The Rise and Fall of Swiss Mercenaries in Europe

TLDR During the Renaissance, Swiss mercenaries were highly sought-after for their fierce warrior reputation and effective battle tactics, such as the use of pike squares. However, the introduction of firearms led to their decline in the 16th century, with the Swiss Guard being the last remaining vestige of this once powerful military force.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 During the Renaissance, the Swiss were feared and in-demand mercenaries in Europe.
02:09 Switzerland established a confederation for mutual defense in the 13th century and developed a reputation for being fierce warriors, despite being outnumbered and outmatched by the Austrians.
04:02 The Swiss used pike squares, a formation of pikemen with long spears, to defeat the Austrians and this technique was a rediscovery of an ancient Macedonian technique.
05:49 Swiss mercenaries were highly disciplined and effective in battle, known for their ability to perform complex maneuvers and their ferociousness, which made them a sought-after and relatively cheap option for European leaders in the 14th and 15th centuries.
07:28 The success of Swiss pikes led to the adoption of their tactics by other mercenaries, such as the German Lonskenex, who developed their own innovations including the use of large two-handed swords; however, the Swiss mercenaries considered them to be cheap imitations, and the peak of the Swiss mercenary era was from 1450 to 1525, with their decline beginning in the early 16th century due to the introduction of firearms rendering the pike formation obsolete.
09:15 The Swiss Guard, the last vestige of Swiss mercenaries, still serves as the military force for Vatican City and has transitioned from a military force to a ceremonial and security detail over the last 500 years.
11:08 The Swiss Guard is a small group of 135 members who serve as the military force for Vatican City and have specific requirements for joining, including being a single Catholic male with a Swiss passport, completing Swiss Army basic training, and having at least a high school degree.
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