Dirck Jacobsz.: A Squad of the Amsterdam Arquebusiers Guild (1529)
(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Post number 200!
The origins of the civic-guard (Dutch - 'schutterij') come from the 14th century. At the Battle of the Golden Spurs (11 July 1302), a force of about 8000 infantry (mainly consisting of well equipped and trained town militia) decisively defeated a French army of about 2000 mounted knights. This victory of an infantry-army (from the lower-order class) over heavily armoured mounted knights was repeated at the battles of Bannockburn (1314), Crecy (1346), Aljubarrota (1385), Sempach (1386), Agincourt (1415), Grandson (1476) and in the battles of the Hussite Wars (1419 - 1434). seeing the growing power of infantry, cities in Flanders started to train citizens of cities in the use of modern weapons like the crossbow soon after these battles. These groups were after a while organized into guilds which in turn became the civic-guard units in the 16th century. This painting is the earliest example of such a unit and the oldest painting in the Netherlands with a militairy subject. The men on this painting are citizens of Amsterdam who train themselves in the use of the arquebus, a forerunner of the modern rifle (in the middle piece you can see the upper part of two such muskets, click on the picture for a bigger view of the painting). Painting from 1529.