Huldrych Zwingli, a Swiss Catholic who later became a Protestant reformer. Pope Julius II later granted them the title "Defenders of the Church's freedom"The force has varied greatly in size over the years and has even been disbanded. Its first, and most significant, hostile engagement was on May 6, 1527 when 147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander, died fighting the unruly troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Clement VII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by the other 40 guards. The last stand battlefield is located on the left side of St Peter's Basilica, close to the Campo Santo Teutonico (German Graveyard).

    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).

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  • Elaine
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Above answers are all more or less correct. Back in the middle ages, the Swiss were counted as the bravest and most loyal mercenaries in Europe. That time, loyalty was no trait many soldiers did have. But one said, the Swiss were loyal to their paymaster - until death, as they proved. The Vatican Swiss Guard was founded in 1505, when Pope Julius II. asked the Swiss Government for soldier for the protection of him and the Vatican. So, on 22nd of January, about 150 Swiss mercenaries arrived in Rome, and thus the Swiss Guard was founded. Julius II. did not know whom else he could trust in these chaotic times, so he chose the Swiss for their reputation of loyalty. And the Pope was not the only one who took Swiss mercenaries into his service. The first time the Swiss Guard could prove their loyalty and bravery was in 1527, at the Sack of Rome on 6th of May. Out of 189 guards, only 42 survived, ensuring the survival of the Pope. Another event involved the slaughter of the Swiss Guard of the French King. I don't know the exact dates, but when the french revolution broke out, the Swiss Guard was the last one of the King's guards to protect him and the Tulieres. Almost all of the King's french guards went to the side of the rebels (well, one or two might have stayed, but one does not know). Only the Swiss Guard remained. All I can say is that their soldiers got "hunted", and many fell to a brutal and cruel carnage. Hope this answers your question!^^ By the way, if you should have heard that Michelangelo has invented the Swiss Guard's uniform - NO TRUE! It was a commander of the Swiss Guard, Jules Repond, who created them based on some frescoes of Raphael Santi.

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  • 1 decade ago

    To guard the Pope.

    They were originally formed in 1506, a mercenary detachment to provide the Pope with an armed bodyguard.

    Nowadays, their role is ceremonial.

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  • Jim L
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    It is a survival from the time when the Swiss were the gurkhas of the renaissance.

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