For most of the 16th and 17th century, the super-power in Europe was Spain. It was largely the Spanish Tercios who made it so. Osprey's little volumes can be a bit of a "hit and miss" sometimes, with great ones alternating with poorer performances. This one is one of the great ones, even if it does suffer a bit because the authors are limited to 48 pages only.
I found that this study of the Spanish infantry units - the oldest in the world with three regiments of the current Spanish army descending from the three oldest Tercios - was quite superb. I am not quite sure if these units should be called regiments or brigades given their theoretical size, but never mind because this book is a fascinating one, especially since I did not know very much about them to begin with, and because they is not very much on them in English. The authors, both soldiers in the Spanish Army and with an interest in the military history of Spain, are rather ideally placed to tackle this subject.
The piece on morale, esprit de corps, honour and loyalty and discipline is particularly remarkable. The Tercios had a very high opinion of themselves, but it was well earned and well deserved. They were also highly respected by their foes, starting with the French and it is quite amazing to learn, for instance, that even when they mutinied because they had gone unpaid for so long, these mutinies were highly codified and looked more like modern industrial actions. All of this, by the way, is fully documented and can be checked, for those who might be suspicious enough to wonder if the authors were being somewhat biased. The sections on organization and changes over time in the composition of the Tercios are very good. The piece on equipment, and especially on the firearms, is rather superb, both concise and comprehensive.
There are just three little things with, in my view, prevent this book from reaching five stars, although this is due to a large extent to the size limit imposed on the authors. One is that, given the reputation for cruelty, pillage and destruction that the Spanish achieved during their very long wars in Flanders, I would have liked a bit more explanations from the authors as to why this was undeserved, as they seem to imply. The second point, partly related to the first one, is that I would have also wished to have at least some of the major battles presented in more detail, at least those where the Spanish Tercios decided of the outcome. Unfortunately (and this is the third element), there is very little on this and the further reading section only lists references in Spanish (almost all) or in French (a few), but none in English. To be honest here, I am probably being a bit "greedy" here and just "wanted more". However, for those who want to get a visual impression of a Tercios in action, then the film Capitain Alatriste (and the end of it showing the battle of Rocroy in particular) should give you quite a good feel, especially if combined with this little book.
Can we have more Ospreys' like this one please?