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Title: Rodeleros  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1582 Cagayan battles, Warriors, Infantry units and formations, The Art of War (Machiavelli), Buckler
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Rodeleros ("shield bearers"), also called espadachines ("swordsmen") and colloquially known as "Sword and Buckler Men", were Spanish troops in the early 16th (and again briefly in the 17th) century, equipped with steel shields or bucklers known as rodela and swords (usually of the side-sword type). Originally conceived as an Italian attempt to revive the legionary swordsman, they were adopted by the Spanish and used with great efficiency in the Italian Wars during the 1510s and 1520s, but discontinued in the 1530s.

The majority of Hernán Cortés's troops during his campaigns in the New World were rodeleros: in 1520, over 1000 of his 1300 men were so equipped, and in 1521 he had 700 rodeleros, but only 118 arquebusiers and crossbowmen. Bernal Díaz, the author of an account of Cortés' conquest of the Aztecs, served as a rodelero under Cortés.

When the Spanish adopted the colunella (the first of the mixed tercios in the 1530s.

Occasional attempts were made to revive them, such as by Maurice of Nassau, who armed his guard troops with a sword and buckler in addition to a pike. Later during the Thirty Years War, some military theorists proposed deploying swordsmen equipped with large iron shields in front of the pikemen to protect them from being shot by enemy musketeers, but it is doubtful whether this fanciful tactic was either successful or much employed in practice.


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